Issue 2/2013

Pamiętnik Literacki 2 / 2013

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A Disputable Pattern of Russophobia. Stefan Żeromski Towards Russia and Russians in His “Diaries”

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The article attempts at a polemics with the widespread view on Żeromski’s Russophobia. The analysis of his Diaries – being a social life chronicle under Russian partition at the end of 19th century, a private document and at the same time Żeromski’s artistic technique – proves that Żeromski did not occupy an unambiguous position towards Russia and Russians.

The diary is obviously dominated by the notes in which the future writer, as a Pole-patriot, views the czarist Empire and the Muscovites as uncompromising, hateful and often vulgar. However, on a private ground he proves to be ambivalent, full of contradictions, and torn between enchantment by casual meetings with Russian women and hostility to his Muscovite friends. To add, when commenting the writings by Pushkin, Lermontov, and Turgenev, he totally rejects national categories and assesses Russian literature as ambitious, modern and inspiring. Such clearly-cut disjoin of national and cultural presence of Russia in the Diaries leads to formulating a thesis that there is not one Russia in Żeromski’s work. Most noticeably represented is, naturally, the militant and radical Russia but there is also a “hidden” Russia acceptable and respected due to unquestionable value of the most eminent 19th century Russian works of art.

Poetry as Internal Experience. Aleksander Wat on the “Epiphany of the Natural.” (On the Margin of “My Century [Mój wiek]”)

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The article is devoted to one of the most important threads of the theory of poetry formulated by Aleksander Wat in the time of his evolving creative biography: from his futurist debut, through the period of leftist involvement and the poet’s lyrical silence until developing a new diction which he himself referred to as the “epiphany of the natural.” Remarks on the necessity of preserving this par excellence poetic way of “a man’s fulfilment” recorded in My Century: The odyssey of a Polish intellectual arrange into a story about the lyric as about internal experience preserving the deep, dark, exposed to decadent “decay” mental source of a free subject. In his conversations with Miłosz, Wat reconstructs the birth of this poetological conception as parallel to the trauma of Soviet prisons and concurrent to “disenchantment” with the communism. The theory of the “epiphany of the natural” presented by Wat as a radical shift of accent from the aesthetic and the social to the anthropological gains its complete fulfilment no later than when the poet succeeds in rejecting the late immensely strong antinomies of social and subjective reality: futurist freedom of word being a thing and hidden intimist depth of song which is existence. Due to that in Wat’s optic lyric allows not only for sheltering from history but also, in return, becomes a space of contemplative and active being.

History and Biography. On Hanna Malewska’s “Żniwo na sierpie”

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The article proposes a new reading of Hanna Malewska’s novel, which accounts for the text’s non-classical historiography approaches. Particularisation of its cognitive assumptions is supported by the concept of a trace-document which, as opposed to traditionally conceived source, is not a ready-made account of the past but its remains isolated through deprivation of the original context. The category of trace, related to the biographical and literary documents used in the piece of writing, becomes a manifestation of “weak” knowledge receiving support in the artist’s imagination. Accepting this assumption allows for discerning in Żniwo na sierpie not Malewska’s creativity’s “cul-de-sac” (which was the case to date) but rather a starting point for her following novels linking in casual notes concrete historical experience with references to more general cultural patterns into which the picture of the world constructed with documents is embedded.

Insufficiency of Myth. Jerzy Andrzejewski’s “Now Your Extermination [Teraz na ciebie zagłada]”

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The article contains an analysis and interpretation of Jerzy Andrzejewski’s novel Now Your Extermination. Initially, it presents remarks about the style and the text’s rhetoric strategies. Next, the considerations focus on the mode of detailed specification of the topos of paradise present in the text, which is depicted in the naturalist poetics. In the following part, it discusses the moral issues raised in the work, as well as indicates, after German Ritz, a possibility of reading the text in the perspective of queer studies. Subsequent point of consideration is the problem of the mode of Adrzejewski’s presenting the original sin and the source of evil. Recalled are two found in the novel and engaged in dialogue holistic depictions of first people history, leading to dissimilar answers to the question concerning “unde malum”. The author, resorting to Judeo-Christian staffage, offers a response situated in the secular trend.

A Story of Great Relativity: Grotesque and Radical Rationalism in Leszek Kołakowski’s Tales

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The article is devoted to an interpretation of the role of grotesque in Leszek Kołakowski’s literary creativity from the years 1956–1968, taking 13 bajek z królestwa Lailonii dla dużych i małych (Tales from the Kingdom of Lailonia) into special consideration. Grotesque aesthetic and cognitive strategies (e.g. the unusual, play with contrasts and a clash of contradictory qualities, operating with changing motivation orders) serve as highly important means of Kołakowski’s the then philosophical thought – so-called radical rationalism, commonly known as “philosophy of a fool.”

Edelman: Short Story, Consciousness Discourse and Conflict

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The article is a description of the role of the story in Marek Edelman’s accounts about the past time of occupation. In the literary genres typology his statements fringe upon autobiography and oral story, whilst in the perspective of the history of events Edelman in his accounts plays the role of a witness of historical events, a source of knowledge about the past and at the same time its interpreter. This issue differs, among others, the situations of narration on past events in Edelman’s stories from those produced by professional historians. The case of Edelman, who his description of events usually develops in the situations of dialogues (interview, public speech) with people who lack such experience, becomes a convenient point for formulating a number of theses about consciousness conflict seen as a mechanism co-creating the discourse of culture.

Selim Chazbijewicz as a Polish-Tatar Poet

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The present article is the first attempt at a complete analysis of the literary creativity of Selim Chazbijewicz, a Polish-Tatar poet. The main aim of the article is to give some details of the author’s artistic figure and to point at the most important themes and motives of his creativity as well as to suggest the interpretative contexts in which Chazbijewicz’s lyrical pieces could be analysed.

Characteristic of the poet is philosophical lyric rooted in a spirit of phenomenology and existentialism. The Tatar writer is fascinated by the mingling of Western and Eastern cultures, Muslim mysticism (sufism) and gnosis. He searches for inspiration in the aesthetics of Western romanticism as well as in Tadeusz Miciński’s achievements and poets of the Orient (Celaleddin Rumi and Omar Chajjam). An important determinant of Chazbijewicz’s literary quests is also Jungian conception of personality development and shamanic individualisation.

Dialectics of Modernist Imagery: Jan Kasprowicz’s “Wild Rose Bush” and Stefan Żeromski’s “Ravens and Crows Will Pick Our Bones”

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The article presents a mechanism Young Poland’s poetics collaboration within one piece of art in order to struggle through the external sign, all with the aim of penetrating the deepest reserves of common consciousness. Moving within the limits of impressionist and expressionist and naturalist imagery dialectics, the receiver of pieces of art realising correspondances des arts penetrates the images of the presented world at different levels, from their tangible clarity through sensationality and emotionality to embrace them into a symbolic metaphor. The author of the article views this aspect of simultaneous coupling the various poetics as a value which determines the verbal record superiority over the painting one.

Ivan Loboiko in History and Historiography
Transalted from Lithuanian by Maksim Duškin. Anex: Maria Prussak, Belarusian, Lithuanian, Russian, and Polish Archive Documents. In connection to Reda Griškaitė’s article

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The article discusses a book Vilna 1823–1824: perekrestki pamâti issued in 2008 in Minsk by “Limarius” publishing house with the support of Polish Institute in Vilnius. The book, prepared by a well known Belarusian literature specialist and journalist Alexander Feduta, contains two source publications, namely Joachim Lelewel’s 1831 brochure Nowosilcow w Wilnie w roku szkolnym 1823/24 (Novosilcov in Vilnius in the 1823/24 schoolyear) translated into Russian, and for the first time published in extenso in the original language Ivan Loboiko’s manuscript Moi zapiski (My notes) (1860s), the original of which is treasured at Russian Literature Institute in Saint-Petersburg. Published here two texts of memoirist’s character, written at different times, in principle investigate the same problem: the famous case of the Philomaths and the Philaretes and, partially, liquidation of Vilnius University. Apart from the two basic sources the book includes a third one, i.e. ten Loboiko’s letters to Lelewel written between 1824–1829, translated into Russian by Dmitry Matveichik with commentaries by literary specialist Pavel Lavrinec. All source materials are foreworded by Alexander Feduta; Abram Reitblat, a Moscow man of letters, literary sociologist, historian, bibliographer; and Paveł Lavrinec, a researcher in Russian literature produced in Lithuania. The three scholars are also authors of commentaries to the publications under discussion.

An attempt has been made in the article to present the significance of those sources from the point of view of 19th century history, but first and foremost Vilnius University history, and to evaluate the quality of the sources preparation. Besides, attention has been paid to the figure of Ivan Loboiko (1786–1861), one of the most controversial activist of that time, a translator, publicist, historian, Russian philology professor at Vilnius University (and after its closing, other higher education institutions). Loboiko was directly engaged into the discussed events at the university. The author was interested to which extent the data contained in the newly published memoirist’s text overlap with those known from other sources, and which image of himself Loboiko creates in the piece. Much attention is also paid to a historiographic discussion, in which the figure of Loboiko is viewed separately, as presented by Polish, Lithuanian, and Russian scholars.

“Unseen” Adam Mickiewicz’s Autograph with the Distich “[Like a Tree Before Givin Fruit...]” and So-Called “Note to Frenchmen”

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“Unseen” in this article is referred to an Adam Mickiewicz’s autograph treasured in Polish Library in Paris (manuscript nr. 84) with two texts, namely [Like a tree before giving fruit…] and so-called Note to Frenchmen starting with “Dans l’homme de Dieu est deposée l’idée de Napoleon […].” The manuscript was named “unseen” as in spite of a well preserved autograph so-called Note to Frenchmen was published neither in the significant editions of Mickiewicz’s works nor in considerable sources documenting the poet’s creativity. The texts written on the same piece of paper and at the same time characterised by a uniform type duct should be published as a whole, and Mickiewicz’s translation of so-called Note to Frenchmen – the source of which is probably Ferdynand Gutt’s letter and not Towiański’s letter, as it was established – is to be seen as the author’s one. The autograph also seems to be decisive about the problem of the genre of the poem [Like a tree before giving fruit…]. It does not belong to Zdania i uwagi, though in many Mickiewicz’s works edition it was published within the aforementioned collection (or close to them) as one of the pieces of this cycle produced later.

On Prus and Żeromski Once Again: What Pigoń Did Not Publish

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The article refers to an episode in the story of Bolesław Prus and Stefan Żeromski’s acquaintance. From Prus’ letters written in 1897 published here it follows what work Żeromski did for him.

Private Student Witkiewicz. On Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s High School Finals

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The article describes Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s high school finals taken in 1903. Prejudice of Stanisław Witkiewicz, the father of the later painter, writer, dramatist and philosopher, against the institution of school influenced his decision of not letting his son to school. Young Witkiewicz, however, took his examinations as an extramural. The survived correspondence of father to his son reveals numerous commentaries and remarks about the finals and expressions of concern for the examinee. As based on the found report on school activity in which the examination took place, examination activities register and also pieces of information on the teachers working at this school, and first and foremost the father’s letters to the son, the author of the article attempts at reconstructing the preparations to the examination as well as its course. The text is completed with references to the high school finals in mature S. I. Witkiewicz-Witkacy’s literary and polemic creativity.

New Materials to Nitsch – Kołaczkowski Conflict

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The article is devoted to a conflict between two professors of Jagellonian University, Stefan Kołaczkowski and Kazimierz Nitsch, which took place in the Interwar period, and referred to Polish studies structure. Kołaczkowski postulated limiting linguistic courses to literary history specialisation students, which met Nitsch’s protest. The article focuses mainly on Kołaczkowski’s figure and activities, quoting, in majority positive, statements about him by eminent researchers – his university colleagues and allumni. Following this introductory part, the author of the article submits for publication a thorough text which Nitsch directed in 1948 to Jan Hulewicz, presenting Kołaczkowski in an unfavourable manner.

Conrad’s Victory
Review: Wiesław Ratajczak, Conrad i koniec epoki żaglowców. Poznań 2010. Seria „Filologia Polska”

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The review discusses Wiesław Ratajczak’s book Conrad and the End of the Sailing Ship Epoch, devoted mainly to Christian inspirations in Joseph Conrad’s creativity.

Conrad’s Cultural Heritage
Review: Conrad a Polska. Red. naukowa: Wiesław Krajka. Lublin 2011. Seria „Joseph Conrad a Polska, Europa Środkowo-Wschodnia i Świat”. T. 1

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The review discusses a volume of studies and essays on Conrad’s relationships with Polish culture, history and independence tradition, as well as his family, social and political connections. The collection of texts raises the questions of biography, identity issues, stylistic matters and the writer’s artistic originality.

Hanna Kirchner’s Novel In Literary History
Review: Hanna Kirchner, Nałkowska, albo życie pisane. Warszawa 2011. Seria „Fortuna i Fatum”
A Classic Read Anew
Review: Agnieszka Izdebska, Forma, ciało i brzemię imperium. O prozie Władysława L. Terleckiego. Łódź 2010

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The review discusses Agnieszka Izdebska’s book on the literary creativity of Władysław L. Terlecki, whose works are lately viewed as more and more distant from the recent literary fashions. Chances for recontextualisation of his works and bringing them up to date are seen by Izdebska in a new approach to the problem of character creation and in adopting a postcolonial perspective to interpreting Polish-Russian relationships that they present.

On an Innovative Description of the Figure of Authority
Review: Małgorzata Juda-Mieloch, Na ramionach gigantów. Figura autorytetu w polskich współczesnych tekstach literaturoznawczych. Kraków (2008)

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The text reviews Małgorzata Juda-Mieloch’s book On the Arms of Gigants (Na ramionach gigantów) devoted to the figure of authority in contemporary Polish literature specialists, edited in Cracow in 2008, and is an original kind of 20th and 21st c. history of Polish literary studies. The reviewer evaluates the study from many perspectives: firstly, from the point of selecting the research material made up of writings by five Polish literary scholars, i.e. Jerzy Ziomek, Janusz Sławiński, Grażyna Borkowska, Ryszard Nycz, and Henryk Markiewicz; secondly, regarding the choice of style, which often recalls an essay; thirdly, on the part of determining the object and research purpose, including the mode of resorting to the term “authority;” fourthly, as far as the use of rhetoric theory for material analysis is concerned; and fifthly, considering the scholar’s greatest achievements seen in this book.

Everything on the Theory and History of Personal Diary in France
Review: Philippe Lejeune, „Drogi zeszycie...”, „Drogi ekranie...” O dziennikach osobistych. Przekład Agnieszka Karpowicz, Magda i Paweł Rodakowie. Wybór, wstęp i opracowanie Paweł Rodak. (Warszawa 2010). „Communicare. Historia i Kultura”

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The review discusses the second in Poland anthology of Philippe Lejeune’s papers, including those from the scope of personal diary. The anthology was prepared by Paweł Rodak, who translated the texts with his wife Magda and with Agnieszka Karpowicz. It presents all the faces of the rich theory of the genre, as well as its history, mainly in France but also in England and other protestant countries. Lejeune’s papers in the diary offer not only writers’ and distinguished diarists’ texts but also the ones written by ordinary people and the young. The collection includes a number of diary’s definitions, points at its continuity, its functions and medium, at its anthropological character, at the role of the receiver who is the diary’s author taking pleasure when reading it later. The presentation of Rodak’s anthology stresses the edition’s diligence and versality of such approach.

Elżbieta Wittlin Lipton’s “Reportaż z modą w tle z czasów zawieruchy“ (“A Reportage against a Background of Fashion from the Times of Turmoil”)
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