Issue 3/2006

Pamiętnik Literacki 3 / 2006

History and Literature

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Relationship between historiography and poetry and rhetoric (later literature) has long been a subject of theoretical reflection. The approaches to this issue varied according to the changing theory and practice of those disciplines, and of the choice of a descriptive or a normative attitude. At the same time one notices a sameness or a similarity of those views divided by a centuries-long distance. The article examines the modes of narration, cognitive and aesthetic goals, objectivism and subjectivism, truth and fiction, assertion and the lack of assertion, general and singular knowledge, casualness and essence, similar and different constructive and stylistic features of historical and literary texts. The views of Hayden White and Franklin Rudolf Ankersmit are accurately discussed. In conclusion, the author favors Krzysztof Pomian’s view that the indispensable element of historiography is the evidence of what the author treats as factual, and this is the borderline between historiography and literature.

A Semiotic Key. Theory and Literary Formation in Middle Ages

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The article is an attempt to sketch a theoretical basis of stylistic formation in the aesthetic of mature European Middle Ages. The briefly discussed style, characteristic of Latin literature and visual arts (particularly in sculpture and different forms of painting), rooted in a philosophical trend of Platonic world view and in conceptual realism, appeared in literary theory, especially in its two modes known as poetria and ars dictaminis. Its characteristic elements are derived from a stylistic theory called “difficult ornateness” (ornatus difficilis), the core of which the author sees in the practice of hiding the secondary, figurative meanings (sensus transsumptivus) with the use of verbal signs conveying literal meanings (sensus litteralis). This practice gave rise to texts having two semantic layers that required from the reader a hermeneutical effort based on the knowledge of this theory and its detailed rules comprising a mode of creating characters that were embodiments of abstract notions (prosopopoeia). This theory, founded on some elements of antique tradition, developed in 12th and 13th philosophy and well known in Medieval Poland, influenced not only the formation of texts in Latin and later in Polish, but also in Cracow 15th century university treatises (mainly in artes dictaminis), completely unknown to European scholars.

The style in question was not the only permissible literary strategy of Medieval writers, since poetics allowed also an “easy ornateness” (ornatus facilis) of texts devoid of semantic duality that was crucial for “difficult ornateness”. Furthermore, the writing practice (also in Poland) dictated a way of speaking with single meaning and without ornateness.

A different stylistic rules are observed in the writings composed within the biblical circle; this is, however, a subject of different theoretical and aesthetic-philosophical investigations.

Myth and Novel. A Presentation of Theoretical Stances

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The article presents a panorama of theoretical stances referring to the mutual relationships between a myth and a novel. The conceptions were divided into four classes. The first (made up of papers by Juri Lotman and  Northrop Frye) concentrates of the genetic kinship and points out at the divergent influences that a myth gave on a novel (mostly at its birth). The second and the third group (represented by papers by John Vickery and John White) point at the presence of plots, quotations and mythical allusions or at some other (purely formal) loans in the novelistic narration. The fourth group of scholars (e.g. Mircea Eliade, Odo Marquard, Eric Gould) eliminates intertextual relations and replaces them with functional ones. The old purposes of myth were contemporarily taken over by literature and thus the novel – both in its form and its contents – is subject to mithologisation.

A Commentary to an Edition of Henryk Rzewuski’s „Uwagi o dawnej Polsce” (“Remarks on Old Poland”)

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The article discusses the issues connected with a recently issued Henryk Rzewuski’s Remarks on Old Poland based on its manuscript. It stresses the parallels with Memoirs of Mr Seweryn Soplica – most popular Rzewuski’s text – which lead to a conclusion that both texts were composed simultaneously and that the old-Polish gentry collection of tales constituting Memoirs finds its theoretical basis in Remarks. It also points at the necessity of modification of the previous distance between the author and the narrator of Memoirs.

The author of the article delineates the differences between the views expressed in the two texts in question and the later ones, articulated by Rzewuski in Mixtures of customs and November, which are usually regarded as representative of Rzewuski’s ideas in general. In the final part, the author presents a characteristics of historical exposition and historical thinking set in Remarks, which always lead to idealization of nobility world based on Rzewuski’s imperious judgments.

Wayne C. Booth and Hermeneutic Aspects of Irony

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Is it possible to describe the conditions of understanding irony, or maybe irony itself, working just “in the middle” of understanding, calls this enterprise into question? The first path was chosen by Wayne C. Booth (as A Rhetoric of Irony was not yet translated into Polish, his standpoint was in a few words summarized), the latter – by Paul de Man, who defined irony as the permanent parabasis of the allegory of tropes. The author tries to show that we should follow the direction of a famous deconstructionist, and that at the same time it is very important to stress the pessimism manifest in his theory. Does an ironist really leave us with no support? Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz (the third hero of the text) with his books on literary history turns out to be very helpful in discovering hermeneutical aspects of irony.

“Canonical text”, “artistic intention” and Other Troubles

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The paper comprises a review of researches, mainly monographs and longer theoretical treatises, on the changes of meanings and scopes of the terms “textology”, “academic editing”, “canonical text” and “artistic intention”.

According to the author, the space encompassing the work on the textual basis is too narrow to incorporate two independent disciplines; thus textology and academic editing were given the same goals. Textology, which – as a term – was taken over from Russian science, is understood as a study of text in general. “Academic editing” seems to be a term closer to the discipline in question.

Academic editing – according to the idea contained here – can have exclusively theoretical, or theoretical and practical goals. Its theoretical speculations would deal with the examination of the history of all accounts of the text and with the understanding of the author’s intention recorded in drafts, notes and letters. The practical aim would cover the preparation of a critical edition.

Kolęda (Christmas Carol) Now and Before. On the Problems of Semantics of Genre Terms

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The article presents two main problems of the term “Christmas carol” – its etymology and a rich designation in a diachronic perspective. A Christmas carol is a religious song, often having a strong secular influence, thematically connected with Christmas, and sung from December, 24th to February, 2nd. Earlier, the term was also used to denote e.g. “a gift given to carolers”, “a servant’s advance”, “a dowry”, and “money paid to the landlord during Christmas”. Presently, its semantic range has been narrowed to refer to the religious song in question, a Christmas pastoral’s visit, and a tradition of walking around with a crib. Christmas songs were composed yet in early middle ages, but only in 16th–17th century they came to be called carols. In the following part of the paper the author lists the terms used interchangeably with a Christmas song: rotula, canticle, carol. The last was preserved till the present day to refer to songs with extended shepherds’ scene.

“When the content becomes the rhythm” – Leśmian and a Symbolic Fascination with Rhythm

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The comparative sketch is an attempt towards the analysis of rhythm in the light of the key concepts of French symbolic poets. The reconstruction of Leśmian’s views is based on his treatises on the role of rhyme and rhythm in poetry: Rhythm as a world view, At the sources of rhythm, On mediation of poetry. An important context of those views are the ideas of Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Rimbaud – the poets important for Leśmian. Such symbolist relations make it possible to distinguish three aspects of rhythm in Leśmian’s poetry: rhythm as an element of poetics (theory of poetic language, rhythm distinguishes poetry from prose), anthropological element (relation with the rhythm of nature, a man’s body, rhythm breaks with everyday routine) and metaphysical element (rhythm of universe). In effect, Leśmian’s approach proves to be an original in Polish literature proposition of noticing a music dimension of poetry.

Prologue to “Legend of Saint Alexis”
“Unknown Enemy” in God’s Court
Jan Rymarkiewicz – the Author of a Forgotten Study on “Pieśń świętojańska o Sobótce” (“Song of St John’s Eve”)
Review: Od liryki do retoryki. W kręgu słowa, literatury i kultury. Prace ofiarowane Profesorom Jadwidze i Edmundowi Kotarskim. Pod redakcją Ireny Kadulskiej i Radosława Grześkowiaka. Gdańsk 2004
Review: Maria Żmigrodzka, „Przez wieki idąca powieść”. Wybór pism o literaturze XIX i XX wieku. Pod redakcją Marii Kalinowskiej i Elżbiety Kiślak. Warszawa 2002
Review: Inspiracje Grecji antycznej w dramacie doby romantyzmu. Rekonesans. Pod redakcją Marii Kalinowskiej. Toruń 2002. „Antyk Romantyków”. [T. 1]
Review: Anna Martuszewska, Bolesława Prusa „prawidła” sztuki literackiej. Gdańsk 2003
Review: Zofia Mitosek, Poznanie (w) powieści – od Balzaka do Masłowskiej. Kraków (2003)
Review: Maciej Michalski, Dyskurs, apokryf, parabola. Strategie filozofowania w prozie współczesnej. Gdańsk 2003
Review: Teresa Dobrzyńska, Tekst – styl – poetyka. Zbiór studiów Kraków (2003)
Review: Monika Bogdanowska, Komentarz i komentowanie. Zagadnienia konstrukcji tekstu. Katowice 2003. „Prace Naukowe Uniwersytetu Śląskiego w Katowicach”. Nr 2117
Review: Michał Rusinek, Między retoryką a retorycznością. Kraków (2003). „Horyzonty Nowoczesności”. [T.] 28
Review: Wojciech Kalaga, Mgławice dyskursu. Podmiot, tekst, interpretacja. Kraków (2001). „Horyzonty Nowoczesności”. [T.] 17
Review: Harold Bloom, Lęk przed wpływem. Teoria poezji. Przekład Agata Bielik-Robson, Marcin Szuster. Kraków (2002). „Horyzonty Nowoczesności”. [T.] 19
Obituary: Miroslav Červenka (November 5th, 1932 – November 19th, 2005)
Obituary: Andrzej Litwornia (October 5th, 1943 – March 16th, 2006)
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