Issue 3/2007

Pamiętnik Literacki 3 / 2007

Polish and African Casual Histories. On the Beginnings of Ryszard Kapuściński’s Report

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The text presents the shaping of Ryszard Kapuściński’s writing in his important years 1959–1961 – from quitting the daily “Sztandar Młodych” (“The Banner of Youth”) up to his leaving for Africa as a press correspondent for the Polish Press Agency. It is the time of his work for the later famous weekly “Polityka” in the reports section, numerous reporter’s trips to the Polish province and two first African trips, namely to Ghana in 1959 and to Congo in 1960. At this time Kapuściński writes texts later collected into two books Polish Bush (1962) and Black Stars (1963), both of which gain readers’ immense attention and critics’ interest. Kapuściński’s reports belong to the first after Stalinist period to acquaint the Polish readers with the current world history, and the relation is true, free of ideological simplifications. Home reports are characterized by connections with the then existentialist interests of Polish prose and belong as much to journalism as to literature thus livening up a discussion on the relationship between those two writing domains.

Narration in Ryszard Kapuściński’s “The Emperor”

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The author of the paper analyses the selected aspect of narration in The Emperor – Ryszard Kapuściński’s literary report as well as shows the historical context of its composing. The analysis of The Emperor’s first edition in the weekly “Kultura” refers mainly to indicate the initial design and most important changes that Kapuściński introduced into its book version. The remaining parts of the paper are devoted to the mode of shaping the narration which is made with an intensive collecting of the material, structuring it into a compositional and stylistic entity of a parabolic character. Important elements of the narration are also interferences of the reporter’s voice and his interlocutors, dialogical “I” of the narrator which allow him to penetrate the mentality of Haile Sellasje’s servants, and due to archaic stylization, rhythm, and neologisms depict their way of thinking and the mechanisms functioning in the castle. The narrative strategies in question make the story of the Ethiopian court a historiosophic reflection on all sorts of power.

„Ree-shard Kah-poosh-chin-skee”. Kapuściński in English

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The article presents the circumstances under which Kapuściński’s books entered world literature. The breakthrough is here the year 1983 when the English translation of Cesarz (The Emperor) was published. The book was soon recognized as a vital event in the literary world and shortly after became Kapuściński’s most often translated report; in the 1980s a dozen or so translations into various languages were published as well as a well known theatre performance at The Royal Court Theatre in London was prepared. The success of The Emperor opened the gate into foreign markets and the author himself was granted a pass to the leading world writers. The counterpoint to foreign proliferation of Kapuściński’s reports was almost a complete publishing paralysis of his literary creation in Poland. Nevertheless, echoes of this international popularity reached Poland and at the end of the 1980s eight Kapuściński’s books were eventually reedited.

Breaking the Taboo of Secretion on the Example of Zbigniew Uniłowski’s “Sharing A Room”

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In the article I put forward the idea that the drastic description of physiology in Uniłowski’s novel Sharing a room is not its “naturalistic element”, but is meant to construct a symbolically marked space. Analyzing the design of the flat described by Uniłowski, I conclude that it is a symbolic expression of his anthropological beliefs referring to the nature and man’s duty. In this view a man is captivated by his physicality and can only strive to limit its power over himself; the aim of man’s life should be a Norwidian combination of the Beauty and Work, which Uniłowski signals by juxtaposing a gloomy sphere of biology (put in a blind kitchen) with the light which falls into the room through the window together with voices of a beautiful singing at work. Norwid supports, as I see it, not only the ideological significance of the novel, but also the use of secretion motive.

Dangerous Liaisons or Tadeusz Konwicki’s Romance with Witold Gombrowicz

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The article is devoted to an analysis of intertextual and ideological connections in the artistic works by Tadeusz Konwicki and Witold Gombrowicz. Though frequently mentioned, Ferdydurke  author’s influence on Konwicki has never been fully described, and cannot be closed with a simple forefather’s impact on his follower. The author of A Minor Apocalypse willingly reads Gombrowicz, and often comments, especially in sylvic texts (paratexts), on Gombrowicz as a figure and his texts, though seldom in an explicitly allegative tone. Konwicki can be assumed to have borrowed Gombrowicz’s sylvic poetics in Calendar and Hourglass and later in “mendacious diaries”. Konwicki’s prose pieces cannot support to the idea of the writers’ relationships, the exception being probably Rojsty (though here an indirect relationship within the frame of “prose of intellectual settlements” could be considered). Konwicki’s view on the world and on a man can on no ground agree with Gombrowicz’s anthropology.

A “Lampoon on Social-Realism”? On Aleksander Wat’s “Antyzoil”

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Aleksander Wat’s broad article entitled Antyzoil or recollection in conclusion of the year published in February 1948 was misapprehended, shadowed with a legend by the author, and accepted by literary scholars as a “lampoon on social-realism”. Under careful scrutiny, it proves a convoluted and ambiguous text in which the polemics with the postulate of realism formulated around the Marxist “Kuźnica” (“Forge”) leads to the praise of literature growing up from explicit ideological choices, and surprising from Wat’s perspective acceptance of political changes in post-war Poland is linked with declarations of trust in free development of literature in such conditions. Ambiguity of Antyzoil sheds light on the intellectual and moralizing aspirations of the author and on the paradoxes that the literary figures of the second part of the 1940s faced, when the monopolist power was strengthened by the Communist, though in literature a relatively liberal slogan of “smooth revolution” was still in presence.

Stalin, Panegyrists, and the Law of Quantitative Changes into Qualitative Ones

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As peculiar figures of social-realist panegyrics, Stalin and other leaders of communist parties set up a new literary genre, namely the soc-panegyric. Out of the ten mechanisms that through centuries praised kings or princes being topos of affected modesty, worldwide range of feelings, solar symbolism of power, praising and surpassing, theology of  history as the power lifting the ruler, black-and-white picture of history, elevation even at the cost of contradictions, arbitrary selection of facts, “fact-making” power of interpretation of events, and denial of exaggeration as its authentication, only the latter was not used by soc-panegyrists. It can most probably be explained with the fact that unsurpassed intensity of Stalinist terror blocked this mechanism which made way to most considerable threat to deconventionalization of the panegyric as well as the cult of which it was a part.

Autonomy or Community? Social Discourse in the Prose of the Class of ’70s

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The article discusses the issues of social identity in the novels and short stories by writers born in the ’70s of the last century or at the beginning of the following decade. The title defines the article’s essential problem of relationship between the individual and the community in the prose by Sławomir Shuty, Mariusz Sieniewicz, Michał Witkowski, Dorota Masłowska, Wojciech Kuczok, Radosław Kobierski, Błażej Dzikowski, Daniel Odija, Michał Olszewski, and Joanna Wilengowska. Special attention is paid to such structures of social identity as family, group of contemporaries, national and religious community, and also to the schemes created by everyday life, culture, and mass communication.

Michel Butor’s Text-Score. “Dialogue avec 33 variations de Ludwig van Beethoven sur une valse de Diabelli”

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The article is devoted to, most generally, literary creative activity of Michel Butor, and especially to the unusual Dialogue avec 33 variations de Ludwig van Beethoven sur une valse de Diabelli. The work, existing in two versions, namely the book (published by Gallimard 1971) and the intermedial (Actes Sudes 2001), proves to be a rare example of “music in literature”. Developing as a commentary to Beethoven’s 33 variations de Ludwig van Beethoven sur une valse de Diabelli opus 120 and delivered in public in the “concert-conference” convention, the work becomes at the same time an autonomous literary record. The interpretation of the dialogue between Butor and Beethoven leads in the perspective of intertextual studies makes it possible to speak of “the aesthetic of otherness” of the French writer. In the light of the above, the focus is put not so much on Butor as “classic” (the former of nouveau roman and essayist), as on Butor as experimentalist at the moment of rejecting the nouveau roman tradition – the theoretician and practitioner of intertextuality.

Ostap Ortwin’s Archive in Lvov

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The paper lists the contents of Ostap Ortwin’s (Oskar Katzenellenbogen) Lvov archive as viewed in 1967. The archive comprised various manuscripts by Ortwin himself, letters written to him and texts he gathered most often concerning Polish literature and occasionally world literature.

“Red” Reporter and Columnist of “Free” Poland. Julian Stryjkowski: The Lvov-Moscow Episode and Its Warsaw Repercussions

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The article describes the journalistic work of Julian Stryjkowski in the years 1939-1954 as a prelude to his mature artistic activity. The first part of the article presents reports from factories, propagandist texts, and theatre reviews published by Stryjkowski in the Lvov daily “The Red Banner” (“Czerwony Sztandar”, 1939–1941). The second part deals with Stryjkowski’s cooperation with the weekly “Free Poland” (“Wolna Polska”, 1943–1946) issued in Moscow, where he published the political column, film reviews, and theatre sketches touching upon the issue of realism in the arts. The third part shows Stryjkowski’s cooperation with home papers (1946–1954) and presents his unknown (incompletely published) drama Heritage (Dziedzictwo).

Review: François Rosset i Dominique Triaire, Z Warszawy do Saragossy. Jan Potocki i jego dzieło. Przełożyła Anna Wasilewska. Warszawa 2005. „Badania Polonistyczne za Granicą”

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A review of the book by François Rosset and Dominique Triaire on life and literary creative activities of Jan Potocki – a Polish aristocrat and the author of outstanding literary works written exclusively in French.

Review: Anna Sobieska, Twórczość Leśmiana w kręgu filozoficznej myśli symbolizmu rosyjskiego. Kraków (2005)

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The review analyses the book by Anna Sobieska devoted to Bolesław Leśmian’s literary connections with Russian symbolism literary thought and the influence of second half of 19th century Russian poets on the Polish poet’s literary activity.

Review: Maria Delaperrière, Polskie awangardy a poezja europejska. Przełożył Adam Dziadek. Katowice 2004

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The review evaluates the book by Maria Delaperrière on Polish avant-gardes towards European poetry, and pays special attention to avant-garde literary imagination.

Review: Irena Furnal, Spektakle pamięci. O polskiej prozie autobiograficznej pierwszej połowy XX wieku. Kielce 2005

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The review discusses the book by Irena Furnal on the first half of 20th century autobiographical prose from the perspective of the role of memory mechanisms, through which the self of the author and the protagonist is recorded.

Review: Tomasz Bocheński, Czarny humor w twórczości Witkacego, Gombrowicza, Schulza. Lata trzydzieste. Kraków (2005). „Modernizm w Polsce”. [T.] 11

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A review of the book by Tomasz Bocheński being an attempt to comprehend texts by Witkacy, Gombrowicz, Schulz through the prism of the category of black humour in the context of the attitudes towards physicality and death; it puts forward the idea of humor understanding as a peculiar form of the contemporary ars moriendi.

Review: Marian Stępień, „Jak grecka tragedia”. Pisarz polski w sytuacji wyboru (1944–1948). (Kraków 2005)

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A review of the book by Marian Stępień, presenting the attitudes of the recognized Polish writers (e.g. Miłosz, Gombrowicz, Iwaszkiewicz) towards Poland under Soviet domination after the World War II: some writers accepted this situation straightaway, others treated it as inevitable, yet some others disapproving this situation choose emigration.

Review: Opowiadanie w perspektywie badań porównawczych. Redakcja Zofia Mitosek. Kraków (2004)

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The review analyses a collection of 26 authors of different countries, the theme of set being the narration in comparative perspective. The volume is of interdisciplinary character, and the subject of narration is broadly compassed.

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