Issue 3/2009

Pamiętnik Literacki 3 / 2009

Dedication to Professor Lucylla Pszczołowska

Sacrifice, Evolution and Perspective in the Mystical Oeuvre of Juliusz Słowacki. A Comparative Study (Norwid, Krasiński)

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Norwid characterized Słowacki’s long poem Król-Duch (King-Spirit) as a “phenomenological epic”. In this respect, Król-Duch continued the inspired prayer Genezis z Ducha (Genesis from the Spirit). On the level of humanity, being consists in creating intellectual categories that allow grasping the primeval forms of nature as rudimentary stages in the growth of self-consciousness. Due to this concept, a man grasps being as a spiritual whole developing towards infinity. However, this idea engages us into fundamental aporia. The intellect, having emerged from more “primitive” stages of being, can never judge about the ultimate meaning of the process in which it partakes. That would be the privilege of almighty and omniscient God. However, the assumption that the ultimate sense of reality is guaranteed by a perfect and eternal being would leave no room for the individual creativity of the self. The idea of individual creativity cannot be severed from the concept of freedom  since beings are free to succeed, i.e. they can either develop into higher, more complicated organisms, or fail. A success in the evolutionary process cannot be achieved without self-sacrifice. From our human perspective, this willingness has been embodied by Jesus Christ, the God-man.

Słowacki’s tendency to treat the Scriptures, and particularly the Gospel, as a symbolic form of a particular stage of being could not be approved by Cyprian Norwid, who tried to remain faithful to the Letter of the Christian revelation. However, it seems quite probable that due to Słowacki’s perspectivism Norwid started to seek traces of the Gospel in all aspects of being (even the most material and “base”). Yet, in Norwid’s case, this awareness does not imply an ontological relationship between the lower stages of being and Christ the God-man. It just means that the human self realizes “here and now” its own potential “Christhood”.

The Body and the Soul in a Dispute about Poetry. Juliusz Słowacki’s “Poet and Inspiration”

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The article is an interpretation of Juliusz Słowacki’s Poet and Inspiration and attempts to present the poet’s writing conception just after so-called mystic turn. The key problem of the suggested reading is the relation between the material and the spiritual. The relation in question, reflected as love between the poem’s two characters: the Poet and his beloved – and at the same time his inspirator – ceases to rely on a simple juxtaposition of opposing categories (body–soul, past–present, paganism–christianity) but depends on their aporic combination. Reluctance to the matter does not exclude its valorisation – it is viewed as a prison and at the same time as a language the spiritual world speaks, and as the Poet’s only available mode of expression. The exchangeable identification of the lovers with their opposite poles allows to present a concept of Słowacki’s poetry as internally conflicted concept.

Juliusz Słowacki’s “Mazeppa” as a Drama of Mimetic Desire

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In its character, the paper reveals an interpretation of Juliusz Słowacki’s drama, and  as its theme it develops the scenes of future Ukrainian hetman’s life prior to the forced, back to front, unusual Mazeppa’s nude bareback riding achievement fixed in his legend and in Western art. The author points at the elements of imitation, reflections and echo in the space construction, the action, and the characters’ behavior to state that it is a mimetic desire (René Girard’s literary criticism category) that directs the lifes of the protagonists. The analysis of the mimetic relations between the characters brings out Mazeppa’s double Ukrainian-Polish identity, and Słowacki’s understanding of the connections between the aforementioned countries set in the drama. Moreover, the article questions the title protagonist’s idealizing interpretations: the author is more likely to link him rather with the heroes of ethnic and cultural borderlands of the pre-partition Polish Republic and Lithuania than with a set of morally developing figures from Słowacki’s mystical period.

“Godzina myśli [Hour of Thought]” as a Study of Romanticism. Duality in Romantic Love

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The treatise is based on a more general thesis concerning romantic literature, and investigated first and foremost on the example of Juliusz Słowacki’s Hour of Thought which says that though the literature in question was principally an expression of a young man’s pains, it also encompassed his emotional past completed with pains of a man-child. Since this expression is either hidden or intermediary and effected with very particular artistic means of expression, it has so far been unnoticed. The aforementioned means of expression can only be traced today with the knowledge of mental phenomena as revealed by psychoanalysis. The combination of the two research methods – i.e. literary and psychoanalytical – and its application to the examination of so-called romantic love shows that the love in question is coupled with the feelings that join a child with its mother at the earliest stages of the child’s life with its mother.

Kordian’s Mother

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The subject of the article is an interpretation of Juliusz Słowacki’s Kordian from the perspective of the mother being evoked but absent from the stage. As based on the analysis of this figure and the relations drawn out in the work between mother and son, the author of the paper wants to show the significance the canonical drama had to 19th century generation of young conspirators. The interpretation of the drama from the perspective of Kordian’s mother allows to review the myth of Polish Mother formed in the Polish Romanticism. Słowacki’s drama shows that apart from Marian motherhood marked by an agreement on the son’s suffering (in the name of the country) there is also motherhood suffused with love for body and life which the mother gave rise to. The other side of the myth – Polish Mother antinomy – immensely affects Słowacki’s imagination and thus leads to a meaningful pushing the mother into the shadow of the drama in question.

Juliusz Słowacki’s “In Switzerland”. Imagery and Symbolism

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Introduction to the article is devoted to the shaping of Słowacki’s artistic attitude: plastic education, learning about the old and contemporary painting and the papers by Western Europe theatre set designers, and his own reflection upon transferring of the realia set in his memory to the images he created.

Imagery of the nature in the poem In Switzerland was directly influenced by the Swiss Alps landscapists but Słowacki broke their conventions since the space he created proves to be of sign character, is dominated by movement, and conveys its senses with the help of symbols taken from Mediterranean mythology, the Bible, anthropology and folklore. The images’ characteristic feature is a suggestion of the Whole Universe (the influence of German idealistic philosophy) and its spiritualizing. Słowacki juxtaposes literality with metaphor, the real space with spiritual one, and the finished with the unfinished. The nature serves as the background and a place for love episode which ends with the death of the beloved. The narrator and at the same time her melancholic partner reconstructs the past and maps his internal state onto the vision of the world.

The final part of the paper looks the subject proper ahead and considers the poem Anhelli to formulate a conclusion that without Anhelli and In Switzerland the poem King-Spirit would not have reached the masterly level.

Two Forgotten Drawings by Juliusz Słowacki

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The paper is a presentation of Juliusz Słowacki’s two drawings done most probably in the first months in 1845. The drawings have never been reproduced and the scanty pieces of information on them are either casual or grossly inadequate.

The first drawing shows in a satiric way an episode common among the émigrés:  Mickiewicz’s prophetic vision signaling Andrzej Towiański’s arrival to the West. The second drawing is an ironic and derisive evaluation of pro-Russian tendencies in the Circle of God’s Cause initiated by its founder Andrzej Towiański and his deputy, Adam Mickiewicz.

At the turn of 1844 and 1845 Słowacki actively and keenly protested against the aforementioned tendencies: he wrote proclamations, notes, letters, and poems. Their analysis in the first part of the paper (fragments 3–5) gives evidence to prove that at a moment the drawings in question appeared as an important element of some action lead by Słowacki. One may not exclude the idea that while working on them, Słowacki  thought of publishing them (and it was probably also with the intention that he copied a poem from his draft to give it a title in the clean copy A Lair <Matecznik>).

The second part of the paper (especially fragments 7–8) brings a commentary to the drawings in question and an attempt to a possibly complete identification and explanation of all the details Słowacki put in them. One may explicitly see here the core of Słowacki’s extremely critical attitude to the political and spiritual endeavors into which Master Towiański and his deputy involved their supporters.

Did Słowacki Write Poems in French? On the Beginning of the Poet’s Career in Paris in 1832

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The subject of the article is Juliusz Słowacki’s literary activity in the first period of his stay in Paris (September 1831 – December 1832), after the collapse of the Polish November Insurrection (1830–1831), among the Polish émigrés and in the French communities (among others, his contacts with Marc-Antoine Jullien, the editor of “Revue encyclopédique”). Słowacki prepares his literary debut (Poezje <Poetry>, vol. 1–2, 1832), strives for his recognition by critics and considers writing in French. The aim of the paper is a description of the relation between Słowacki’s literary pieces in Polish and in French (En s’éveillant nous suit de ses regards pensifs…, Le Roi de Ladawa, Béatrix Cenci) and an explanation of the reason of his failure in reaching a satisfactory literary position.

On Some Editorial Problems of the Poem “Angel of Fire – My Left Angel...”

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The poem known as Angel of fire – my left angel… consisting of 16 lines has also a version in which the incipit line reads “The angel of flames, my left angel,” and the poem itself, regardless of minor differences, is 2 lines longer than the known manuscript. The different version was published in 1908 in “Słowo Polskie [Polish Word]” by Jan Pietrzycki, as he informed, on the basis of  Hipolit Błotnicki’s copy. Preparing with Zbigniew Przychodniak the critical edition of Słowacki’s Poems (Poznań 2005), we failed to access the Lvov periodical in question; focusing only on critical editions, we also omitted the popular ones edited by Pini (publ. 1909, 1933, 1937) in which the poem is present in its longer version (Ewa Szczeglacka wrote about this problem a few years ago) and has the incipit title Angel of fire – my left angel… By a stroke of luck in December 2008 we received an image of the text published in “Słowo Polskie.” Thus, it seemed reasonable to complement the piece of information contained in the note to the poem in the 2005 collection. Considering the above, the character of the present paper is to give an extended version of a note to the poem with a full history of the piece. On the margin of the poem’s history I may also raise questions on the authorship of the poem The angel of flames, my left angel…

Review: Mariusz Jochemczyk, Rzeczy piekielne. Wokół „Poematu Piasta Dantyszka” Juliusza Słowackiego. Katowice 2006. „Prace Naukowe Uniwersytetu Śląskiego w Katowicach”. Nr 2473

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The text undertakes a review of Mariusz Jochemczyk’s book which is a new attempt to give an outlook on Juliusz Słowacki’s Dantyszek’s Poem; the basis for the interpretation is a chain of biographical events, as well as contexts and literary tradition from which the poem emerged. The researcher’s attention focuses on the figure of Słowacki, on his internal experience, on the Dantean of the poem, and on the romantic manifestations of love of the Polish people for the homeland. A high value of Jochemczyk’s book is also a discursive writing style which brings about reflections and replies.

Review: „Świat z tajemnic wyspowiadany...” Studia o „Samuelu Zborowskim” Juliusza Słowackiego. Pod redakcją Marii Kalinowskiej, Janusza Skuczyńskiego i Magdaleny Bizior. Toruń 2006. „Antyk Romantyków”

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The review deals with a collection edited by Maria Kalinowska, Janusz Skuczyński, and Magdalena Bizior on Juliusz Słowacki’s Samuel Zborowski – one of the most unusual and complicated works of Polish romanticism. Articles gathered in the book present Słowacki’s drama from a few perspectives: genesis philosophy, ancient myths, history and historiosophy, and theatre.

Review: Kwiryna Ziemba, Wyobraźnia a biografia. Młody Słowacki i ciągi dalsze. [Gdańsk 2006]

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Analysing Kwiryna Ziemba’s book Wyobraźnia a biografia. Młody Słowacki i ciągi dalsze, the reviewer stresses that Ziemba’s one of the most basic methodological assumptions is a struggle to mingle analysis and interpretation of literary works with biography of their author. The researcher suggests a new and original insight into Juliusz Słowacki. It is well supported by the concept of durability of some biographic narrations in the artist’s life and literary creativity. Ziemba makes an important turn when she highly apprises the artistic values of Słowacki’s juvenilia. The central part of the paper is devoted to a study on A Journey from Naples to the Holy Land, which is comprehensive and unflinching, and sheds a new light on a  number of deeply hidden meanings to the still underread masterpiece of Polish romanticism.  A piquant essay on Słowacki’s late creativity closes the book in question. The author sketches here a portrait of a mature artist, and a philosophical and theological poet.

Review: Biografie romantycznych poetów. Redakcja Zofia Trojanowiczowa i Jerzego Borowczyka. Poznań 2007. „Prace Komisji Filologicznej”

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The review presents the book Biografie romantycznych poetów (Biographies of Romantic Poets) edited by Zofia Trojanowiczowa and Jerzy Borowczyk, which consists of papers on biographies of romantic figures and relationship between biography and literature in their artistic creativity.

Review: Marek Stanisz, Przedmowy romantyków. Kreacje autorskie, idee programowe, gry z czytelnikiem. Kraków 2007. „Studia Dziewiętnastowieczne”

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The text is a review of Marek Stanisz’s book which takes up the subject of ideological and rhetorical aspects of literary prefaces. The author attempts to describe the changes that literary prefaces underwent in the romantic epoch and also teaches about the theoretical problems connected with this issue. A complete effect of often revealing the analyses is the picture of the preface as a balanced research subject. Stanisz’s consideration is set into a literary history scheme imposing a widespread view on Polish romanticism being an epoch restricted by Adam Mickiewicz’s pioneering appearances on the one hand and Cyprian Norwid’s critical revisionism on the other hand.

Review: Wiesław Rzońca, Norwid a romantyzm. Warszawa 2005

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The text reviews Wiesław Rzońca’s book, in which the author convincingly proves the thesis that Norwid belonged to the third generation of Polish romantic poets, after the subsequent imitators of inspired poets. In the light of the reviewer’s opinion, the thesis is fully validated with facts. It can thus be concluded that the hundred years dispute over the forms of Norwid’s presence in Polish romanticism is satisfactorily settled in the book in question.

Review: Rüdiger Safranski, Romantik. Eine deutsche Affäre. München 2007

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The text analyses Rüdiger Safranski’s monograph on romanticism and its significance to German culture. The reviewer evaluates the usability of Safranski’s thesis on the existence of two terms related to romanticism: romanticism as an epoch in literary history (“die Romantik”) and the romantic – a form of awareness present also nowadays (“das Romantische”). The text discusses German criticism reactions to Safranski’s monograph and its position against the state of research on romanticism in Germany.

Obituary: Ewa Jolanta Głębicka (March 20th, 1953 – August 20th, 2008)

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The text is a posthumous remembrance of Ewa Jolanta Głębicka, a distinguished expert in classical, medieval, and renaissance literature, a meritorious editor of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Jan Kochanowski, Franciszek Dionizy Kniaźnin, Andrzej Maksymilian Fredro, and Szymon Starowolski, as well as a remarkable translator with numerous achievements in translation from Latin and modern languages.

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