Issue 3/2014

Pamiętnik Literacki 3 / 2014

Dedication to Professor Michał Głowiński

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“Texture of spiritual style of times”. On the Text of Wacław Berent’s “Ozimina” (“Winter Corn”) Afresh

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The author of the textological sketch studies the successive editions of Wacław Berent’s Ozimina (Winter Corn). The first edition dated 1911 (as a matter of fact – end of 1910) was wrongly edited (e.g. accumulation of typographical errors as “samnambula,” though the same page contains the proper “somnambula [insomnia]” or “brewiona” instead of “bierwiona [log of wood]” etc.); the number of errors exceeds one hundred. The author of the article suggests a number of corrections to the novel’s  text, e.g. he suggests a change of “komin [chimney]” into “kominek [fire place]” (as the fire place, not the chimney is the issue here), “siepały” (non-reflexive “struggled”) would be “siepały się” (reflexive ”struggled”) and “druki drohomilskie  [Drohomil prints]” – “druki dobromilskie [Dobromil prints]”.

Roman Jaworski’s “coming into the city”. Short Stories’ Urbanism

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The article discusses the semantics of the motif of the city in Roman Jaworski’s short stories collected in the volume Historie maniaków (The Stories of Maniacs). Creation of the motif allows to identify the hero of the prose (an individualist, a kind of maniac) and the antihero (the crowd) who are in a constant struggle. The city is portrayed with expressions describing non-aesthetic visual and acoustic effects, and thus becomes a figure of modern civilization which threatens the individualist. The individualist, to continue, dreaming and taking advantage of various fighting strategies, raises a rebellion. His projects concerning the expansive nature of the urban agglomeration are doomed to failure. It is only fanciful creation that decides about a kind of victory of an individual, helpless against the pressure of mass culture. Jaworski presents the process which Georg Simmel calls “tragedy of culture,” and he is interested in one of its phases, namely a prolonged moment of antagonistic civilization product turning against the producer. In such antagonistic persistence Jaworski sees the nature of modernity to which the maniac, opposing it, is doomed.

“Composing oneself from oneself” – Tadeusz Peiper’s “Ma lat 22” (“He Is 22 Years Old”) and the Problem of Desire

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The article offers a reading of Tadeusz Peiper’s Ma lat 22 (He Is 22 Years Old) in the context of René Girard’s desire of triangular relationship and Sigmund Freud’s and Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytical theory. Peiper’s text, composed on the model of Bildungsroman, focuses on attempts of the main protagonist to construct a model of strong subjectivity which would be a core self-justifiable and  free from any mediators around which a new existence in the modern world can be built. Releasing from the influence of successive mediators, the protagonist falls into narcissism that hinders the success of such endeavor.

The Riddle of Pueyrredón’s House. On Witold Gombrowicz’s Diaries

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The article is an attempt at a comparative reading of two Witold Gombrowicz’s diaristic texts, namely Dziennik 1953–1956 (Diary 1953–1956) (a literary diary) and Kronos (the writer’s private diary). An analysis of one record concerning general Pueyrredón’s house (Diary 1953–1956) shows the challenges posed when negotiating the fragment with the notes included into Kronos. The author argues that the tensions between the literary and the private in Diary 1953–1956 derive partially from the camouflage, and also from Gombrowicz’s struggle to delineate a tragedy of his own existence in a broad (philosophical, metaphysical) sense more than in the erotic-physiological context. Tischner suggests an interpretation that answers the question why Gombrowicz composed two diaries which differ on factual level. It also makes it possible to state that Gombrowicz wanted his readers to know the content of Kronos.

Gombrowicz and Shakespeare

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As an innovative dramatist, Gombrowicz, strangely, expresses little interest in avant-garde theatre and drama of his epoch. More often, though, he refers to traditional form of performance and world classics, especially to Shakespeare’s dramas which he exploits to replicate in the theatre Shakespearian gesture and his brilliancy. To achieve that Gombrowicz quotes or cryptoquotes Shakespeare, imitates the form and construction of his works, taking advantage of the overlap of home drama structures and the drama of power, generation gap, the technique of “theatre in theatre,” and ultimately the fundamental moral and metaphysical questions. Gombrowicz’s concept of man as an eternal player is also adopted from Shakespeare. What mediates between Gombrowicz and Shakespeare’s plays is Polish romantic drama, especially Balladyna, seen as Macbeth motifs replica, and 19th c. middle-class drama. In this way Gombrowicz brings Shakespearian issues closer to our times and to modern concept of man in order to once again pose the same great philosophical questions.

Hanna Malewska’s Medieval “Archive”

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The article is an analysis of an anthology of medieval sources, unpublished to date, prepared by Hanna Malewska. Its comparison, firstly with the writer’s another source study Listy staropolskie z epoki Wazów (Old Polish Letters from the Epoch of the House of Vasa), then with her two novels Kamienie wołać będą (Stones Would Cry Out) and Przemija postać świata (Fashion of this World Passeth Away) allows to capture the most crucial traits of Middle Ages seen in the anthology in question through the prism of 12th and 13th c. aesthetic and philosophical assumptions. The selection of texts, in spite of their thematic diversity, is to lead to a higher level synthesis of the epoch, available by means of a reference to the motif of cathedral as to society and world model.

Jerzy Andrzejewski – Catastrophes of Body and Rejection of Sublimation

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The article focuses on an analysis of Jerzy Andrzejewski’s strategy of presenting his own corporality with careful attention directed to his autobiographical texts: Notatki do autobiografii (1909–1924) (Notes to Autobiography <1909–1924>) and also to the writer’s literary creativity – inter alia to Ład serca (Mode of the Heart) and Miazga (Pulp). The body is marked with a “non-normative” desire, and as such becomes the undesirable body. Due to the expression of the desire of sexual receptivity the body falls beyond the order of presentation; it can only be recognised as corpse – repugnant, masochistic, eaten by worms when still alive. Such body, failing to yield the modernist sublimation, becomes a “catastrophic body.”

On Some Ideas Important for Understanding Leopold Buczkowski’s Prose

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The article presents some ideas which the author has formulated within long-standing studies of Leopold Buczkowski’s prose. They can be listed in the following order: 1) Buczkowski’s prose is not a uniform collection of texts – contrary to that, under careful scrutiny it is viewed as a multiform conglomerate of texts; legibility of Czarny potok (Black Torrent) tells little about that of Uroda na czasie (A Fashionable Beauty) (the meaning of “legibility” in Buczkowski’s prose analysis is quite imprecise); 2) his late creativity (from Uroda na czasie <A Fashionable Beauty>) takes up a non-narrative mode of writing which no longer relies on telling the history and fortune of characters but rather 3) matching real and stylised quotations, Buczkowski juxtaposes pieces of conversations, discourses and micronarrations to exploit the senses and surprising meanings hidden in them. At the same time he builds textual performances which in the new contexts gain new performative meanings.

Kuśniewicz’s Women. Feminity Functions Analysis in Selected Novels

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The sketch makes an attempt to build a new typology of female characters in Andrzej Kuśniewicz’s selected novels with a view to the functions they perform. The author lists five main functions which women undertake in selected texts, and they are as follows: woman as an absentee, woman as the one who adopts male symbolism, woman as a projection of male fantasy, femininity as a threat, and woman as an element of biology. Such ordering, according to the author, makes it possible to join the numerous features and cultural meanings usually ascribed to “the second sex,” thus facilitating a broader analysis of the women protagonist’s embroilment in the matters created by males, not limited to one only feature. In the second part of the paper the author proposes some interpretations of selected figures with resort to the described methodology and enriching it with the tools developed by gender and men studies.

Dimensions of Time in Ryszard Kapuściński’s “Podróże z Herodotem” (“Travels with Herodotus”)

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In the article the author ponders over the methods of perceiving the past reality. He supports his considerations with the concepts of phenomenological and cosmological time, couples them which leads to avoidance of aporias philosophical speculations are fated to. Such reading of Ryszard Kapuściński’s Podróże z Herodotem (Travels with Herodotus) is made possible through the prism of historical narration (carried out in accordance with Paul Ricoeur’s assumptions). The work in question is assigned special importance due to the introduction of the figure of Herodotus who becomes a peculiar link between both reflections on time referred to here.

Photographic Darkroom. From “The Marks on the Sand” by Timothy O’Sullivan to “Die Box” (“The Box”) by Günter Grass

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This article is an attempt to capture the specificity of the photographic darkroom, understood not only as a place of chemical and technical operations, but also as a space of specific aesthetic, philosophical and existential experience, a space to create new meanings, to construct metaphors and analogies. In considerations outlining some ways of thinking about the photographic darkroom as an area of significance, the range of proposed questions touches four areas: selected approaches towards theory of photography (reflection on the status of the photographic image and its relation to the world being photographed), associations and analogies between photography and existence (the relationship of photography and memory), the search for photographicness as the essence of photography and – using the recognition of the three above reflections – reading the darkroom experience in literary approach (as based on the novel “The Box” <“Die Box”> by Günter Grass).

On Wóycicki’s Lectures and Textbooks – Afresh

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The main aim of the article is to deliver information on the work by Kazimierz Wóycicki Wykłady ze stylistyki i historii literatury (Lectures on Stylistics and Literary History, 1916–1917). The work is de facto the first Polish outline of modern literary theory. Due to its unique character and provisional form of publication it proves necessary to offer a sketch of its content (as it turns out, inconsistent with the title), to present the text’s construction alongside with the data concerning all its damage, inadvertences and editorial peculiarities, manners of reproduction, and other piled up historical traces giving an insight into Wóycicki’s accomplishment. Ultimately, Adamski finds it crucial to acknowledge authorship of the piece after a previous thorough analysis of the author’s specific situation in such kind of texts.

The next issue touched in the paper is the cultural and political context of the composition of  Lectures on Stylistics and Literary History. Wóycicki produced them within the activities of Towarzystwo Kursów Naukowych (Society of Scientific Courses), a semi-legal (and before 1906 illegal) organisation teaching within university courses. In this part Adamski also underlines the crucial role that psychoaesthetic studies and general art studies played at the Faculty of Humanities. A short description of the important for Polish culture tradition of self-studies is also included here.

The most space is devoted to the portrayal of the specific literary genetic situation of the book in question. The analysis of the relationships between the lecture and the textbook is carried out from two cognitive perspectives: the first is derived from Walter J. Ong’s theory, and the second, which through Tzvetan Todorov’s intuitions leads to Bakhtinian sources.

The concluding part recollects the literary theoretical achievements the closes to those from Lectures on Stylistics and Literary History.

Maria Kuncewiczowa, Travelling

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The article considers Maria Kuncewiczowa’s biography from the perspective of her numerous journeys. The journeys were of different dimension and character: the earliest were holiday trips with parents, later ones had educational purposes, she made reporter-literary voyages, peregrinations of an émigré’s and an exile’s, and ultimately life spent on journeys through and between the USA and Poland, and after also Italy. The journeys satisfied the woman writer’s essential internal needs: her desire of being in a different place, curiosity about the world, dream of being a world citizen. In Kuncewiczowa’s books (mainly in Fantomy <Phantoms>, in Natura <Nature> and in Przeźrocza <Slides>) a recurrent motif of journey evidences that it was an element of strengthening her phantom identity separating her from the real world, blurring the contours of reality and indirectly allowing to reconcile with death. At the same time the journeys made Kuncewiczowa uneasy both about the need of travelling and that of getting settled.

To Experience the Experience (according to Ryszard Nycz)
Review: Ryszard Nycz, Poetyka doświadczenia. Teoria – nowoczesność – literatura. Warszawa 2012. „Nowa Humanistyka”. Tom III

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Ryszard Nycz’s book Poetyka doświadczenia (The Poetics of Experience) is an interesting attempt to bring to life a new theoretical approach which deals with the merging of individual experience closed in text with reading practices sensitive to the experience in question. The book includes both theoretical formulations of the problem as well as interesting readings of selected literary texts.

Agonic History of Literature
Review: Marian Bielecki, Historia – Dialog – Literatura. Interakcyjna teoria procesu historycznoliterackiego. Wrocław 2010. „Złota Seria Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego. [T.] 4

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The review discusses Marian Bielecki’s book on an agonic theory of literary history. The methodological part raises the reviewer’s objections as inspiration with Harold Bloom’s proposals leads in a few instances to a too traditional thought about literary history. By contrast, the interpretive part is considered successful since as based on relations of some writers with Witold Gombrowicz’s works Bielecki convincingly presents the importance  of literary agon and creative subjectivity for the dynamics of literary phenomena.

Literature as a School of Life
Review: Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik, Poetyka intersubiektywności. Kognitywistyczna teoria narracji a proza XX wieku. Toruń 2012. „Monografie Fundacji na rzecz Nauki Polskiej”

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The review focuses on a few key elements of Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik’s book which, according to the reviewer, prove the monograph’s exceptional value. The elements are as follows: reinterpretations of Polish concepts of brain’s cognitive abilities (by Przybyszewski and Irzykowski) from the perspective of contemporary cognitive sciences; applicability of Polish structural school for the most recent narrative studies; constructing a model which couples narratives with the cognitive experience of individuals derived from their everyday life.


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