Issue: 3/2019

Pamiętnik Literacki 3 / 2019

Bibliographical Review 3/19

Avant-Garde Midwives: Women and the Beginning of New Art

The subject of the article is the place and role of women in avant-garde creativity. Women always were midwives of transformative and modernization processes, though their contribution was often omitted or passed over in silence; they were active and present, though not always visible and remembered. The text reminds of the figures of the women connected with the avant-garde movement of, inter alia, Cracow, Lvov, or Poznań in the 1920s, the translators of Italian and French futurists (Janina de Witt, Wanda Melcer, Anna Ludwika Czerny), the actresses reciting poems at avant-garde soirées (referred to as “vivid word” woman reciters: Julia Romowicz, Janina Przybylska, Zofia Ordyńska, Helena Buczyńska, Irena Solska, Anna Frenkiel, Stanisława Wysocka), woman reviewers, woman editors and woman journalists (Anna Limprechtówna, Maria Sławińska, Bronisława Rychter-Janowska, Jadwiga Migowa, Jadwiga Osbergerówna).

A Communist Propaganda Leaflet or Something Else?
On Bruno Jasieński’s “Palę Paryż” (“I Burn Paris”)

Palę Paryż (I Burn Paris), a novel by Bruno Jasieński, published for the first time in the year 1928, is still vivid in literary discourse, and continuously enjoys reader interest, the evidence of which is the novel’s new editions (the latest from the year 2005) as well as new translations into foreign languages (in 2012 into English). The novel’s interpretations formulated so far are somewhat superficial and do not further validate their plausibility. The author of the article considers some of the theses most often unarguably adopted, especially the issue of the novel’s utopianism and its allusiveness to Paul Morand’s novel Je brûle Moscou (I Burn Moscov). The plot of Jasieński’s piece is researched within the categories of an intellectual experiment; the paper also includes the novel’s updating interpretation as a text about violence mechanisms in a society. The ideological matter of I Burn Paris is viewed from the perspective of a few versions of the text modified by the author himself. The article indicates that the vision of communist paradise presented in the final part of the novel does not diminish its semantic potential, as well as highlights the stylistic richness and compositional content of I Burn Paris.

A Model of Modernity
Bruno Schulz’s “Ulica Krokodyli” (“The Street of Crocodiles”): the Story’s Intermediary

The article presents a new interpretation of Bruno Schulz’s short story Ulica Krokodyli (The Street of Crocodiles), most often understood as showing the transformation which Drohobych underwent at the beginning of the 20th century. As based on the Drohobych press issued before the World War I and on historical papers, an attempt was made to reconstruct a possible context of Street of Crocodiles, i.e. plans of Drohobych rebuilding, especially the city’s electrification and building a streetcar line. The story’s careful reading allows to set an ontologically ambiguous character of many objects which do not have the status of real buildings but seem to be a part of a paper model. The observations lead to concluding that Schulz presents a projected unfulfilled future of Drohobych modernity after which only a model remained.

Debora Vogel and Emancipatory Gestures

The author interprets Debora Vogel’s essays from the perspective of experiencing modernity: she focuses on insignificant gestures and on the gestures of insignificant people. She poses the questions about the gestures and properties of urban modernization, about the conditions of women visibility and that of working people, who are crucial in Vogel’s works. The subject of research is especially the process of such figures’ emancipation in the public sphere at the beginning of the 20th century. The author proves that the passively-dynamic Vogel’s literary style is strictly dependent on the pace of everyday life. The principle of rotation and repetition also dominates on the level of subject, inertness is not identified with stillness; by contrast, cyclicality well corresponds to circulation of things and programmed movement of figures in space. Vogel, however, rejects the referential model of art and its understanding, seeing in the connection between everyday life and aesthetics the relation of penetration, not mimetism.

Feminizing the Avant-Garde?
Wanda Melcer’s “Na pewno książka kobiety” (“Surely a Woman’s Book”)

The article attempts to research Na pewno książka kobiety (Surely a Woman’s Book), Wanda Melcer’s second poetic volume, concentrating mainly on the collection’s avant-garde inspirations, and placing it in the context of various theories of woman literature. A parallel reading of Melcer’s poems and selected works by Polish and Italian futurists leads to concluding that the Polish poetess employed and moderated some elements of futurist themes and aesthetics. The author also researches those poems in which the poetess efforts to do intersemiotic translations from avant-garde paintings in order to create literary counterparts of pointillist or cubist technique. The article also exhibits the emancipatory implication of some lyrics—this aspect is linked with the figure of “New Woman,” and at the same time with an archetypical image of creating woman.

Avant-Garde Responses
Anna Świrszczyńska’s Poems and Poetic Prose of the 1930s

The paper concentrates on Anna Świrszczyńska’s debut book; precisely on attempts to discuss its complex structure, combinations of various poetics, recurrent motifs. The collection, composed both of lyric sensu stricto and of poetic prose, is an interesting amalgamate of avant-garde, catastrophic, and surrealist trend (though rather employing the surrealist achievements). Important in the analysed pieces is also an indication of the role played by the art, oftentimes cloaked with the atmosphere of vitalism—so close to the Skamander diction. Bearing in mind that the poetess belonged to co-called Generation 1910, her peculiar distinctness, functioning outside literary groups, as well as her deriving from tradition and from the literary trends contemporary to her, the author of the article extracts the specificity of Świrszczyńska’s successful and mature debut in which parallel to dynamism one discerns darker tones indicating that her lyric collages were not only beautiful, but also referred to non-literary contexts: they stuck in catastrophic moods felt three years before the outbreak of the World War III.

Everyday, Bitter, Toxic
“Young” Literature in Affect

The paper is an attempt at analyzing contemporary Polish literature from the perspective of research in affects. The category “action in affect” is here used to interpret the novels by young writers, such as Magdalena Rejmer, Mikołaj Łoziński, and Ignacy Karpowicz. The main focus of interest is the mode of experiencing the post-transformation reality by the generation of writers who enter adulthood after the year 1989.

World as Language
Spoken Language and Linguistic Grotesque in Dorota Masłowska’s Prose

The article deals with an analysis of language in Dorota Masłowska’s experimental novels (Wojna polsko-ruska <White and Red>, Paw królowej <The Queen’s Peacock>, Inni ludzie <Other People>). Its starting point assumes that the prose is not a direct transfer of colloquial speech (as was claimed by many critics), but it consists in its radical transformation according to the rules of linguistic grotesque. “Someone else’s words” are both subject and material of representation. No mode of expression has here neutral form, and none forms background for eccentrically transformed forms. Also, the sphere of the narrator’s comments, heterogeneous and flickering with many various voices, becomes a place of (auto)parodical activities. Using someone else’s language and its means of expression, Masłowska unmasks its vices, creating the effect of auto-grotesque. It complicates the problem of the author’s subjectivity which is not constructed in a different order of expression, but in a multidirectional, intertextual, dialogical reference to some else’s word.

Leśmian’s Arabian Nights

The article discusses the Oriental inspirations in Bolesław Leśmian’s books from the year 1912 for children and in Przygody Sindbada Żeglarza (The Adventures of Sindbad the Sailor) published in 1913, as well as in the poem Nieznana podróż Sindbada Żeglarza (Unknown Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor) from the year 1911. The pieces are based on the stories from Tysiąc i jedna noc (Arabian Nights). The author attempts to establish which edition of the Eastern tales formed the basis of Leśmian’s version. Reaching for the French (Contes des Mille et une nuit) and the English edition (Stories from Arabian Nights) with Edmund Dulac’s illustrations prove vital since Jakub Mortkowicz used a few of the illustrations in the Polish edition of Leśmian’s Klechdy sezamowe (Sesame Tales).

“Kochany (Panie) Janku...” (“Dearest Johnny...”): Jolanta Fuchsówna’s Letters to Jan Brzękowski

Published here are two letters by a woman writer and publicist Jolanta Fuchsówna (1899–1944) from the year 1935 to Jan Brzękowski, which are found in the archive unit of the poet’s correspondence of The Polish Library in Paris. The essential part of the study is an attempt to reconstruct Fuchsówna’s biography.

War, Emigration and the Soul of the Poet
On Hermann Broch and Józef Wittlin’s Correspondence

The article treats of two writers, Hermann Broch (1886–1951) and Józef Wittlin (1896–1976), who are linked by the generational experience of the World War I. Both of them struggled with the problem of representation of the war in their seminal works Die Schlafwandler (Sleepwalkers) and Sól ziemi (Salt of the Earth). The similarities between the novels’ protagonists form the starting point to an attempt at comparing the authors’ biographies and their literary outputs. The sketch was produced as based on source text search query of so far unpublished German correspondence between Broch and Wittlin kept up between 1945–1951. The letters are preserved in two literary archives Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library (Yale, New Haven) and Houghton Library (Harvard, Cambridge).

“Kontakt intelektualny z Państwem obojgiem na odległość daje mi [...] wiele radości” (“The intellectual contact with both of You from distance [...] brings me much happiness”)
Teodor Parnicki’s Letters to Teresa and Sławomir Cieślikowscy from the Years 1961–1966

In the broad collection of Teodor Parnicki’s letters to Teresa and Sławomir Cieślikowscy from the 1960s we observe the intellectualists’ gradually forming transcontinental friendship. The prose writer, while staying on emigration in Mexico, was detached from readers but eager to contact them, whereas Teresa Cieślikowska, connected with the University of Łódź, worked at that time on her doctoral dissertation (ultimately a book) on Parnicki’s creativity. Sławomir Cieślikowski, a distinguished Orientalist (Indian scholar), was also a careful reader of Parnicki’s novels, and traces of this reading can also be found in the letters in question. Since the period for the correspondents was a time of intense activity, their letters are pithy: they refer mainly to issues connected to literature and history. Owing to that, they become an important source text.

An Outsider Involved. On a New Methodological Conceptio
Review: Pracownia Herberta. Studia nad procesem tekstotwórczym. Redakcja Mateusz Antoniuk. Kraków 2017

The review discusses Karolina Koprowska’s book on the category of the outsider in Polish postwar literature and documentation. The reviewer reconstructs the history of the term and its connections with a more common term of bystander as well as lists a number of advantages of Koprowska’s research proposal, including her originality and innovation.

Morality of the Archive. On the Benefits of Reviving the Writer’s Workshop
Review: Pracownia Herberta. Studia nad procesem tekstotwórczym. Redakcja Mateusz Antoniuk. Kraków 2017

The paper is a review of the collective volume entitled Pracownia Herberta. Studia nad procesem tekstotwórczym (Herbert’s Workshop. Studies in Text-Creation Process) edited by Mateusz Antoniuk. The reviewer discusses the methodological foundations of the papers contained in the book, though primarily he synthetically presents their content, evaluates their value, and points at their cognitional benefits which result from thorough examination of writers’ working materials and from critical insight into their archives.

Young Polish Prose Before the Mirror
Review: Irina Adelgejm, Psichołogija poetiki. Autopsichotierapiewticzeskije funkcyi chudożestwiennogo tieksta (na matieriale polskoj prozy 1990–2010-ch gg.). Moskwa 2018. „Sowriemiennyje litieratury stran Centralnoj i Jugo-Wostocznoj Jewropy”

The review discusses Irina Adelgeim’s monograph Psikhologiia poetiki: Autopsikhoterapevticheskie funktsii khudozhestvennogo teksta (na materiale polskoi prozy 1990–2010-kh gg.) (Psychology of Poetics: Autopsychoterapeutic Functions of the Literary Text <Based on 1990–2010 Polish Prose>) (Moscow 2018) in the context of Bakhtinian concept of self-knowledge and self-awareness. It shows the specificity of the centonic scholarly discourse of the Russian historian of Polish literature based on collages of literary quotes and the juxtaposition of various understandings of the term “narrative.” It also reveals the therapeutic dimension of Adelgeim’s literary studies narrative.

Woman Avant-Garde. Marianne Werefkin’s Expressionist Circl
Review: Marianne Werefkin and the Women Artists in Her Circle. Ed. Tanja Malycheva, Isabel Wünsche. Leiden–Boston (2017). „Avant-Garde Critical Studies”. Volume 33

The subject of the review is a collected volume entitled Marianne Werefkin and the Women Artists in Her Circle (2017) edited by Tanja Malycheva and Isabel Wünsche which not only describes the figure of a slightly forgotten woman painter, cultural life animator and patron of the arts, but also sketches the portraits of many modernist woman artists acting in Germany and in Austria at the time of the Weimar Republic. The book becomes a starting point to consider the woman avant-garde and to highlight the woman’s role in creating a modern artistic network.

Branching the Pathways of Polishness
Review: Being Poland: A New History of Polish Literature and Culture since 1918. Edited by Tamara Trojanowska, Joanna Niżyńska, Przemysław Czapliński. With the assistance of Agnieszka Polakowska. Toronto–Buffalo–London 2018

The reviewer discusses the book Being Poland: A New History of Polish Literature and Culture since 1918 edited by Tamara Trojanowska, Joanna Niżyńska and Przemysław Czapliński, and with translational assistance of Agnieszka Polakowska. The publication is a collection of original interpretations of cultural and literary phenomena analysed against the background of social, historical and political changes, as well as a presentation of selected figures which prove vital from the perspective of the development of artistic occurrences in the 20th c. and 21th c. Poland.

Literature and Literary Studies from the Perspective of Cognitive Linguistuics. Selected Issues
Review: Dociekania kognitywne. Red. Agnieszka Libura, Daria Bębeniec, Hubert Kowalewski. Kraków (2018). „Językoznawstwo Kognitywne. Studia i Analizy“

The review discusses a collective book Dociekania kognitywne (Cognitive Investigations) and shows how linguistics analysis stemming from cognitivism can form a basis of  literary studies reflection. In this view, literary works together with other texts formed in everyday communications create a continuum, while some linguistics phenomena in the sphere of artistic activity are the subject of deliberate transformations or reinforcements, e.g. profiling changes into operating with layer of manifestations.

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