The paper points at the possibilities of Norwid’s output reading—the output being rooted in Christianty, both in the dimension of poetics, aesthetics, and that of worldview—in a postsecular perspective. This perspective is devised in the spirit of Charles Taylor’s thought that adopts the vision of modernity not only as progressing secularisation, but also as coexistence of secular and religious tendencies. Religion, in this view seen as one of worldview possibilities, is squeezed from the public sphere and made to commence a dialogue with modernity. Norwid’s stance suits the horizon of such a dialogue: modernity criticism, reinterpretation of developing secularness, modes of its moral working, and simultaneously opening to the challenges of modernity, as well as drive for reintegration of the order of religion and civilisation.
Pamiętnik Literacki 3 / 2021
Co-financed by the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport from the Fund of Culture Promotion, of the subsidies set up in games included into the state monopoly, pursuant to art. 80, section 5, of the Act of November 19th, 2009, on games of chance.
Ministerstwo Kultury, Dziedzictwa Narodowego i Sportu – the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport
Theses and Trials
Eschatological Plots in Norwid’s Fine Arts
The article refers to the eschatological issues that preoccupied not only Norwid-poet and Norwid-thinker, but also to a large degree complemented his iconography concentrated on a man’s life and death. The author of the paper analyses a few Norwid’s pictorial and graphical works produced in the 1850s that directly denote the Christian learning of every man’s Resurrection at the end of time. A prominent place among the works is occupied by the etching Alleluja (Hallelujah) that displays a personalistic horizon of Norwid’s thought and love for the concrete. The analysed pieces, the sources of which are deeply rooted in the readings of the papers by Saint Paul who sketches for Christians the images of eschatological hope, are on the one hand a peculiar profession of faith, while on the other hand a fruit of intensified reflection on the issue to which the poet devoted a text written in a form of a collection of notes, and which was published by Juliusz Wiktor Gomulicki under the title [Zmartwychwstanie historyczne] ([Historical Resurrection]).
Joseph von Eichendorff’s “Lucius” and Cyprian Norwid’s “Quidam”
The two narrative long poems, Eichendorff’s Lucius (1857) and Norwid’s Quidam (written 1857, published 1863) present common traces—contrasts and similarities—without any direct genetic contact. Both were written by Catholic poets at almost the same time in a period of fluid literary currents, they belong to the large field of 19th century narrative poetry, they tell, each in its own way, the stories of some ancient world men and women impressed or unconsciously influenced by growing Christianity, and last but not least, their portrayal of ancient Rome contains critical commentaries on the then modern European (and also German or Polish) political and social realities.
The Polish Late Romantic poet Cyprian Norwid (1821–1883) is the author of a long and captivating narrative poem Quidam (written between 1854 and 1859) in which he focuses on Rome during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. In this poem Norwid devotes much attention to the relation between the old, gradually declining pagan world (Greece and Rome) and the revealed religions from the Orient (Christianity and Judaism). This narrative about the time of intellectual and spiritual transition owes its originality to a particularly Polish (East Central European) perspective. It appears that the specific ambience of Hadrian’s Rome, the interdependence between old and new is illustriously shown by the title quidam (meaning Alexander’s son) who has arrived from the periphery of the Empire to its centre. A similar “provincial” perspective is sometimes found in contemporary French historiography (Amédée Thierry), but it has a different sense. French historians, while somewhat deliberately actualising Roman history, tend to identify the fate of the Empire with contemporary France (although Gaul was Rome’s province). Norwid’s more complicated attitude is reflected in the construction of the main protagonist (Alexander’s son). Due to his origin, he never identifies with Rome, but he feels strongly attracted to ancient Greece, although he also notices the absence of vitality of the “exclusive” Greek spirit. Alexander’s son is existentially privileged since he understands the emptiness of his times, but he lacks the ability to fill this void with a new life. It is possible to transfer the relation between the Empire’s periphery (the province) and its centre (Rome) to Norwid’s times and to link it with his status as a Polish emigré in France, although there exists no full symmetry between these two worlds. The perspective of the narrator of Quidam often merges with the point of view of Alexander’s son, but the difference is that the former knows more: he can grasp the fate of his main character in the context of “holy history” (Heilsgeschichte). Their closeness contributes – on the other hand – to the possibility of a non-political actualisation of the poem (going beyond the allegory of Poland: Greece oppressed by its neighbours, and Russia as Rome). Norwid’s epoch was—from his “peripheral” point of view—characterised by similar intellectual and spiritual emptiness as that in Hadrian’s Rome.
The paper offers an insight into a family of a root word śmiech (laugh) in Cyprian Norwid’s poems. The family is composed of 10 lexemes, namely naśmiać się (have a good laugh), pośmiewać (spend some time laughing), pośmiewisko (laughing stock), rozśmiać się (make laugh), śmiać się (<to> laugh), śmiech (laughter), śmieszny (laughable), wyśmiewać się (laugh somebody sick), wyśmiewany (laughed) and zaśmiać się (give a laugh), used 43 times in total. In only a part of their uses, the words above refer to a broadly understood category of the comic or joy, but even in such instances laugh and laughing have only occasionally purely ludic character and are positive. Much more often the one who laughs is given negative values since their statements and behaviours prove to be against someone or something, they manifest aggressive and marked by superiority attitude towards the other person or certain wonders or occurrences, while laughing as such tends to be either non-authentic behaviour or a signal of negative emotions or stances. In their uses as adjectives, the ludic aspect is either absent or markedly of secondary importance, and the lexeme śmieszny (laughable) oftentimes is assigned the meaning ‘weird, bizarre, surprising’ and/or ‘trivial, not worthy of attention.’
The article is devoted to a Leipzig edition of Cyprian Norwid’s Poezje (Poetry, 1863) published by Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus. Editors of the poet’s writings did not consider the volume to be an integral entity that should be included into the edition of Norwid’s entire output. This decision, though understandable on the grounds of editorship, overshadows his most crucial publication achievement, also important from an autoreceptive perspective. Poezje (Poetry) is therefore the first edition of Norwid’s collected poems that allowed him a confrontation with his own writing style and consideration of his own creative path. Poezje (Poetry), published as volume 21 of “Biblioteka Pisarzy Polskich” (“Library of Polish Writers”), defined its author as a mature writer, conscious of his vocation and workshop (indication to the harp as to a poet’s attribute, to “great city”—a place of trial for a poet and poetry). It also seems reasonable that composing the collection offered Norwid a stimulus to new creative investigations which he realised in Vade-mecum.
On Norwid and Some Debate
The paper presents Cyprian Norwid’s view on the issue of Poland and Slavdom, directly connected with Dionizja Poniatowska’s 1857 review from “Przegląd Poznański” (“Poznań Review”) of Henryk Kamieński’s book Rosja i Europa. Polska. Wstęp do badan nad Rosją i Moskalami (Russia and Europe. Poland. An Introduction to the Research in Russia and Muskovites). Norwid’s critical views towards those of Poniatowska are presented against heated discussions on the Slavs, Slavdom, and Poland held in the 1850s and later among the circles of Polish (and also Russian and French) authors. At the heart of the discussions lie the issues problems of the origin of the Slavs, their internal diversification, the place of Poland in Slavdom and references to Polish pre-Partition political thought, as well as the visions connected with them.
Norwid’s Scale of Activism
This article attempts a reassessment of Cyprian Norwid’s response to Romantic activism. The model promoted by Norwid himself—the replacement of action (czyn) by labor (praca)—has the disadvantage that it presupposes a vague concept of labor that ultimately refers back to action. This article uses Harold Bloom’s concept of an “internalization” of revolutionary prometheism in late Romanticism to show, by contrast, how Norwid formally downsizes activism. The focus on the “small” allows for a new juxtaposition with the Biedermeier, a distinctive Central European current of the time, in general and Adalbert Stifter’s “gentle law” (das sanfte Gesetz) in particular. This article then takes a closer look at three cases of downscaling in Norwid’s writings: the modeling of action as circle and wheel (koło) in Promethidion (1851) and other writings, the paradoxical demonstration of why God’s omnipotence reveals itself within the realm of the “small” in Białe kwiaty (White Flowers, 1856–1857) as well as a series of ironic micro-simulations of the “deed from the word” (czyn ze słowa), which are meant to expose conventional Romantic activism as magical thinking.
Contributions to Interpretation and Reception History of the Poem “Żydowie polscy” (“Polish Jews”)—a Two-Voice Approach
The article falls into in a series of comments on a famous Cyprian Norwid’s poem Żydowie polscy (Polish Jews, 1861). The authors, referring to the poem’s interpretations to this day, focus first and foremost on the potential of its actualisation in the context of the contemporary reflection on the Polish-Jewish relationships, and in effect they turn attention to the risk of instrumentalisation that this mode of analysis brings about. A flagrant example of such practices is the reception of the text that took place in connection with the celebration of the poet’s 50th death anniversary in 1933 in the papers of disparate worldview and political orientation (from “Myśl Narodowa” <“National Thought”> to “Nasz Przegląd” <“Our Review”>). The analysis of the statements allows to settle that the poem’s variously profiled clarifications reveal its ambiguous reading in the context of Norwid’s alleged attitude to Polish Jews and their place in citizen society, and in our perspective also induces to verify the modes of their presentation in the Polish imaginarium.
The article recollects a long-standing so far editorial and research practice of editing Cyprian Norwid’s Vade-mecum, and also gives attention to the new textological solutions. To this day, only the manuscript’s clean copy or only rough draft was made the editorial basis, and both possibilities referred to the entire collection. The new proposal limits the solutions to each poem, postulating a separate textological analysis (as binding one) to each piece of the cycle. The choice would not pertain to the collection but (due to its incompleteness and roughness) to its individual items. The study also suggests a digital edition of Vade-mecum, an open edition—especially in its material and commentary matter—though also unavoiding editorial completion.
The article is devoted to Michał Głowiński’s papers in Norwid studies. The author attempts to situate Głowiński’s papers in the broad context of his examinations of Polish poetry, thus the investigations into Tuwim and Leśmian, as well as such theoretical sketches in which Norwid’s poetry serves as an instructive exemplum to support the observations, are recalled. The author’s attention is primarily focused on Głowiński’s revealing identifications referring to the structure of parables in the poems from the volume Vade-mecum. Trybuś poses questions about the significance of the aforementioned identifications to the development of Norwid studies and sets them into a historical perspective, seeks relationships between Głowiński’s research in Norwid’s allegory and Gadamer’s “rehabilitation of allegory,” and finally reconstructs the peculiar style of reading of so-called dark poetry based mostly on the art of interpretation.
The article attempts to reconstruct the life of Anna Czaplicka, primo voto Urban, née Modzelewska, a Russian thinker Pyotr Lavrov’s life companion, and Norwid’s acquaintance. Her identity, hidden due to Czaplicka’s underground activities, was hardly reachable not only for the 19th century police, but also for the 20th century Norwid scholars. Born in 1830 in the family of a Polish November Insurgent, she was a messenger during the Polish January Uprising, fled from Siberian Exile, became an emigrée, and died in mysterious circumstances in Holland in 1872. The paper collects the available data to the uncommon woman’s biography and poses questions that still deserve answers.
Intellectual History in Literary Contexts (Written on the Margins of Cyprian Norwid’s “Milczenie” )
The article examines the 19th century evolution of history of ideas and its relatedness to literary studies. The debate whether philology, philosophy, and history are autonomous humanistic disciplines or they make up a part of what is informally referred to as “humanities” or “humanistic sciences” lasted for the whole century. The idea, seen as a notion connected with philosophy of cognition, became the central part of the debate. In the present paper I suggest an interpretation of Cyprian Norwid’s essay Milczenie (Silence) as a text designed by the poet to enter this debate.an Norwid’s essay Milczenie (Silence) as a text designed by the poet to enter this debate.
The author of the paper describes an unknown fact from Cyprian Norwid’s life referring to the artist’s participation in a Cracow Wystawa szkiców (Exhibition of Sketches) that took place between June 10th and July 2nd, 1882, in Sukiennice (Cracow Cloth Hall). Juliusz Mien and Zygmunt Cieszkowski were organisers of the cyclical event. They formed a partnership that associated Polish artists to provide service in purchasing works of art. The paper recollects some press notes devoted to the exhibition, and the information of Norwid’s participation in it allows to include Mien into the corresponding circle of the poet-artist.
The paper discusses the documents found while completing the tasks within the framework of a research project (no. 0514/NPRH/H1a/83/2015) in Alojzy Władysław Strzembosz’s output preparation in the Polish Library in Paris. The documents refer to Cyprian Norwid’s death and the issues linked to his funeral and exhumation. They include, inter alia, the poet’s death certificate dated May 24th, 1883, issued by the 13th arrondissement’s Mayor’s office, the Ivry Cemetery’s exhumation bill issued April 18th, 1888, and a bill for transferring his corpse to the Montmorency Cemetery dated September 27th, 1888. Among the discovered archive papers one also finds those that pertain to the activities of the Komisja Opieki nad Grobami Polskimi (Society for the Protection of Polish Graves) (now Towarzystwo Opieki nad Polskimi Zabytkami i Grobami Historycznymi we Francji <Society for the Protection of Monuments and Historical Graves in France>) that started in France towards the end of 1830s. The article discusses and describes the discoveries, as well as their significance for the present day knowledge in the poet’s posthumous fortune and for the activities of the Polish émigrés in Paris for the protection of Polish graves.