Issue 4/2008

Pamiętnik Literacki 4 / 2008

Dedication to Professor Ryszard Przybylski

Kristeva – Leśmian – Konopnicka

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Bolesław Leśmian’s theory of rhythm, which he expounded in his famous article Rhythm as a word view, interestingly corresponds with the conception of the Semiotic by Julia Kristeva. For both the rhythm is the primeval dimension of language, connected with a creative side of the nature from which the man has irretrievably been separated. Leśmian illustrates his theory with the example of one of Maria Konopnicka’s poems from her cycle From Meadows and Woods. Following it, the author of the paper analyzes the role of the rhythm in the literary activity by Konopnicka, who was often disparaged with easy formulas of “stylization” or  “sensation of peoples’ misery.” As a result it seems that in the poems that use the structure of melic folk poetry privileging natural, physiological rhythms, Konopnicka managed to introduce a woman’s body, and to retrieve a forgotten mother language.

“My Life Flows in a Twofold Stream”. On Zofia Romanowiczówna and Her Diaries

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Zofia Romanowiczówna’s Lvov Diary (1842–1930) prepared and edited by Zbigniew Sudolski (vol. 1–2, Warszawa 2005) is a fascinating reading. It shows a complete life track of its author, leading simultaneously through historical, political, and social transformations, psychical alternations, and changes in the way of thinking and understanding of the world. Initially, Romanowiczówna is a young girl shaped by romantic culture, who tries to fulfill her role of “angel,” a consoler, a helper, and a man’s confidante. As she fails to fit any of the roles for women of the epoch (a wife, a mother, a num, a resident at the family), Romanowiczówna maturely and deliberately chooses to work for a few dozens of years as a teacher “to earn her bread and cheese” and, at the same time, with the sense of social and national mission, she  engages into women organizations of emancipation and independence. At the same time, we find records on the dreams of love and disappointment in love, wavering of the amplitude of religiousness and faith, the joy of friendship and kindness, and a bitter taste of loneliness and incomprehension. Life presented from the perspective of external events and internal sensations – this is Zofia Romanowiczówna’s diary.

Dangerous Liasons – On Maria Komornicka’s “Fairy-tales and Psalmodies”

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The sketch offers a psychoanalytical and gender interpretation of Maria Komornicka’s two fairy-tales On Father and His Daughter and Andronice from her 1900 collection Fairy-tales and Psalmodies. The theme of the former is a woman’s violation by patriarchal structures of her family and father–daughter pathological relationship, and the latter – a toxic love relationship with a possessive desperado partner who reminds of Jan Lemański. To continue with the former fairy-tale, it is not only a story of a father and his daughter but even more vividly – of a mother and her daughter, and the tale’s surface intention (a monument to commemorate the honorable mother) contradicts the text’s latent message (the feeling of being deserted). The fairy-tale in question is no longer a rebellious narration as is the case with Komornicka’s earlier writings; a rebellious woman is replaced here with a lost one. Andronice, on the other hand, tells a different story about a servant and a tyrant, on his destructive and appropriating erotic lust and her (ostensible) revenge. By contrast, the slave, unlike the father dependent Alla from the first tale, chooses a different defense strategy. She turns not to being depressed but to aggression dressed into a modernistic femme fatale. This, however, fails to set her free. The interest of this sketch is not only Komornicka’s writings but also their relationship with the writer’s biography, illustrating not so much the reflection of biographical realities in the texts as analyzing of their structure and developing (not necessarily constructive) strategies to trace the writer’s later life.

Feminist Discourse in Women Yiddish Press

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The article attempts to answer the question concerning the way co-called froyen frage (the matter of women) was presented  in the Yiddish press at the beginning of 20th century and how it was transformed in the twenties last century.  A comparative analysis of three partially survived papers (“Di Yidishe Froyen-Velt,” “Froyen Shtim,” and “Di Froy”) focuses on the following issues:

– who are its editors and co-workers, and to whom it is addressed;

– its aims and the ways they are achieved;

– the model of a women and her place in the society as created by the press;

– whether the discourse of war of sexes is present in the press, and if it does, which arguments and strategies are used;

– whether the discourse is politically engaged;

– the extent to which the Jewish nationality or religion determines the cultural sex identity.

Between an Ecstasy and a Ban. Homoerotism in Witold Gombrowicz’s “Ferdydurke”

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The subject in Gombrowicz’s texts “streches” between the experience of ecstasy, the center of which is the beauty of the young boy, and the ban encompassing this experience. Upon gaining admiration, he concurrently ceases it since such experience enters into the excluded, unknown and inexpressible. The model of such reaction in Pornografia is the mass scene: delighted at the boy’s presence, the narrator suddenly “takes his ecstasy off”. Equivalents of this scene can be found in Gombrowicz’s whole work. The author of the paper focuses on two such realizations which concentrate on the characters of Ferdydurke: Kopyrda and a farmhand (Walek). In Gombrowicz’s text in question, the homoerotic spell proves on the one hand, to be an ecstatic experience, and on the other hand it is seen as an inexpressible strangeness which breaks the established systems of meanings. Sexual “distinctness” marks  the novel’s world with a promise of integration and complete cohesion, and simultaneously leads to disintegration.

King Henry’s Quiet Chamber. On Józef Czechowicz’s “A Story of a Paper Crown”

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The paper presents an interpretation of Józef Czechowicz’s A story of a paper crown carried out in the research perspective of sexual identity. The debut story in question, whose main part takes place in the author’s imagination, openly undertakes the theme of homosexuality. The key to the text’s interpretation prove both biographical experience and cultural influences. The analysis of the works investigates the notion of homosexuality in the context of the epoch of modernism, referring to such elements of tradition as decadence, gothic, misogyny.  The main thesis of the paper concerns the influence of homosexual panic over the imagination’s development in the direction of  catastrophic visionary – a permanent trait of Czechowicz’s mature creativity. The musicality and stylistic embellishments of the prose, in turn, are shown in the light of the camp aesthetics. The research shows the distinctness of Czechowicz’s catastrophism against the Inter-war literature.

“Body’s Adventure” – Subjectivity and Grotesque in Marian Pankowski’s Novel “Here Comes Matuga”

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The text is devoted to an analysis of the model of subjectivity implied by the grotesque means of expression in Marian Pankowski’s novel Here Comes Matuga. The fundament of the grotesque world view emerging from the prose are the negation of common myths and stereotypes, and a positively valued corporality. The anthropological model of Pankowki’s writing fails to be fully described with Mikhail Bakhtin’s categories as it is closer to “anti- humanistic naturalism”. Important contexts of the issues in question are the prose’s connections with the picaresque tradition, and a marked influence of Witold Gombrowicz’s writings. The ultimate part of the paper shows that the way Pankowski operates with the grotesque decides about the originality of his writings, and at the same time hides the intellectual and artistic constraints of his prose and of the personality model present in it.

Women Literary Ambitions in the Light of Vilnius Press (1800–1822)

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The article presents 15 women authors debuting in Vilnius between 1800 and 1822. Their initial literary works were published mostly in the Vilnius papers (“Dziennik Wileński [Vilnius Daily]” and “Tygodnik Wileński [Vilnius Weekly]”). The authors made their debuts at different ages, being between 15 and 59 years old. Writing fables and satires (Placyda Potańska, Antonilla Modzelewska, Felicja Joanna Malikowska), tragedies (Tekla Wróblewska), descriptive poems and synonyms (Tekla Krasińska), they mostly continued the literary traditions of classicistic epoch. The writers (e.g. Panna M…, Emilia Felińska, Paulina Siwicka, Placyda Potańska) also translated well-known poems from other languages – Latin, French, Italian, and German.  While composing reflective and lyric poems (e.g. elegies by a poet known as T. K.) and novels (Anna Mostowska), they joined in the  pre-Romantic trend of the epoch. They mostly wrote to satisfy their hearts. Only some of them dreamt of literary carrier but it was Anna Mostowska who for a while achieved it.

A Distinct Voice of Donna Querpia. Zofia Dembowska’s Letters to Bronisław Malinowski

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The letters of a young painter Zofia Dembowska to the later famous anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski refers also to their common friend Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz and documment their complicated, though short-lived emotional triangle. They were written during a few summer months in 1906, when Dembowska returned to Vilnius after a year spent studying art in Cracow. Introduction to this correspondnce points at a number of important issues illustrated in the letters, e.g. Dembowska’s intellectual development, the shaping of her artistic world view, and also a lengthy process of cultural change caused by women education. Dembowska’s correspondence offers an excellent occasion to comparisons with the artistic version of the events presented in Witkiewicz’s novel 622 Falls of Bungo. Much attention was paid to the problem of Witkiewicz’s misoginism and object-like treatment of women in his dandyish world. In the young painter’s letters we can also see an interesting image of their addressee – his treatment of women based on partnership and an “intellectual” way of seduction.

Review: Maria Konopnicka, Listy do Ignacego Wasiłowskiego. Opracował, wstępem i przypisami opatrzył Jacek Nowak. Warszawa 2005. „Inedita z II Połowy XIX Wieku”

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The subject of the review is Maria Konopnicka’s correspondence with her paternal uncle Ignacy Wasiłowski, encompassing 163 letters of the poet written between 1867 and 1900. Scientifically prepared and put into a broad biographical and historical context, the texts could serve as an important source of knowledge essential for the researchers in second part of 19th century.

Review: Grażyna Kubica, Siostry Malinowskiego, czyli kobiety nowoczesne na początku XX wieku. Kraków 2006

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The text is a review of Grazyna Kubica’s book which tries to reestablish “a women perspective” in the history of culture by presenting portraits of 14 women of different social and professional spheres. The book is entitled Malinowski’s Sisters because all the women happen to be mentioned in the diaries of the world famous anthropologist edited by Kubica a couple of years ago.

Review: Witold Gombrowicz, Pisma zebrane. Redakcja Włodzimierz Bolecki, Jerzy Jarzębski, Zdzisław Łapiński. T. 2: Ferdydurke. Oprac. Włodzimierz Bolecki. Kraków 2007

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The review is an editor’s insight into the second volume of Witold Gombrowicz’s Collected Works, containing a proposal of “canonical” text of the novel Ferdydurke edited by Włodzimierz Bolecki. The edition in question is not a critical one in the classical sense, but rather an introduction into such understood edition. While including a number of interesting ideas of interpretation, the volume neglects the philological matter, the evidence of which can be the size of editor’s notes (a little more than half a page of the novel, and more than 700 pages of the editorial!). Thus, the model for the following volumes should rather be the first volume Bakakaj and other stories edited by Zdzisław Łapiński. The second volume is an interesting monograph unfinished from the editor’s view.

Review: Agnieszka Gawron, Sublimacje współczesności. Powieściopisarstwo Jerzego Andrzejewskiego wobec przemian prozy XX wieku. Łódź 2003

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The text is a review of Agnieszka Gawron’s book on the literary creativity of Jerzy Andrzejewski, an outstanding 20th century writer, who has recently enjoyed a marked interest of scholars.

Review: Renata Ingbrant, From Her Point of View. Woman’s Anti-World in the Poetry of Anna Świrszczyńska. Stockholm 2007. „Stockholm Slavonic Studies”. 38. „Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis”

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The text is a review of a doctoral dissertation on Anna Świrszczyńska’s poetry written in English by a young Swedish Slavicist Renata Ingbrant.

Review: The New Woman and the Aesthetic Opening. Unlocking Gender in Twentieth-century Texts. Edited by Ebba Witt-Brattström. [Stockholm] 2004

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The book review deals with the intersections of aesthetics, culture of Modernism and gender in the context of North and East European literature.


Review: Slavica et alia. Per Anton Maria Raffo. A cura di Andrea Ceccherelli, Cristiano Diddi, Danilo Gheno. Firenze 2007

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The review discusses a volume of papers dedicated to Italian researcher Anton Maria Raffo, a Polonist and Slavicist,  which comprises Slavic and Indo-European papers written mainly in Italian.

Letter to the Editorial Board on Account of the 60th Anniversary of “Polska Bibliografia Literacka [Polish Literary Bibliography]”
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