Issue 4/2013

Pamiętnik Literacki 4 / 2013

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“Mitteleuropa”, a Central European Place of Memory
Translated from French by Olga Mastela

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Le Rider traces the geopolitical and geocultural problems of Central Europe from the Middle Ages till present. He examines the gradual development of Central European cultural identity, showing the creation of the vision of Mitteleuropa understood as a peaceful community of countries and nations which, however, remains under the influence of the German language and culture. Built through the agency of the Holy Roman Empire and continued by a supranational community of humanists of the Renaissance, Mitteleuropa was from 18th century subsequently destroyed by consecutive wars (Thirty Years’ War, Napoleonic Wars, WW I and WW II), Prussian and German Reich Germanisation, colonial endeavors of the Habsburg Dynasty – the latter of which only superficially realised a certain model of interculturality, and also through nationalisms and 20th century authoritative regimes. The author claims that Mitteleuropa ultimately becomes a peculiar “place of memory” for many nations of Europe, yet understood differently by each of them.

Memory in the Era of Dynamic Psychology: Nineteenth-Century Backgrounds
Translated from English by Olga Mastela

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The author of the text sketches the major findings made in the field of memory research in the late nineteenth century, called by some “a golden age of memory,” and shows how these discoveries paved three different pathways for the exploration of memory by fiction writers in the twentieth century. She focuses, in particular, on the legacy of the three leading French and American psychologists: Henri Bergson, who placed memory processes and their duration in the metaphysical domain, Pierre Janet, who examined the functioning of automatic memory at the famous Salpêtrière clinic and actually founded the school of Dynamic Psychiatry, and William James, who in fact invented the notion of “the stream of consciousness,” adopted later by such eminent writers as James Joyce, William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf.


Memory in Radical Constructivism Perspective

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The article presents the concept of memory within the limits of Radical Constructivism. In the first part the author describes the characteristics of this approach and its attitude to the classical conceptions of cognition and knowledge. Radical Constructivism is viewed as a trend in philosophy of science which derives human cognitive abilities from his biological nature and autopoietic organisation, which justifies the view that human cognitive system is a closed system that shapes knowledge about the world in the form of action construct models of the natural world. In the second part the author discusses constructivist models of memory, understood as a neurological, consciousness, and social phenomenon. The memory seen from a neurological perspective is contained in the architecture of neural connections, as a matter of consciousness it is defined as an ability of memories elaborations and their arrangement for social negotiations, while social memory is explicated by structures of units interaction bound by supra-individual relations of systemic nature.

From Literature as Medium of Memory to Poetics of Memory. The Category of Cultural Memory in Literary Research

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The aim of the article is an attempt to assess whether, and to what extent, the concept of cultural memory can be a useful instrument in literature analysis. Discussion of the ways the category of cultural memory functions in literature  (e.g. the concepts of Aleida Assmann and Astrid Erll) is a starting point to determine how such categories as memory of literature and poetics of memory can be described.

The perspective of poetics of memory research, in spite of being a new field of study, offers a chance to disentangle from the opposition of subordination to either reflection about cultural memory in literature studies or to the literary studies concepts of memory studies. Scrutiny of the relationships between a literary text and cultural memory from the view point of poetics of memory may lead to cognitively most interesting results, capable of enriching both literary studies and memory studies discourses.

Bearer of Memory. On Remembering, Handicap and Writing in Leo Lipski’s Literary Creativity

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The article is an attempt to such reading of Leo Lipski which points at the legitimacy of specific, still insufficiently understood and described, convention adopted by the author in question. Lipski’s creativity is seen not only as a testimony of searching for his own diction but also as a struggle to overcome postwar deadlock, stepping outside the rhetoric of the inexpressible, incapacity of expression, emptiness, and ultimately an attempt at overcoming the crisis of language and representation. Important in this view is a demonstration of the interdependence of three orders, namely the framework of memory, the matter, and the text. Particularly painful memory about the Shoah proves to be foundational to the analysed prose on many levels, both thematic and conceptual, linguistic and stylistic.


On the Necessity of the Warsaw Uprising. “Kinderszenen” and “Widma”

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The article studies the cultural memory on the Warsaw Uprising as present in Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz’s Kinderszenen and in Łukasz Orbitowski’s Widma (Specters). In the first part, the author of the article analyses Rymkiewicz’s  mode of construction of memory on the Warsaw Uprising and dismantles the rhetoric structure of his argument. The interpretation leads to the conclusion that the hyperbole is a strategy of the uprising presentation and in effect Kobielska sees it as a deciding factor in Rymkiewicz’s affirmation of the Polish community. In the second part, which refers to Orbitowski, she analyses the ways and effects of building the novel as an alternative history. Kobielska suggests a reading of Widma as a metamemory text which shows indispensability of the Warsaw Uprising to Polish cultural memory. The final comparison of the two writing strategies shows the convergence of the two modes into a common figure of the uprising-hyperbole, a necessary element of our reality.

Georges Perec and the Work of Mourning

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The article suggests an interpretation of Georges Perec’s creativity (given in the light of Bulgarian linguist and Post-Freudian Julia Kristeva) from the psychoanalytical perspective in which the work reveals its hidden face. The author of the article takes notes of psychoanalytical interpretative tropes that Perec left in his work and demonstrates that writing was born from a primal crack and searching the traces for the lost absence. He also points out that the tension between Freudian Verneinung (negation) and Verleugnung (rejection of negation), between mourning and its refusal pierces through the French writer’s work and becomes its underground (hidden) series of events. The study is an attempt to nail down that mourning after the loss of a beloved object (Thing) proves possible and that literature was a way leading to it and its final effect.

Funeral Ceremonies as a Tool for the Legitimisation and Delegitimisation of Authorities

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The research conducted by the author aimed to answer the question why public funeral ceremonies, which in Europe usually serve for the legitimisation of authorities, in Poland are often antistate in their nature. The materials used in the diachronic analysis are composed of archive documents as well as of press and literary reports. Referring to them, the article reconstructs selected practices in public space, starting from the funeral ceremony after the 10th April 2010 plane crash, and gradually moving back as far as to the medieval royal funerals. The genealogical analysis carried out thereby suggests that events inherit the forms of memory, that link them into logical sequences. The succession of memory forms builds its own narration, “a history of memory,” parallel and to some extent autonomous to the “history of events.”

Jakub Goldszmit’s Letters to Józef Ignacy Kraszewski

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The introduction to the letters treats of the writings of Jakub Goldszmit (Janusz Korczak’s paternal uncle) in the role of assimilation movement activist, his relations with Józef Ignacy Kraszewski and his attitude to Jewish cases included into integration.

Goldszmit’s creativity is described against Jewish-Polish literature, referred to here as literature of self-creation projected and supported in the weeklies such as “Jutrzenka” (1861–1863) and “Izraelita” (1866–1915). The papers were created from the perspective of Jewish authors in Polish and on Jewish matters, and made use of the conventions of the then literary culture.

Kraszewski’s favourable attitude towards the Jews from the period he edited the daily “Gazeta Codzienna / Polska” (1859–1862) was emphasised and highlighted, and linked to pro-civilising position and Polish-Jewish “uniting” against the background of pre-uprising manifestations (1861–1862). The comparison of journalistic texts from “Jutrzenka” and “Gazeta” allows to discern that both authors search for close relations also in religion (monotheism, ethics of the Decalogue) and link some of its moral rules with Enlightenment ideals (egalitarianism, brotherhood, human rights and human dignity).


Aleksander Wat’s Notebooks from Beinecke Library

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Aleksander Wat’s notebooks are held in the collection of the author’s archive materials of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University (New Haven, USA) and form a part of Aleksander Wat Papers. The pieces, written at the turn of 1950s and 1960s, are a unique treasure for any Aleksander Wat scholar. Found in a rich archive collection, they are prepared for publication by Adam Dziadek and Jan Zieliński within the framework of Notatniki Aleksandra Wata – spiralna nielinearność zapisu (Aleksander Wat’s notebooks – a spiral non-linearity of record). The present volume offers its transcript and description.

No-one ever tried to decipher them, superficially regarding their insignificance for Wat’s output or, which is more probable, due to enormous difficulties with their decoding. The work with the notes which prove to be a peculiar type of “pre-texts” is carried out in accordance with literary genetic criticism. The transcription and preparation is here linked with a special type of repetition. What was hidden in the darkness of library is repeated and starts a new life. That proves to be the seminal case as far as the co-creation of cultural heritage of one of the most outstanding 20th century poet is concerned.

Sign, Ideology, Forgetting. Remarks on Place of Memory of Jewish Extermination in Niesłusz-Rudzica Forest

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The article refers to the different dimensions and forms of commemorating of Jewish extermination in the Niesłusz-Rudzica Forest.

In 1941 around 1500 Jews were put to death there. In 1944 the excavated corpses were burnt. In 20th century, in the 70s, a grave was erected there, on which an inscription was put, and in the 90s in the same place a second inscription was placed. Not far away from the grave the information about the 1944 incident was located the on the pedestal. Another monument was erected in the depth of the forest.

The article discusses the inscriptions, two found on the grave and the one fixed on the pedestal nearby. Another inscription is also referred to, namely the one which commemorates the Jews murdered in forced labour concentration camp in Czarków, preserved on a cemetery grave in the town of Konin.

The author of the article discusses the places of memory, allowing for the cultural-political changes which influenced the memory of the murdered.


A Spoon of Milk
Review: Poetologie pamięci. Pod redakcją Dariusza Śnieżki. Szczecin 2011. „Rozprawy i Studia”. T. 806

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The review discusses the book Poetologie pamięci (Poetologies of Memory) which belongs to the category of memory studies. Ten articles, written mostly by Szczecin academic community scholars, cover a wide scope of memory issues, both in the historical and cultural field. The volume contains texts on old writing and the latest women prose, testimonies of the Shoah and modern poetry somatoaesthetics, radio plays and authobiographical studies.

The Poet’s Biography till 1945
Review: Rafał Żebrowski, Zbigniew Herbert. „Kamień, na którym mnie urodzono”. Warszawa 2011

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The review discusses Zbigniew Herbert’s biography till the year 1945, written by Rafał Żebrowski, the poet’s nephew. The possibility of taking advantage of the family archive and Żebrowski’s due research distance lead to the construction of an exceedingly important perspective, undermining the myths created by the author of Pan Cogito (Mr. Cogito). A full-scale family tradition becomes here a starting point to sketching even richer picture of one of the most significant Polish 20th poets.

A New Look at Polish-Jewish Borderland
Review: Eugenia Prokop-Janiec, Pogranicze polsko-żydowskie. Topografie i teksty. (Kraków 2013). „Studia Polsko-Żydowskie”

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The reviewer discusses Eugenia Prokop-Janiec’s newest book entitled Pogranicze polsko-żydowskie (Polish-Jewish Borderland). The scholar offers a new understanding of the category of borderland. At the same time she recalls the most recent Western publications about the Polish-Jewish issues in the Interwar period and suggests a new inspiring look at the neighborhood  of two cultures.

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