Issue: 4/2019

Pamiętnik Literacki 4 / 2019

Dedication to Professor Michał Głowiński

Bibliographical Review 4/2019


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Michał Głowiński’s Literary Criticism from the Years 1954–1962

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Between 1954 and 1962 Michał Głowiński wrote many reviews and literary-critical sketches and published them mainly in “Twórczość” (“Creativity”) and “Życie Literackie” (“Literary Life”). After that time, he was not consistent in reviewing the newest literary editions. The period in question is also the first stage of Głowiński’s scientific endavour, the moment of forming the modern Polish literary studies, and a time of strong political, social, and cultural changes in Poland. The paper sees Głowiński’s literary-critical papers from that period as a relatively autonomous entity. The interpretation if this collection leads to reconstructing Głowiński’s literary-critical views, including those on axiology, and to grasping its coherence. In addition, the paper  discusses the network of relations between scientific literary studies sensu stricto and literary criticism.

How Is “Wilcze futro” (“Wolf Fur”) Made?
On Michał Głowiński’s Short Oneiric Sketches. A Micrological Study

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The article is devoted to an analysis of Michał Głowiński’s Wilcze futro (Wolf Fur), one of the “short texts” that the writer placed for over two decades in the Polish literary papers. An exceedingly detailed analysis and interpretation of the piece allows the author of the paper to reconstruct the rules of micropoetics which is characteristic of Głowiński’s writing. The tools offered by dream studies and ecocriticism proved particularly helpful in the reading of the text in question. The analysis contained in the article allows to expound the so far not clearly identified features of Głowiński’s writing, namely sensitisation to lives of other, not necessarily human, beings, especially animals, a polemics with anthropocentric paradigm, and breaking the stereotypes related to the connections between a man and natural world.

“Nieustanna aktualizacja [Constant Actualisation]”
On a Metacritical Thread in Michał Głowiński’s Writings

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Communicological direction of Michał Głowiński’s papers is responsible for the fact that literature is understood not only as a collection of texts with distinct features. As a cultural fact it is constructed in the reception process which is of historical and social character. A result of this is a significant role of criticism, an instance operating in a specific (in Głowiński’s view, aesthetic) style of reception, as well as an element which partakes in the mode of understanding literature in a given historical period (Style odbioru <Styles of Reception>, 1977).

            In an important monograph Ekspresja i empatia (Expression and Empathy) (1997) Głowiński pinpoints the most vital features of Young Poland’s literary-critical discourse. He uses the term “discourse” in accordance with the tradition of native text linguistics. Nevertheless, the researcher strongly emphasizes the historical dimension of Young Poland’s critical discourse as a text-producing practice. Its properties, namely expressiveness, critical mimesis, “principle of terminological minimum,” and “free indirect speech in criticism,” etc.  become at the same time a concrete realization of a broader directive according to which the task of modern (sensu largo) criticism is “constant actualisation” of the communicative potential that the reviewer finds in the texts he comments on.

It is for this reason that the achievements of the criticism at the turn of the 19th and 20th c. in the Polish tradition become a specimen of the modern radical criticism which strives to strengthen, intensify, and actualise both the literary potential and that of its own. Głowiński’s firm inspiration for his thinking about criticism was Ostap Ortwin’s 1934 short sketch Samoistność krytyki literackiej (Intrinsic Literary Criticism). Głowiński many a times referred to the formula from the sketch according to which “criticism problematizes literature” not only to redefine it, but also to develop its own discourse.

Hermeneutics and Around
From Weariness to Fresh Vigour

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The subject of the paper is hermeneutics, though understood in a very specific way, namely not from the inside, from the side of its own tradition, but somehow from the outside—from the side of the critics. Among the critics, the most crucial role are played by F. A. Kittler and H. U. Gumbrecht, though J. Derrida and J. Habermas are also referred to. Criticism of hermeneutics is described in its most source aspect as rejection of intermediary and desire to immediacy. The author of the article pays attention to affective dimension of criticism: the dimension runs from the feeling of weariness, through weariness by weariness itself, and leads to something which may be called desire of fresh vigour.

Conversation, Autubiography and the Art of Life (of Michał Głowiński)

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The reviewer discusses the book Czas nieprzewidziany. Długa rozprawa bez pana, wójta i plebana (Unpredictable Time. A Long Conversation without a Squire, a Bailiff and a Parson) on a few planes. The scholar points out that Głowiński and Wołowiec’s volume may be seen as a peculiar guidebook to the art of life which tells, for example, how literature helps habituate the drama of existence (after the Shoah). Nevertheless, the book in question is also an example of interlocutory literature since it reveals the past as a result of the interlocutors’ cooperation. Ultimately, it is an unusual (vide “spoken”) autobiography. A prominent place in the book is occupied by an attempt to put an order and to hierarchise Głowiński’s scholarly achievements.

“Usługi bezimienne [Nameless Services]”
The Figure of Marrano in Aleksander Wat’s Creativity

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Though the presence of broadly understood Jewish motifs in Aleksander Wat’s (1900–1967) creativity is subject of multiple literary deliberations (by, for example, W. Panas, S. J. Żurek, A. Lipszyc, or M. Benešova), it has not so far been interpreted from the perspective set by a Marrano. The latter perspective, suggested by the poet himself and supported by some philosophical and cultural analyses of modernity (Y. Yovel, J. Derrida, A. Bielik-Robson, etc.) may add a valuable and non-reductionist insight into Wat’s pieces produced in different periods of his creativity, from the debut JA z jednej strony i JA z drugiej strony mego mopsożelaznego piecyka (ME from One Side and ME from the Other Side of My Pug Iron Stove), and the short stories from the collection Bezrobotny Lucyfer (Lucifer Unemployed), later—his post-war projects (e.g. Ucieczka Lotha <Loth’s Escape> and Moralia)  as well as emigrant anti-Soviet political commentary journalism (e.g. Czytając Terca <Reading Abram Terz>), and ultimately his mature poetic creations. The analyses and interpretations of the pieces listed above lead Bogalecki to formulate a thesis on Marranic character of Wat’s output.

Basic Values of University

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In the article the author identifies three missions of the classic Humboldtean university: (a) research, (b) education, (c) formation. It is possible to fulfil these missions thoroughly if the canon of basic values originating from the classic vision of university (formulated by Wilhelm von Humboldt, the founder of the Humboldt University of Berlin), which defines axiological university space, is respected. It encompasses such values as (1) complementarity of research and education, (2) autonomy, (3) freedom, (4) truth, (5) tolerance, (6) sense of community. In the author’s view, modern universities seem to neglect the formative mission. It ought to be remembered, however, how important it is for universities to shape future elites which would participate actively in the creation of free, democratic, non-prejudiced and creative society.

The Role of the Word in Social Influence Processes

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Words play a significant role in social influence processes. This article provides an analysis of social influence techniques based on language mechanisms. One of such techniques exploiting the power of the word is “even a penny will help.” We often refuse various requests to support charity, justifying the decision by saying that we are not rich enough to support every worthy initiative. However, if the phrase “even a penny will help” appears following a standard request for donation, this mode of thinking is blocked. Another technique discussed in this article is based on the assumption that when people are directly asked to explain why they have refused to help out, their desire to avoid becoming ensnared in embarrassing justifications boosts the chances that they act on the request. Labelling is further technique of social influence: defining people using dispositional traits often leads to their behaving in a manner consistent with the content of those label.

On Aleksander Wat’s Unknown Russian Manuscript

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This text is a presentation of a so far unknown work by Aleksander Wat found in the archive of the poet in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. It is a part of Alexander Wat Papers with the signature GEN MSS 705 (Box 22 Folder 467). The work was entitled Przypowieść o wróblu, chłopie i wilku (Parable of a Sparrow, a Peasant and a Wolf) and was written as a libretto to the musical composition of Nicolas Nabokov entitled The Parable of the Sparrow. The Russian version of the song, its transcription, and literal and poetic translations into Polish are included in the paper. Philological and historical literary commentaries complement the presentation.

Chief Command’s Various Kinds of Rhetoric
A Few Remarks on Selected Cases of Leader Speech

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The article is an attempt to define the role and genre property of various leader speeches in contemporary culture, their rhetoric functions and situational involvement. The comparative material are here fragments of so-called great speeches in history delivered by Hitler, Stalin, J. F. Kennedy, John Paul II, all of which serve as a starting point to refer to the speeches of contemporary politicians—Donald Tusk and Jarosław Kaczyński. The essay also includes the communicational practices of the Fascism (Language of the Third Reich) and the Polish variant of newspeak elaborated on by Michał Głowiński—the leader’s binding mode of communication with the society in the time of the Polish People’s Republic. Leader speeches is an applied literary genre, deeply involved into a situation, and changeable according to the political culture which the speaker represents. Such speeches, both the old and the contemporary ones, create the patterns of political speaking and strengthen some kind of rhetoric strategies. Additionally, they mark an important space of living speech quite commonly regarded as determined by a graphic (written) sign and an image.

”Jeszcze” (”Still”)
One more Note to Wisława Szymborska’s Poem

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The article assumes a reinterpretation of Wisława Szymborska’s poem Jeszcze (Still) in reference it its previous readings. The poem is here also confronted with other piece by the Polish Nobel Prize winner entitled Transport Żydów 1943 (Transport of Jews 1943). Variants of both texts are taken into consideration in the paper. The new interpretive proposal is closely linked with a philological analysis of text, and also includes references to the present-day state of art in the Shoah. The poetics of the article is intentionally ascetic and by-textual since the author follows the paths of superb predecessors, adding merely another note to Szymborska’s poetic masterpiece. The analysis also includes the poem’s title, its literary genetic context, the transformation of the poetess’ own idiom, and the piece’s intellectual potential. In a few places the paper suggests interpretive transaccentuation, i.e. shift of stresses as a consequence resulting from the state of art in the poem.

What about Bambo the Little Negro?

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The reviewer discusses Tomasz Żukowski’s approach to presenting the newest relationships between the Polish Christians and the Polish Jews. The discussion is led on the margin of Żukowski’s book Wielki retusz. Jak zapomnieliśmy, że Polacy zabijali Żydów (A Great Retouch. How We Have Forgotten That Poles Killed Jews). The reviewer admires the book, and at the same time criticises its theses as unidirectional.

Practising Mindfulness and the Culture of Temperance
On Józef Czapski

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The article takes up the subject of mindfulness and sees it as a broad concept that functions in various spheres of culture and scopes of meanings. The author points at the role that mindfulness performs in the artistic and philosophical tradition, as well as in the contemporary developmental psychology and late capitalism culture, and also analyses the reflections on “practising mindfulness” in Józef Czapski’s and Czesław Miłosz’s creativity. Czapski’s Dzienniki (Diaries) offers a rich material for reconstructing the mindfulness stance as a key aspect of existence, artistic creativity and metaphysical experience. A special place in Czapski’s notes is occupied by a somatic approach to the activity of the intellect and the will. “Practising mindfulness” combines several spheres of activity: intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and somatic. In the present article, the pragmatic aspect of mindfulness is prominently displayed in setting it within the domain of issues in aesthetics of creation.

Discerning mindfulness in the context of “spiritual exercises” tradition leads to the formula of “culture as a monastic rule” (Ludwig Wittgenstein). A source of inspiration for the contemporary reinterpretation of the idea of forming (Bildung) or ancient “care of oneself” is Peter Sloterdijk’s publication Du mußt dein Leben ändern (You Must Change Your Life). The Rilkean topos of transformation which it uses is a key to the concept of man and artist that we can infer from the entire Czapski’s heritage.

Scenarios of Humiliation in Stefan Żeromski’s “Dzienniki” (“Diaries”)

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The article interprets the represantations of the situations of humiliation and acts of humiliation in Stefan Żeromski’s Dzienniki (Diaries). Humiliation is treated both as an emotion of experienced by a subject and as a reaction that is evoked and expressed in an interpersonal space. This interpersonal dimension is linked, on the one hand, with the awareness of the position that one occupies in a social field and, on the other hand, with the cultural patterns of experience. Acts of humiliation, in turn, are seen as a response and as a revenge for degradation.

            The analyses focus on the scenarios of emotions and behaviours on the part of the humiliated, the humiliating, and the witnesses. Żeromski’s diary exploits and accentuates the interpersonal character of humiliation to which the frame of reference is the universe of values and ideas of the gentry. Additionally, Żeromski’s text point to the role of humiliation as an emotion that accompanies the formation of the  intelligentsia—a modern social group.

On the Way to “Magnetic Point”
Ryszard Krynicki’s Poetic Dialogues with Paul Celan and Nelly Sachs

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Spatial metaphor of “magnetic point” is a key formula of poetry writing in Ryszard Krynicki’s mature creativity. The author, who in the moment of his debut was connected with Nowa Fala (New Wave), with time more often and forcibly started speaking about the need of abandoning (or at least limiting) the social functions of poetry for taking part in the mystery of “sacred speech.” He strives for achieving such an act of creation and silence which would be transparent to what is absolute. The metaphor of “magnetic point” gives name to the poet’s growing desire to cross the borders of “the present day” and even further—the borders of perception—and to inhabit the core of sense. What supports it is a clear return to the tradition of symbolism and interest in neo-classicist dictions. Krynicki finds his guides on this way in Polish lyric poetry. Special role here is played by Zbigniew Herbert, and not less important are German lyric poets whom Krynicki translated: Paul Celan, Georg Trakl, Reiner Kunze, Friedrich Hölderlin, and Nelly Sachs. It is from the poem which starts with the incipit *** (So kurz ausgeliefert ist der Mensch…) (Man suffers such short shrift) that Krynicki adopted the metaphor of “magnetic point.” The article offers an attempt at describing some dialogues and correspondence between Krynicki’s quests and German lyric poetry, especially that by Sachs and Celan.

Słowacki’s Drama “Kordian” and Panoramas

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In August 1831 Juliusz Słowacki visited London, the city in which various forms of entertainment that ensured virtual journeys took place. A popular destination of such journeys were the Alps. Słowacki might have seen the Alps in panoramas, dioramas, and cosmoramas. The poet met the fashion for panoramas also in Paris where admiration for new technology, namely linking images with real objects, was raised. The technique was used by, inter alia, Louis Daguerre in his diorama Vue du Mont-Blanc, prise de la vallée de Chamouny (A View of Mont Blanc from Chamonix Valley). In Kordian, the main protagonist’s monologue on Mont Blanc and the scene from the initial part of the drama, Przygotowanie (Preparation), show clear signs of Słowacki’s encounters with panoramic painting.

Styles of Reception of the Polish Novel about the Shoah
On Marek Bieńczyk’s “Tworki” and Andrzej Bart’s “Fabryka muchołapek” (“Flytrap Factory”)

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Employing Michał Głowiński’s concept of styles of reception, Tomczok researches the reception of two Polish novels about the Shoah, namely Marek Bieńczyk’s Tworki (1999) and Andrzej Bart’s Fabryka muchołapek (Flytrap Factory, 2008). The analysis reveals the following conclusions: in the first decade of the 21st century, a shift in understanding the role of the novel about the Shoah took place, as the novel—a disregarded genre and having many reservations—became a subject of intense debates about the representation and understanding the Holocaust and, furthermore, the aesthetic categories used for evaluating the literature about the Shoah lost their significance. After the year 2008, history has become the most crucial category among the Polish scholars, alongside of its interpretations and modes of expression.

Hysterical/Historical, Materiality of Graphé
Nature as Prospect (on Witold Gombrowicz’s “Pornografia”)

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The article is an attempt at interpreting Witold Gombrowicz’s Pornografia, which resorts to ecocriticism as a methodological instrument and, more specifically, postnatural philosophy represented by Vicky Kirby, Timothy Morton, and the representatives of eco-deconstruction who referred to Jacques Derrida’s late writings. The interpretation focuses on the function which is performed by nature in the world presented in the novel—from the escapist space of wartime through the place of realising libidal energy, and ending in an animalistic element of proliferating writing (Nature as a protagonist of Fryderyk’s letter).

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