Issue 4/2012

Pamiętnik Literacki 4 / 2012

Dedication to Professor Anna Martuszewska

File with Issue Contents


On a Few Examples of Collective Bovarism
Translated from French by Zuzanna Krasnopolska

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As based on Jules de Gaultier’s writings, a French ethnographer Arnold van Gennep decided to examine the presence of collective bovarism in the people of African republic of Liberia – black immigrants from the Antilles and the United States of America, conflicted with native Africans (“pagan brothers”). Their collective bovarism came into light as persistent following the American and European ideals and as gradual removal from indigenous traditions which, in spite of beliefs and desires, failed in gaining a new and better identity, but rather led to losing their own identity and exposed at ridicule in the eyes of the world. In his thorough analysis of Liberian habits, economy, agriculture, industry, policy, and even fashion, van Gennep tracks a  successive decline of culture, urging to fight for regaining their own identity.

Mrs Bovary in the Tropics. Bovarism as a (Post)Colonial Phenomenon

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The article aims at analysing the collective bovarism in (post)colonial studies. The term “bovarism” was coined at the turn of 19th and 20th c. by Jules de Gaultier as one of the main assumptions of his idealistic philosophy. It refers to a man’s innate ability to imagine oneself different from real, which can be manifested alike at individual and collective level. Thus, the collective bovarism, inseparably tied to the process of evolution, is characteristic of numerous societies all over the world. The article focuses on the discussions about the various approaches to the collective bovarism as based on the analysis of the texts by Arnold van Gennep, who researched it in Liberians, Jean Price-Mars (in Haitians), Frantz Fanon (in Martinicans), as well as on discerning the similarities between the collective bovarism and Homi K. Bhabha’s theory of mimicry.

Stefania Chłędowska’s Short Story Triptych – a Lost Link in Polish “Bovarism?”

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Three psychological and customary studies by Stefania Chłędowska (1850–1884), an obscure novelist, namely Impresjonistka (Impressionist), Z historii nie-bohaterów (From the History of Non-heroes), Babie lato (Indian summer) are original paraphrases of Flaubert’s bovarism. The references to French model are seen in the method of characters’ presentation, as well as on the fictional, stylistic and partially worldview level. Neurotic and bored heroines from upper class suffer from bovaristic hunger of sensual-psychical impressions and existential disappointment, while their adulterous affairs result in traumatic experience, and spiritual or physical destruction. The short stories’ auctorial tone includes an ironic distance from the world presented in them, pseudoromance melodrama as well as naturalistic accents (in the case of From the History of Non-heroes patterned after Alfons Daudet’s novel Fromont jeune et Risler ainé <Fromont Junior and Risler Senior>).

Androgynous Model of “Naked Soul” in Stanisław Przybyszewski’s Literary Creativity

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The subject of the article is a philosophical analysis of Stanisław Przybyszewski’s work. The writer’s philosophy can be seen as twofold: one labelled “androgyne” and the other “naked soul.” The article consists of three parts. The first part discusses the genesis of androgyne in Przybyszewski’s creativity. Androgyne gives unity to his work. Przybyszewski claimed that it was a key to understand his philosophical investigations. The second part analyses the concept of “naked soul” which was coined on the basis of a number of similar terms as “naked individuality,” “naked state of soul,” “nakedness of being.” The third part synthesises the content of the two terms in question.

“Man’s Conscious Thought” and “Blind Life of Fertility.” Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński’s Journalism in The Context of Modern “Population Policy”

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Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński’s journalistic activity, which developed around the movement for “birth control” and “birth regulation” was one of the most thoroughly discussed episodes connected with customs changes in the Inter-war period. It gathered the dilemmas of the modern population policy which eagerly resorted to slogans promulgated by the then Neomalthusians and eugenics propagators. Sharing their belief that the key to end the crisis which consumed the European society was scientific research, Boy postulated the introduction of various biopolitical practices in order to reduce the population growth.

The Problem of Sex in Inter-War Popular Literature. A Male and an Impotent Man in Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz’s Prose

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Receivers as well as protagonists of a marked part of Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz’s works were women; in this way the writer appreciated the women’s role in the process of shaping the mass literary affinities. Not surprising is then the fact that majority of scholars (e.g. Piotr Śliwiński, Józef Rurawski) focus their researches on female literary portraits. The issue of emancipation, being one of the key problem of Dołęga-Mostowicz’s novels, is conductive to it. The method of modelling male character omitted or neglected in philological reading deserves attention as it allows to grasp a full picture of sex and the sexual in the Inter-war popular writing. Resorting to the instruments (mainly Lacanian) of psychoanalysis, the author of the article analyses the figures of Stefan Borowicz, Ewaryst Malinowski, and Marian Dziewanowski, and offers a catalog of males and impotent men from the Inter-war bestsellers.

“Topography of Desire” – Constructing of Space around Homosexual Protagonists in Polish Inter-War Prose (Iwaszkiewicz, Choromański, Gombrowicz, Breza)

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Escape to a big city is one of 19th c. literary topoi present in narrations in which the protagonist is homosexual. The topos is embedded in social-historical reality. Historical researches show that big cities as New York and Berlin were places of bringing homosexual societies together. The present article analyses the functioning of “myth of a big city” as homosexual-friendly place in Polish Inter-war literature (the author discusses well-known books, e.g. Witold Gombrowicz’s Ferdydurke along with forgotten ones, as e.g. Michał Choromański’s Skandal w Wesołych Bagniskach <A Scandal at Wesołe Bagniska>). Referring to German Ritz’s observations, the author argues that in the case of Poland the escape in question is rather to the country, grange, or manor estate. The places to which one escapes prove to be as unfriendly and dangerous as the space of a big city, and the feeling of a greater freedom in realising one’s sexuality becomes a hazardous illusion.

September 11th , 2001 in Poetry (Szymborska, Lipska, Hartwig)

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The article relates to the events of September 11th, 2001 recorded in the poems by Wisława Szymborska, Ewa Lipska, and Julia Hartwig. The date indicates as well as encodes the dramatic events connected with World Trade Center terrorist attack. It can be interpreted and described using Jacques Derrida’s term “shibboleth.” The arrangement of the poems under analysis reveals a temporal aspect expressing a different distance to the tragedy, namely “here and now” (Szymborska), “shortly after” (Lipska) and “some time later” (Hartwig). In Szymborska, the medium of photography determines the verbal projections of images, while literature settles the photography’s scope of reference. The photography, to continue, can be seen as a fake ekphrasis. Referring to the methods of communication about the events in question, Lipska juxtaposes two perspectives, namely the vision (per)formed in mass media and by various social commentators, and that of an ordinary man (a tailor). Both form contrasting commentaries on the reality. Hartwig’s poem does not indicate its connections to September 11th, 2001; it is only later that the presented lyrical situation and geographical-topographical details allow for the disclosure. Wieże (Towers) prompt into reflection on the absence of those monumental buildings in New York’s urban landscape which, when destroyed, caused the deaths of many people. The poetics of eye and memory is a literary restoration of the old picture as well as everyday habits after the disaster. The poetic experience of the date is realised with different creative strategies, all of them being the results of searching for the modes of speaking about the tragedy. Three poems shape a shibboleth composition with the date in its semantic centre.

“Divine Trash.” Grzegorz Musiał’s “Czech Jewellery” as Camp Autobiography

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The article is an analysis of Grzegorz Musiał’s novel Czeska biżuteria (Czech Jewellery) which is one of the first examples of camp in Polish literature. The reasoning focuses on the vital in this novel tension between the aesthetics and biographical convention. The camp with its characteristic love of artificiality, irony, theatricality and exaggeration seems to oppose the need of authenticity and honesty in the literary production, all characteristic of autobiographical writing. The novel contains something which might be referred to as a project of camp autobiography. It relies on genre hybridity, makes use of a great number of stylistic conventions and keenly resorts to quotations. Musiał skillfully uses cultural clichés, kitsch, and elements derived from popular culture reservoir in order to parodistically and rather in not obvious way question for expression of individual and collective identity.


Sources of (Post)Modern Femininity – Stefan Chwin’s “Esther”

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The aim of the article is to sketch the philosophical perspectives of femininity presentation in Stefan Chwin’s novel Esther. The novel enters into a number of relations with broadly understood 19th century, and the novels’ title heroine creation corresponds with the trend of considerations about woman and truth traced back to Nietzsche. Nietzschean concept of “truth” of femininity raised by Derrida in his Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles which consisted in revealing the untruth of truth, and Wolfgang Welsch’s reflections on the aesthetic character of truth form here a point of reference to ruminate on the mode of Esther Simmel’s presentation in Chwin’s novel. In the paper’s conclusion it is shown that both the destructive-creative aspects of femininity, evoked in the novel e.g. in exploitation of the topoi refering to the femininity as well as a chain of erotic-tanatic symbols or introduction, from the perspective of a post-modern text, of traditional metaphysical thinking elements – all are interestingly tied to the issues of ontology of truth.

Relationship between Music and “Musicality” in Halina Poświatowska’s Poetry

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The article attempts to examine one of the themes in Halina Poświatowska’s lyric poetry as well as treats the issue of the texts’ sound pattern and musical inspirations which gave rise to Poświatowska’s poems.

The part Sense of hearing – “sense of participation” describes the search for a direct means of expression which needs to be “supported” by sound. The second part collects and analyses Poświatowska’s references to genres which are connected to music through their music origin or formation, and stylistic features tied to them. Music, in the following part, is also perceived as a way or a form of being. The poetry’s “musicality” in the view of Tadeusz Baird shown in the final part completes the topic from another perspective, namely one in which the literary world is perceived from the prism of sound sensations.

Nomadic Genre Studies: Genre as Metatext

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Traditional “literary genetics” or generic studies endeavour to categorize and classify works of literature into taxonomies which are always already too narrow to accommodate works escaping clear-cut criteria. Such studies generally rely on the principle of literary evolution and progress, and exclude or are unable to account for phenomena which escape that principle.

In opposition to approaches which posit genre as an imposed classificatory category, this paper first poses the ontological question concerning the mode of existence of the literary genre, and then proposes to consider genre as an open metatext emerging as a result of the performative, metatextual activity of literary texts. The ontological principle of genre is thus becoming, stipulated by the performative activity of texts, the activity itself relying on the interplay of repetition and difference. Such an approach opens ground for nomadic genre studies which, instead of aiming at taxonomic classifications, would search for cultural, ideological, philosophical, anthropological and literary factors of the emergence of genres, and treat them as hybrid “densities of sense” rather than a priori categories.

Helena Modrzejewska’s Correspondence

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The present set of so far unpublished letters by Helena Modrzejewska, written mainly in English, makes predominantly a matter of lesser importance in the Polish actress’ epistolographical achievements. Nevertheless it can be proved that those apparently trivial letters form a significant record of Modrzejewska’s private life, and also take on a function of a material memento of the famous actress. Paradoxically, within the scope of their functional character that serve useful purpose, there are also the actress’ reflections about more intimate and existential matters as well as comments on the then political issues. A typological break is made by letters to a poet Henry W. Longfellow written originally in French. Shaped as an intimate diary in which the foreground is occupied by the writing subject and where communicative issues became blurred, the letters give a full image of Modrzejewska’s writing craft. Linear reading of the set of letters trigger the elements of narration which in turn transforms into a kind of Helena Modrzejewska’s biography.

Karol Chłapowski to Feliks Koneczny in His and in Helena Modrzejewska’s Name. Two Unknown Letters

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Two letters by Karol Chłapowski published here: the first written on Helena Modrzejewska’s request, and the second, a labor of love, both addressed to a distinguished theatre critic Feliks Koneczny, are in substance nearly an outline of the basic principles of Helena Modrzejewska’s art of acting. Additionally, they are an unusual expression of the memory about the first teachers of attitude to acting and to stage carrier. Worth mentioning is Chłapowski’s opinion that Modrzejewska might also have been fulfilled in other types of art which coincides with Norwid’s view that she might have become the first recognized Polish women writer. The two inconspicuous letters in question are crucial complements of a set of about 1500 letters written or received by Helena Modrzejewska and Karol Chłapowski.

On the Advantages of Studying Pleasure
Review: Przyjemność w kulturze epoki rozumu. Pod redakcją Teresy Kostkiewiczowej. Warszawa 2011. „Biblioteka Badań nad Wiekiem Osiemnastym. Studia”. Nr 5

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The review discusses the book Przyjemność w kulturze epoki rozumu (Pleasure in the Culture of the Age of Reason) edited by Teresa Kostkiewiczowa. The volume’s contributors represent various disciplines of the humanities and in their articles they tackle the title issue from a variety of stances and from different perspectives, starting from general papers (e.g. on the definitions of the word “pleasure” in the lexicography of many 16th and 17th c. nations, and on the changes the word underwent) and ending with thorough case studies. The authors search for pleasure in the numerous fields of social life, such as education in theory and practice, politics – the “great,” international, present in the newspapers sent to the King Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski from Paris, and the “small,” regional, shown on the example of the Gdańsk élites, private life as eating (cuisine philosophy and manners of feasting), conversations, fatherhood pleasures and pains, and bedroom pleasures. The volume also does not lack papers dealing with the vital in this period topics as art (treatises on the dramatic-theatrical theory, public shows, elegiacness, and 18th c. aesthetic thought), the nature (as a source of cognitive joy and as satisfaction with possessing a garden), the city (as a space of various pleasures, both good and meretricious), and lastly – travels. Ultimately, the papers exploit the issues gaining importance in the modern reflection over culture, i.e. strangeness and feminist matters.

Richness of research interest and multiplication of points of view make the volume an exhaustive study of the pleasure, one of the key phenomenon of 18th c. thought.

On Polish Literature at a Distance
Review: Maria Delaperrière, Literatura polska w interakcjach. Szkice porównawcze z literatury i kultury. Warszawa 2010. „Nauka o Literaturze Polskiej za Granicą”. Tom XII

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The text discusses Maria Delaperrière’s book Polish Literature in Interactions. Comparative Sketches on Literature and Culture (Literatura polska w interakcjach. Szkice porównawcze z literatury i kultury). The book is devoted to Polish romantic literature as well as 20th and 21st c. It is a testimony of the author’s presence and participation in Polish and French culture, both of which are treated as partners, as both are participants of mutual dialogue and interaction.

Western Feminist Literary Studies (1969–1988)
Review: Krystyna Kłosińska, Feministyczna krytyka literacka. Katowice 2010. „Prace Naukowe Uniwersytetu Śląskiego w Katowicach”. Nr 2801

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The text contains a discussion about Krystyna Kłosińska’s book Feministyczna krytyka literacka (Feminist Literary Criticism), a thorough compendium of feminist trends in 1969–1988 western literary studies.

Konopnicka Rediviva
Review: Lena Magnone, Maria Konopnicka. Lustra i symptomy. (Gdańsk 2011). „Portrety Kobiet”

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The review discusses Lena Magnone’s book Maria Konopnicka. Mirrors and Symptoms (Maria Konopnicka. Lustra i symptomy) devoted to an innovative interpretation of the woman writer’s biography and literary creativity. Magnone convincingly speaks about Konopnicka in terms of internally complicated figure who struggled with number of limitations imposed by the then patriarchal culture. Magnone’s book challenges many interpretational stereotypes that perpetuate around Konopnicka’s writings.

Limits of the Method
Review: Marek Pieniążek, Akt twórczy jako mimesis. „Dziś są moje urodziny” – ostatni spektakl Tadeusza Kantora. Kraków (2005). „Modernizm w Polsce”. Tom 10

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The review discusses Marek Pieniążek’s book Akt twórczy jako mimesis (Act of Creation as Mimesis) a detailed monograph of Tadeusz Kantor’s last performance Dziś są moje urodziny (It’s My Birthday Today). The performance is studied in the context of the artist’s whole artistic creativity to which the research material is composed of notes, painting, interviews, papers and manifestos. The performance’s analysis is carried out from the perspective of modern research methodologies (e.g. Lacanian), due to which the book tackles the analysis of the performance as well as traces its reception.

Homosexual Literature: Ontology Versus Recognition
Review: Wojciech Śmieja, Literatura, której nie ma. Szkice o polskiej „literaturze homoseksualnej”. Kraków 2010. „Modernizm w Polsce”. Tom 30. – Tomasz Kaliściak, Katastrofy odmieńców. Katowice 2011. „Prace Naukowe Uniwersytetu Śląskiego w Katowicach”. Nr 2854

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The review discusses Wojciech Śmieja’s book Literatura, której nie ma. Szkice o polskiej “literaturze homoseksualnej” (Absent Literature. Sketches about Polish “Homosexual Literature”) and Tomasz Kaliściak’s book Katastrofy odmieńców (Freak Catastrophies), both of which refer to male homosexual representations in Polish 20th c. literature. As exemplified by those two books, the reviewer considers the issue of the burning questions on the definitions or, in the broader sense, homosexual literature ontology as well as the difference between gay studies and queer studies in the Polish context. In the context of homosexual literature the reviewer investigates the life and literary strategies of Józef Czechowicz and Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, both of them also analysed in the books in question.

Knowledge, Power And Resistance
Review: Jacek Kochanowski, Spektakl i wiedza. Perspektywa społecznej teorii queer. Łódź 2009. „Gender/Queer Studies”

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Jacek Kochanowski’s book develops an interesting idea of forming “sociology from the perspective of queer.” This proposal derives from his deep knowledge of, inter alia, performative studies, and though radical, it calls for further particularisations. Nevertheless, this voice of a sociologist suggesting – after considering the multidirectionality of the present humanities and social sciences – a deep reorganisation of sciences, teaching, teaching policy, and university.

Letter to the Editorial Board
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