By Jaroslaw Anders
Twentieth-century Polish literature is usually acknowledged to be a “witness to history,” a story of the ancient and political failures that visited the country. during this insightful e-book, Jaroslaw Anders examines Poland’s glossy poetry and fiction and explains that the simplest Polish writing of the interval 1918-1989 was once even more than testimony. fairly, it continually reworked ancient adventure into metaphysical mirrored image, a philosophical or spiritual exploration of human existence. Anders analyzes and contextualizes the paintings of 9 sleek Polish writers. those contain the “three madmen” of the interwar period—Schulz, Gombrowicz, and Witkiewicz, whom he calls the fathers of Polish modernist prose; the good poets of the battle generation—Milosz, Herbert, and Szymborska; Herling-Grudzinski and Konwicki, with their darkish philosophical subtexts; and the mystical-ecstatic poet Zagajewski. a suite of essays representing Anders’s considering over a number of many years, among fireplace and Sleep deals a clean knowing of recent Polish literature and cultural identification. (20090817)
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Extra resources for Between Fire and Sleep: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry and Prose
That venture inevitably made Gombrowicz confront two contemporary philosophies that also presented the demystiﬁcation of consciousness as their main goal, Marxism and existentialism. In the Diary, the author describes his relationship 44 WITOLD GOMBROWICZ: THE TRANSFORMING SELF with existentialism as ‘‘tormentingly unclear and tense. It intrudes into my existence, but I don’t want it. And it is not I who am in this predicament. Strange. ’’ Yet at the same time Gombrowicz rejects the existentialist concept of the absolute moral freedom of an individual.
With evident relief, he inveighs against its martyred motherland: ‘‘Sail, sail, you Compatriots, to your People! Sail to that holy Nation of yours haply Cursed! Sail to that St. Monster Dark, dying for ages yet unable to die! Sail to your St. Freak, cursed by all Nature, ever being born and still Unborn! Sail, sail, so he will 38 WITOLD GOMBROWICZ: THE TRANSFORMING SELF not suffer you to Live or Die but will keep you forever between Being and Non-being. Sail to your St. ’ Whispered the Counsellor: ‘Sick him, else Shame for he is their most Famous Author and it cannot be that they Celebrate him when the Great Polish Author, Genius is in the room!
What was he thinking about? Was the chrysalis ﬁnally broken? Was he a helpless insect, naked in the storm that was about to crush him and his world? or was he thinking only about the empty wall to be covered with faces, shapes, visions, the ‘‘exuberant mildew’’ that seemed to hold the promise of ‘‘limitless possibilities of being’’? We shall never know, and it is hard to tell which of the alternatives is more terrible to contemplate. 27 WITOLD GOMBROWICZ T H E T R A N S F O R M I N G S E L F East European writers, we are told, have been often cast by history in the role, to paraphrase Shelley, of moral legislators of their people.