Between Fire and Sleep: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry and by Jaroslaw Anders

By Jaroslaw Anders

Twentieth-century Polish literature is frequently stated to be a “witness to history,” a story of the old and political failures that visited the kingdom. during this insightful publication, Jaroslaw Anders examines Poland’s smooth poetry and fiction and explains that the simplest Polish writing of the interval 1918-1989 used to be even more than testimony. fairly, it consistently remodeled old event into metaphysical mirrored image, a philosophical or non secular exploration of human existence. Anders analyzes and contextualizes the paintings of 9 smooth Polish writers. those comprise 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 conflict generation—Milosz, Herbert, and Szymborska; Herling-Grudzinski and Konwicki, with their darkish philosophical subtexts; and the mystical-ecstatic poet Zagajewski. a set of essays representing Anders’s pondering over numerous a long time, among fireplace and Sleep bargains a clean knowing of contemporary Polish literature and cultural id. (20090817)

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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! ’ ’’ This is only the first of many humiliations that befall the bemused hero.

On the eve of World War II Gombrowicz was invited by the Polish government to take part in the maiden voyage of the ocean liner Boleslaw Chrobry. ’’ It remains a mystery why the Polish government invited Gombrowicz to take part in this venture, and why the writer accepted the dubious assignment. Gombrowicz’s irreverence toward national solemnities and his unconventional literary style, surreal and conceptual at once, made him a strange choice for a literary 36 WITOLD GOMBROWICZ: THE TRANSFORMING SELF envoy to conservative Polish estancieros in Argentina.

And just as beetles, insects chase after food all day, so do we tirelessly pursue form, we hassle other people with our style, our manners while riding in a streetcar, while eating or enjoying ourselves, while resting or attending to our business—we always, unceasingly, seek form, and we delight in it or suffer by it, and we conform to it or we violate and demolish it, or we let it create us, amen. And then he adds a warning that will return in many of his later works, especially in the eccentric Diary he kept during the later years of his life: ‘‘Oh, the power of Form!

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