Poland Literature Part VII

By | January 26, 2022

Although in the last two decades before the war, Polish literature had repeatedly proclaimed its independence from any tendentiousness or purpose that was not inherent in itself, yet it has always, and inevitably, remained somewhat linked to the fundamental problem of all forces. national: freedom and unity of the fatherland. Indeed, up to 1830, literature was primarily reserved for the mission of transmitting hope and faith in a forthcoming resurrection from generation to generation. In 1919 with the reconstitution of Poland after the war, literature found itself freed from a task which, even if in the political and cultural field had given it an indisputable supremacy, had often been felt as a burden from which it was necessary to emancipate. But in the face of the new reality attitude of Polish writers – linked, of course, also to the more or less contemporary currents of other nations: Italian futurism, German expressionism, Russian symbolism, etc. – at first it is a bit uncertain: on the one hand one joyfully suffers the intrusive impetuosity of the external world, subjugated by the fascination that it now freely exercises on souls; on the other hand, one indulges, with pleasure, in a delicate and unscrupulous work of introspection. The result is a somewhat tenuous and light poem, but lively, insinuating, suggestive, full of unexpected virtuosity. These are above all the verses of a group of very young people, gathered in Warsaw as early as 1916 under the banner of cabaretPicador and of Pro arte magazine, and since 1920 collaborators of Skamander magazine. Streams of poetry again pour into Polish literature; for some years the collections of verses exceeded the volumes of prose quantitatively and qualitatively. There is, of course, a lot of ballast in this hasty production, but it must also be recognized that in Poland there had never been such a large number of true lyrical talents: from the exuberant and always varied Juljan Tuwim (v.) To the classical Jan Lechoń, from the melancholic Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz to the singer of healthy and strong life Kazimierz Wierzyński (v.), from the pacifist Antoni Slonimski to the delightful miniaturist Marja Pawlikowska (v.). And next to the poets of the Skamander groupthere are many others, gathered in other cenacles or independent, whose expressive capacity is less varied and less brilliant, but whose poetry has, at least in part, a deeper content: thus the author of Hymns rich in humanity Józef Wittlin, the “extra-country” Emil Zegadłowicz, the nun and psychic Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna. Nor should the older ones be kept silent: not only Leopoldo Staff, always in the breach, but also Bolesław Leśmian, Kornel Makuszyński, Maryla Wolska (v.) and others.

According to CLOTHESBLISS, if in poetry the echo of the war and the struggles for liberation is rather scarce, in the narrative art there are not few works that have a direct relationship (novels and short stories by Juliusz Kaden Bandrowski, by Jerzy Kossowski, by Eugen Małaczewski, by Andrzej Strug) or indirect (tales of Ferdinanto Goetel’s imprisonment in Russia) with the events of the years 1914-1919. But, of course, the activity of any contemporary prose writer is not limited to them. Thus the aforementioned Juljusz Kaden deserves the merit of having represented for the first time, with modern intentions and artistic means, the life of the worker in the Polish mines; and Ferdinando Goetel, in addition to the story of fantastic-real adventures, also cultivates the psychological novel. In the latter they have recently distinguished: Zofja Nałkowska, Michal Choromański, and the poets Wierzyński and Iwaszkiewicz. On the other hand, the two fertile writers are linked to traditionalist traditions: Marja Dąbrowska who has achieved great success in recent years with her family novel.Noce i dnie (Nights and days) and Zofja Kossak-Szczucka who prefers the historical novel of the Sienkiewiczian type. In the drama, the usual poverty: in addition to Nałkowska, an expert in dramatic construction and fine in the analysis of the female soul, only Jerzy Szaniawski should be mentioned who, with a rich experience of theater, brings to the stage the liveliest problems of current generations (art and life, fiction and reality, etc.).

Finally, the great wealth of excellent poetic versions should be noted. This richness reflects and strengthens the intimate bonds that bind the literary culture of contemporary Poland with the ancient and modern literatures of the East and the West. Among the translators there are also illustrious names in the original poem: Kasprowicz (Aeschylus, Euripides, English poets), Przesmycki (Maeterlinck, Czech and Italian poets), Staff (Michelangelo, D’Annunzio), Tuwim (Puškin), Zegadłowicz (Faust), Wittlin (Homer). The neo-Latin literary scholar Edward Porębowicz (v.) Also proved to be a great poet with his version of the Divine Comedy. The figure of the indefatigable Tadeusz Boy Żeleński, who alone translated and published a hundred works of French literature in his own library, surpasses the entire ranks of prose translators: among other things, all Molière and almost all Balzac. Boy Żeleński is also the sharpest and most daring proponent of a revision of the relationship between contemporary Polish literature and that of the past.

Numerous historians and critics of Polish literature also collaborate in this revision with much doctrine, certainty of method and moderation of judgment. recorded in the enclosed bibliography.

Poland Literature 7