Contemporary Ukrainian Prose in the Translation of Bohdan Zadura (Halyna Kruk, Roman Malynovsky, Vasyl Makhno) / 7
The latest short prose by three Ukrainian writers, translated by Bohdan Zadura, the most respected translator of contemporary Ukrainian literature.
Halyna Kruk, born in 1974 in Lviv, is a poet, prose writer, translator, screenwriter, literary historian and author of books for children. The basis of her text is the prose of life in the covid quarantine, which a three-generation family experiences, trying in various ways to cope with inconvenience and tormenting boredom; several months of isolation generates changes in the habits of both individuals and the entire population.
The work by Roman Malynovsky – a prose writer, essayist, translator and publisher born in 1985 in Ivano-Frankivsk – is a suggestive reminiscence of a trip to the cinema, when four young people who were watching the movie while enjoying some wine, unexpectedly discover that they are sharing the auditorium with Andrei Tarkovsky, the Russian director of cult status.
Vasyl Makhno, born in 1964 in Chortkiv, is a Ukrainian poet and essayist, who has lived in New York since 2000. In the first of the presented stories, the passage of military columns heading to the Czech Republic in September 1968 through the narrator’s home village becomes an incentive to reflect on the fate of soldiers participating in various wars. The second work follows an essayistic convention. It is devoted to the melancholy characteristic of Hungarian history, landscape and the works of local writers such as László Krasznahorkai, Sándor Márai, Imre Kertész, Péter Esterházy.
Wacław Oszajca: poems / 20
Tomas Venclova: Norwid among Lithuanians / 24
A transcript of Tomas Venclova’s speech delivered on October 11, 2021, after he received the medal “For Merit in the Promotion of Cyprian Norwid’s Work”, awarded on the initiative of the Norwid Foundation operating by the Learned Society of the John Paul II Catholic University and the Department of Textology and Editing of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. The outstanding Lithuanian poet, essayist, publicist, researcher and translator refers to the rich and difficult history of Polish-Lithuanian relations and addresses the topic of the threats that are now posed by the revival of nationalist attitudes. Then he describes his experiences related to learning about Cyprian Kamil Norwid’s work and sketching a picture of its reception in Lithuania. The work of Norwid, although less known in this country than the achievements of Mickiewicz or Słowacki, is present in Lithuanian translations and – as Venclova observes – may in the future become for Lithuania “a great model of poetic thought and art, an equally indispensable link in the cultural relations of both nations as Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz or Dziady”.
Keywords: Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Lithuania, Lithuanian culture, Polish-Lithuanian relations, the Union of Lublin, the Constitution of May 3, national stereotypes, nationalism
Łukasz Cabajewski: poems / 27
Birutė Jonuškaitė: Maestro / 30
An excerpt from the novel Maestro, which is currently being prepared for publication. The title character had already been introduced to the readers of Maranta, which was published a few years earlier. He was an important figure in the story of three extraordinary women representing three generations of a family full of secrets. This time, Maestro has a chance to tell his own story, which allows him to present himself in a different light. As a sick old man, an outstanding painter who is approaching the end of his life, but also an unyielding cynic and an unsympathetic misanthrope, he tries to build a relationship with his late-met granddaughter and gradually reveals to her his troubled past: the childhood of a boy from a good home in pre-war Warsaw, formative stays at the summer resort on Lake Gaładuś near the Lithuanian border, family relationships which were far from ideal, the grim experiences of the war years and the difficult post-war reality. Maestro is a story about non-healing wounds, learning to love and the fact that each of us carries within a dark twin.
Agnieszka Rautman-Szczepańska: poems / 38
Wacława Milewska: Norwid reads Słowacki. Ideological Background of Cyprian Kamil Norwid’s Drawing / 40
Cyprian Kamil Norwid, one of the most outstanding Polish Romantic poets, was also the author of many works of art. The subject of the article is an analysis of a drawing entitled READING, SOMETHING … ETERNALLY, ON STONES …, inspired by the poem Król-Duch (King the Spirit) by Juliusz Słowacki. The sketch shows the legendary Polish queen Wanda in the ruins of a pagan Roman temple, meditating on the inscription, a fragment of which is the Christianized acronym of the title of Jupiter – “The Best, the Highest”. Wanda – according to Słowacki’s mystical poem – is shown in the form of one of her palingenetic pre-incarnations. At the same time – according to Norwid’s theological historiosophy – she is a revelator of the mystery of Revelation and an anticipator of Christianity in Poland.
Keywords: Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Juliusz Słowacki, Wanda (the legendary Polish queen), painting, mysticism, philosophy of Genesis, “King the Spirit”, metempsychosis, palingenesis, historiosophy, legend, Christianity, paganism
Uta Przyboś: poems / 56
Jarosław Sawic: The Keys / 58
Awakening is the first chapter of the novel The Keys. In formal terms, it is a pastiche of a Gothic novel which could have been written by Edgar Allan Poe. Hence the language is consciously stylized as Poe’s stories translated by Bolesław Leśmian. The action takes place in the mid-nineteenth century in Leipzig, Paris, Naples and a Polish manor estate located in the Borderlands. It should not be treated strictly historically – it is more of a postmodern game with convention than an attempt at a faithful reconstruction of the late Romantic era. Nevertheless, in addition to the imaginary characters, the novel also features historical figures (including Chopin, Liszt, King Maximilian II and the French psychiatrist Eduard Seguin).
Dariusz Patkowski: poems / 67
Jan Lewandowski: Long Tentacles of Serfdom / 70
An essay which contributes to a vivid discussions on the role that the historical experience of serfdom plays in contemporary social relations, especially between an employer and an employee. A significant part of the debate on this subject, so far strongly diversified in terms of genres (monographs, syntheses, journalistic and literary texts, interviews and press polemics), express the conviction that the current reality is burdened with the patterns transferred from the era of the so called folwarks (farms operating on serf labour). The last wave of the debate, which has continued with the varying intensity for nearly 10 years, was triggered by Adam Leszczyński’s book Ludowa Historia Polski. Historia wyzysku i oporu. Mitologia panowania (People’s History of Poland. History of Exploitation and Resistance. Mythology of Supremacy) (2020). This work – otherwise ambitious and inspiring – contains quite a lot of inadequately documented generalizations and hypotheses, as well as questionable methodological assumptions. In a broader sense, the entire ongoing discussion concerns the sources of Polish identity in the 21st century. The essay is also an attempt to present the genesis, inspiration and determinants of the trend, which has already been termed “Polish folk history”.
Keywords: Polish folk history, Adam Leszczyński, Kacper Pobłocki, methodology of history, historiography, ideology, manor, serfdom, servitude, slavery, peasants, nobility
Karolina Grządziel: poems / 82
Aleksandra Igras: Nettle / 85
Every year, 43-year-old Elizabeth visits the graves of her relatives in Polesie Lubelskie. During the service, she notices a man with whom she was childhood friends. He was her playmate during country holidays with her beloved grandparents. This meeting brings back some memories. Unfortunately, not only the good ones. Elizabeth will have to confront them with the death of another companion in her teenage years – Joanna. Despite their former close relationship, Elizabeth would always pass by her grave without a word. Until now. This time, she will confront a painful event from the past and point out the culprits.
Maciej Bieszczad: poems / 95
Jerzy Jastrzębski: Anything Goes and Nothing Matters (On Narration and Persuasion in the Media) / 97
The article is an attempt to present the old and modern ways of understanding the terms “narrative” and “persuasion”, with particular emphasis on the relationship that occurs between these two communication practices in the media. Discourses and narratives in the mass media disintegrate and create information noise. More and more often they are attributed – not without reason – an exclusively persuasive function, carried out in accordance with the intentions of the senders, and often against the interests of confused and uncritical recipients. However, a logical, linguistic and substantive error is to identify persuasion with communication in general, which is more and more frequent in media studies. The boundary between propaganda and persuasion, which together boils down to manipulation, is also blurred. Nowadays the priority is to create the appearance of independent authority, i.e. the credibility and competence of the senders, yet the recipients are not able to verify the fulfillment of these conditions. In this way, “anything goes”, and, as a result, everything gets reduced to the propaganda illusion of information and objective commentary.
Keywords: discourse, narration, media, communication, social media, persuasion, propaganda, manipulation, media studies, transmedia narratology, Marshall McLuhan, Philip Zimbardo, Michael Leippe, Jürgen Habermas
From far and wide
Aleksander Wójtowicz: Shadow over the Shtetl [Maciej Płaza “Golem”]; Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska: The “Other” Singer, or Actually the First … [Israel Joshua Singer „Na obcej ziemi” (“On a Foreign Land”), „Perły” (“Pearls”)]; Tomasz Kłusek: On the Need for Rest, Reflection and Friendship [Wojciech Chmielewski „Jezioro Dargin” (“Dargin Lake”)]; Aleksander Wójtowicz: The Other side of the Map [Jakub Kornhauser „Premie górskie najwyższej kategorii. Z fotografiami autora” (“Mountain Primes of the Highest Category. With the Author’s Photographs”)]; Tomasz Dostatni: From Behind the Bronze Gate – Today [Magdalena Wolińska-Riedi „Zdarzyło się w Watykanie. Nieznane historie zza Spiżowej Bramy” (“It Happened in the Vatican. Unknown Stories from Behind the Bronze Gate”), „Z Watykanu w świat. Tajemnice papieskich podróży” (“From the Vatican to the World. The Secrets of Papal Journeys”)]; Waldemar Michalski: A Village of Martyrdom and Blessing. About the Volhynian Diary of Helena Popek [Helena Popek „Błogosławiona wieś” (“A Blessed Village”)]; Wiesława Turżańska: Unde Malum? Szperkowicz in the Footsteps of Victims and Executioners [Jerzy Szperkowicz „Wrócę przed nocą. Reportaż o przemilczanym” (“I’ll be Back Before Night. A Reportage on the Untold”)] / 105
Reviews of recently published prose, scientific, essayistic and documentary books, seen against the background of the most important trends and phenomena of contemporary culture.
Lechosław Lameński: Third Time Lucky. A Few Thoughts on the Work of Andrzej Dudziński aka “Dudi” / 132
An article dedicated to Andrzej Dudziński, whose works – this time paintings from 2019-2021 – have been exhibited for the third time by the Wirydarz Art Gallery in Lublin. Dudziński (born in 1945 in Sopot) is an almost legendary figure in the Polish art of the second half of the 20th century and modern times. For over five decades, despite many years spent abroad (in Great Britain and the USA), he has been constantly present in the artistic life of Poland. He became famous, among others, thanks to his satirical art. Above all, however, he is a versatile painter, draftsman, press graphic designer and photographer, author of theater and film posters and several stage designs; he also wrote and illustrated many books for children. Although he is 76 years old, he can still be considered a searching artist, finding pleasure and joy in incessant play with constantly changing forms saturated with dynamic colors.
Keywords: Andrzej Dudziński, satirical works, Dudi, Pokrak, assemblages, Spectators series
Mirosław Grudzień: Godot and Herod, or the Beginnings of Provisorium / 142
A text by Mirosław Grudzień (born 1951), one of the seven students of Polish philology at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University (UMCS), who in 1971 founded in Lublin the amateur student theater “Provisorium Group” (known today as the “Provisorium Theater”), one of the best known Polish alternative theaters. In his memoirs, the author describes the background, genesis and repercussions of this undertaking, describes the first difficult period threatening the theater’s existence (from autumn 1971 to the end of 1972), with particular attention paid to the circumstances of the two earliest performances in which he was an actor. At times, the narrative looks to the future, tracing the fortunes of the people mentioned in the text.
Keywords: Polish philology, Lublin, UMCS, alternative theater, theater company, “Provisorium Group”, Polish People’s Republic (PRL), March 1968, poetry group “Samsara”
AT THE VERNISSAGE
Eliza Leszczyńska-Pieniak: Fear Generators. Wojciech Mendzelewski Talks about the Sculptural Work / 153
The interview with Wojciech Mendzelewski was conducted in connection with the exhibition in the largest gallery in Zamość in autumn 2021. The artist talks about the process of creating individual objects which belong, among others, to the pacifist cycle Memory Fields. The memory of places, events and generations, as well as individual memory, are topics that recur in his sculptures. The artist provokes the audience to questions they evade on a daily basis. He also confronts them with sculptures of ambiguous shapes. The viewers are to “fill” them with content. The topic of Mendzelewski’s pedagogical activity was also raised in the conversation.
THE ART OF LISTENING
Magdalena Jankowska: With the Right Motorman / 157
A discussion of Maria Brzezińska’s radio play Zgodna rodzina (A Harmonious Family), aired on Radio Lublin. The author of the review draws attention to the activities popularizing the literature of Central Europe carried out by the Lublin Workshops of Culture (the initiator of the series “Eastern Express”) and a translator Bohdan Zadura. Brzezińska, using her own script, weaved the poems from the volume Patriotyzm dla opornych (Patriotism for Dummies) (2020) into a complete dramaturgic unit with the fabric of the informative text of the book published in Brest in 2016 as a performance. In the book, the Belarusian poet, Siarhei Prylucki, performs mystification, claiming to be the translator of several poetry collections by Kim Chun Ho, a poet from North Korea. The works of a fictional poet illustrate everyday life in a totalitarian state, and the author’s tragic biography of a rebellious artist. In a radio theater, words are interestingly enhanced by the sound of voices and enter into a dialogue with perfectly selected music. These endeavors bring out a parallel of the socio-political situation in remote parts of the world, becoming a universal statement about freedom.
Grzegorz Władysław Wróblewski: Multidimensional Festival in Cieszanów / 161
The festival in Cieszanów – a city located on the border with Ukraine, in the north-eastern part of the Podkarpackie Province – is a multidimensional event in which the main role is played by music and concerts carried out on a grand scale. Within the last several years, the local event in Podkarpacie has become a nationally recognized rock festival attracting participants from all walks of life and age groups. The performances of famous Polish bands and foreign stars contributed to its popularity. Every year, the organizers take a particular care to fill each day of the festival not only with concerts, but also discussions with musicians and journalists, debates and meetings with specialists in various fields, aimed at increasing the level of environmental and civic knowledge and awareness.
Dariusz Skórczewski: Ukraine Does not Want / Cannot Remain Silent. On the Margins of Agnieszka Matusiak’s Book / 166
A sketch inspired by considerations presented in the book Wyjść z milczenia. Dekolonialne zmagania kultury i literatury ukraińskiej XXI wieku z traumą posttotalitarną (Exit Silence. Decolonial Struggle of 21st century Ukrainian Culture and Literature with Post-totalitarian Trauma). According to the book’s author, Agnieszka Matusiak from the University of Wrocław, the shape of the identity self-reflection of the Ukrainian society, which is shaped and expressed by the discussed literary works, was determined to a large extent by the tragic experiences of World War II and the post-war period, when Ukraine fell victim to Soviet colonialism. The process of confronting a painful history is similarly traumatic, yet indispensable for healing old wounds and building a modern, democratic society. Carefully following the argumentation of the Wrocław researcher, the author of the sketch, while appreciating the importance of her work, at the same time formulates reservations as to the methodology applied in the book (e.g. Skórczewski raises the topic – inevitable in this type of studies – of bias resulting from the a priori assumptions, predilections and preferences). Moreover, he poses a number of questions inspired by the book, including the extent to which the Ukrainian society, which considers itself a victim of its stronger neighbors, is also ready to adopt the perpetrator’s viewpoint (e.g. in the context of the Volhynia massacre of Poles).
Keywords: Ukrainian culture, history of Ukraine, Polish-Ukrainian relations, Central and Eastern Europe, Agnieszka Matusiak, Ukrainian literature, methodology of scientific research, postcolonial theory, decolonial theory, psychoanalysis, research on trauma, silence, World War II, Holocaust, communism, Volodymyr Łys, Paweł Arje, Maria Matios, Oksana Zabużko, Katia Petrovska, Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), Volyn massacre, Babi Yar massacre
Student Culture Then and Now / 175
Anna Pajdzińska: We Wanted to Want / 175
Jarosław Cymerman: My Way / 179
The third part of the survey Student Culture Then and Now, conducted by the editors of “Akcent” among the authors associated with the journal who represent the academic circles. Based on their own memories and experiences, they attempt to define the student culture and identify its determinants. They reflect on how its manifestations and forms have changed over the last decades, and what the future of this phenomenon may look like.
Marek Danielkiewicz: An Anarchist Clitoris and A Poet who Doesn’t Care / 182
Leszek Mądzik: Symbiosis / 184
Justyna Maguś: The Phenomenon of Conculture on the Basis of Research on Young Immigrants from Ukraine / 185
Weronika Ludian: Jan Wolski – Thoughts Written Down / 187
Waldemar Michalski: Word and Memory. Leszek Bakuła Present Again / 189
Information about famous artists and cultural phenomena, as well as discussions of the most interesting initiatives, events and publications from the past several months.
Notes about authors / 193