Contents and Summaries 1/2023

Spis treści numeru 1/2023

Wacław Oszajca: poems / 7

Eliza Leszczyńska-Pieniak: Souls like Marigolds / 11

A text which combines the features of an essay and a reportage to talk about what followers of different religions think about death. The author interviewed, among others: a Christian clergyman, a Muslim, a Korean artist, and a writer who travelled in Mexico, in order to present the experiences of those going through the loss of their loved ones. From the collected statements, the conclusion emerges that all cultures try to cope with passing, loss and pain in different ways. Some seek consolation in religion, others sublimate the experience of passing away in art, but there are also those for whom death is a motivation for a better life.

Oleksandr Klymenko: short stories / 18

Two short stories by Ukrainian writer Oleksandr Klymenko come from the book Supraphon (2006) dedicated to Tadeusz Różewicz. Pod słońcem (Under the Sun) is a story about how the sudden and tragic death of a child ruins a father’s life. The plot correlates with the theme of mourning Christ and is based on epigraphs from works by Julio Cortázar and Giuseppe Ungaretti. Fregata (The Frigate), on the other hand, depicts the story of the construction of a solar metaphysical ship and the struggle of two friends against the forces of darkness and death. The comrades defend their ideals to their last breath, paying the highest possible price.

Marcin Lenartowicz: poems / 24

Łukasz Marcińczak: Józef Czapski – The Maximal Man / 27

Józef Czapski’s intimate, enigmatic paintings, depicting everyday chores, ordinary objects, landscapes devoid of picturesqueness, as if involuntarily induce viewers to contemplate. Yet this hushed reality is unsettling, dramatic and full of understatement. The author of these canvases was a respected publicist of the Parisian “Culture”, an art critic, a noble man, regarded as the conscience of Polish emigration after 1945. Throughout his life he tried to reconcile his homosexuality, which he saw as his predicament, and deep religiousness, intermittently lost and regained. He was one of the greatest cosmopolitans among Poles and a hermit perpetually surrounded by people – a man of suffering, who himself claimed that his life was a streak of luck. He was someone who attracted others with his spiritual beauty, and yet he wished, as he wrote explicitly, to paint suffering amplified to a scream. According to the author of the essay, these paradoxes and Czapski’s attempts to reconcile contradictions allow us to read his biography as an example of a maximized life.

Keywords: Józef Czapski, painting, art criticism, religion, metaphysics, mysticism, homosexuality, World War I, Polish-Russian War of 1920, World War II, Katyń, emigration, Parisian “Culture”, Jerzy Giedroyc, patriotism, cosmopolitanism

Maciej Kaczmarski: A Doll / 48

One summer morning, Mieczysław and Karol, two friends from the same village, decide to go on a fishing trip. Unexpectedly, they find in the lake a rubber inflatable doll used to simulate sexual acts. In great secrecy, they decide to keep the doll and use it every other day. The lonely and sensitive Karol eventually falls in love with the phantom of a woman and Mieczysław has to hide the finding from his resolute wife. For both men, the doll becomes a joyous, but also a problematic experience.

Stefan Jurkowski: poems / 59

Jacek Zalewski: The Sadness of the Ironist or the Treasure that Wasn’t There. Around Olga Tokarczuk’s “Empuzjon” (“Empusium”) / 62

Olga Tokarczuk’s Empuzjon (Empusium) is a book that would be boring if it were not ironic. Read literally, it disappoints; it only begins to intrigue on the meta-level. The issue that determines its value is proportions: will we find this metatext attractive enough to balance the static nature of the direct text? A reader demanding easy sensations has the right to complain, but a critic with a hermeneutic’s flair should be satisfied. Tokarczuk multiplies meanings, superimposes them on top of each other, elevates some to the point of absurdity, invalidates ot­hers, all against the backdrop of a most ludicrous story about a group of ailing misogynists whose stay in a health resort is made more pleasant by sexist conversations about women.

Keywords: Olga Tokarczuk, Empuzjon (Empusium), Nobel Prize, feminism, misogyny, gender struggle, gender identity, irony, horror

Sławomir Olesiak: Cornflower Wine / 76

The story depicts the early post-war years seen through the eyes of a child. The fairy-tale world of illusion created for the child’s needs collides with brutal reality. The politics that was omnipresent at the time is absent. Instead, the personal experiences of a very young man are evoked, as he unknowingly compares the two worlds and tries to find a way of escape. However, neither the drinking of the “cornflower wine”, nor active participation in the construction of a home library brings the expected result. The protagonist does not become mature enough to deter others from hurting his loved ones.

Grzegorz Bazylak: poems / 82

Agata Łaska: Does a Poem Hang in the Balance? The Question of Identity in Urszula Kozioł’s Poetry / 87

Urszula Kozioł’s lyric poetry, which is both very sincere and created with an awareness of human cognitive limitations (after all, no one will know / what I was thinking about a moment ago), flows from a sense of transience. It is the experience of transience that defines the poet’s relationship with the world, influences her identity, as well as her attitude to the poem and the word. Fleetingness is captured in a processual way – although this process consists of moments and sometimes loses its fluidity. However, the process is always important because it draws attention to the meaning of the moment, and perhaps even allows us to speak the truth about it.

Keywords: Urszula Kozioł, Polish contemporary poetry, metapoetic reflection, ontology, metaphysics, the meaning of life, the motif of memory, the question of identity, the problem of unity and duality of the human self, the motif of the moment and duration, lyricism of the moment

Bernard Nowak: A Card from the Underground / 95

A short story woven around a smuggling episode in the underground publishing community of the mid-1980s, which took place on the route Paris – Lyon – Frankfurt am Main – Lublin. At the time, Mirosław Chojecki of the Paris-based “Kontakt” teamed up with the author of this story and organized a plot to smuggle an offset machine into Poland. The story, which is not devoid of black humour, shows the way the independence opposition operated, sometimes defying the commonly circulating opinions.

Grzegorz Tomicki: poems / 104

Marta Panas-Goworska: Białystok’s Axis Mundi. Aleksandra Ekster and Dziga Vertov – Parallel Biographies / 107

Both painter and designer Aleksandra Ekster and filmmaker Dziga Vertov were born at the end of the 19th century in Białystok. They developed their artistic activity in what is now Ukraine, later in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and Ekster also in the West. Art historians see them primarily as Soviet/Russian artists, while few consider their work against a more expansive background, based in part on the inspiration from Ukrainian and Polish cultures. The text takes into consideration this particular context, presenting the successive stages in the lives of both artists. There is no doubt that ties with Poland and inspiration from art created by Poles were important for both Ekster and Vertov.

Keywords: Aleksandra Ekster, Dziga Vertov, Białystok, painting, film, USSR, communism, Russia, Ukraine, cubism, futurism, cinema-eye concept, cinema truth concept, visual and applied arts

Marzenna Sendecka: poems / 115


Not only analytically …

Wiesława Turżańska: Last Letters, Last Thoughts, Last Words [Zdzisław Beksiński, Piotr Dmochowski „Beksiński – Dmochowski. Listy 2004-05” (“Beksiński – Dmochowski. Letters 2004-05”)]; Zbigniew Choj­nowski: The Rite of Recollection [Iwona Smolka „Droga do Obór” (“The Road to Obory”)]; Jan Lewandowski: The Alphabet of Serfdom [Andrzej Chwalba, Wojciech Harpula „Cham i pan. A nam, prostym, zewsząd nędza?” (“Yokel and Lord. And for Us, Common People, Misery is All That’s Left?”)]; Konrad Zych: Białoszewski (More or) Less Known [Miron Białoszewski „Na każdym rogu ta sama truskawka. Teksty reporterskie z lat 1946-1950. Wybór” (“On Every Corner the Same Strawberry. Reporter Texts From the Years 1946-1950. A Selection”)]; Iwona Hofman: At What End Is Ukraine Situated? [Mykola Riabchuk „Czternasta od końca. Opowieści o współczesnej Ukrainie” (“Fourteenth from Last: Tales of Modern Ukraine”)] / 117

Reviews of recently published scholarly, essayistic and documentary books, seen against the background of the most significant phenomena of contemporary culture.

Prose writers, prose writers …

Karol Alichnowicz: Writing of the Land [Andrzej Muszyński „Dom ojców” (“Forefathers’ Home”)]; Wiesława Turżańska: Meanders of the Life of Andrew Z. [Joanna Clark “Wilga”]; Jadwiga Mizińska: Poles’ Daily Conversations [Henryk J. Kozak „Kamień” (“A Stone”)]; Kinga Wyskiel: It Takes a Corpse to Tango [Michał Witkowski “Tango”] / 136

Discussions of the latest prose books written by literary scholars and critics. They contain detailed analyses and aim to characterize the most important contemporary literary currents and phenomena.


Dariusz Nowacki and Aleksander Wójtowicz on the novel To przez ten wiatr (It’s All About That Wind) by Jakub Nowak / 149

A juxtaposition of two critical-literary statements devoted to a selected book published recently. The clash of different points of view and personal assessments allows to emphasize the multidimensionality of the discussed publication and to initiate a discussion on its meaning and value.


Piotr Majewski: Krzysztof Kurzątkowski – A Silent Outsider / 157

An article devoted to the artwork of Krzysztof Kurzątkowski (1925-1989), a graphic artist, painter and creator of “object art”, a member of the Lublin „Zamek” (“Castle”) group. The author looks first at the beginnings of the artist’s career against the backdrop of the complicated events of the era, showing the trauma of the later graphic and vignette designer of the daily newspaper „Kurier Lubelski” (“Lublin Courier”): first as a soldier and partisan at the end of World War II, and then as a victim of persecution by the Stalinist regime. Then, Kurzątkowski’s creative activity from the period after the 1956 political “thaw” takes center stage. His artwork – although developed in the shadow of recent repression – brought one of the most interesting responses to the postulate of structural art from the circle of the “Castle” group. It was followed by an original interpretation of op-art, and, finally, by an abundant design and graphic activity, marking Kurzątkowski’s distinct position in the Lublin artistic life of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Keywords: Krzysztof Kurzątkowski, “Castle” group, “object art”, structural art, op-art, graphic design


Grażyna Lutosławska: A Really Beautiful Book. About Franciszka Arnsztajnowa’s Duszki” (“Sprites”) and the Book’s Reprint / 167

In 1932, Franciszka Arnsztajnowa, a poet of merit in Lublin’s literary circles, in a series published by the Union of Writers in Lublin, published a beautifully graphically designed volume of poems for children, Duszki (Sprites), with illustrations by Jan Samuel Miklaszewski. On the 90th anniversary of this event, a reprint of this collection was published by the National Museum in Lublin. Grażyna Lutosławska, a journalist for Radio Lublin and the author of a radio play based on the poems from Arnsztajnowa’s volume, describes her first encounter with the book and her unsuccessful attempts to acquire the original version. She also mentions the emotions that accompany her every time she reads Sprites. She stresses that the reprint, published in 2022, allows the readers to be fully immersed in the atmosphere of the original volume and has a chance to get across to the next generation of young readers.

Keywords: Franciszka Arnsztajnowa, Duszki (Sprites), children’s literature, Jan Samuel Miklaszewski, interwar period, Lublin, Józef Czechowicz Museum


Magdalena Jankowska: Truchachevsky’s Coat / 170

Since Russia’s aggression against Ukraine continues, questions can be formulated about the current attitude towards Russian literature in Poland. Meanwhile, the premiere of Lev Tolstoy’s Sonata Kreutzerowska (Kreutzer Sonata) took place recently at the Juliusz Osterwa Theater in Lublin. Was it worth it? A number of justifications can be formulated for each answer, as it is done by the protagonist of Daniel Salman’s monodrama. The actor, who adapted the text himself, creates the figure of a criminal devoid of guilt for his act. According to him, the system of upbringing in his social class, the accepted moral norms, and finally the ethical slogans flowing from the Holy Scriptures, which in the name of revival require the most far-reaching sacrifices, are responsible for the crime. Despite the fact that the theses he formulates often turn out to contradict each other, in the performance we get a moving study of marriage – from the moment of entering the union till its final dissolution. The actor skilfully reconciles the incarnations from different moments of Pozdnyshev’s life. In the complex image of the character, viewers can reflect their own features.


Marek Danielkiewicz: Hyenas of Postmodernity / 174


Grażyna Lutosławska: Traces / 176


Leszek Mądzik: Influence / 179


Adam Broż: Mrs. Janta and Joseph Retinger / 180

Viktoria Chugunova, Kinga Kołodziej: Exhibition “Lustra (Mirrors). Franciszka Arnsztajnowa” at the Józef Czechowicz Museum / 184

Janina Januszewska-Skreiberg: The Opening of the Largest Nordic Art Museum / 186

Teresa Księska-Falger: When Poetry Sounds Like Music … / 189

Information about well-known artists and cultural phenomena, as well as discussions of the most interesting initiatives, events and publications of the past several months.

Notes about authors / 191