Contents and Summaries 4/2023

Spis treści numeru 4/2023

Łukasz Komsta: poems / 7

Łukasz Marcińczak: The Odysseuses of Maisons-Laffitte / 10

The author draws attention to a number of differences dividing the three most eminent essayists of the Parisian “Culture” journal – Józef Wittlin, Stanisław Vincenz and Jerzy Stempowski. One was a baptised Jew and an ardent Catholic, the other a son of a polonised family with French roots and a non-denominational follower of the idea of God, the third a descendant of the old borderland nobility and at the same time a “deeply irreligious” man. What strongly connected them was their rootedness in Greco-Roman tradition, allowing them to perceive totalitarian threats in the 20th century in a similar way. All three of them – each in their own way – saw the Soviet model of politics as the greatest danger to the identity of the Old Continent. On the one hand, they belonged to different spiritual traditions, representing the heterogeneity of multicultural Europe. On the other hand, they were some of the last Europeans who saw a return to the classical texts of Mediterranean civilization not only as an opportunity to maintain independent thinking in a globalizing world but also as a condition for preserving national identity.

Keywords: Parisian “Culture”, emigration, Maisons-Laffitte, essay writing, Józef Wittlin, Jerzy Stempowski, Stanislaw Vincenz, Polish-Russian relations, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, World War II, totalitarianism, anti-Semitism, cultural crisis, Greco-Roman antiquity, Latin, religion, multiculturalism, Lviv, Borderlands, Galicia, Ukraine

Ewa Mazur: poems / 30

Joanna Clark: There Will Be No Other End to the War / 32

A prose account of events at the turn of 1944-1945 in Podkowa Leśna, near Warsaw, as remembered by the seven-year-old author. After the defeat of the Warsaw Uprising, families of homeless Varsovians, demobilised insurgents, Jewish acquaintances coming out of their hiding places, and, most numerous of all, women and children, gathered in the summer villas. The joy of the end of the war was mixed with mourning for the fallen, material destitution and anxiety about the future, which received varied receptions.

Grzegorz Wróblewski: poems / 37

Andrzej Jaroszyński: Betrayed Outcasts. Poles in British Spy Novels / 41

An article focuses on the portrayal of Poles in British spy novels of the Cold War period. The author, referencing works by authors such as Ian Fleming, John le Carré, and Len Deighton, argues that Poles in these novels typically assume three primary roles: as archetypal villains, individuals alienated from their immediate surroundings due to their origins, and victims of espionage service. Furthermore, Polish protagonists are usually complex, hybrid characters whose fates are overshadowed by the tragic history of their homeland. Despite the fact that Poles were allies of Great Britain during World War II and often supported the British in intelligence operations, this did not positively impact their depiction in spy literature produced in the UK.

Keywords: British literature, spy novels, World War II, Cold War period, post-war Polish emigration, British intelligence, USSR, KGB, conflict of superpowers, terrorism, James Bond, Krystyna Skarbek, image of the Pole, Ian Fleming, John le Carré, Len Deighton

Anna Maria Mickiewicz: poems / 54

Jadwiga Graboś: short stories / 57

Prose miniatures linked by themes of childhood, loneliness and death. In the short story Ojciec (Father), the main character keeps vigil at the bedside of her dying parent. Pain is mixed with growing anger. Each day brings a confrontation with suffering, with memories that intrude between the medical equipment and helplessness. In Dinosaur, a friendship is born between two children hospitalised in the same room, which is interrupted by the death of one of them. The empty bed and a toy abandoned on the windowsill become symbols of this relationship. The titular Bucket (Wiaderko) filled with paint is a pretext for showing the methods of a paedophile and the image of harm that remains etched in memory forever.

Anna D. Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann: poems / 63

Urszula Benka: About the Gingerbread Tower of Babel / 66

Violence, suffering, commodification, consumption, and the hegemony of one language are various facets of the same phenomenon. The author of the essay evokes the myth of the Tower of Babel as the story of the collapse of the illusion of homogeneous communication, which was to lead to the appropriation of the position of God: the absolute, omnipotent and sole lawgiver. Rejecting fatal homogeneity, therefore, results in the regaining of genuine, individual modes of expression. These issues are linked not only to the history of great wars and totalitarianisms, but also to matters concerning art. In contemporary mass culture, the link between the work of art and the personal experience of its creator is severed. Consequently, it is only the technology of performance that counts, and the artist/subject is increasingly beginning to appear as someone who is unnecessary or even harmful. Mass culture thus excludes spirituality and individuality. On the one hand, it suggests the illusion of understanding; on the other, it cuts off the space of the “indescribable”, not covered by the norm of the “linguistic community”.

Keywords: mass culture, fine arts, Otto Dix, Weimar Republic, Third Reich, language, myth of the Tower of Babel, violence, fascism, Nazism, totalitarianism, absolute, trauma, art crisis, artistry, inner experience

Aleksandra Ziółkowska: poems / 74

Michał Paweł Urbaniak: Pharaohs / 77

The main character is fifteen-year-old Ania, who agrees to look after baby Sabina for the summer. Ania’s mother cleans the apartment of Sabina’s parents and is enchanted by the visible level of life in those interiors, the life she has always dreamed of. Now Ania enters this world. She shares her mother’s enthusiasm but also harbours a lot of anger and a sense of injustice. She lacks patience for the child. The whole story unfolds during a game of hide-and-seek between Ania and Sabina. The countdown lasts dangerously long. This is a tale of power, privileges, and separate worlds that rarely have a chance to meet.

György Gömöri: poems / 92


Not only analytically …

Piotr Majewski: In Praise for the Profound Experience of Art [Piotr Sendecki „Między obrazem a dźwiękiem. Notatnik wenecki i inne eseje” (“Between Image and Sound: Venice Notebook and Other Essays”)]; Iwona Hofman: “There is a Kind of Game of Mirrors Between Us” [Sławomir Mrożek, Józef Czapski „Listy 1964-1988” (“Letters 1964-1988”)]; Jacek Dobrowolski: The First Guide to Shamanic Animals of Power in Poland [Wojciech Jóźwiak „Nasze zwierzęta mocy” (“Our Animals of Power”)]; Grzegorz Józefczuk: See What It Was Like at the Theatre Back Then and You Will Find Out… [Jarosław Cymerman „Sezony pierwsze i ostatnie. Teatr Miejski w Lublinie w latach 1944-1949” (“First and Last Seasons. The Municipal Theatre in Lublin 1944-1949”)]; Konrad Zych: So do I [Dorota Masłowska „Mam tak samo jak ty” (“I Feel the Same As You”)] / 95

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


Eliza Leszczyńska-Pieniak: How I Became a Painter. Interview with Stanisław Baj – Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw – on his 70th birthday / 115

The conversation revolves around the creative journey of Stanisław Baj, an outstanding artist who began his education at the Zamość School of Fine Arts and later attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Today, he himself is a lecturer at this institution, and his paintings have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including at the Lublin Contemporary Art Gallery “Wirydarz”, as the painter recalls. He also discusses the transformations that have taken place in the Polish countryside which has shaped his way of thinking about the world and served as a source of inspiration. Another intriguing aspect is the artist’s friendship with the eminent writer Wiesław Myśliwski, for whose books he designed the covers.

Lechosław Lameński: On a World Emerging From the Sea Foam. Danka Jarzyńska – A Fascinating Sculptor From Gdańsk’s Sobieszewo Island / 128

The protagonist of this essay, Danka Jarzyńska, lives and works on on Sobieszewo Island, which is her home (small homeland) and at the same time the place of all her most important inspirations. Enchanted by the beauty of the island’s wildlife, she has become involved in protecting it from the disastrous effects of the progress of civilisation. Contact with nature has had, and continues to have, a profound influence on the artist’s personality and interests. She graduated from the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, becoming a representative of the next generation of sculptors who, having settled on the Coast after 1945, eagerly utilize local materials in their work. These include various types of field stones and glacial erratic boulders as well as tree trunks and roots impregnated by sea water. Danka Jarzyńska creates relatively small spatial compositions of abstract forms, with a clear organic origin, as well as strongly geometrised ones, combining stone and wood. She often breaks up their coherent form with clearances and through-spaces. She cares for the harmony of simple, uncomplicated forms, although increasingly larger, more monumental works are also being created.

Keywords: Danka Jarzyńska, Sobieszewska Island, Polish sculptors, the Coast, Gdańsk, field stones, glacial erratic boulders, tree trunks, nature, wildlife


Jan Kondrak: New Ukrainian Songbook (2022) / 138


Magdalena Jankowska: Which God Will Judge Us? / 144

Komedia Judyty (The Judith Comedy) is a neTTheatre production based on a play by Belarusian playwright Sergey Kovalov. The author refers to the biblical story of Judith – the beautiful widow who saved Bethany from the invaders by deceit and murder. Since then, her character has intrigued artists from all over the world and is subject to constant reinterpretation. In the play, the “herstory” of the first terrorist is universalised as the problem of an individual taking responsibility for the fate of a nation, and this raises the question of the ethical value of the acts undertaken and the social response to them. Judith and Holofernes, enemies and lovers waiting in Limbo for the end of the world, seem symmetrical figures. Enslaved by duty, they lose personal happiness. The artistic layer of the play accentuates the problem with successful metaphors, while the actors of the “Kupałowcy” group oscillate between high and low stage tone in their refined acting.


Ildikó Rosonczy: The Alliance of Tyrants. The Story of the Russian Captivity of a Polish Honwed Officer in 1849 / 149

In the spring of 1849, Emperor Franz Joseph appealed to Tsar Nicholas I for assistance in suppressing the struggle waged by the Hungarians in defence of their constitution and the right to self-determination. The encroachment of the almost 200,000-strong Russian army into Hungarian territory was decisive in the defeat of the uprising. The article takes a closer look at the fate of Captain Stanisław Jan Szydłowski, a Hungarian army officer from Poland, reconstructed on the basis of documents from Russian archives. How did Szydłowski end up in Tsarist captivity? How did it come about that he was later handed over to the Austrians and put before a court martial?

Keywords: history of Hungary, Hungarian uprising 1848-1849, Austrian Empire, Russian Empire, Poles in Hungary, Battle of Szegeszvar, Wallachia, Chernivtsi, Transylvania, siege of Brasov citadel, deportations, Stanisław Jan Szydłowski


Jacek Zalewski: The Transformation of Tomasz Terlikowski: “Early” versus “Late” / 165

Tomasz Terlikowski, a Catholic writer and columnist, was known in the past for his radical conservative views and sharp rhetoric. Over time, however, he has softened the tone of his statements, apologised to some of his adversaries, and, to some extent, altered his beliefs. People from his former milieu saw this as a betrayal, but also those to whom he has become closer in terms of worldview after his transformation are unwilling to accept him and still treat him with distrust. The author of the text attempts to answer the question of the depth of Terlikowski’s conversion, trying to identify its causes.

Keywords: Tomasz Terlikowski, journalism, politics, Catholicism, right-wing circles, fanaticism, worldview metamorphosis, dogmatism, tolerance, dialogue, paedophilia in the Church, Karolina Wigura, Jacek Dehnel


Jan Lewandowski : A Civilian in the Uniform of the “People’s” Army / 176

Jan Lewandowski, a professor of history and longtime lecturer at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, recalls his experiences of military service during the communist period. Between 1963 and 1988, he spent a total of more than three quarters of this period in uniform: first as a participant in military training at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, and then as a reserve soldier, called up from time to time for exercises (including martial law). The picture that emerges from the text testifies to the dire condition of the “people’s” army in Poland, where shortages of equipment, absurd decisions by commanders and almost ubiquitous incompetence were an everyday occurrence. In this situation, it was mainly a sense of humour that helped to survive the difficult time of service. Numerous anecdotes circulating among the soldiers helped them unwind from the unpleasant moments, and, as the author writes, “pushed aside the moral dilemmas” which resulted from the awareness that “military training is first and foremost about learning to kill other people.”

Keywords: memoirs, history of communist Poland, People’s Army, martial law, Lublin, Military Training Center at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, military exercises


Grażyna Lutosławska: Doubts / 186


Leszek Mądzik: The Tribal Macbeth / 189


Małgorzata Szlachetka: Before Loża 44 (Lodge 44) Became History, There Was Quite a Bit Happening / 190

Klara Sadkowska: Artists and Viewers Through the Lens of Andrzej Polakowski. An Exhibition Celebrating 60 Years of Creative Work at the Hieronim Łopaciński Provincial Public Library / 192

Waldemar Michalski: Stanisław Baj – The Poet of the Palette / 194

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

Notes on the authors / 199