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Understanding Misunderstanding. Vol. 2: Artistic Practices

by Tamara Brzostowska-Tereszkiewicz (Volume editor) Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik (Volume editor) Beata Śniecikowska (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 254 Pages
Series: Cross-Roads, Volume 18

Summary

The objective of this book is to continue the reflection on the innovative potential of misunderstanding in cross-cultural encounters which we started by publishing the first part of the book (Understanding Misunderstanding. Vol. 1: Cross-Cultural Translation, Peter Lang 2019). The main purpose of these two corresponding volumes is to embrace not only the cross-cultural adaptation of texts, ideas and discourses in distant geo-historical contexts, but also the culturally-based mechanisms of creatively transforming and re-shaping the source-text in target environments. The notions of misunderstanding and semantic transformation are seen as crucial in this process, yet still not widely acknowledged.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • List of Contributors
  • Introduction. Misunderstanding as a Mode of Cultural Creativity
  • Part I Modes of Misunderstanding
  • Misunderstanding in Life and Literature: Czesław Miłosz as the American Witness
  • Negotiating Cultural Differences in Polish and German Contemporary Literature: Postdependence Perspective and “Neighbourhood Philology”1
  • Misunderstandings in the Czech Reception of the Polish Literary Reportage
  • Is Deconstructive Translation Possible? Early Reception of Jacques Derrida in Poland1
  • Polish Narratology: Some (Mis)Understandings1
  • The Life and Works of Maria Komornicka: Two Interpretations and the Dynamics of (Mis)Understandings
  • Part II Poetics of Misunderstanding
  • “The World’s Rotten Insides”1 – On Kazimierz Wyka’s and Stefan Napierski’s Criticism of Bruno Schulz
  • No Way Out? On Communicative and Axiological Confusion of Protagonists in Books for Young Readers in the Late 20th and Early 21st Century (in Poland)
  • Incomprehensibility as an Artistic Strategy in the Poetry of Tymoteusz Karpowicz and Krystyna Miłobędzka
  • Poetry Incomprehensible to Polish Literary Critics after 1989: An Attempt to Sort Out the Concepts
  • Story Impossible to Tell. Misunderstanding as an Element of Poetics in Polish Dramas Dealing with World War II
  • Index

List of Contributors

Tamara Brzostowska-Tereszkiewicz

Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences

Michala Benešová

Department of Central European Studies, Charles University, Prague

Mikołaj Golubiewski

Warsaw University

Karolina Górniak-Prasnal

Jagiellonian University

Joanna Jeziorska-Haładyj

Warsaw University

Eliza Kącka

Warsaw University

Katarzyna Lisowska

University of Wrocław

Dorota Michułka

University of Wrocław

Magda Nabiałek

Warsaw University

Sonia Nowacka

University of Wrocław

Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik

Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences

Beata Śniecikowska

Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences

Weronika Szwebs

Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

Małgorzata Zduniak-Wiktorowicz

Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

Tamara Brzostowska-Tereszkiewicz, Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik, Beata Śniecikowska

Introduction. Misunderstanding as a Mode of Cultural Creativity

The objective of the collective monograph Understanding Misunderstanding. Vol. 2: Artistic Practices is to continue the reflection on the innovative potential of misunderstanding in cross-cultural encounters which we started by publishing the first part of the book (Understanding Misunderstanding. Vol. 1: Cross-Cultural Translation, Peter Lang 2019). The main purpose of these two corresponding volumes is to embrace not only the cross-cultural adaptation of texts, ideas and discourses in distant geo-historical contexts, but also the culturally-based mechanisms of creatively transforming and re-shaping the source-text in target environments. The notions of misunderstanding and semantic transformation are seen as crucial in this process, yet still not widely acknowledged.

We consider cross-cultural contacts as dynamic and asymmetric practices rather than static and symmetric transfers of values from one culture to another. In our view, translation is not only a linguistic operation, but also an activity conveying culture-specific perceptual realities and cognitive conceptualizations. We propose to examine interlingual and intercultural translation as a relevant mode of cultural creativity. Misunderstanding can be explored as an elementary and unavoidable element of linguistic and non-verbal communication, which highly influences intercultural dialogue and exchange of any facet of historical-cultural tradition. Misunderstanding of any aspect of the cultural past (e.g. historical or artistic ideas, verbal or visual texts, artistic or intellectual trends and movements, literary works or artifacts from different cultural backgrounds) may be seen as a driving force behind cultural evolution.

The second volume we are now presenting is more focused on specific literary representations of misunderstanding. Although most case studies refer to Polish culture, the results of the presented research are relevant to broader cultural issues. The authors demonstrate that particular forms of artistic expression not only represent communicative misunderstandings, but also stimulate them. Literature may not only diagnose and predict potential scenarios of social interactions, but also reveal what can be seen as an obstacle to communication in a given culture or among co-existing sub-cultures. The contributors also explore ←9 | 10→misunderstanding as a purposeful artistic strategy. The field of interest of the monograph is predominantly literature: poetry, prose, drama and translation.

The authors of this volume have several research objectives. Foregrounding intercultural communication “failure” as an artistic device, Mikołaj Golubiewski shows that misunderstanding may be an effective means of self-creation and self-presentation. He analyzes these issues as an illustrious literary strategy of Czesław Miłosz. The eminent Polish poet established at least two different authorial personae, one in the USA and one in Poland. It enabled him to switch between the roles of a witness of history and a self-distancing medium of various personalities, voices, and masks. Michala Benešová, Dorota Michułka, and Małgorzata Zduniak-Wiktorowicz identify new forms of attributing and representing the perspectives of other cultures or members of sub-cultures. In her article on misunderstandings in Czech reception of Polish 21st century literary reportage, Benešová concentrates on cultural-cognitive barriers reflecting the differences in defining the genre’s characteristics, the position of the narrator, and the level of unfolding of his/her subjectivity within the original/translated text. The salient and perplexing problem of misunderstanding in negotiating cultural identities is addressed by Małgorzata Zduniak-Wiktorowicz. Within the framework of postdependence discourse, literary studies imagology, and the “philology of neighbourhood,” the author traces a significant asymmetry in the Polish and German cultures’ mutual- and self-assessment, both in literary representations of cultural differences and in literary historiographies. Literature is viewed as a uniquely revealing field of negotiating the state of non-/familiarization with neighborhood homeliness and otherness. What brings the two distant cultures together is, as the author argues, “the memory of a dissimilar past,” which needs to be thoroughly and evenly analyzed by both Polish and German researchers. In her article on contemporary Polish novels for young readers, Dorota Michułka analyzes misunderstandings as an element of inter-generational communication. She also discusses various narrative techniques that enable the reader to adopt different perspectives on the personal traumas of young protagonists. The author explores how the various cases of misunderstanding may strengthen the empathetic reading as an important social competence. Conflicts between the characters do not occur most commonly as an inevitable stage of adolescence, but they turn out to be an integral part of new social turmoil. Thus, Michułka names and describes the newly emerged social phenomena effecting interpersonal relations.

In turn, the main field of interest of Karolina Górniak-Prasnal and Sonia Nowacka is incomprehensibility as a purposeful strategy and a challenge for the reader’s understanding. Both authors focus on the impenetrable in modern Polish ←10 | 11→poetry. Górniak-Prasnal examines stylistics, imagery, and the visual layer of the output of the representatives of the postwar avant-garde: Tymoteusz Karpowicz and Krystyna Miłobędzka. Sonia Nowacka investigates not only poetry itself, but also the critical discussions it provokes. She discriminates between “hermetic” and “hermeneutic” incomprehensibility, giving examples of both literary strategies.

Magda Nabiałek analyzes misunderstanding as an element of contemporary Polish drama poetics. What is especially important in the study is the case of representations of the Second World War. The author distinguishes a particular mode of representing the Holocaust: Nabiałek labeled this strategy “a laboratory of failed story-telling”. The very act of communicative failure inscribed in a drama indicates that war trauma can neither be told nor shown to the post-war generations.

In the domain of literary criticism, Eliza Kącka examines the intentionally and methodically constructed misreading of an innovative modernist literary work. Kazimierz Wyka and Stefan Napierski’s severe criticism of Bruno Schulz’s Sanatorium pod Klepsydrą [Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass] is conceived as a model of intentional misunderstanding of an unquestionable novelty in literary culture. Uncovering the system of tricks used to misunderstand Schulz’s stories, Kącka confirms that misunderstanding needs to be considered as one of the bases of literary communication, and a necessary constituent of the social framework of reading. The two critics’ attack on Schulz, nevertheless, exerted an unexpectedly positive impact on the development of the world’s “schulzology”. Katarzyna Lisowska proposes a slightly different perspective on cultural misunderstanding in interpretation practices. She presents an in-depth analysis of the reception of the life and output of a highly controversial Polish writer, transgressing gender and social norms: Maria Komornicka/Piotr Włast (1876–1949). Lisowska discusses two multifaceted projects of reinterpreting and re-using Komornicka’s/Włast’s history adopted by two scholars and writers: Izabela Filipiak and Brigitta Helbig-Mischewski. This article focuses on some aspects of the latest queer criticism studies, feminism and gender studies and, last but not least, literary criticism.

Conceptualizing the role of misapprehension in intercultural transfers of systems of knowledge is the subject of Joanna Jeziorska-Haładyj’s metatheoretical essay. The author traces several problems within the research domain of current narratology in Poland and abroad. She explains, what kinds of misunderstanding occur when the narrow meaning of the term “narratology” is applied to any field of hardly unified narrative studies. In turn, Weronika Szwebs in her conscientiously researched article on the early Polish reception of Jacques Derrida’s ←11 | 12→philosophical writings, addresses deconstructive theoretical discourse on (un)translability and plurilingualism, while examining its impact on the practice of translation. Her critical analysis focuses on “deconstructive translation” applied in Tadeusz Rachwał and Tadeusz Sławek’s Maszyna do pisania [Typewriter or Writing Machine], a compilatory compendium introducing Derridean passages to the Polish literary studies audience. The translators’ experiment mimetically resembles Derrida’s textual practice exposing plurilingualism and semantic playfulness and, thus, fully embodies the deconstructive vision of translation.

The analytical material has been restricted here to the history of Polish literature, Polish literary criticism and theoretical discourses. However, given the variety of the selected studies and their “laboratory” character, the conclusions could be applied to other national literatures and literary studies. The enormous subject of misunderstanding as a mode of cultural creativity remains open to correction, revision and improvement by comparative literature scholars in many sorts of research projects.

The two-volume collective monograph Understanding Misunderstanding is one of the publications commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences (1948–2018). The editors express their gratitude to the Institute authorities for co-funding the publication.

The editors of the monograph would like to express sincere thanks to its reviewer, Prof. Witold Sadowski (Institute of Polish Literature, Warsaw University) whose sustained counsel and incisive methodological suggestions have helped to complete this monograph in its present form.

Within the monograph all the quotations from literary works of art appear both in the original form and translated into English. Cited fragments from critical and scholarly texts are given in both language forms only if the original shape of the quote is of special importance for the presented analyses.

Mikołaj Golubiewski

Misunderstanding in Life and Literature: Czesław Miłosz as the American Witness

Abstract: Miłosz actively used misunderstanding to change the perception of his work and his Polish home culture. His American reception reveals Miłosz’s poetological ploy to differently engage his life and writing in different languages. Often self-translating, Miłosz developed a method so effective that he later had to defend his ideas from the misunderstandings of the overeager readers. This chapter elaborates the intricacies of Miłosz’s notion of the witness of poetry by juxtaposing his American reception with his Polish endeavors. To that end, the text employs the notion of authorial persona as best revealing the minutiae of Miłosz’s actions that bordered life-writing, the lyric of masks, Romantic authenticity, traumatic recollection, individualist self-perception, and positive perspectivism.

Keywords: authorial persona, poetology, intercultural expectations, witnessing, history

One of the effects of Miłosz’s post-Nobel recognition in the USA has been a controversial article in the field of world poetry. Probably the most famous poetry critic in contemporary America, Helen Vendler, argued that, contrary to the majority of American poetry, “the work of Miłosz reminds us of the great power that poetry gains from bearing within itself an unforced, natural, and long-ranging memory of past customs; a sense of the strata of ancient and modern history; wide visual experience; and a knowledge of many languages and literatures.”1

Vendler’s piece on Miłosz reveals a nexus of misunderstandings which emerge from his past experiences, contemporary American life, and literary declarations. On the one hand, this crossroads reveals the issues of Miłosz’s biographical self-perception, authorial self-presentation, and cultural in-betweenness. On the other, the same nexus foregrounds American discussions about their exceptionalist perception of own poetry, denigration of own historical awareness, and their situating of Central European culture. In this text, I consider the intertwining courses of these elements to map the field of intercultural expectations that Miłosz masterfully debated for himself and other non-English writers from the minor but greatly traditional war-torn regions of the world.

Details

Pages
254
ISBN (PDF)
9783631789285
ISBN (ePUB)
9783631789292
ISBN (MOBI)
9783631789308
ISBN (Hardcover)
9783631785553
Language
English
Publication date
2019 (November)
Tags
literary criticism comparative literature Eastern European literatures cross-cultural communication poetics translation studies
Published
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019., 254 pp., 2 fig. b/w

Biographical notes

Tamara Brzostowska-Tereszkiewicz (Volume editor) Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik (Volume editor) Beata Śniecikowska (Volume editor)

Tamara Brzostowska-Tereszkiewicz is Associate Professor at the Department of Historical Poetics, Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland. Her most recent works concern comparative modernism studies, literary translation studies, and experimental translation. Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Historical Poetics, Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, Poland. Her main subjects of research are literary theory (cognitive narratology) and literary anthropology. Beata Śniecikowska is Associate Professor at the Department of Historical Poetics, Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy Sciences in Warsaw, Poland. Her most recent works concern transcultural genre studies, comparative avant-garde studies, and intersemiotics.

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Title: Understanding Misunderstanding. Vol. 2: Artistic Practices