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Rethinking Orient

In Search of Sources and Inspirations

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Edited By Adam Bednarczyk, Magdalena Kubarek and Maciej Szatkowski

The contributions in this book address a vast variety of questions concerning the sources and mutual inspirations in Oriental and European literatures. The authors discuss selected texts from both historical and synchronic perspectives. They reveal and scrutinise the sedimented layers in their search for the original as well as for the repetitive and universal. The book revolves around the creative reception of one’s own cultural heritage and of works which originated in other cultures.

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Preface (Adam Bednarczyk / Magdalena Kubarek / Maciej Szatkowski)

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Preface

A source is an origin, a place where something is born. It may reveal the truth and is a fundamental condition for something to happen.

Barbara Skarga, A Metaphysical Quintet1

Joseph Hillis Miller in his study on literature addressed the question of reaching to its sources. He referred to Greek literature and the Bible as the groundwork for most literary genres of the secular literature of the West. But Plato, Aristotle, and the Bible, as he noted, are not the absolute beginning. Plato’s writings are compared to “a stone that contains fossils in itself”, whereas the Bible appears in his discussion as “a sedimented or agglomerate text”. The scholar also quoted the famous saying of Alfred North Whitehead, who concluded that ‘all Western culture is a footnote to Plato’, even though few elements of Plato’s oeuvre can be termed as truly original.2 Similar tendencies may be noticed in the literatures of other cultures, some of which, such as those of North Africa and the Middle East, were exposed to some extent to the influence of classical heritage and the Bible; nonetheless, these literatures have had their own models and frameworks of reference, which are partly a result of inspirations coming from the Far East. Similarly the literatures of the Far East at a certain stage of their development did succumb to foreign influence, despite the fact that they developed independently from Mediterranean civilization and produced paradigms and forms of expression...

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