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On Cyprian Norwid. Studies and Essays

Vol. 1: Syntheses

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Edited By Agata Brajerska-Mazur and Edyta Chlebowska

The book is the first volume of an extensive four-volume monograph devoted to the work of Cyprian Norwid (1821–1883), one of the most outstanding Polish authors. The impact of Norwid’s oeuvre does not fade, as he addresses fundamental and timeless issues, such as the moral and spiritual condition of man or his place in the world and history and seeks to answer universal questions. The book contains an extensive selection of contributions which represent different approaches to the poet’s work. They cover various areas of research, including interpretation, thematology, genology, and editing.

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A Starry Diamond

Extract



Cyprian Norwid (1821–1883) was described by the following words in an obituary notice written by Józef Tokarzewicz in 1884:

There lived in Paris… a Polish writer little known in his own country, an artist known even less, a strange poet, a hieroglyph-stylist, whose every poem has to be read syllable by syllable ten times over… His ideas, despite his profound learning and detailed familiarity with the achievements of contemporary knowledge, move in a diametrically opposite direction to that of the modern philosophical current.

But he was not a dilettante, and certainly not a visionary, a mystic, or a lunatic… He knew how to uncover in every thing such a relation of it to other things that it would become so original as to appear almost unrecognizable…

He carried his soul around with him as if it were some kind of numismatic rarity, unknown to anyone, unwanted, useless. Of less than middle height, lean, though shapely, with intelligent eyes… he had in his manner the assurance and suavity of someone who had been in good society, and in his thoughts and words the roughness of ore burning with an inner fire. He resembled a stone salvaged from some marvellous edifice, which somewhere, sometime had burnt down completely.1

Tokarzewicz gives a very accurate characterisation of the poet: unknown, obscure, moving in an opposite direction to fashionable trends in art and philosophy. His description is also appropriate, because in the eyes...

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