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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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Norwid the Poet

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Abstract: The article provides a synthetic description of Norwid’s poetic work preceded by a discussion against a number of erroneous or contradictory judgements put forth in art criticism, originating both from critical attitudes and the antinomies of Norwid’s poetry itself. The essential feature of this work is the inseparable connection between artistic and ethical values, as reflected by the key role attached to the category of truth, which structures his poetic oeuvre. One of the most important means of expressing the complex truth about the world and man is Norwid’s characteristic irony, which appears in various shades: from cordial humour, through wise leniency, to bitterness and sarcasm. The author also looks at the “darkness” of Norwid’s speech, exposing the positive aspects of the difficulties that can be seen in the poetic work. It is in the reader’s cooperation where he sees the greatest chance of overcoming these difficulties.

Keywords: Cyprian Norwid, poetry, semantics, irony, truth in literature

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His contemporaries did not understand him. But in the generation of “grandchildren,” after his poetry was so wonderfully discovered by Miriam, understanding it was not any easier. He was first viewed as a great precursor of various later poets (Maeterlinck, J.P. Jacobsen, Wyspiański, etc.). Later came more historical comparisons: with western writers slightly before him or contemporary to him (Edgar Poe, Baudelaire, Carlyle, “disappointed” realists and Parnassians from France, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, some symbolists). Who was he in Polish literature? According to some,...

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