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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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The Problem of Questions in Norwid’s Work

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Abstract: Every reader of Norwid’s writings is struck by their saturation with questions, their abundance of various forms of questions. The chapter focuses on the mechanisms that govern the structures of questions and their function in the poet’s work. What draws particular attention is the dialogical nature of Norwid’s questions: hence, answers are not something external to their structure, but rather complement it. In the course of his discussion, illustrated by appropriate analytical examples, the author shows that the interpretation of questions in Norwid’s work provides the key to solving many other issues, such as the poet’s system of knowledge about the world, the concept of consciousness, cognition or truth, the method of communicating with, and affecting, the reader.

Keywords: Cyprian Norwid, poetics, the structure of questions, theory of dialogue

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Each reader of Niewola [Enslavement], Rzecz o wolności słowa [On the Freedom of Speech] and Milczenie [Silence] – to list the works written in 1849, 1863 and 1882 respectively, that is, in different periods of Norwid’s creative work – is struck by how saturated they are with questions, the richness of their interrogative forms and the diversity of their application. Actually, this applies not only to the mentioned works, but virtually the poet’s entire artistic output. For him, question marks seem to resemble – in the words of his early poem “Pióro” [“My Quill Pen”], from 1842 – “skrzywiona wędka, łowiąca myśl, co opodal ledwo skrzelą błyska” [a...

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