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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 and Theological Tradition

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Abstract: What is important for the “Christian tradition” is the subject-matter, value system, motif, idea, and institution; what matters for the “theological tradition” is structures of thought and argument. The Christian inspiration in literature does not need to be “theological.” In Norwid, however, it assumes theological features. Therefore, it is useful to study Cyprian Norwid’s attitude to the “theological” tradition. The crucial point is his attitude towards Revelation.

Over the centuries, the tradition has been expressed in various forms, first in the Gospels themselves, then as a variety of theological tradition. Four such traditions have taken a particularly clear shape: the Lucan type, the Pauline type, the Johannine type, the philosophical type. Norwid approvingly adopts and in his own way develops the first three, but fairly outspokenly dissociates himself from the fourth tradition (and current of thought) – cf. his unequivocal criticism of “scholasticism.” To explain this, we need to bear in mind Norwid’s understanding of “originality” as “conscientiousness towards the sources,” which coincides with the theological understanding of tradition. The fourth current seemed the least “conscientious” to him. It also explains why Norwid took hardly any interest in contemporary theology, while he was greatly interested in the Bible and Patristic writings, which were closer to the sources.

Keywords: Cyprian Norwid, theology, Christian tradition, theological tradition, Bible

The title’s formulation of the subject immediately raises several auxiliary questions: Is it possible or even necessary to speak about “theological tradition” when referring to the...

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