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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 Poet of the Senses

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Abstract: The chapter attempts to explain sensual depictions that are constantly present in Norwid’s works – albeit they are sometimes hidden – by means of cognitivist categories. Taking two texts as an example, the author shows two different ways, in which the poet uses these depictions. A passage from the drama Cleopatra and Caesar illustrates Norwid’s technique of realistic description, and the poem “Fate” – his technique of allegory.

Keywords: Cyprian Norwid, incarnation, senses, mirror neurons, allegory, simulation

In the past, Norwid would have been called “a poet of the intellect” and “a poet of culture.” Danuta Zamącińska once teasingly juxtaposed these worn-out phrases with the expression “a poet of strong emotions.” Closer consideration shows that she was in fact right, although there is no need to reject the first two characterizations. Still, would it not seem bizarre to call Norwid “a poet of the senses”?

Admittedly, this chapter does not attempt to trace all the various sensual themes in Norwid’s work. It seeks merely to indicate several strategic moves made by the poet in order to express his conviction that human corporeality and the material nature of the world are essential components of the larger reality.

Returning to the scarcely questionable thesis about Norwid as “a poet of the intellect,” it has to be admitted that he did scale the highest peaks of general truths. However, he also wished to trace the internal process by which he arrived at...

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