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Romantic Memory

Studies from the Past and Present


Krzysztof Trybuś

The book depicts the phenomenon of cultural memory preserved in the Polish Romantic literature, predominantly in the works of Mickiewicz, Słowacki, and Norwid (and other European poets). The primary objective is to reconstruct the cultural pattern of continuity established in Poland during the period of catastrophe. The author describes the call for a critical historiography and presents a "Slavic counterpoint" in the history of modern Europe. The key questions of the book are: Will the Romantic lesson about the transformation of history into memory and turning the past into an object of faith turn out to be a lesson about the future? The book is inspired by the German trend of contemporary reflection – "the culture of remembrance" (Erinnerungskultur) founded on the works of the Assmanns.

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Epilogue: Romantic memory and contemporary memory


Ritual and memory in Forefathers’ Eve – from a contemporary perspective

And yet those midnight gatherings

In chapels and caves are ripe with pagan things,

White magic, heretical rituals

And superstition. Then the folk, chock-full

Of fables, unenlightened, will believe

In ghosts and wizards. Ha! Forefathers’ Eve!362

In the extensive state of research on Forefathers’ Eve, which has been shaped from the moment the parts of the work were appearing to the present day, numerous studies have focused on the role and meaning of ritual.363 They point to the main theme of the work, most prominently highlighted in Part II, with its significance to the entire cyclical drama emphasized by the recurring title, referring to all parts of the cycle. Ritual studies combine research on the text and on the literary quality of Forefathers’ Eve with the formula of theatre established by Mickiewicz then presented in the renowned lecture XVI on Slavic Drama. In this “theater lecture,” one also finds other theatre formulas indirectly referring to Forefathers’ Eve – predominantly the formula for a metaphysical theatre, as well as the theatre of community.

In Dariusz Kosiński’s monograph Teatra polskie. Historie [Polish Theaters: Histories] from 2010, the scholar lists remaining theatre formulas for which Mickiewicz’s brilliant drama is the model, such as the theatre of transformation, death and musicality, and political and rhapsodic theatre. In Kosiński’s argument,, Mickiewicz’s theatre formulas mentioned above...

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