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The Literature of Polish Romanticism in Its European Contexts

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Edited By Krzysztof Trybuś

The book contains essays on the heterogeneity of Polish Romantic literature and its links with Europe’s cultural heritage. The essays deal with, among other topics, the idea of beauty and truth, correspondences between the arts, the role of tradition and memory in the Romantic era, and the significance of mysticism and irony. The authors of the essays write about such seemingly distant issues as music and revolution in Chopin’s times, and travel to places as disparate as Siberia and Italy. Their thematically diverse reflections are linked by questions they pose about the romantic roots of today’s Europe. The works of Mickiewicz and other Romantic poets discussed in this book thus clearly do not concern merely the past, but also speak to the present day, describing the experiences of everyday life in its various dimensions.

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Miłosz’s Mickiewicz as a Mystical Poet

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Abstract: The chapter examines Apothegms and Sayings by Adam Mickiewicz, a series of 121 short poems (mostly two-line, but also four- and six-line long), which are paraphrases of works of mysticism by such authors as Jacob Bohme, Angelus Silesius (Johannes Scheffler) and Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin (mentioned in the title) as well as by other authors, such as Benjamin Franklin or Franz Baader. The author proposes reading this relatively unknown text by the greatest Polish Romantic through remarks made by the Nobel prize winner Czesław Miłosz, who interprets the Mickiewicz’s collection of maxims in the context of the Lausanne Lyrics and Pan Tadeusz, and regarding Apothegms and Sayings as ‘Mickiewicz’s greatest achievement as a religious poet’. Out of such a model for reading it, emerges a picture of the nineteenth-century creator as a master of contemplation and of language, and at the same time, a poet of mystery, encoding his message, directed to the chosen ones, both in the content (truths revealed and hidden), and the form (the mystical communicativeness of the short, concise, terse form, indicating its divine provenance, kenosis or asceticism).

Keywords: Polish Romanticism, Adam Mickiewicz, Czesław Miłosz, mysticism, apothegms

The mysticism1 of Adam Mickiewicz (1798–1855) as a politician,2 poet and thinker3 has received a great deal of attention in recent years, and one of the sources of this interest was Czesław Miłosz (1911–2004), who accented religious aspects in the work of his ‘great...

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