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Literariness

Models, gradations, experiments

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Edward Balcerzan

The deepest crises cannot destroy the universal model of literariness. It maintains its appeal for participants in literary communication as a «contradictory» model. This thought recurs in many epochs. Literariness involves suspending the formal or logical norms of contradiction ( lex contraditionis). In everyday speech, it is not permissible for «A» to simultaneously be «not-A»; in literary structures this is the norm. This is both in the ideas, and in the tensions between the artificiality and naturalness of speech, the structure and the chaos of the plot, experimentation and revitalization of tradition, objective observation and a biased vision of the world, its visibility and invisibility, expressibility and inexpressibility, and a realistic and an imaginative focus. Executions of this model are gradative.
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Chapter 2: Paradigms of Literariness

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Chapter 2:  Paradigms of Literariness

The history of a system is a system. Yuri Tynyanov, Roman Jakobson, Issues in Research into Literature and Language

When, in the early 1960s, I was working on Futurism (I was writing my PhD on Bruno Jasieński as a bilingual author), I dealt with the catchphrases of the movement in East and West Europe, as well as the Polish mutations in Krakow and Warsaw. I treated the catchphrases slandering artistic tradition and the autonomy of literature rather indulgently, as some harmless fun at the peripheries of culture. I was aware, after all, that the Futurists’ “future,” now my present day, had not confirmed their anarchist visions and programs, while poetry – despite what Bruno Jasieński had declared in 1921 – dramatically differed from the “one and only, 24-hour-a-day, eternally new”103 chronicle of events in the daily news. The development of writing not only denied, but even derided the ideas of Vladimir Mayakovsky (of the LEF period), that poetry as “solving language tasks” is identified with all other tasks of this sort, that it has the same significance and the same degree of difficulty as an advertisement for goods “tossed” on the shelves of Moscow’s GUM department store or as an agitator trying to drum up “social activism.” All the tasks of this sort are identical, Mayakovsky maintained, as they are all, by nature, tendentious and serve an ideology. He even claimed that a yearning love poem...

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