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Essays in Honour of Professor Tadeusz Rachwał


Agnieszka Pantuchowicz and Slawomir Maslon

Affinities, a collection of essays dedicated to Professor Tadeusz Rachwał, a noted literary historian and cultural critic, pioneer of the present-day cultural studies in Poland, includes texts written by his friends, colleagues, and disciples. As it turns out, even though the topics discussed by the particular authors differ from each other, the volume has a definite focus: literature and culture from the early modern times to the present, approached in ways that combine attention to the textual detail with a broad perspective of social change and the ability to use the hermeneutics of suspicion to see through various received ideas and petrified ideologies. Scholars from Poland, the UK, and the USA have demonstrated that Professor Rachwał attracts minds that unite critical passion and inquisitiveness with expertise in many fields of research in today’s (post-)humanities.
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“Trailing clouds of glory do we come/ From God…”; but wherein do we arrive? Wordsworth’s Approaches to Infinity


Samuel Monk, quoted by Tadeusz Rachwał in Chapter VIII of his Approaches of Infinity, argues that Gilpin’s views on the picturesque were a mark of “temporary loss of interest in the immediate emotional relationship between man and nature.”1 During the “short lived career of the idea of horizontal travel in search of the picturesque” (Rachwał), the interest was lost and the relationship disrupted, both waiting for a revival to be brought about by “the boy Wordsworth, in the fastness of Cumberland” (Monk). There is reason to believe, however, that Wordsworth, while still a boy (that is before he turned thirty-five at least), was positive mainly about the role he wanted to play in reviving the interest, while capturing the immediacy and the emotional character of man’s relationship with nature was not exactly his province at that stage. Along with “boy Romanticism” Wordsworth chose to “travel to infinity, preferably vertically” (Rachwał); nevertheless, before he started recording “approaches of infinity,” Wordsworth had to make a couple of approaches to infinity, the approach involving a good deal of tottering at first.

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