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Sienkiewicz’s Bodies

Studies of Gender and Violence


Ryszard Koziolek

Sienkiewicz’s Bodies focuses on the work of the most popular Polish writer from the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. It discusses the surprising success of Sienkiewicz’s writing in relation to the dissection of optimistic illusion that takes place during a reading of its cruel prose. Sienkiewicz is seen as something more than a juggler of genius in narrative prose. This conservative writer, like the modernists, knew that there was no longer any way to construct a representation of reality in a morally non-contradictory fictional discourse. The energy of his narratives and his linguistic drive disturb the order of narrative and expose the heteronomy of a superficially unified style, thus generating fissures, but never ruining the architecture of the text.
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The Shows of Violence


swords and spears are pens

Ogniem i mieczem

Vulnera inflicted with the pen hurt no less than those from the sword or the bullet.

Na polu chwały

After Krzyżacy, Sienkiewicz did not write any more colorful tales of war. He announced this in a letter to Karol Potkański of 21 June 1896. “After Krzyżacy I intend to get out of harness – if not entirely, then at least from wagons that are too big” [Li III/3 50]. He confirmed this, after finishing the novel, in a letter to Ignacy Baliński on 5 December 1900.

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