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«Miłosz Like the World»

Poet in the Eyes of Polish Literary Critics


Zdzislaw Lapinski

Czesław Miłosz, poet, literary critic, essayist and Nobel Laureate, is a familiar person to the Anglophone literary community. But American and British critics in the main are not very competent in the intimate features of Polish literary culture and have no access to the Polish language. This volume presents some of the most penetrating commentaries on Miłosz’s œuvre by Polish critics. They illuminate both intrinsic poetic matters, such as the verse structure or the genre tradition, and the specific historic background of his poems, such as life under Nazi occupation. This comprehensive outline will be indispensable to anyone wanting to understand the real meaning of the often enigmatic writer and his, as Helen Vendler called it, Shakespearean breadth.
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“Conversation at Easter 1620” – An Intertextual Interpretation: Stanisław Balbus



“Conversation at Easter 1620” – An Intertextual Interpretation

Stanisław Balbus

We now ask about the place and role played in literature’s historical development of what I would argue is the main variant of intertextuality – proper stylisation. This also entails the question of its potential in reinterpreting literary history and influencing the current tradition.

When examined as a model of stylisation, its notable variant – pastiche – not only prevents us from elaborating on this point, but does not even allow us to formulate it properly. In fact, pastiche does not perform the task of reinterpreting, as it never transforms the tradition it refers to in terms of content and function but only “clarifies” it. Proper stylisation, on the other hand, always performs a certain historical translocation of the distant literary tradition, inevitably affecting its original meanings and functions by virtue of two factors. Firstly, its influence boils down to the very fact of selecting elements on the basis of hierarchy. Secondly and more importantly, it places those elements in new structures within the text itself as well as on many of its levels, including the paradigms of current semiotic contexts, without erasing the marks of their origin or their original meanings. In other words, the act of stylisation interferes, by way of components that constitute its pattern, with the current systems of literary context, thus enriching – to a lesser or greater degree – the current tradition. Reinterpretation of the past and interfering with the present are the...

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