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From Modern Theory to a Poetics of Experience

Polish Studies in Literary History and Theory

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Edited By Grzegorz Grochowski and Ryszard Nycz

The volume From Modern Theory to a Poetics of Experience contains a wide selection of essays, which were published during past decades in academic journal Teksty Drugie and were widely appreciated as significant contributions to the ongoing debate on principles and methods of literary studies. Articles gathered in this collection represent the main schools, tendencies and perspectives applied in contemporary criticism, including the most recent developments and the older traditions, which previously influenced our field. Their chronological succession seems to indicate certain direction of this development, which has moved literary studies from text-oriented, purely scientific procedures to more contextualized, interpretative approaches, labeled here as «poetics of experience».
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The Mono- and Bi(multi)lingualism of Literary “Worlds”

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Edward Balcerzan

The poetics of the individual work always preserves (to use Tadeusz Różewicz’s terms) a “fragment” of the game between the mono- and multilingualism of social communication, inscribing itself into a certain episode of this game, which then “solidifies” and becomes a marker of the given work’s identity. As a result, the work of literature becomes a work closed within the borders of its own language. Here I am referring – not polemically, but terminologically – to Umberto Eco’s conception of the “open work.” Eco’s understanding of the openness of the text assumes the reader’s freedom of choice on the level of semantic content, allowing for (within sensible limits) the possibility or even necessity of a free interchange of meanings that may be synonymous, associative, symbolic, “Aesopian,” subject to taboo, etc. However, the category of closure I am proposing here refers rather to the level of linguistic expression. In this case, the blocking mechanism installed in the work fully respects the work’s multiplicity of meaning, while limiting the possible range of linguistic codes by not giving a voice to any codes other than those that have been activated within it. This peculiar mechanism may be accurately defined by the structuralist category of the “world model.” According to Yuri Lotman, the literary work is a model of the world. We might add here that this world is monolingual, bilingual, or multilingual.

The overriding historical motivation for monolingual literary “worlds” is the history of various struggles...

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