Poland Literature

By | December 30, 2021

The literary life in Poland of the second postwar period, an intense and animated revival despite the immense destruction suffered by the country, starting from 1949 was strongly conditioned in its development by the political events linked to Stalinism and by the official imposition of the doctrine of socialist realism. The process of de-Stalinization and the return to power of W. Gomułka with the “Polish October”, opened in the years 1955-56, called the “thaw”, a new period for literature.

The first symptoms of the changes taking place in the cultural life of the country are already noticeable starting from 1954 in the stories Z łoty lis (1954, trans. It. The golden fox, Milan 1960) by J. Andrzejewski, Hotel Rzymski (1954, trad. it. Hotel Roma, Milan 1961) by K. Brandys, Trzecia jesie ń (1954 “The third autumn”) and Gwiazda zaranna (1955, “The morning star”) by M. Dąbrowska. Considerable was the contribution given to the debate on cultural problems by magazines such as Nowa Kultura (“New culture”), Przegl ą d Kulturalny (“Cultural review i), Ż ycie Literackie(“Literary life”) and from the student weekly Po Prostu (“Simply”), soon suppressed (1957) for the position of harsh criticism.

The process of denunciation and revision of the recent past, initiated by A. Ważyk with the Poemat dla doroslych (1955, trans. It., Poema per adults, Milan 1961), embraces a large group of works, characterized by harsh and bitter tones, from the rediscovery and claim of individual values ​​and responsibilities. This literature of the “reckoning” is represented by the parable novels of J. Andrzejewski (Ciemno ś ci kryj ą ziemi ę, 1957, trans. It., Buio sulla terra, Milan 1962; Bramy raju, 1960, trans. It. The gates of heaven, therein 1960), from the prose of K. Brandys (the short story Obrona Grenady, 1956, trans. it. The defense of Grenada, Milan 1961; Matka Królów, 1957, trans. it. The mother of the Kings, there 1959) and T. Konwicki (Z obl ę ż onego miasta, 1956, “From the besieged city”), from satirical-grotesque tales (S ło ń, 1957, trans. It. The elephant, Turin 1963) by S. Mrożek, from the plays by J. Broszkiewicz (Imiona wladzy, 1957, trans. It. The names of power, Turin 1962) and by R. Brandstaetter (Milczenie, 1957, “Il silen zio “), from the verses of Poland Hertz, M. Jastrun, A. Mandalian, W. Woroszylski. The changed political-intellectual climate opens the doors to all the innovative artistic and literary trends of the 20th century that were previously banned, represented both by foreign and Polish writers, such as W. Gombrowicz, B. Schulz, SI Witkiewicz. The luxuriant ferment and the desire for renewal are also expressed with the birth of new magazines, such as the monthly Dialog (“Dialogo”, 1956), dedicated to theater, and the fortnightly Wspo łczesno ść(“Contemporaneity”, 1956-71). Around the latter a new generation of writers is gathered, even without constituting a school or a homogeneous group, which will take its name from it. Among the young people, who made their debut in large numbers starting from 1956, united by an attitude of revolt, by a will to demystify existing values, M. Hłasko (who died in 1969) with the stories of Pierwszy stand out for the crudeness and drasticity of the representation krok w chmurach (1956, trad. it., The eighth day of the week, Turin 1959), M. Nowakowski, who prefers environments located on the fringes of society (Ten stary zlodziej, 1958, “This old thief”). A. Brycht (Czerwony w ę giel, 1960, “Red coal”), S. Grochowiak (Lamentnice, I958, “The lamenters”), I. Iredyński (Dzie ń oszusta, 1962, “The day of a swindler”).

At the beginning of the 1960s, a change took place in the political-cultural atmosphere of the country which promoted the acceptance of more conformist values ​​and favored what would be called “our little stabilization” (T. Różewicz). In fiction, while on the one hand the traditions of realist prose are continued, as in the novel trilogy S ława i chwała (1956-62, “The glory and fame”) by J. Iwaszkiewicz, a broad cross-section of recent Polish history, or in the posthumous novel Przygody cz łowieka my ś l ą cego(“The Adventures of a Thinking Man”, 1970) by M. Dąbrowska, on the other hand there is an increasing tendency to move away from traditional forms. Between reflection, memorialism and essay, works such as Spi ż owa brama (1960, trans. It. The bronze door, Milan 1962) and Urz ą d (1960, “The office”) by T. Breza oscillate, set in the world of Vatican diplomacy, letters-wise Listy do pani Z. (1958-62, transl. It. Letters to Mrs. Z., Milan 1964) by K. Brandys, the Niebieskie kartki cycle(1956-63, “Blue Pages”) by A. Rudnicki. The theme of war and occupation, a recurring motif in contemporary Polish fiction, is re-proposed in the novels Kolumbowie, rocznik 20 (1957-59; trans. It. Soldiers without uniform, Milan 1964) by R. Bratny, Tren (1961, ” Elegy “) by B. Czeszko, Koniec naszego swiata (1958,” The end of our world “) by T. Holuj, Wózek (1966,” The cart “) by J. Krasiński, from the pages of the diaries of Z. Nałkowska, Dzienniki z czasu wojny (1970, ” Wartime Diaries”), from Chleb rzucony umar łym(“Bread thrown to the dead”, 1971) by B. Wojdowski, where the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto is seen through the eyes of a Jewish child. An example of unconventional “civil prose”, also in terms of linguistic invention, is given by M. Białoszewski in Pami ę tnik powstania warszawskiego (1970, “Diary of the Warsaw Uprising”). The same war theme becomes reason for reflection on the moral and psychological consequences of that experience for the individual in Pami ę tnik antybohatera (1961, “Diary of an antihero”) and Ogród pana Nietsche (1965, “The garden of Mr. N. “) by K. Filipowicz, in Sennik wspó łzesny(1963, “The modern dream book”) by T. Konwicki, in Wycieczka do muzeum (1965, “Trip to the museum”) by T. Rożewicz, in Pruski mur, (1964, “The Prussian wall”) by W. Zalewski, in A jak królem, a jak katem b ę dziesz (1968, “And when you are king, when you are executioner”) by T. Nowak.

The fascination of the past, lived both as an individual and collective experience, appears frequently in recent Polish fiction, and is manifested in the predilection of some authors for the re-enactment of childhood, for the experiences of growth and initiation, as in Kronika wypadków mi łosnych (1974, “Chronicle of gallant events”) by T. Konwicki. Results of refined psychological and customs penetration were achieved by J. Stryjkowski in the reconstruction of the Jewish world of eastern Galicia (G łosy w ciemno ś ci, 1956, “Voices in the darkness”; Austeria, 1966, “The tavern”) and by A. Kuśniewicz in that of a corner of theKról obojga Sycylii, 1970, “The King of the two Sicilies”). J. Andrzeiewski instead uses the mythical disguise of the biblical tale of Cain and Abel in his last refined parable on the condition of man, Teraz na ciebie zag łada (1976, “Now the end is upon you”).

The rich tradition of the historical novel is continued in the key of historical meditation in the works of T. Parnicki, a writer who had already made his debut before the war (S łowo i cialo, 1959, “The word and the body”; Nowa ba śń, 1962- 70, “The new legend”), by H. Malewska (Apokryf rodzinny, 1965, “Family apocryphal “) and J. Bocheński (Boski Juliusz, 1961, “The divine Julius”). Halfway between the essay and the historical novel are the books of M. Brandys (Koniec ś wiata szwole ż erów, 1972-76, “The end of the world of the cavalrymen”) and also inspired by the reflection on the myths of national history areListopadowy wieczór (1972, “One evening in November”) and Grenadier król (1972, “The grenadier king”) by A. Kijowski. The fiction and essays of S. Lem, author of numerous and successful novels and short stories of the “science-fiction” type, such as Solaris (1961, trans. It., Milan 1973), are characterized by the intellectual commitment with which they face philosophical and moral problems posed to man by the development of technology. The Gombrowiczan tradition of demystifying parody finds its best continuation in the prose of S. Mrożek (Dwa listy, 1974, “Two letters”), is felt in the aphorisms of SJ Lec (died 1966), My ś li nieuczesane (1957, trad. it., Milan 1965), in the stories of S. Zieliński (Kosmate nogi, 1962, “Hairy legs”).

The political-ideological problem linked to recent reality is faced, albeit with the limits that condition the contemporary political novel in this country, by J. Putrament (Ma łowierni, 1967, “Gl’infedeli”) and W. Żukrowski (Kamienne tablice, 1966, “Stone tablets”). A particular place in Polish prose of recent years is occupied by the so-called “peasant current”, which portrays the process of transformation of traditional rural society, the conflicts that give rise to the impact of its customs and cultural models with the reality of the modern world.. It includes in its ranks both representatives of the older generation, such as J. Kawalec and JB Ożóg, and younger authors, such as E. Bryll, W. Myśliwski, T. Nowak, E. Redliński. Among the writers of the emigration W. Gombrowicz (died in 1969) has conquered a worldwide resonance with his dramaturgical and narrative production. For Poland 2017, please check mathgeneral.com.

Poetry experienced a period of notable flowering after 1956, characterized by intense formal experimentation. Alongside poets trained before the war, such as J. Iwaszkiewicz, J. Brzękowski, M. Jastrun, Cz. Miłosz, J. Przyboś (died 1970), A. Rymkiewicz, whose production continues fruitful, the most important personalities are undoubtedly those of T. Rożewicz (Wiersze, 1974, “Versi”), Z. Herbert and W. Szymborska. They share the restless reflection, oscillating between the poles of bitterness and irony, on the meaning of individual and collective existence. Among the numerous debutants of the “generation of ’56”, now in a stable position on the Polish literary scene, M. Białoszewski (Obroty rzeczy, 1956, “Znaki równania, 1960, “Signs of equality”), characterized by a bold linguistic experimentation; S. Grochowiak, who prefers expressive forms tending to contrast and dissonance (Poezje wybrane, 1968, “Selected poems”); J. Harasymowicz, in whose verses motifs drawn from peasant culture are intertwined with a surrealist deformation (Wiersze zebrane, 1975, “Collection of verses”); T. Nowak, who draws on biblical motifs, mythology and symbols of the peasant world (Wybór wierszy, 1973, “Choice of poems”); E. Bryll, who works through literary allusion and archaic stylization an incessant comparison between contemporaneity and national tradition (Poezje wybrane, 1970, “Selected verses”) and again M. Grześczak, U. Kozioł, JM Rymkiewicz, JS Sito. A significant change occurs between 1968 and 1970, with the appearance of a new wave of young poets, characterized by rejection of the aestheticizing poetry of the generation of the Sixties, from the search for a new, authentically nonconformist commitment to literature. Among them are S. Barańczak, J. Kornhauser, R. Krynicki, E. Lipska, R. Wojaczek (died 1971), A. Zagajewski.

In the panorama of dramaturgical production after 1956, which includes the last works of L. Kruczkowski (Pierwszy dzie ń wolno ś ci, 1959, “The first day of freedom”; Ś mier ć gubernatora, 1961, “The death of governor “), a prominent place belongs to T. Rożewicz, who with Kartoteka (1960, trad. it. Cartoteca, in Sipario, 1963) has assumed the position of a classic of contemporary grotesque tones of Tango (1964, trans. it., in Sipario, 1967) to a more openly ideological-political problematic withEmigranci (1974, “Gli emigranti”. After a period in which scenographic interests seemed to prevail, a new phase was opened by the development of the poetic drama, represented by Z. Herbert (Dramaty, 1970, “Drammi ‘i), S. Grochowiak (Dialogi, 1975), JM Rymkiewicz (Król Mi ę sopust, 1970, “The Carnival King”) E. Bryll with Rzecz listopadowa is linked to the tradition of Polish romantic and neo-romantic drama in a way that is not without ambiguity. (1968, “November Things”); an original character also has the work of I. Iredyński Ż egnaj, Judaszu… (1965, “Goodbye Judas…”) and J.Krasiński, Czapa, czyli ś mier ć na raty (1965, “The gallows, or death by installments”). Worthy of note is the rediscovery of the theatrical production of writers of the 1920s such as B. Jasieński, T. Peiper, SI Witkiewicz and the political dramas of S. Przybyszewska (Sprawa Dantona, 1929, “The Danton affair”, first ed. 1975).

Poland Literature