The Routledge World Companion to Polish Literature offers an introduction to Polish literature through thirty-three case studies, covering works from the Middle Ages up to the present day. Each chapter draws on a text or body of work, examining its historical context, as well as its international reception and position within world literature.
The book presents a dual perspective on Polish literature, combining original readings of key texts with discussions of their two-way connections with other literatures across the globe. With a detailed introduction offering a narrative overview, the book is divided into six sections offering a chronological pathway through the material. Contributors from around the world examine the various cultural exchanges at play, with each chapter including:
- Definitions of key terms and brief overviews of historical and political events, literary eras, trends, movements, groups, and institutions for those new to the area
- Analysis and notes on translations, including their hidden dimensions and potential
- Textual focus on poetics, such as strategies of composition, style, and genre
- A range of historical, sociological, political, and economic contexts
From medieval song through to the contemporary novel, this book offers an interpretive history of Polish literature, while also positioning its significance within world literature. The detailed introductions make it accessible to beginners in the area, while the original analysis and focused case studies will also be of interest to researchers.
Table of Contents
Tomasz Bilczewski, Stanley Bill, and Magdalena Popiel
Introduction: Polish Literature and Its Worlds
OLD POLISH LITERATURE: MIDDLE AGES, RENAISSANCE, BAROQUE
1. In Search of Origins: Bogurodzica
2. World Order in a Harmonious Hymn: Jan Kochanowski’s "What Dost Thou of Us Require, Lord, for Thy Plenteous Graces?"
3. A Child’s Death, the Poet’s Immortality: Jan Kochanowski’s Laments
4. The Poetry of “Passage”: Mikołaj Sęp Szarzyński’s Sonnets
SOURCES OF MODERNITY: THE ENLIGHTENMENT LEGACY
5. The Adventures of Mr. Nicholas Wisdom: Reading Ignacy Krasicki with Kant
6. The “Fairytale” Magic of Speech: Franciszek Karpiński’s Lukierda’s Plaint
7. Is Jan Potocki’s The Manuscript Found in Saragossa a Polish Work?
8. The Letters of Jewish Lovers in Dutch: Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz’s Levi and Sarah
Kris Van Heuckelom
THE NINETEENTH CENTURY: ROMANTICISM AND POSITIVISM
9. The Culture of Memory: Adam Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz
10. Adam Mickiewicz: Two Poems and their Brazilian Readings
11. "Being’s Fated Shade": Cyprian Kamil Norwid’s "Irony"
12. Bolesław Prus’s The Doll: Polish Historical Vistas from a Japanese Perspective
13. Toward Mass Culture: The Global Renown of Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis
POLISH MODERNISM: FROM YOUNG POLAND TO THE INTERWAR PERIOD
14. Stanisław Brzozowski’s Flames
15. “Rebellion Against Boundaries”: Bolesław Leśmian’s The Meadow
16. The Polish Avant-Garde in Japan: Bruno Jasieński’s I Burn Paris
17. “A Man on the Brink of Disaster”: Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s Insatiability
Michał Paweł Markowski
18. History and Myth: Bruno Schulz’s Spring
19. Psychological Realism and Modernist Poetics: Zofia Nałkowska’s Boundary
POSTWAR LITERATURE: TRAUMA, EXILE, IDENTITY
20. Witness and Form: Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
21. Gustaw Herling-Grudziński’s A World Apart
22. Making Sense of Trans-Atlantyk: The Reception of Witold Gombrowicz’s Exile Novel in Norway
Knut Andreas Grimstad
23. Archaism as a Tool of Change: Reflections on a Poem by Czesław Miłosz
24. Stanisław Jerzy Lec’s Unkempt Thoughts
25. Stanisław Lem’s Solaris: Interpretations in the Russian-Speaking World
26. Translating Memory: The Reception of Miron Białoszewski’s A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising in North America
BEYOND IDEOLOGY: LITERATURE OF THE LAST FOUR DECADES
27. The Drama of Otherness: Tadeusz Różewicz’s White Marriage
28. Wisława Szymborska: “Writing a résumé”
29. Zbigniew Herbert and Antiquity: Poetry, Oppression, and "the Classic"
Arent van Nieukerken
30. The Untranslatable Trope: Mariusz Wilk’s "Russian" Cycle
31. A Thicket of Hieroglyphs and Ideograms: Ryszard Kapuściński’s Travels with Herodotus
32. "Try to Praise the Mutilated World": Adam Zagajewski and the Poetry of 9/11
33. Micro-suspense and the Desire to Keep Reading: Translating Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob
AFTERWORD: A World History of Polish Literature
Tomasz Bilczewski is Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities at Jagiellonian University, Poland.
Stanley Bill is Senior Lecturer in Polish Studies and Director of the Polish Studies Programme at the University of Cambridge, UK.
Magdalena Popiel is Professor in the Department of Anthropology of Literature and Cultural Research at Jagiellonian University, Poland.