THE REVOLUTION IN RUIN: PAWEL JASIENICA'S AND JAROSLAW MARIA RYMKIEWlCZ'S ESSAYS ('MEDITATIONS ABOUT CIVlL WAR' AND 'HANGING' RESPECTIVELY) AND THE ETHICAL SENSE OF HISTORY
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The question about the ethical sense of history is asked by Pawel Jasienica (1909-1970) and Jaroslaw Marek Rymkiewicz (b.1935) in essays which explore the idea of revolution both in a broader, genological perspective and in connection with some series of events in their historical specificity and concreteness. Compelled by the nature of their subject to tackle the problems of historical necessity, progress, and the rationality of the historical process, ie. key components of any revolutionary myth, both writers take a remarkably similar stance. One indication of it is the narrative strategy of both 'Meditations about Civil War' and 'Hanging'. The fragmented, non-linear narration puts all emphasis on the local detail, while the events featured in the essays, the revolution in Vendée and the Warsaw hangings of 1794, represent, in a way, mere details on the canvas of global history. This approach allows either writer to suspend moral judgment and exempt the interpretation of his local episode from the exigencies of grand narratives and their 'totalizing' logic. While questioning the revolutionary paradigm and calling for a revision of its formulas Jasienica and Rymkiewicz insist on the crucial role of 'life' in its rich concreteness and semantic potency for subsequent interpretations and evaluations.
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