2010 | 19 | 239-261
Article title

ON THE ‘CIVILIZING PROCESS' AND THE ‘BOURGEOIS' POETIC LANGUAGE (O ‘procesie cywilizacyjnym' i' mieszczanskim' jezyku poetyckim w Polsce na przelomie XVI i XVII wieku)

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The paper deals with the relations between poetic language (especially obscenity and scatology) and the social milieu of the recipients of the bourgeois poetry. The humour and the comic are precisely the basic sphere where representations of human sexuality occur. In this context, a distinct reduction of the comic fields connected to sexuality in the 16th and 17th centuries is vital. Literature is one more testimony of the increasing division into the ‘sophisticated' and ‘vulgar' (both in regard to subjective reference as well as to the language used here). ‘The Civilizing Process' (N. Elias) expressed the elite's urge to separate from the masses on the level of custom and language. Further on, the ‘carnival' language admired for its specific ‘vitality' (a ‘popular' spirit is often attributed to it) becomes marginalized – the 18th century classicism is here the crowning of this process. On the other hand, one should be aware that the ‘subversive' use of the language code is inscribed in the registers of the early culture. In this period, the ‘serious' culture of the elites still combined the texts that expressed for instance certain principles of courtly love with their opposites, that can be called burlesque, grotesque or with less justification, realistic. This rule is reflected by collections of bourgeois poetry, including such texts. Not only values of knightly (or noble) code, ‘high erotica', expressed in the official literature, should be included in this ‘high culture', but also elements which are their parodies and opposites that sound low and not high. If those texts – mistakenly perceived as ‘popular' – are being called ‘carnivalesque', this is only by virtue of an attempt at positive valorisation of texts with a predominantly obscene character.
  • W. Wojtowicz, Uniwersytet Szczecinski, Instytut Polonistyki i Kulturoznawstwa, al. Piastów 40b, 71-065 Szczecin
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