Poezja i myśl ujdą cało nawet z gorsetu teorii
Poetry and thought will come out safe and sound even from the straightjacket of theory
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The article is a critical discussion of a book by Piotr Śniedziewski, who made the subject of his research a comparative analysis of the work and thought of two poets of the second half of the 19th century: Mallarmé and Norwid, treating them both as precursors of the esthetics of modernism. The author of the review remarks that the analytical arguments of the book are subjected to its real and main aim, that is practical verification of the theoretical construct projected by the Poznan´ researcher. The construct is the “rhetoric of silence” that could replace the traditional category of rhetoric based on classical models. After a synthesizing characteristic of the whole that is competently and clearly built by the author very well read in the poetry of the researched epoch and in the literature of the subject, the reviewer reminds shortly the achievements to date of comparative Norwidology, with the publications by Maciej Żurowski leading the way. Next she presents six chapters as subsequent stages of Piotr Śniedziewski’s argument, commenting them economically, in a way that does not disturb objectivity of the presentation. The predominant feature of the commentaries is the reviewer’s conviction that although the author emphasizes the connections between Norwid and Romantic poetry as well as his philosophy that is distant from modernism, the thesis about a common basis of both the poets’ work is a peculiar attempt at imposing a straightjacket of an a priori constructed theory on the subject he studies. However, the work of both the poets (both their poetry and thought) emerges victorious from this ordeal. It is so both because of the resistance of art as a domain of independent mastery, and of the fact that Śniedziewski, a follower of the “new comparative study”, comparing rather differences than similarities, consciously dissociated himself from extreme deconstruction that is in fashion. Hence ultimately there are no losers in the book: the rhetoric of silence does work in the workshop practice, and works by the two outstanding poets are not overshadowed by a risky interpretation. From the point of view of Norwidology let us just add that we still have to wait for broadening the comparative background of his work.
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