E.E. and the American Dream. Barańczak, Białoszewski, Sosnowski
Languages of publication
The authoress discusses the uses of the concept of a barbarian as a pose, a mock self-diagnosis of an Eastern European intellectual experiencing the West. She traces the notion of a “barbarian” in Zbigniew Herbert’s book of essays Barbarzyńca w ogrodzie (“Barbarian in the Garden,” 1962), as well as in the poem “Rue Descartes” (“Bypassing Rue Descartes,” 1981) by Czesław Miłosz. Key elements of this “barbaric” attitude—bias versus a fresh, even naïve fascination mingled with love; the inferiority complex of a provincial versus a conviction of one’s own moral and, therefore, cultural superiority— could be recognized in prose and poetry reports made by other Eastern Europeans intellectuals, whom Stanisław Barańczak dubbed “E.E.s” in his essay “E.E.: The Extraterritorial” (1990). With this notion in mind, the author focuses on three visits to America made within ten years, beginning in the early 1980s, by three Polish poets: Stanisław Barańczak, Miron Białoszewski, and Andrzej Sosnowski, all of whom were especially preoccupied with language and its possibilities—and therefore more concerned with the first, onomatopoeic meaning of a Greek noun bárbaros, a stranger whose native tongue is perceived as gibberish and impossible to understand.
Publication order reference