Tajemne życie przedmiotów. O "Opowiadaniach koeljowych" Stefana Grabińskiego
The secret life of things. On “Railway Tales” by Stefan Grabiński
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This article is devoted to the analysis and interpretation of the status of things in the narrative world of short stories by Stefan Grabiński which make up The Motion Demon collection (1919). The background for particular stories is railway infrastructure and the protagonists are railway men and sometimes passengers. When analyzing this work attention is usually paid to characteristic figures it introduces; the analyses carried out by the author prove, however, that the status of a protagonist may, to some extent, be ascribed to rail installations. They are frequently personified – both by the narrator and the protagonists themselves. The frequently used personification cannot be explained merely by Grabiński’s stylistic tendency. The railway instruments (signal devices, telegraphs), rail tracks and engines are presented as agents of a different status than humans, but vital to events and situations. Rail equipment serves certain people to achieve the state of higher consciousness or a higher stage of development. One could say that it somehow collaborates with those who want to ascend above the pragmatism of a train trip. This is what happens e.g. in the story called Engine Driver Grot, where the title character, thanks to the rail machine may finally transcend the boundaries of human existence; similarly in The Siding, where the train transfers the passengers to a higher form of existence, to vanishing in outer space. Thus, machines here are not so much practical tools as something that supports and supplements human capability. That motif of collaboration with a super-human machine along with the high status of railway devices in the narrative world of Grabiński’s short stories, compared with modern concepts of transhumanism, shows large similarities.
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