This article questions the consensus view of The Invincible (Niezwyciężony) as one of Lem’s classical sci-fi fictions. The author contends that in this novel the familiar conventions (later rejected in His Master’s Voice) coexist with a structural design characteristic of his late novels. An analysis of two pieces of the world of The Invincible, usually disregarded by the critics because of their sketchiness, i.e. the story of the extinct Lyrans and the account of the ancient biosphere of Regis III, reveals that in either case Lem no longer cares for the realist credentials of his fiction and does not put the two planets on the astronomical map (which is no doubt deliberate choice). Moreover, in contrast to his earlier novels, his outline histories of the two biospheres contain hidden (but nonetheless unmistakable) parallels to the prehistory of the biosphere of the Earth (though he was no believer in evolutionary repeatability). As this article tries to demonstrate the two peripheral facets of the world depicted in the novel are clearly related and subordinated to the central story line (concerned with the ‘necrosphere’ and humanity). This structural dependence as well as the way in which key aspects of the world depicted in the novel seem to illustrate the theses articulated in Lem’s essays justifi es the conclusion that The Invincible should be treated as the first novel of his late phase, represented – on account of its form – by His Master’s Voice.
The discovery of some hitherto unknown documents relating to Bolesław Leśmian’s family has made it possible to re-read his autobiographical poems as responses to circumstances and events from the poet’s real life. An analysis of his poems in the light of the information supplied by the newly-discovered source shows that they provide a thoroughly accurate record of events as they happened, especially deaths. Not only do the deaths of his mother, father and his siblings hurt him deeply and foreshadow the end of his own life, but also make him feel guilty for not being able to remember them properly: as his memory fails him, they are condemned to a ‘second death’.
This article confronts the text of A Literary Prize, a comedy by Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, with its contemporary reviews. Staged by the experimental theatre Reduta (directed by Zofia Modrzewska) in April 1937 at Teatr Nowy in Warsaw (under the directorship of Jerzy Leszczyński), it fell into complete oblivion which lasted until the recent discovery of the director’s copy buried at the Academy of Theatre Library in Warsaw. While contemporary reviewers found A Literary Prize to be one of the weaker works of an outstanding poet, Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska in her letters contrasted the ‘violent attacks’ of the critics with a fairly warm reception of the general audience. The play was performed to capacity audiences until 19 May, and revived for a single occasion a year later in Poznań. A Literary Prize juxtaposes two plots. One, with elements of comedy of manners, follows the fortunes of a young girl, Taida Serebrzycka, who tries to navigate between two men with literary ambitions, Klemens Niedzicki and Albin Niekawski, while the other explores the challenges faced by prospective writers, especially the role of prize-winning competitions in the discovery of talent and the building of reputation. This article is focused primarily on the character of Taida, who makes the impression of being somewhat scatterbrained and snobbish, but is in fact a strong-minded, independent young woman conscious of her sexuality. She wants an honest, equal relationship, and is ready to fi ght hard for her happiness, which does include sexual satisfaction. The analysis of the reception of Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska’s play, and especially the characterization of Taida, the female protagonist, is complemented with an examination of the mechanisms of the critical discourse.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908) enjoys unprecedented popularity in Poland and has played a considerable role in the shaping of modern Polish culture. As many as fourteen different translations of the fi rst volume of the series have been published; moreover, there exists an active Polish fandom of Montgomery’s oeuvre. The authors of this article briefly discuss the cultural and social aspects of this phenomenon which was triggered off in 1911 by Rozalia Bernsteinowa’s Polish translation of Anne of Green Gables. Her translation, still regarded as the canonical text, greatly altered the realities of the original novel. As a result, in Poland Anne of Green Gables has the status of a children’s classic, whereas readers in the English-speaking world have always treated it as an example of the sub-genre of juvenile college (school) girls’ literature. The identity of the Polish translator of L.M. Montgomery’s book remains a mystery, and even the name on the cover may well be pen name (though, at any rate, it strongly suggests that she must have belonged to the Jewish intelligentsia of the early 20th century). What we do know about her for fact is that she was a translator of German, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and English literature. Comparing Rozalia Bernsteinowa’s Polish text to its English original has been a subject of many Polish B.A. and M.A. theses. The argument of this article is that her key reference for was not the English text, but that of the fi rst Swedish translation by Karin Jensen named Anne på Grönkulla (1909).
This article examines the relationship of disgust and perversion in Lovetown (Lubiewo bez cenzury) by Michał Witkowski. An overview of the reception of the book reveals that reviewers and critics have focused mainly on Witkowski’s portrayal of the LGBT community, the structure of the novel (dubbed the ‘queer Decameron’), and the textual (meta) creation of the writer’s voice, but it ignored his handling of disgust and perversion. Central to this reading of Lovetown, which draws on Sigmund Freud’s analyses of disgust and perversion, is the observation that the narrator interlards his lingo with neutral, ‘objective’ explanations of the main characters’ deviant behaviours. This glossary, written for the general reader, tends, in effect, to legitimize deviance. An in-depth analysis of the writer’s handling of the categories of the disgusting, the perverse and the sacred leads to the conclusion that Lovetown exemplifies a cathartic-therapeutic narrative in which disgust becomes a tool of self-fulfi llment.