The object of our deliberations is structuralism in literary studies, whose beginnings in Poland can be traced back to the thirties of the 20th century. It was developing at two centres at the time: at the Stefan Batory University in Vilnius, around Professor Manfred Kridl, and at the University of Warsaw. Structuralism was reborn in Poland in the sixties and it impacted all of literary studies; its main centres were: the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. Focusing on the analysis of literary systems, it combined them with theory of text and interpretation of individual works, emphasizing their broadly understood linguistic, discursive and rhetorical properties. In the culmination stage of its advancement, it tackled the fundamental problems of our discipline, including those that were only starting to emerge, such as reception of literary works as intended by its structural properties, or intertextuality. Structuralism had (and still has) a strong impact on the entirety of literary studies in Poland. It also became a sphere of reference for researchers of the younger generation, who prefer newer methodological tendencies.
This article looks at Professor Stanisław Jaworski’s contribution to the development of textual criticism in Poland. It was his book I write, therefore I am that offered Polish readers a comprehensive and erudite introduction to French genetic and textual criticism. Published in 1993, it set this enormously important critical movement in the broader perspective of cultural and literary anthropology. The second part of the article examines the impact of this book on Polish studies into the processes of text creation and the ‘avant-textes’. The third, final part surveys the late Professor Jaworski’s role in organizing conferences and stimulating debate on all aspects of genetic criticism.
This article presents a profi le of Stanisław Jaworski as a literary scholar with a life-long involvement in avant-garde literature. He defi nes the avant-garde as a mosaic of diverse trends with no common aesthetic or ideological denominator and, at the same time, as a transcultural network of artists apparently unrelated artists. Focusing on his major studies (Foundations of the Avant-garde, Tadeusz Peiper: Writer and Theoretician, Between the Avant-garde and Surrealism, and The Avant-garde) the article reconstructs Jaworski’s insights and theoretical constructs in the context of contemporary network studies and reassesses his commitment to both history and theory of literature.