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Tytuł: Miejskie strofy. Polska poezja urbanistyczna doby postyczniowej
Inne tytuły: Urban verses. Polish urban poetry of the post-January period
Autorzy: Kościewicz, Katarzyna
Data wydania: 2015
Data dodania: 18-paź-2021
Wydawca: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku
Abstrakt: It is hard to imagine the 19th century literature without a city. It occupies a vital position not only in the considerations of literary and cultural geography of this century but also in the reflections on primary threads in the nineteenth century art. The presence of the urban subject matter in the works of artists creating in this period (its second half in particular) seems to be a sine qua non condition today to be granted a laurel of greatness or at least originality by university literature experts and art historians. Polish poetry of the second half of the 19th century also played its role in this grand cultural dedication to a city. The turn of the 1860s and 1870s appeared to be a turning point in the history of Polish urban lyrics development. At that time, a generation of the Warsaw School’s critics and writers, i.e. those born at the end of the 1830s and 1840s, emerged on the literary scene. According to those young journalists or publicists, poetry had to undergo changes both for historical and civilizing reasons. The essence of these transformations was to be determined by the rejection of idealistic esthetics, extension of a subject range by civilizing issues including urban ones, and introduction of a new main character, inter alia deriving from urban proletariat and middle class, into poetic cards. Such postulates were put into practice by the poets in the their early twenties that were connected with the young press, e.g. Aleksander Michaux or Władysław Szancer. One of the most distinctive features of their poetry was urban subject matter. We may even risk a claim that undertaking such a subject matter became a kind of artistic manifesto for this generation of poets. A common ground for this artistic quest was contestation of idealism. In line with the emerging tendencies in the European literature, Positivist poets chose the contemporary world in its common, daily and urban dimension as a subject matter of their poems. They described it with a colloquial language reaching for previously despised realms of life of the urban poor and social outcasts. A prostitute was made one of the most popular characters. They explored the hustle of urban existence in the streets, attics, basements and cafes or gang and ´ industrial districts, most preferably at night. They were interested in all kinds of social pathologies such as poverty, alcoholism, prostitution, unemployment, gambling, orphanage or homelessness. Descriptions of carnival parties and satiated burghers, golden youngsters and refined party divas participating in them were a peculiar kind of a counterpoint emphasizing this type of social issues. Urban poetry of the post-January era mostly realized the assumptions of realism aesthetics. It does not mean, however, that it was a monolith in this respect. Analyzing works of even single poets, e.g. Aleksander Michaux or Wiktor Gomulicki, stylistic eclecticism may still be discerned. Thus urban lyrics of the post-January era were as eclectic as the entire poetry of this period. Searching an appropriate perspective allowing to grasp a direction of urban poetry development, reflections on fine arts proved to be inspiring. In the monograph devoted to Aleksander Gierymski, Stanisław Witkiewicz concluded that his artistic interests evolved from ethnography to a state of mind. This tendency may be successfully discovered in urban poetry as well. Another interesting issue embodied in urban poetry of the post-January era was an awareness of incompatibility between old forms and new matter. Classic instruments containing formal harmony and beauty seemed to be old-fashioned. Once applied to new themes, they evoked a sense of dissonance, impropriety or falsehood. Formally, it was revealed through disharmony, use of oxymoron, popularity of the poetry of fragment and irregular line structures, and negation of a possibility of expressing new experience within the framework of classis genres. Search for a new lyrical form derived from the need to externalize the shock of an ontological nature. A handicapped and intrinsically broken form of the poems constituting the achievement of post-January poets should be recognized as a consequence of the negative diagnosis of culture and negation of a moral and social shape of the contemporary world. It mostly referred to a city. Being a center of artistic life in the 19th century, fine arts market became a referent of progress. Poets who opposed it identified it with the practice involving “commoditization of everything, including beauty” (Brooks 2005). The world became the realm of matter while the spirit became atrophic. Everything was for sale: feelings, values and art. In the poetry of the second half of the 19th century, including the Polish one, this was a common diagnosis, but not new. It constituted an inseparable element of earlier presentations of a city as Babylon, among others in Romantic poetry. Criticism of the mechanisms of commercialization in the works of post-January poets rarely literally evoked this biblical topos. The main emphasis was placed there on the presentations of existential effects of this phenomenon. A city appeared there meaningfully – as a space of the dispute: political, social and artistic. A main distinct feature of the urban poetry of the Positivism era is anthropocentrism. It is, above all, egalitarian rather than elitist. Among a variety of human types, particularly those deriving from the sphere of poverty, democratic attitudes of the epoch were revealed. Thinking about a man in a city, the poets paid a special attention to his physicality. They described abstract notions and emotions by means of a substantive or anatomical concrete. Using Richard Sennet’s metaphors, we could say that a city of Positivism poets was, most of all, a physical body in pain: suffering from hunger, cold, disease and sexual abuse, which very often became a dead body. This perspective is global since it is equally typical both for historical and social subject matter. Apparent domination of sensual experience resulting from pain makes the poetry less intellectual and more emotive, hence melodramatic too. Focusing on physiology on the one hand, and on experience on the other hand, made some poets depict suffering from a psychological perspective. Ludwik Brzozowski (Na paryskim bruku) and Włodzimierz Stebelski (inter alia Cynizm) did so. A city in the post-January poetry is also an unaesthetic body. A tendency of the poets to show places commonly regarded as ugly: backstreets, ditches, taverns, attics and basements, became clearly apparent. We may even discern turpism in this fancy for ugliness once we consider who was presented in this background. In Alexander Michaux’s Śmieciarka, an old beggar, who was once a famous prostitute, appears. Inspired by Baudelair, W. Gomulicki went even further: in Francuzica, he showed a wrinkled and yellowed face of the dead teacher lying in a coffin. These are not all examples, nevertheless, they are the most drastic. The urban poetry of this era feeds on authentic experience in its mainstream, somehow it grows from city walks. Its most popular character – a flaneur ˆ , being a porte-parole of the nineteenth century poet related with a city, embodies this status quo. A perceiving subject moving in space favors a kinetic definition of a city. Then it becomes a dynamic body evoking significant senses. Urbanism present in Positivists’ lyrical works is one of their most appreciated aspects, inter alia by Young Poland’s critics or contemporary researchers. The analysis of such a category of the subject matter allows to draw wider conclusions regarding progressive properties and tendencies of the Polish poetry in the second half of the 19th century.
Sponsorzy: Wydanie publikacji sfinansowano ze środków Wydziału Filologicznego Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku
Praca naukowa finansowana ze środków Ministerstwa Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego w ramach grantu promotorskiego (nr NN103110633) oraz „Narodowego Programu Rozwoju Humanistyki” w latach 2012–2017 (projekt badawczy nr 11H11013880)
ISBN: 978-83-7431-439-8
Typ Dokumentu: Book
Właściciel praw: © Copyright by Uniwersytet w Białymstoku, Białystok 2015
Występuje w kolekcji(ach):Książki / Rozdziały (WUwB)
Książki/Rozdziały (WFil)

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