Introduction: Breaking the seals. Letter as a special literary genre (Barbara Wolska)
Letter is a genre of occasional and applied literature which characteristic feature is its great variety. It can be a biographical document but also a para-literary or literary fictional letter. Formerly in literature a letter of a writer was frequently addressed to a wider audience and intended to be read aloud. Therefore, an authentic letter could deliberately have a component of creativity and could not only be a personal document but also a literary work. A variety of works was published in a form of a letter where definitely personal engagement can be observed, not only understood as a presence of biographical elements.
The monographic issue of “Inscription” XXIII devoted to letter will raise a variety of issues important for interpretation and editing of letters:
Introduction: Breaking the seals. Letter as a special literary genre (Barbara Wolska)
Family "writings" of wives and daughters of the Radziwiłł family from the 17th century
The article presents the correspondence of the members of the Radziwiłł family from the Birżai line, based mainly on the manuscripts from the National Library in Warsaw (ref. no. III 3277). The letters of Krzysztof Radziwiłł’s (1585-1640) closest relatives: his sister Elżbieta, his wife Anna, his daughter Katarzyna and his granddaughter Anna Maria contain some typical elements – questions about health, expressions of godliness and longing, and feelings towards the addressees. The analysed epistolary texts are mostly edited in a conventional way, although Anna Maria uses quotes, jokes, biblical allusions. Hand-written letters express mainly emotions, containing little information about public matters. They focus above all on the private life.
The intriguing trio – the role of the letters written by Konstancja Czapska née Gnińska’s in describing the marital relation between Magdalena née Czapska and Hieronim Florian Radziwiłł
The article describes the collection of letters of Pomeranian voivode’s wife Konstacja Czapska addressed to her daughter Magdalena and her son-in-law, duke Hieronim Florian Radziwiłł. The letters from the collection of the Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw appeared to be a very important and useful source to research the history of this stormy marriage, which was taken probably in 1745 and ended after several years by its annulment. The emotional relation between Magdalena and Hieronim Radziwiłł was shown in recently published letters of Magdalena addressed first to her fiancé and later husband (introduction and ed. I. Maciejewska, K. Zawilska, Olsztyn 2016). Letters written by Konstancja Czapska are a priceless voice in understanding the marriage, yet they were not given much space in the aforementioned edition for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, it is a very interesting collection, showing the author’s correspondence talent and intelligence and also the ability to diversify her statements depending on the aim and addressee. It is an interesting evidence of the relationship between a mother and a daughter, which is important not only at the moment of arranging the marriage taken in unusual circumstances, but also when it becomes a source of support during the crisis in the marriage.
Prose letters in "Pleasant and Useful Games" – authors, subjects, functions
In this article, I have focused on eight prose letters in “Zabawy Przyjemne i Pożyteczne”. The first two are by Franciszek Bieńkowski and concern the issue of good education – good treatment for people with lower social status.
The next four letters are the correspondence of three great figures of the Renaissance: the Polish king Stefan Batory, his secretary and statesman Jan Zamoyski and the distinguished Italian humanist Antoni Muret. These letters, coming from the 16th century and written in Latin, were translated by Józef Koblański in the 70s of the 18th century. The texts are examples of traditional epistolary art based on ancient principles.
The seventh letter of unknown authorship compliments the reforms of the National Education Commission and polemizes with its opponents. The deliberate form of the letter used to promote a state educational institution and to argue with the critics of its reforms suggests that it is a letter falsified for the promotion of the social good of universal and unified education. The name of the addressee of the letter has not been specified what makes the correspondence general and illustrative in character.
The last letter is basically a preface to the Polish edition of a well-known book of French doctor – Samuel Tissot. The book is entitled The Council for the People and concerns the principles of healthy living. The author of the letter – Grzegorz Piramowicz – enumerates the advantages of the book and the merits of her author and praises those who translated the book into Polish.
The prose letters discussed in this article which were published in “Zabawy Przyjemne i Pożyteczne” present a large variety of themes and topics brought up in the periodical starting from current issues to the examples of early Enlightenment literature and culture.
Epistolary portrait of the imperial chamberlain – patron of Polish culture. Correspondence of Stanisław Dunin Borkowski to the author of "Parochialism"
Around one hundred letters written by Stanisław Dunin Borkowski between 1833-1840 addressed from Vienna to Winniczki near Lviv, maintained in the collection of the Ossolineum in Wrocław, present a portrait of a nobleman – a dilettante with a wide spectrum of interests in culture, spending enormous amounts of money in order to ensure himself a proper position at the Austrian court.
It is the emperor’s chamberlain connections with the “enlightened” Europe that made him abolish serfdom in his estate in 1818. As he himself spent most of his time in Vienna, in 1833 he commissioned the management of his estate to his nephew Aleksander (Leszek Dunin Borkowski) – the future author of the renown Parafiańszczyzna.
Most of the letters consist of excuses such as: “Maybe there will be a need to head to the baths or maybe stay here for one more month. […] Maybe I will greet you in about a month or maybe in three months. Nevertheless, dear Oleś, do not wait for me, just run the household as if it was your own, and everything will be good” (26th April 1833, p. 11). Some of the letters reveal, for instance, interesting facts about Viennese edition of Psałterz floriański (1834) which was financed by Stanisław Dunin Borkowski, or show the circumstances of employing in Winniczki August Bielowski, the animator of Galician romanticism, or depict details of subsidising two volumes of romantic “Ziewonia” by a young land agent of Winniczki.
The correspondence is a portrait of a man who aspires to the role of a Renaissance patron of culture; however, the standards of the emperor’s court are his limits. Without a doubt this hedonistic attitude of court flatterers from his uncle’s letters, made it easier for Leszek Dunin Borkowski to create a plethora of protagonists’ types in his anti-aristocratic Parafiańszczyzna and inspired the romantic discourse about “rational patriotism”, important also in present times.
From the trip to the East. About a different Europe and a fluctuation of a letter as a genre in the journey correspondence of Henryk Sienkiewicz
The article refers to Sienkiewicz’s journey to the East in Autumn 1886 and the writings remaining after that trip: private correspondence – letters to Jadwiga Janczewska (1886) and an account of the journey published in the Warsaw press entitled Wycieczka do Aten [A trip to Athens], “Niwa” 1889, no. 1-3 (Dzieła, v. 44, Warsaw 1950). An additional text used in the article is a memoir written by Antoni Zaleski from the same journey entitled Z wycieczki na Wschód. Notatki dziennikarza [From the trip to the East. Notes of a journalist], Warsaw 1887.
The article highlights different aims of the journey that both of the authors had and confronts their specific visions of “other”, “wilder” Europe – the Balkans and Greece, which are created anew after hundreds of years of Turkish captivity. Both of the correspondences contain interesting remarks on politics, culture and otherness. In the last part of this article the author pays attention to the fluctuations as a genre of a private letter and a letter form a journey, published in press, and also indicates to the anthropological sensitivity of the authors of correspondence.
Maria Konopnicka’s letters to Majewski family in the collection of the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw
There are four letters written by Maria Konopnicka between April 1883 and February 1886 in the collection of the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw. The addressees are the members of Majewski family, the owners of a family business – the Warsaw Chemical Laboratory: Hipolit Cezary Majewski, his wife Maria Majewska née Zembrowska and sons Erazm and Stanisław.
The correspondence concerns the son of Maria Konopnicka – Stanisław Konopnicki and relates to his studies and work in Majewski’s company. It also describes interaction between the poet and Erazm Majewski at that time. These are small but treasured information about biographical facts from the writer’s life and are an important source of knowledge about her personality.
"What if…" – about (two) possible and not unaccomplished emigration stories
The text is based on unpublished letters between Mieczysław Grydzewski and Kazimierz Wierzyński and between Jerzy Giedroyc and Jan Lechoń. It gives an account of the talks in 1946 about potential publishing a magazine by Grydzewski in Rome under the auspices of 2nd Polish Corps (talks held before establishing „Kultura” in 1947) and also of the efforts made to gain Lechoń as a co-worker for the periodical and discussions about printing in „Kultura” the poet’s journal (it was earlier than the printing of Witold Gombrowicz’s journal in 1953). The cited extensive letters are a testimony of unknown events from the culture-literary life of Polish pro-independence emigration after World War II.
A private matter, a secret matter. About the boundaries of intimacy in the correspondence between Maria Dąbrowska and Anna Kowalska in 1946–1948
The article about unstable boundaries of intimacy in the correspondence between Maria Dąbrowska and Anna Kowalska was based on 600 of both wrriters letters from 1946 to 1948. It was the most difficult time of their secret relationship with its most dramatic moments: being Anna’s pregnancy which was hard to accept by Dąbrowska, the birth of the child, and the period soon after the death of Jerzy Kowalski. These events were accompanied by intensive and impetuous correspondence, which proves how difficult this love was, marked, on the one hand, by a conviction to its right of existence, and on the other, by misunderstanding, humiliation, and the struggle for one’s own freedom to make life choices independent of friend’s will. The letters became the only way of communication between both womem for a longer period of time, which was necessary but unreliable and insufficient to name what’s “inexpressible”. Written words replaced closed contact but also hurt and deceived, without expressing the truth about this difficult relationship. The tone of their correspondence sometimes resembles a battlefield, and later careful peace negotiations and compromises, which were exceptionally difficult when one party demanded exclusivity, whereas the other – set boundaries and expected them to be respected. The letters read along with the writers’ journals present ambiguity and complexity of the relationship between two friends, entangled in a relationship which brought them both happiness and bitterness as well.
The author highlights also the difficulties connected with the planned publication of this correspondence. The entire set of letters of the years from 1940 to 1965 counts 1353 multi-page letters written by Dąbrowska and 990 letters written by Kowalska (often not dated). Taking into account the size of this set of letters (what makes it impossible to publish as a whole) and also the character of the correspondence, the author suggests to publish a representative set of letters, most extensively selected.
Four unknown letters by Alexander Linowski to Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski (1804–1805)
The edition includes a significant „discovery” of four unknown letters written by Aleksander Linowski to Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski found amidst the correspondence of Ludwik Kropiński to Adam Jerzy Czartoryski in the Princes Czartoryski Library in Cracow. The edition contains a short preface.
Born in 1759 in Cracow, Aleksander Linowski was an important and a wellknown figure of public life especially at the time of the Great Sejm, and later during the Duchy of Warsaw and Congress Poland. He was interested in law, politics, and especially literature. He published several occasional works and a couple of his works were published posthumously in the press. He was elected a deputy to the Grodno Sejm of 1784 from the Cracow’s district where he was a landowner, and later, as a king’s chamberlain, to the Four-Year Sejm. During the proceeding of the latter his function was to be a king’s “transmission” to the patriots. It was him who read out an act of insurrection on the Cracow market square on 24th of March in 1794. He socialized with Czartoryski family and he was a frequent guest in Sieniawa, where prince Adam Kazimierz spend some of his time and later decided to settle there. These close relations are documented in four newly found letters sent from Cracow to Sieniawa: three of them by the end of 1803, and the fourth one at the beginning of 1804.
Aleksander Linowski, [Letters to Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski] (edited by Bożena Mazurkowa)
The truth and simplicity and oddity of fashion. An unknown letter of Orzeszkowa to an unknown addressee – a dress-code anecdote
Found in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives, an unpublished letter of Eliza Orzeszkowa about women’s outfit (to an unknown addressee) served to – partially anecdotal – reflection whether Orzeszkowa herself followed the rules of a women’s dress code which she enlists in the abovementioned letter. On the basis of several prose pieces of the author of Dwa bieguny an attempt was made to answer a question to which extent the outfit of Orzeszkowa’s protagonists met these requirements and if it had any meaning during the process of creating the character.
Letters of Jan Lemański to Stefan Żeromski and his family
The article is editorial in character – it is a study proceeded with an introduction of 26 letters (mostly postcards) written by Jan Lemański to Stefan, Oktawia and Adaś Żeromski in 1904-1912. Two of these letters concerning Brzozowski’s attack on Miriam and “Chimera” (1094) and the transport of Słowacki’s body to the country (1910) were published before. The rest, depicting the daily life, private relations between Lemański and Żeromski family, and also Oktawia’s role as an intermediary in relations with her husband were not yet published. The whole collection is an interesting example of writers’ correspondence belonging to the Young Poland movement, who wrote not only about public matters of significant importance to the whole Polish culture of the time, but also touched upon personal and family matters.
Seven pages, seven misfortunes. Fragments of a diary written by Maria Faleńska née Trębicka from the Collection of National Library in Warsaw
The article is an editorial analysis of the fragments of a diary found in the archives of the National Library in Warsaw (manuscript 5905 II), which belonged to Maria Faleńska, a translator, writer, columnist, and wife of poet Felicjan Faleński. The text is published for the first time and it consists of six pages of the diary dated between 1879-1893 and a single page entitled Silva rerum with citations and golden thoughts. It depicts a portrait of an intelligent, educated and reserved woman, showing a lively interest in a daily life of Warsaw of the second half of the 19th century of which she was a keen observer. The notes were taken very irregularly. The writer’s attention is focused on the outside world and the selection of described events (mainly tragic, such as deaths, illnesses, crimes etc.) and it seems to indicate her pessimistic attitude towards life.
[Fragments of Maria Faleńska's diary] (edited by Agnieszka Bąbel)
Editorial problems and doubts connected with the Polish edition of Maria Sieroszewska’s letters written in Russian to her father (1925–1933)
TThe article concerns the edition of letters written in Russian by Maria Sieroszewska, a Yakutian living in Moscow, to her father Wacław Sieroszewski, a famous writer of a Young Poland movement, who lived in exile in Yakutia for twenty years, married a Yakutian and formally acknowledged a child born as a result of this relationship as his own. The collection of 33 letters written by Maria Sieroszewska in the 20s and 30s of the 20th century will be published in its original language and in the Polish translation. The preparation of the issue is accompanied by many problems and doubts: beginning with the Polish translation of the Russian manuscripts and the issue of modernizing the spelling and punctuation of the original, via the difficulties with establishing the chronology of the letters (they usually do not have dates) and essential linguistic commentary of their content (e.g. decoding of names and surnames’ abbreviations, explaining the topography and factual details), finishing with the reconstruction of the full biography of Maria Sieroszewska, which still is very unclear, and also with broadened knowledge about her father’s life.
Daniel DZIENISIEWICZ, Piotr WIERZCHOŃ
The work on the corpus of Polish and Russian postcards of the second half of the 20th century. The issues of transcription and annotation
The aim of this article is to present selected issues related to the process of creating the corpus of messages both in Polish and Russian sent via postcards in the second half of the 20th century. There will be described stages of digital processing of the postcard’s text such as transcription of the text and creation of tags assigned to the following elements of the message’s text, including the beginning phrase to the addressee, greetings, wishes, the final phrase and postscript. Particular points, which appear on the list of directives for people transcribing messages, will be put under thorough analysis. The reasons behind the choice of certain – often controversial – procedures will be discussed and illustrated with adequate examples. The considerations presented in the article constitute a part of the 100 000 minihistories project, which intends to create a full-text searchable corpus of around 10 000 of Polish and Russian post-war texts sent in postcards.
Electronic publishing of the collection of letters – achievements and perspectives
The article discusses the concept of scholarly edition of electronic correspondence and it also describes its most important features such as interactivity, nonlinearity, processuality. Next, technical aspects of creating electronic editions are examined, particularly the issue of coding in TEI-XML. The example is digital edition of letters and texts by Jan Dantyszek prepared by the team from the Department of Editing Sources and Digital Humanities of Warsaw University. Finally, the text presents the possibilities of developing scholarly e-editing of correspondence in the face of the foretold “death of a printing book”.
Trembecki or Wybicki? Once again about the authorship of the poem "To Kajetan Węgierski"
The article undertakes the issue of the authorship of the poem Do Kajetana Węgierskiego, which is one of the evidence of a so-called “war about Węgierski” that took place on our native writing field in the second half of the 70s of the 18th century because of pamphlets written by this poet which ridiculed the members of the elite of that time. The problems with text attribution from that period is nothing unusual; yet, in this case it is surprising that the poem was assigned to Stanisław Trembecki or Józef Wybicki, that is, the authors whose position in the literary hierarchy of the Enlightenment poetry is completely opposite, and – what is more important – their poetic styles and ways of perceiving the world were rarely alike. Why did it happen? What could be in favour (and what was in favour in the researcher’s opinions) for any of these writers? Finally, which hypothesis matches the real life? These are the questions that this article attempts to answer.
Under scrutiny – difficult relationships between women in the novels by Zofia Niedźwiedzka
Women have various relationships between themselves: 1) family relations, 2) social relations, 3) neighbourhood relations, 4) professional relations and other relations connected with non-professional activities, 5) incidental relations. These relations are both positive and negative. The latter in the chosen novels by Zofia Niedźwiedzka have been analysed and both the strategies of the attackers and the defenders have been taken into account. The observations focused on parts of life which are usually evaluated (such as: background, looks, beliefs, aspirations and the style of life), and also on social sources of the criteria used by women. The answer to the question was searched whether these criteria are the product of the internalization of norms imposed by men (“masculine domination”, how Pierre Bourdieu would put it) or whether they depend on some other factors.
About the works of Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna. Archive material from the data body of the Central Office of Press, Publishing and Entertainment from mid-1955
The source material is taken from the Central Office of the Press, Publications and Events’ Control documents maintained in the Archives of Modern Records in Warsaw. It contains a few-page long article – a synthetic description of Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna’s biography and her creative path – published in the July issue of the inner censorship circular from 1955, in which the new rules on how to control the oeuvre which previously was banned from printing are explained.
The introduction is a description of how censorship dealt with the works of Iłłakowiczówna. The author refers to other documents from the Archives of Modern Records, the press from the epoch, the collections published in the 40s and 50s and compares them to the source materials, what allows her to come to several conclusions. She confirms the existence of the volume of collected works which was submitted for publication at Wydawnictwo Zachodnie in the summer of 1948. She also discovers that the ban on printing was not imposed on several poems published in the Christian press and on interviews in the press. The author also proves that the suspension on the ban for publication comes in 1954 and is one of the first signs of thaw in the Central Office of the Press, Publications and Events’ Control.
"Cuckoos fly, fly" (1987). The prototype of the story "I still hear them, I see" by Tadeusz Nowak
The aim of this study is to present fragments of the unknown story by Tadeusz Nowak. There were attempts to publish the work in the mid-80s, but the GUKPiW (The Central Office of Press, Publications and Events’ Control) blocked its publishing.
The study is preceded by an introduction, a short outline of the censorship of prose in the 80s and the context of reception of Nowak’s texts. Lecą kukułki, lecą were interpreted as a parabolic story similarly to some other texts from this period. These texts are also shortly discussed. Furthermore, the study contains information about other works of Tadeusz Nowak blocked by censorship in the 80s.
Tadeusz Nowak, Cuckoos fly, fly [fragments] (reported for print by Wiktor Gardocki)
Letter. Works of students of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw
Comments of authors for the photos
Marcin LUTOMIERSKI, Letters of emigrants (Jan Lechoń, Kazimierz Wierzyński, Letters 1941-1956, elab. by Beata Dorosz in cooperation with Paweł Kądziela, Publishing House of the Institute of Literary Research, Warsaw 2016, pp. 643)
Marek PĄKCIŃSKI, Towards rapprochement with Russian culture (Anna Sobieska, Around Aleksander Błok. From the history of Polish fascinations with Russian culture and literature, Publishing House of the Institute of Literary Research, Warsaw 2015, pp. 448)
Irena KADULSKA, Calligraphy – the art of Chinese characters【书法——中国文字的艺术】(Sun Min, Paper, ink and brush, or the treatise on Chinese calligraphy, translation: Team: K. Burkiewicz, J. Jaś, D. Jaśkowski, I. Sochacka, M. Souffez, M. Sztuka under the supervision of prof. Wu Lan, verification of translation W. Borkowski, Publishing House of the Gdansk University, Gdańsk 2017, pp. 237, 1 nlb., illustration 170 [numbering of illustrations in chapters])
Notes on the authors of articles