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Unformatted text preview: poet, Casimir François
Delavigne, to commemorate the Polish November Uprising against the Russian occupation. The poem was translated into Polish by Kazimierz Sienkiewicz and the music composed for it by Karol Kurpiński. It premiered in 1831 in the National Theatre in Warsaw.
The date is very meaningful here, it is the 28th day of the Warsaw Uprising, during
which the Polish capital was so heavily bombed and burnt that it was almost entirely destroyed.
The works of literature referred to in this section are not listed in the Reference
section. They were not listed by the original author either. In the remaining part of the
10 The concept of ‘war’ in the humanities 93 strikingly Tyrtean style in highly emotional terms builds one of the most
popular romantic symbolic images, that of David fighting Goliath. However, the Polish literature of the Second World War did not only create
and foster myths, but also self-reflectively (for example in Koniec legendy [End of the legend] by Szczepański) deconstructed the myth by juxtaposing the coarse and dreary reality of war as perceived by the protagonist with his belief in the heroic myth.
In her reference to Miłosz (1979), Święch (1972) and Jedlicki
(1978) Janion discusses a strong tendency for stereotype and the lack of
formal finesse of popular war poetry. She stresses that such poetry, especially in the Tyrtean tradition, does not function as a work of art as much
as a frame or a scenario for rituals of national unity. It is responsible for
the theatricality of public life. To further support her claims, Janion cites
Duvignaud (1971), who emphasizes that in a time of social revolution
there is no place for any revolutionary artistic expression. Literature and
theatre facilitate the exteriorisation of human emotions, necessary for a
redefinition and reconstruction of social roles and behavioural patterns.
When discussing war and literary form, Janion stresses that after
the Great War, Polish war literature was dominated by the romantic
myth. Protests against war (Strug, Wittlin) were rather rare and did not
produce such a response as the French novel Feu by Henrie Barbusse. In
his novel, Barbusse deconstructs the war myth. He stresses the conflict
between morality and war. In composing his image of war, Barbusse
uses an expressionistic technique. The book is populated with masses of
nameless bleak soldiers, helpless victims of the war machine, where the
corpses are dismembered by continuous machine gun fire, as if killed
again and again, where the living are as hollow as the dead. Janion contrasts this literary tradition with the myth building tradition akin to the
American Western. This second tradition seemed to be more popular in
Polish representations of war (especially striking is the work of KossakSzczucka). Here war does not lead to a dehumanisation of soldiers, but
rather presents them with an opportunity to show their best human virtues, such as heroism, courage, devotion, loyalty and sacrifice. Some
apologists of war,...
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