From Her Point of View : Woman's Anti-World in the Poetry of Anna ?wirszczy?ska

University dissertation from Stockholm : Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis

Abstract: This book is a monograph about Anna ?wirszczy?ska’s poetry. It may be described as one woman’s attempt to read another woman’s literary work by taking into account established canons as well as the tools of feminist literary analysis. Part One begins with a discussion of ?wirszczy?ska’s biography (Chapter One). It then moves on to an overview of critical (mainly male) reactions to ?wirszczy?ska’s work (Chapter Two), with special regard to Czes?aw Mi?osz’s contribution to its interpretation and popularization (Chapter Three). In Part Two there are three principal discussions: 1) of Anna ?wirszczy?ska’s early work Wiersze i proza [Poems and Prose] (1936), in which the poet develops her specific female view of European art and culture as disintegrated into incongruent fragments. Her premonition of the apocalypse, which is soon to be fulfilled in the events of World War II, finds its expression in the poet’s desperate attempts to unite the fragments of a shattered culture into individualized versions of myths (Chapter Four); 2) of the collection Budowa?am barykad? [Building the Barricade] (1974), in which what is most crucial to the poet (biographically and poetically) is expressed – the encounter with human suffering in an inhuman world. Following this, her poetic view of the mortal body exposed to suffering under an empty sky becomes a well established motif in her work (Chapter Five); 3) of the collection Jestem baba (1972), in which ?wirszczy?ska introduces into poetry, by making the non-poetical “baba” her lyric heroine, the “outlawed feminine” and, as a result, revolutionizes the language of poetry and poetic representation, which leads in turn to liberating herself from the hegemony of the totalizing male gaze. In this way her anti-world is created (Chapter Six). The “world” is understood here as a male term – one might say that ?wirszczy?ska creates a “woman’s anti-world” as a place where the woman herself has to regain the right to name things according to her own terms.

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