Polish Studies Bulletin


Date of the event: 23.10.2019 g.10:00
Added on: 21.10.2019

100 years of The National Library of Poland / Scientific conference

Type of the event:
City or town:
Target groups:
Students, PhD Students, Independent academics, Doctors, Others

The conference "Unusual and Complicated Lives of Masterpieces" aims to spread the knowledge about the outstanding achievements of Polish writers and literary scholars (in large part, the authors of The National Library of Poland series, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year). The event will take place on Wednesday, October 23 at Ossolineum in the M. Gębarowicz Auditorium (Szewska 37 Street) from 10:00 - 20:00.

źródło: Ossolineum

Conference programme:

• Debate I. 10.00 am-12.00 pm: Masterpieces of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Baroque and Enlightenment. Participants of the debate: Prof. Andrzej Borowski, Prof. Tomasz Chachulski, Prof. Radosław Grześkowiak, Prof. Catherine Meller. Chair: Prof. Marcin Cieński.

• Debate II. 12.15 pm – 2.15 pm: Masterpieces of Romanticism, Positivism, Young Poland. Participants of the debate: Prof. Grażyna Borkowska, Prof. Jerzy Fiećko, Prof. Ewa Paczoska, Prof. Wiesław Rzońca. Chair: Prof. Zbigniew Przychodniak.

• Debate III. 3.30 pm – 5.45 pm: Masterpieces of literature of the XX-XXI century. Participants of the debate: Prof. Jerzy Bralczyk, Prof. Stefan Chwin, Prof. Jerzy Jarzębski, Adam Pomorski. Chair: Prof. Ryszard Nycz.

• Debate IV. 6.00 pm -8.00 pm: Masterpieces in the life and practice of writers. Participants in the debate: Eustachy Rylski, Tomasz Różycki, Ryszard Krynicki, Marek Krajewski. Chair: Prof. Stanisław Bereś.

The conference "Unusual and complicated lives of masterpieces" is an project aimed at spreading the knowledge about the outstanding achievements of Polish writers and literary scholars scholars (in large part, the authors of The National Library of Poland series, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year). The conference will be dedicated to the works of the biggest value and will enable an insight into the history of research on masterpieces. In addition, it will reveal the mechanisms of scientific line of thought, revealing the secrets of the literary workshop and knowledge of the criteria used to categorize masterpieces. As we know, they are not objective and precise, and the issue of assessing the value of literature is a real challenge.

The status of the masterpieces of Polish literature is entitled to a small number of literary works, which cannot be even approximated, because of the turbulent discussions on the outlines of the historical literary canon which have been going on for centuries, as well as disputes about the criteria followed while giving them this honorable name. The National Library of Poland series, which is a unique European attempt to isolate such a canon for both native and foreign-language literature, has been functioning for hundred years and consists of 330 Polish writers’ works (series I) and 262 outstanding foreign writers’ (series II). Considering this, one might think that such numbers reflect a state of the beliefs and knowledge of literary scholars. Unfortunately, this is not the case, because historians of literature are still demanding unreleased works, and express doubts regarding the already published ones, suggesting that they were overestimated in their time.

„The National Library of Poland publishes masterpieces whose knowledge is necessary to understand the history of beauty and human thought", we can read in the Declaration of the series, recalled in every volume. This sentence inspires confidence, but when it comes to establishing a closed list of such texts, the trouble begins. The fact is that some literary works have not always enjoyed the status of masterpieces and sometimes they have been fought for unresolved disputes that have not expired for decades. What's worse, already seated - seemingly safe - on the parnassum, they are often torn apart by hands that try to knock them off. The closer to the present day, the more doubts about new candidates there are.

Why is it worth discussing masterpieces? First of all, because they are the greatest treasures of our culture, both national and world; secondly, because their position has not been decreed anywhere or established once and for all, that it can be challenged at any time, so disputes over their positions will still be valid; thirdly, because each era and its researchers discover new things and attach them to the existing body of knowledge, slowly transforming it and giving it a new shape; fourthly, because the evaluation criteria change with the appereance of new books, scientific concepts, philosophical trends and mental movements, and this means that the canon does not rest on stable ground; fifth and finally because the position of the masterpieces relies not only on the genius and talent of their authors, but also their insightful and tireless interpreters. Therefore, the specific goal of the conference is to promote discussion on the nature of criteria and seek answers to questions: Are the criteria for extracting masterpieces and determining their position in the canon timeless or particular? What do they depend on and how do they change?

The editors of The National Library of Poland series of the Ossolinski National Institute in cooperation with the University of Wrocław offer a dozen or so outstanding researchers of Polish literature and language to participate in the debate on the great works that have become their scientific or editorial adventure of life. Writers of several generations with significant positions will meet in the 4th panel. The organizers' goal is to include in the debate the masterpieces that were published in the national series, or are just waiting for such a moment, but they are also open to other items, especially valuable for invited researchers.

Debates on the masterpieces (Polish or world literature) will take place in four panels, the order of which reflects the historical arrangement of eras and the specialty of the participants. The panels will gather both historians and theoreticians of literature and linguists, as well as writers for whom outstanding works are a source of constant practical artistic reference. The organizers hope that such a unique occasion as the 100th anniversary of The National Library of Poland series will allow to see the most outstanding scientists and creators at the discussion table. There are works that are challenges or riddles for the researchers, while remaining an inspiring source of unsatisfied curiosity. Many of them, after their scientific development, publication or creation of a monograph, still follow what is happening around them, what other researchers write about them and what have been unearthed in archives or printed in the publications of other literary scholars.

The celebrations are accompanied by the programs on Radio Wrocław prepared by Grzegorz Chojnowski. The theme of each of them is a selected publication from The National Library of Poland series.

• 17.10, at 8.05 pm: Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, "Selection of Dramas", selection and introduction by Jan Błoński, ed. and footnotes Marian Kwaśny, BN I, 221, 2nd edition, corrected, 1983

• 22.10, at 8.05 pm: Wisława Szymborska, "Selection of Poetry", introduction and compilation by Wojciech Ligęza, BN I, 327, first edition, 2019

• 29.10, 8.05 pm:  Franz Kafka "Selection of Prose", introduction and compilation by Łukasz Musiał, BN II, 263, first edition, 2018

• 5.11, 8.05 pm: Bruno Schulz, "Stories" - Selection of essays and letters, ed. Jerzy Jarzębski, BN I, 264, 2nd edition, reviewed and supplemented, 1998.

Replays on Radio Wrocław Kultura on Thursdays at 7:00 pm and on Sundays at 12:30 pm.

A special supplement to „Tygodnik Powszechny” magazine will also be prepared for The National Library of Poland series - available from October 23, 2019.

"Unusual and complicated lives of masterpieces" - the conference celebrating the 100th anniversary of The National Library of Poland series - task financed under contract 803 / P / DUN / 2019 from the funds of the Minister of Science and Higher Education for activities promoting science.

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