Acta Structuralica

international journal for structuralist research

Journal | Volume | Article

Entanglements of Polish structuralism

Michał Mrugalski(Humboldt University of Berlin)

pp. 9-84

1 | Structuralism and eclecticism

1Janusz Sławiński (Roney 1981; Januszek 2012; Kluba forthcoming) took part in a 2001 survey entitled “What has remained of…”, in which the legacy of the most authoritative and influential theoretical schools of the twentieth century was scrutinized. Sławiński’s allotted topic was literary structuralism, which—he asserted—remains the last word on stylistics and verse theory (Sławiński 2001a, 15). One can add to that post-classical narratology as a superstructure building upon structuralism. Rather than merely listing listing structuralism’s achievements, more importantly, Sławiński takes it upon himself to outline “the basic theoretical principles and issues” (Sławiński 2001a, 15) which defined the movement. These principles and issues are, of course, of a methodological rather than a thematic nature, as structuralism operated across sub-disciplines and encompassed a variety of issues, from poetic language to literary history, from verse theory to writers’ biographies. The “doctrinal minimum, both necessary and sufficient” (Sławiński 2001a, 17) advocated the notion of

the work of literary art as a highly organized word product [twór słowny], i.e. an utterance or a text. Such a product arises as a result of a double operation: the selection and the combination of signs belonging to two systems—one linguistic and one literary (literary tradition). These two systems demarcate the range of the work’s potentiality or the repository of its possibilities. The elements of the work refer not only to each other and to the whole they make up, but also to the corresponding sets of elements that amount to its systemic backdrop. Sławiński2001a

2Aside from these demarcations, the Polish structuralists freely chose their methods, approaches, and topics. Hence structuralism’s protean nature in its glory days in the 1960s and 1970s and its “dispersed presence” [obecność rozproszona] (Sławiński 2001a, 17) in contemporary literary studies.

3In 1973, Edward Balcerzan even went as far as to deny the existence of a structuralist idiom and a structuralist method, and instead expanded on the structuralist “communicative situation” [sytuacja komunikacyjna] (Balcerzan 1973, 4), which is typical of all avant-gardes.

4Not only does a structuralist try to be constantly up-to-date and in league with historical avant-gardes’ explicit and implicit poetics, not only does he or she project onto literature at large avant-garde values (as was the case with Tynianov’s and Mukařovský’s notion of evolution and evolutionary aesthetic value, cf. Tynianov 2000 [1924], 1971 [1927]; Mukařovský 1970 [1936]), but he or she also uses avant-garde devices of parody and self-ridicule to render models of literary phenomena while transgressing the limits of the humanities towards the sciences and literature (Balcerzan 1973, 4; Balcerzan 1972). Polish structuralism—both in its prime and in hindsight—seemed to take great pride in its syncretic, eclectic, and open character (Sławiński 1980; 1981).

5As I will demonstrate below, interwar Polish structuralism—by which I mean mostly the core members of the Warsaw Circle: Stefan Żółkiewski, Kazimierz Budzyk, Dawid Hopensztand, and Franciszek Siedlecki—placed so much stress on methodology in order to ensure literary and cultural theory’s infallible access to all areas of human activity. In the wake of the rebirth of structuralism in Poland after 1958, the young Sławiński and Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska, at the threshold of their careers, highlighted the qualitative difference between the Vilna and the Warsaw “formalist” schools while subscribing to the legacy of the latter current (Okopień and Sławiński 1960, 94), which placed emphasis on methodological stringency (Mrugalski 2018). However, as Bartosz Ryż (2013, 66–83) points out, only the early and fairly short period of structuralism’s coming of age was characterized by a striving for methodological purity, as is documented by four “manifestos” of structuralism (Krasuski 1992, 62; Ryż 2013, 66), all of which were PhD theses written under the supervision of Kazimierz Budzyk—alongside Maria Renata Mayenowa and Stefan Żółkiewski one of the survivors of Polish interwar structuralism. The founding works of post-war structuralism include Michał Głowiński’s Tuwim’s Poetics and the Polish Literary Tradition [Poetyka Tuwima a polska tradycja literacka, 1962], Teresa Kostkiewiczowa’s A Model of Sentimentalist Lyrical Poetry in the Oeuvre of Franciszek Karpiński [Model liryki sentymentalnej w twórczości F. Karpińskiego, 1964]; Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska’s The Irregular Verse of Mickiewicz, Słowacki, and Norwid [Wiersz nieregularny Mickiewicza, Słowackiego i Norwid, 1964] and Janusz Sławiński’s The Cracow Avant-garde’s Concept of Poetic Language [Koncepcja języka poetyckiego awangardy krakowskiej, 1965]. The range of issues is ostensibly wide, reaching from the Enlightenment to what was then an extended contemporaneity, and encompassing both intrinsic (work-oriented) and extrinsic (context-oriented) issues of literary tradition, genre, verse, and poetic language. Nevertheless, there is an order to this gaudy miscellany. Regarding Sławiński’s insistence on a literary utterance’s participation in two orders — linguistic and literary-historical—it strikes the observer that, while Głowiński devoted his first monograph to the systemic and historical role of literary tradition in the work of a poet who rejected Avant-Garde extremism and explored the historical dimension of art, Sławiński presented the Cracow Avant-Garde as a current that opposed language to literary tradition:

Every speech act of poetry renews, sharpens, and resolves the opposition. The direction of such resolutions appeared clearly: a work’s relation to tradition should be the inverse of its relation to language. While manifesting its rootedness in a linguistic consciousness, the work should at the same time communicate its independence from norms and habits established by previously existing poetical conventions of genres, style, verse, etc. The poeticity of an utterance […] may appear insofar as concurrently it does not recognise the previous achievements of poetry. (Sławiński 1998a [1965], 245)

6In sum, Głowiński and Kostkiewiczowa and Sławiński and Okopień-Sławińska approach the same central issue of the relationship between literature’s two main systems of reference, language and tradition or structure and composition, from two different sides.

7The ample range of historical interests did not rigidify the doctrine, nor did it homogenize its methodology (Sławiński 2001a, 15–16). On the contrary, once the four launching monographs were published, structuralism swiftly entered a phase of dispersion or expansion, a hallmark of which is the tour de force by the four structuralists: Słownik terminów literackich (Dictionary of Literary Terms, 1976). In this work, whose impact on literary studies in Poland has remained evident to this day, the structuralist idiom was presented as an unmarked, general language of literary studies (Czaplejewicz 1977; Lewiński 2004, 100–113, cf. below in section 3.2). This naturalization of structuralist poetics and theory was enhanced by the fact that Głowiński and the Sławińskis penned the first and still unparalleled textbook of poetics for university students (Głowiński et al. 1957 and a new, revised version of 1962). The supervisor of the Warsaw troika [trojaczki], Budzyk, entrusted his students in their twenties with the task of preparing the reference work for generations of prospective literary scholars. A collateral result of this unheard-of example of learning by teaching was the propagation of structuralism among teachers and pupils. Such adaptability or, if you will, rapacity would not have been possible had it not been for the syncretic and pragmatic character of Polish structuralism.

8This character seems to have been preprogrammed from the outset. The Polish forerunners of linguistic structuralism worldwide, Jan N. Baudouin de Courtenay and Mikołaj Kruszewski, supported by a local champion in Karol Appel, perceived language as ineluctably heterogeneous. While Ferdinand de Saussure, whose exchanges with Baudouin de Courtenay and Kruszewski enabled structuralism’s emergence (Koerner 1973, 133–162; Koerner 1978, 107–152; Adamska-Sałaciak 2001; Berazin 2001), regarded linguistic signs either as a purely psychological entity [signifiant is also a representation, l’image] or belonging to a separate uniform realm of the semiotic, for Kruszewski language is a combination of physical (physiological, acoustic) and psychological, unconscious aspects (Kruszewski 1995 [1881]; 1995 [1883], 7–9.). Karol Appel (1910, 15) called attention to the paradoxical fact that there is nothing in language that would be of language, just as white light is composed of all colors, i.e. of obscuration (In this way, Appel crassly occupies the antipode of Noam Chomsky’s position, whose point of departure is the existence of the specific language faculty, cf. Hauser et al. 2002).

9Baudouin de Courtenay also believed in methodological pluralism, which, he argued, allowed a kind of perspectivism or manifold approaches to the object of study:

the method of present-day linguistics is the same as that of the natural sciences —rigorous, inductive. From this perspective, linguistics is, then, a natural science. However, if we consider the nature of the object in question, that is, the nature of language as a phenomenon of the—for the most part—unconscious activity of man, linguistics must be considered one of the historico-pychological or “sociological” sciences. If one rejects this traditional dualism, then the question of linguistics’ affiliation proves futile because, firstly, all present-day sciences appear to be natural, since they study nature in the amplest meaning of the term and their pretensions to possess a scientific character depend on whether they use inductive and then deductive methods. Secondly, all sciences are but parts of one general science: they are nothing but separate tasks taken upon by separate groups of researchers, whose ultimate goal is the cognition of reality in all its aspects. The task of all sciences consists in cleansing the object of study of all “contingency” and arbitrariness so as to find “regularities” and “laws.” From this point of view, all sciences that enage in comparision and generalisation of details are natural if they foreground the coordination and regularity hidden in phenomena; if they, instead, content themselves with contigencies and particularities—they are historical. (Baudouin de Courtenay 1882, 10)

10The legacy of methodological pluralism proved to be significant and long-lasting, as the first wave of Polish structuralism—predominantly the members of the interwar Warsaw Circle—not only considered the neo-Kantian principle of the priority of method over object the cultural prerequisite of Cubism in the visual arts, Russian Cubo-Futurism in poetry, and Russian formalism in literary studies (Hopensztand 1938, 134), but they also posited that the methodology of the new humanities takes on the form of a transcendentalism describing how theories combine networks of notions with empirical evidence. The multiplicity of theories, postulated in accordance with “the principle of tolerance” (Carnap 1937), was supposed to be governed by methodology, which limited itself to the scrutiny of purely formal (“syntactical”) features of theories (Żółkiewski 1937a; 1937b; 1938a; 1938b). The postwar structuralism of the 1960s and 1970s sought to avoid both naïve realism and naïve conventionalism, of which the methodology of the interwar structuralism was considered to be an example (Okopień and Sławiński 1960): both extreme stances—Sławiński says (1998a [1965], 280–281)—treat the object as something finished, either given in advance or constructed in the course of research, whereas “literary-historical structure” [struktura historycznoliteracka] results from a never-ending dialog between the conventional method and that which is actually given. As such, a structure is always regarded as one of many possible models of cultural phenomena.

11The influence of linguistics and the philosophy of sciences on the process of forming the pluralistic or eclectic character of Polish literary structuralism was, of course, reinforced by the local tradition of literary studies, especially Kazimierz Wóycicki’s studies on poetics and the unity of the literary work (Wóycicki 1914a, 1914b). In Wóycicki 1914a, the methodology of literary studies carries the task of coordinating intrinsic and extrinsic literary history (evolution and genesis), as well as intrinsic and extrinsic poetics, i.e. the psychology of creation and literary theory. In this way, the ideal of the integral method of literary studies, which would later be able to embrace the heterogeneous and incongruent elements of the literary, was inoculated in the Polish formalist-structuralist school; its metamorphosis is one of the leitmotivs of the present study. In interwar Poland, the specter of an integral method assumed the shape of Manfred Kridl’s method (Mrugalski 2017) and, alternatively, Żółkiewski’s and the Warsaw Circle’s notion of methodology, as it was concurrently counterpointed on the part of the literary Avant-Garde by Jan Brzękowski’s idea of “integral poetry” (Brzękowski 1933). After the war, the integral method morphed first into Marxism, which explained everything, and semiotics, both of which were predestined to integrate literary studies (Żółkiewski 1967 [1960]; 1960), and finally, as we shall see in section 3.2, into the theory of literary communication, which emerged from attempts to combine Marxism with semiotics (Budzyk 1966 [1958]).

12 Of course, structuralism was by no means an aboriginal affair. On the contrary, its great local origins were correlated with an appreciation for creolization, heteroglossia (Baudouin de Courtenay 1963 [1901]; Rozwadowski 1960 [1913]; Mrugalski 2020), and eclecticism. In his 2001 inventory of Polish structuralism, Sławiński correlates the main fields of Polish structuralist interest with its relationships with other scholarly cultures. The output of the Prague School laid foundations for literary history. The Moscow–Tartu School placed literary semiotics in the broad context of cultural semiotics. In addition, finally, French structuralism, although dogmatic, helped develop the generative aspects of literary, typically narrative texts. All three schools harkened back—each in its own way—to the common legacy of Russian formalism (Sławiński 2001a, 15). International entanglements are thus as constitutive for structuralist literary studies in Poland as its inherited methodological syncretism or pluralism are.

13To a degree unprecedented elsewhere, anthologies of foreign literary studies were instrumental in the crystallisation of Polish literary studies and especially structuralism. Before World War II, the core activity of Polish “formalists” revolved around the publication series Archive of Translations in Literary Theory and the Methology of Literary Studies [Archiwum tłumaczeń z zakresu teorii literatury i metodologii badań literackich]. As I will demonstrate in the final subchapter, the effects of the series—especially of Viktor Vinogradov’s essays on artistic prose and, generally, of Russian formalism—were discernible throughout the history of Polish structuralism, even though all exemplars of the anthology of Russian formalism—the world’s first—burnt during World War II. After the war, the process of the consolidation of local theory around translations was sustained by multivolume anthologies edited by Stefania Skwarczyńska (1965; 1966; 1974; 1981; 1986) and Henryk Markiewicz (1970; 1971; 1971a; 1972; 1972a; 1973; 1992; Markiewicz and Walas 2011). Even though the anthologists were not structuralists themselves and their compendia might have been intended as a remedy to the supremacy of structuralism, the latter’s protean nature easily assimilated seemingly alien content.

14In the following, I will expand, first, on the extrinsic history (genesis) and only then, second, on the evolution of Polish structuralism, as it mixed with, and set itself apart from, phenomenology and Marxism. I will then focus on two cases of the intercultural entanglement of Polish structuralism, first with Russian and Bohemian scholarly cultures and, subsequently, with two individual foreign predecessors, Sergei Karcevskij and Viktor Vinogradov. These two main sponsors of Polish structuralism were not the most obvious choices, but perhaps originality means simply copying different models. Or—as the case of Viktor Vinogradov, whose reception in Poland began in the mid-1930s, suggests—copying them before they become popular.

2 | Extrinsic history

15In his eulogy to Umberto Eco, Aleksandr Žolkovskij, captured the peak and turning point of the institutional history of Polish structuralism:

We first met at a symposium on semiotics in Warsaw [the proceedings were published in Greimas et al. 1970; Rey-Debove 1973—M.M.], in 1968, in August — that is, literally in the fatal minutes, at the time of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Eco was going to drive through Czechoslovakia, but he was stopped at the border and forced to fly by plane. At the symposium in Warsaw, the upper crust of the European semiotic intelligentsia [semioticheskaia intelligencija] gathered. Among them, I remember the beautiful poststructuralist Julia Kristeva, the film critic Christian Metz, of the older scholars—the great linguist Émile Benveniste. Roman Jakobson cancelled his visit at the last minute—Soviet tanks in Prague were an unpleasant reminder of the German tanks he saw there in 1938. He soon flew from Prague, it seems, to Paris. They were almost all leftists, all on first-name terms while speaking in languages in which there is a difference between singular and plural forms of the second person: German, French, Italian. I, an apologist for the American aggression in Vietnam, which they all denounced, also became “tu.” They understood what I was going through, but remained silent on the Soviet aggression on Czechoslovakia. They, as leftists, didn’t know what to make of it. And then Anna Wierzbicka—then a Polish, now an Australian linguist —demonstratively dressed for her talk in the colours of the Czech flag (Žolkovskij 2016).

16The ambition of the Polish structuralists in the first half of the 1960s was for Warsaw to become the meeting place of the Eastern and Western humanities. When history put that ambition to the test, misunderstandings between the East and the West came to the fore and the plans foundered under the pressure of political circumstances. The 1968 congress was supposed to be the crowning moment of endeavors undertaken during the decade after 1958 by Roman Jakobson and Maria Renata Mayenowa to make post-1956 Poland “a land relatively open both to the East and the West” (Dobrzyńska 1990, 152), a central place for the emergence of the structural humanities and a venue for the “semiotic intelligentsia”. The breakdown of these hopes in 1968 marked a severe blow to Mayenowa and Polish and East European structuralism in general (Dobrzyńska 1990, 152).

17Roman Jakobson’s contribution to the emergence of Polish structuralism can hardly be overestimated. He played the role of its midwife, so to speak, twice—once at the birth of structuralism in interwar Poland and again when he assisted its re-emergence after the period of the Stalinisation of culture, which came to an end after the October of 1956, when the Polish thaw set in. In 1934, the young Polish student of literature, Franciszek Siedlecki, published in the popular literary weekly magazine Wiadomości Literackie [Literary News] an article entitled “Roman Jakobson i nowa lingwistyka” (“Roman Jakobson and New Linguistics”), which instigated a collaboration between the Prague Linguistic Circle and the Polish formalists (Siedlecki 1934; Gierowski 2013, 79–85). Siedlecki’s article did not fall on deaf ears in Prague, as Jakobson’s radar had been set on Poland.

18Jakobson’s interest in collaboration with Polish colleagues may have been enhanced by his perception of Poland as an intermediary between the East and West, Eurasia (or the “Russian linguistic world”, russkij lingvisticheskij mir) and Europe, as can be inferred from his writings in the spirit of eurasianism roughly from that period (cf. Savickij and Jakobson 1931, 9; Jakobson 1962 [1931], 161–164, 183). In those writings, he extensively cites Polish linguists such as Baudoin de Courtenay, Stanisław Szober, Kazimierz Nycz, and Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński. No wonder, then, that in the 1930s he was inclined to attribute to Poland an important role in the transfer of formalist-structuralist thought from Russian to Western European culture. Later, in altered circumstances, after the war and the Stalinist period, Poland had all that it took to become an intermediary in a truly multilateral exchange within the framework of the transatlantic “semiotic intelligentsia”. In Mayenowa he found a willing partner for realizing this idea in the form of a series of international congresses and joint projects. Jakobson first visited Poland in 1958, promoting his understanding of structuralism while on his grand tour (Baran and Gindin 1999):

Over the course of the year, Jakobson attended fifteen conferences in six different countries. He delivered eighteen papers on twelve distinct topics and participated in three discussion panels. 1958 was the year of one of Jakobson’s most famous conference presentations, his closing remarks at the Conference on Poetic Language at Indiana University in April [i.e. Jakobson 1987 [1960]—MM]. That same year he attended the IXth International Congress of Papyrologists in Oslo and the Conference on Yiddish Studies at Columbia University. 1958 was also the year that the International Congress of Slavists was reconvened in Moscow, where Jakobson delivered three papers, one on Slavic morphology and declension, one on problems of translation, and one survey of the linguistic scholarly landscape in the U.S. This was a typical year for Jakobson in the 1950s and 1960s (Brinley 2017).

19It was during the Moscow Congress of Slavists that Jakobson received an official invitation to Poland. The forthcoming leading structuralists, Aleksandra Okopieniowa (after marrying Janusz Sławiński she used the name Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska) and Michał Głowiński prepared a résumé of the workshop for Polish scholars, which took place at the mountain resort of Krynica Górska in October 1958. Jakobson delivered two lectures, Linguistics and Poetics and Verse and Linguistics (Okopieniowa and Głowiński 1959, 315). The former, probably the most influential among Jakobson’s articles, appeared two years later in a distinct version translated by Jakobson’s wife-to-be Krystyna Pomorska, his universal theory illustrated with examples from Polish poetry (Jakobson 1960). The young Polish scholars perceived both lectures as situated in a borderland between linguistics and literary studies, at the place where earlier “Chinese walls” between the two disciplines stood (Okopieniowa and Głowiński 1959, 315).

20However, in his lectures Jakobson did not ignore the second system of reference — tradition. He apparently believed that the Poles could be seduced by his ultra-modern approach if he presented it as part of their own history. Starting before World War II, when he wrote a eulogy to Baudouin de Courtenay, or during the War, when he spoke before the members of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America in NYC about “Polish-Russian Cooperation in the Science of Language”, Jakobson made sure that structuralism was perceived in Poland firstly as a native Polish school of thought deriving, inter alia, from Baudouin de Courtenay’s and Kruszewski’s linguistics (Jakobson 1971b [1929]; 1971c [1960]; 1971d [1966]; 1971e [1943]), and secondly as an avant-garde discipline drawing its premises not only from two major European phenomenologists, Hegel and Husserl, but also from the Futurist poets Vladimir Mayakovsky and Velimir Khlebnikov. Jakobson also emphasized these points during his Polish workshop (Okopieniowa and Głowiński 1959, 315). That Russian formalism was “the theoretical wing of Russian futurism” had already been stated by Dawid Hopensztand (1938, 183); phenomenology and Marxism, as an heir to Hegelian dialectics, were two polar points of reference for Polish structuralism throughout its history, both in the interwar and in the postwar periods (see section 3).

21The year of Jakobson’s visit to Poland, 1958, was marked by another important meeting. The national Congress of Polish Philologists initiated two major processes. On the one hand, the reckoning with Stalinism and the liberalisation of methodological tendencies began, while on the other hand, communicationism arose in attempts to make Marxism more flexible by means of taking literary structures into account. I will expand on these Marxist operations in section 3.2 while dealing with the relationship between structuralism and Marxism.

22The years 1958–1968 in Poland were a decade of international congresses. In 1960, the International Conference of Poetics was held in Warsaw, attended by more than fifty students of language, literature, and folklore from twelve countries (Davie et al. 1962). “This was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” — recalls Michał Głowiński—“to witness a discussion between Roman Jakobson and Roman Ingarden” (Głowiński 2005, 89). The discussion was fundamental, as it concerned the place of poetics in the edifice of modern science—whether poetics should be regarded as a part of linguistics or philosophical aesthetics. A series of subsequent conferences saw the participation of a number of world-leading scholars, including Jurij Apresian, Roland Barthes, Émile Benveniste, Lubomir Doležel, Oswald Ducrot, Umberto Eco, Algirdas Julien Greimas, Pierre Guiraud, Vjačeslav Ivanov, Dmitrij Lichačev, Jan Mukařovský, Meyer Shapiro, Vladimir Toporov, Boris Uspenskij, and Viktor Žirmunskij (Jakobson et al. 1966; Greimas et al. 1970; Rey-Debove 1973; Dobrzyńska 1990; Głowiński 2005).

23The great international congresses were counterpointed and capitalized on by a series of national conferences (Sławiński 1986; Lewiński 2004, 72–90), organized from 1963 on by the Institute of Literary Study of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the stronghold of structuralism, in cooperation with regional universities throughout Poland. These conferences, located in secluded venues, aimed for the integration of the milieu and the intensive propagation of structuralism’s tenets. Their workshop-like character was pronounced, in that they were designed as conferences of junior scientific staff (equivalent to graduate students or assistant professors) held under the auspices of experienced researchers. Guests from Czechoslovakia (Miroslav Červenka, Milan Jankovič, Mojmir Grygar, Lubomir Doležel, and Anton Popovič) also took part in the discussions. In time, however, young researchers became mainstays of Polish literary studies, and so the conferences changed their formula, but not in such a way that they lost their give-and-take character. Just as structuralism was disseminated in different locations and different local universities, so the theory itself was exposed to different stimuli, which accelerated its coming to terms with its own nature as prone to eclecticism. Sławiński goes as far as to state in his recollections that by the 1970s, Polish literary studies, after a phase of desperately chasing the West, had reached a phase of maturity, i.e. eclecticism, which expressed itself in the form of the conferences. This kind of eclecticism rested on a belief in the object of study as a thing in itself, endowed with an endless number of attributes and, as such, susceptible to an endless number of approaches and languages (Sławiński 1986, 18–24).

24This eclectic nature of Polish structuralism was similarly expressed in the character of the magazine Teksty [Texts] published in the years 1972–1981 with Janusz Sławiński as editor in chief. Texts was apparently open to all impulses (except for those stemming from institutions on which a social anathema had been laid, such as the Faculty of Polish Studies at the University of Warsaw; see below in section 3. 2, Sławiński 1981; Grochowski 2016). The magazine patterned itself on the French Communications, which was perceived as a wide-ranging and open-minded institution of heterogeneity. After a period of suspension enforced by the imposition of martial law in Poland in 1981, the magazine was resuscitated as Teksty Drugie [Second Texts]. Ryszard Nycz, whom it would be problematic to call a structuralist, became the new editor in chief, but the eclectic character of the publication persisted or deepened.

25As was already mentioned, all these events and institutions of transfer were at least partly organized and hosted by the Instytut Badań Literackich (IBL, Institute of Literary Studies), affiliated with the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Institute itself has a rich and fascinating history, which has been elaborated on in a great detail in a recent three-volume publication (Kiślak 2016). In the context of the present study, for which structuralism’s entanglement with Marxism is of vital importance (see section 3. 2), it suffices to recall that the Institute was established right at the beginning of the Stalinist period by the ex-structuralist Żółkiewski with the task of disseminating Stalinist-Marxist literary studies in schools and universities. After the war, the interwar structuralist Żółkiewski became a prominent political figure and remained a potentate until 1968, when he supported students in their conflict with the regime. After 1956, in the thaw period, the Institute gradually became a sanctuary for the structuralists, especially after 1968, when they were removed from universities lest they spoil the young minds of students. At that time, as a pure research institution the Institute had at its disposal “the best library from West Berlin to Vladivostok”, which attracted scholars from Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, who were able to acquaint themselves with Western innovations.

26Two projects, tackling entangled, transcultural phenomena arose out of collaboration with East and Central European colleagues. First, there was an attempt, undertaken under the influence of and in cooperation with Bohemian colleagues, to implement the notions of the then emergent textual linguistics on literary utterances. Texts (utterances) were treated as wholistic events (performances), enclosed in a situation of communicating; given that their limits or frames constitute their most vital elements, the theory of text foregrounds certainly verbal, but also gestural and phatic signals of taking up and breaking off of contact. The collaborative work on the text resulted in a number of collective studies (Mayenowa 1971; 1974; 1976; 1978; Dobrzyńska 1986; 2008). While in respect of the theory of the text, Polish structuralism was on the receiving end of theory transfer, accepting Bohemian impulses (Dobrzyńska 2012, 255 lists Fratišek Daneš, Jan Firbas, Petr Sgall, Miroslav Červenka, and Jana Hoffmannowa), the Institute of Literary Studies also hosted the project Porównawcza metryka słowiańska [Comparative Studies in Slavic Meter], one of the most formidable projects in structuralist literary studies worldwide (see Klára Čermochová’s contribution in this volume).

27The project of comparative studies in Slavic meter (Pszczołowska 2012; Dobrzyńska 2012) developed during Jakobson’s stays in Poland and took recourse to his interwar ideas concerning comparative studies of Russian meters and rhythms, some aspects of which Jakobson paralleled with elements of the Czech and the Bulgarian systems (Jakobson 1969 [1923]; 1933). The general idea behind Jakobson’s and Mayenowa’s project consisted in creating the “rhythmic dictionary of a language”, which would contain a list of rhythmical types of words according to the number of syllables, syllable weight, and the position of the accent. These entries were to be ordered by their frequency in a meter, an epoch, a poet’s oeuvre, and by combinations they were part of (Pszczołowska 2012, 162). Jakobson and Mayenowa could win over the experienced student of verse Maria Dłuska along with Mayenowa’s pupils Zdzisława Koczyńska and Lucylla Pszczołowska. Jan Mukařovský’s two apprentices, Kveta Sgallová and Miroslav Červenka, joined the project’s inner circle. Soon the group was completed by the Bulgarian Atanas Slavov, the Slovene Tone Pretnar, and the Russians Mikhail Gasparov, Dina Gelukh, and, at a later stage, Mikhail Lotman. A nine-volume collective monograph, which developed the original idea of the rhythmical dictionary, came to fruition as a result of their collective efforts.

28The project commenced with a collective volume titled Słownik rytmiczny i sposoby jego wykorzystania [Rhythmical Dictionary and its Usage, Kopczyńska and Pszczołowska 1979] comparing the linguistic forms of prose and verse in the Slavic languages. It was shown that verse language generally prefers shorter words that allow for more frequent accents and that languages with fixed accent, such as Polish or Czech, tend to be less diverse with respect to the repertoire of rhythmical forms than, say, the Russian language. However, fixed accent languages make up for their scarcity of forms by providing a more clear-cut hierarchy of verse types, with those least resembling prose at the top (Pszczołowska 2012, 163). Regarding the entangled history of literary theory, the most instructive work on comparative metrics seems to be Pszczołowska’s project on the semantics of verse forms contained in volume 3 of Comparative Studies in Slavic Meter (Pszczołowska 1988). As is typical of structural semantics accounting for the generation of complex meaning by way of combining smaller units, the most salient notions of verse semantics are distinction and hierarchy. In this framework, Mikhail Lotman, for example, synchronically compared the verse forms of Afanasij Fet and Nikolaj Nekrasov, while Pszczołowska and Dorota Urbańska narrated the shifts in the valuation of verse types in the history of Polish poetry. What appears to pertain to all Slavic cultures is a strict distinction between home-grown and quasi-natural forms on the one hand and alien and artificial ones on the other, iambic verse being especially marked: “its sign function is an orientation towards generally accepted values of European humanism or of high-brow world poetry. The opposite of iambs is trochaic verse—considered to be natural, which has often been explained with reference to the prosodic organisation of language” (Pszczołowska 2012, 167). Of course, meters alter their significance along the entangled lines of literary evolution, and so over time iambic verse began to indicate an automatization of perception which needs to be shifted or destroyed. Volume 6 (Červenka et al. 1995) is devoted to the translation of verse and introduces the notion of the “functional metric equivalent”. This feature is not taken into consideration in cultures and epochs that do not pay attention to the metric conventions of a source literature and solely follow the habits of a target culture. But rendering a metric equivalent does not boil down to forcing the patterns pertaining to a source language upon the prosody of a target language. The equivalent is instead functional, i.e. it emulates the functions fulfilled by verse forms in a source system. Within this frame of reference, the Russian four-stress iamb is not an equivalent of the Polish four-stress, but of Polish eleven-syllable syllabic verse. This transcultural and methodologically heterogeneous project mirrored, then, both the institutional makeup and the most durable characteristics of Polish structuralism.

3 | Between phenomenology and Marxism

3.1. Phenomenology

29The continuity of Polish structuralism marked by a hiatus of two decades (1939–58) hinged on its entanglements—both transcultural and with other disciplines. The two generations of the Polish structuralists—one born around 1910 with Kazimierz Budzyk, Dawid Hopensztand, Maria Renata Mayenowa, Franciszek Siedlecki, and Stefan Żółkiewski—and another—about 20 years younger and including Edward Balcerzan, Michał Głowiński, Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska, and Janusz Sławiński—relate to, and differ from one another in terms of their respective relationships with phenomenology and Marxism. These relationships do not boil down to a simple acceptance or rebuttal, while personal and political motivations overlapped with theoretical ones. For the postwar generation of structuralists, it seemed unbecoming to attack “idealist” and “bourgeois” phenomenology and its epitome, Roman Ingarden, and thus to form a common front with the Marxists, while—as I will demonstrate shortly—phenomenology was the whipping boy of interwar structuralism. Conversely, the structuralists of the second generation paid respect to Ingarden’s work as a historical achievement and were ready to accept his position to no less a degree than the Prague School, predominantly Felix Vodička, did (Głowiński 1977); this would obviously have been too much for the previous generation.

30As for Marxism, the structuralists of the second generation, disapproving of Marxism themselves both for political and theoretical reasons (the latter related to standard Marxism’s geneticism and ontological essentialism), made a sharp distinction between despicable desk jockeys and propagandists, customarily employees of the Institute of Polish Literature at the University of Warsaw, and decent Marxists and socialists, such as Maria Janion and Henryk Markiewicz or, for that matter, their forerunners, teachers, and superiors, Budzyk and Żółkiewski, who before and after the War—albeit in different ways according to circumstances—tried to reconcile structuralism and Marxism. Indeed, around 1958–1960, Budzyk, Żółkiewski and Maria Janion planned to combine Marxism with elements of structuralism, the latter two patterning their theories after György Lukács and Lucien Goldmann respectively. I will discuss this topic in greater detail in the second part of this section.

31Let us consider, in the first instance, the negotiations with phenomenology before expanding on the more sensitive case of Marxism. In a nutshell: while interwar Strutcturalism rejected phenomenology outright due to the latter’s claim to lay the groundwork for the humanities or sciences in general—a role which was reserved for purely formal methodology, independent of any original experiences and other legitimisations—postwar structuralism historicized phenomenology in a dual meaning of the term. In the Dictionary of Literary Terms (1976), postwar structuralism presented the phenomenological method as a current of historical interest, i.e. as no longer topical. Whatever remained relevant from the phenomenological tradition was historicized, just as the Prague structuralist Vodička had placed Ingarden’s aesthetic object, the result of the process of the work’s objectification and concretisation by the receiver, against the ever-changing backdrop of the literary tradition while also locating the places of indeterminacy in all strata of the literary work of art (Vodička 1982 [1941]; Herman 1997). One should recall that a structuralist distinguishes different strata in the literary work to those that Ingarden does, for whom only two basic strata are of a linguistic nature, and that a structuralist accordingly posits the notion of concretisation differently. This would be brought out by the discussion in the 1960s between Ingarden and Jakobson.

32The interwar structuralists were called “formalists”, to which label they provide an ironic undertone, as in their works on methodology and the history of then recent Russian literary theory they alluded to formalism as a stance in the foundations of mathematics and the philosophy of science. The Warsaw “formalists” gave a decidedly nominalist twist to the content and models they adopted from Russia and Czechoslovakia while also referring to the work of Bertrand Russell [type theory], Rudolf Carnap and the Vienna Circle, Alfred Tarski, Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz, Dina Sztejnbarg, and the Polish-Jewish-born French epistemologist Émile Meyerson (Żółkiewski 1937a; 1937b; 1938a; 1938b). In other scholarly cultures, the influence of the Vienna scholars on structuralism was rather tacit than avowed (Albrecht 2000, 17; Stegmüller 1986), with the exception of Germany, where the impactful issue of the magazine Kursbuch 1966, No. 5, which introduced European structuralism to the German public, contained paragraphs 14–16 from Carnap’s 1928 study Der logische Aufbau der Welt [The Logical Structure of the World, Carnap 1966], alongside contributions by Saussure, Jakobson and Tynianov, Barthes, Bierwisch, Fodor and Katz, and Levi-Strauss.

33Hence to the Warsaw researchers operating in the 1930s, formalism meant not only allegiance to their Russian precursors, but also something akin to mathematical formalism, as in David Hilbert. The formalists, in opposition to the Platonic Realists or Intuitionists, conceive of the statements of mathematics (or logic) as a consequence of construction based on axioms or atomic signs and conducted using self-referential symbols in a finite number of steps. If the operations with formal symbols are correct, the system is valid (truth corresponds to non-contradiction). The Warsaw scholars, who were fully-fledged structuralists, accepted the label formalista in view of this meaning of formalism. They were in fact, to use the more popular terminology, Conventionalists. Whatever the label, their positions could not be reconciled with phenomenology’s legitimizing its method by reference to an original experience.

34For the interwar structuralists, experience was derivative, or the meaning of the notion of “experience” resembled that which Hermann Cohen described in Kant’s theory of experience, i.e. a general body of knowledge on laws governing a chunk of reality (Cohen 1902). The pivotal feature of Warsaw nominalist formalism was the strict distinction between methodology and theory. Theory, according to Stefan Żółkiewski, is always an interpretation of positive data, whereas methodology—a truly formalist discipline—examines the conditions of the formal validity (correctness) of class notions pertaining to any given branch of science. Validity in the realm of methodology is purely formal in the sense that it is verifiable without reference to the meaning [Bedeutung] of the sentences analysed (Żółkiewski 1937b, 36–37, 41). Meaning pertains to theory just as theory correlates sensory data with interpretative categories in judgements (sentences). Conventionalism, however, excludes the possibility that in any given area of research there can be only one theory satisfying some a priori conditions of truth (cf. Rudolf Carnap’s principle of tolerance formulated in §17 of The Logical Syntax of Language [1937]; cf. Stadler 2015, 53–68, 207–211). Methodology should thus pattern itself on Alfred Tarski’s conception of metalanguage as a way to mediate between different possible object-languages (Żółkiewski 1937b, 43; Tarski 1956 [1933]; 1956 [1936]). Methodological metalanguage investigates the validity of definitions and classifications, as between poetic and scholarly language, between poetic and practical language, and between the language of prose and verse (Budzyk 1937b, 428).

35The Warsaw formalists projected their formalism retroactively onto Russian formalism, distinguishing between the methodological formalism of Vinogradov, Jakobson, and Jakubinskij and the naïve formalism of Šklovskij and Eikhenbaum (Hopensztand 1938; Budzyk 1937a). In their eyes, the most progressive Russian formalists pointed towards methodological formalism because, as a general principle, the structural humanities called for a pure formal, Conventionalist methodology able to move across different aspects of reality (Siedlecki 1937, v–xi). This is because language (according to Baudouin de Courtenay, Kruszewski, Appel) and man (according to Kant) exist in various dimensions: physiological, psychological, ethical, historical, etc., and nevertheless exhibit a unity. Methodology establishes opportunities for comparison or exchange between the realities we live in and experience while securing their autonomy and specificity.

36Let us now expand on the difference between methodology and theory, using an example taken from Jakobson’s writings. When reconstructing Jakobson’s “Phenomenological structuralism”, Elmar Holenstein (1975, 42) claimed that the most obvious form of the systemic phonetic shift [Lautwandlung] is the restitution of balance within a system. Although a tendency towards equilibrium has been the subject of scientific explanations since time immemorial, Jakobson’s phenomenological teleology, according to Holenstein, differs from metaphysical explanations (as in Aristotle), as well as from the economic notion of equilibrium characteristic of the nineteenth-century Naturwissenschaften (natural sciences) Jakobson’s kind of equilibrium is purely systemic or even aesthetically motivated: when a shift in one segment of the system occurs, the system makes up for it in one of its other segments (subsystems) for the sake of maintaining its own Gestalt. Whereas Holenstein’s Jakobson takes a clear position on the ontology of linguistic sounds, methodology, as the Warsaw formalists understood it, seeks to compare the three ways of conceiving of a system’s orientation towards equilibrium—metaphysical, physical, or phenomenological—and then states similarities or homologies or differences between these theories without committing to any of them. From the methodological standpoint, these theories do not exclude one another. This is one of the main reasons why the Warsaw formalist Franciszek Siedlecki scolded Jakobson in a letter written in 1943 for the latter’s attempts to found the new humanities upon phenomenology. Phenomenology is only a theoretical option, rather idealist and backward, in his eyes, and in no way is it intended to be the foundation of the new humanities (Jakobson 1968). The humanities, contends Siedlecki, can be renewed only by the inclusion of metalevels, which makes it possible to accommodate both formalist and social perspectives on literary works and artefacts of culture. The science of literature ought to be a

discipline based on the principles of the axiomatization of theory, on the verifiability (i.e. the reduction to patterns of axioms) of all its non-primary sentences, on the differentiation between practical and scientific realities, on the assumption of the priority of the latter, which means that the classification assumed in a theory is not derived from an “experience” of a modality of historical reality, but it is appointed by the internal structure of the theory, the rules of the syntax of its language, etc. This characteristic needs to be understood in unison with the postulate of empiricism. It is not contradictory to contemporary empiricism (Wittgenstein, Carnap, Ness), according to which all knowledge is based on protocol sentences, because, as the latest research (Popper) shows, protocol sentences are never given as abstract and separated, but always in the framework of a holistic theory (Jakobson 1968, 669).

37All these fundamentals are alien to phenomenology, whose rigor was not self-sufficient, as in “the structural humanities”, but underpinned by a living experience and thus exclusive and essentialist. In order for several theories to thrive next to one another, a thin but nonetheless cohesive layer of methodology is required. It is very characteristic of Polish literary theory in general (as an expression of Polish self-appraisal) that it should have understood itself as an in-between phenomenon. By adopting this principle, the Warsaw scholars sought to shape this in-betweenness as an unshakeable foundation for the new humanities.

38Żółkiewski’s notion of methodology apparently provided a basis for the “idolaters of science” from the Warsaw Circle, as Budzyk recalled, while remembering directly after the war the late Siedlecki (Budzyk 1946, 377). Żółkiewski “handed over to each us an infallible tool of critique, grounded on the output of contemporary Western methodology” (Budzyk 1946, 378). While Żółkiewski speculated about the future humanities, his colleagues endeavored to implement his visions in their research. For example, Hopensztand, when confronted with a problem, first deployed all logically correct solutions to it and only then referred to external (mostly social and historical) factors in order to elucidate why one solution or another was chosen by a given author. Consequently, he initially dealt with pure syntax (the possible combinations of elements), as in methodology, and then interpreted the data in view of empirical factors so as to establish a theory. These factors are highlighted by the technique of free indirect speech. This device, according to Hopensztand, may appear in a narrative either as an attempt to move from the author’s perspective to the hero’s or the other way around. Now, the hero can either introspect, “extrospect” (observe), or speak. These distinctions result in six types of free indirect speech, three of which are centripetal (assuming that the hero is at the centre of the structure) and three centrifugal (Hopensztand 1937, 379; on analogous operation in Siedlecki see Siedlecki 1937, vol. 1 ix, 125 and vol. 2, 2–7, 25–75, 49, 213). In Hopenztand’s theory, the form of the novel becomes its significance. The significance of form operates via four analogies that relate the morphology of the novel to the forms of government, policymaking, ideology, and idiolect.

39While Hopenszand attempted to render a structural sociology of literature, supported by formalist methodology, Budzyk proceeded in similar fashion in the field of stylistics when he enumerated all possible combinations of dialog, monolog, and description in works of novelistic prose, overlapping with the distinction between formal and structural features (Budzyk 1937b). The latter opposition corresponds to two systems, to which structuralism relates linguistic utterances: the structure of language and literary and extra-literary tradition, or culture.

40What nevertheless distinguishes these studies from the output of Russian formalism and Prague structuralism is the complete absence of aesthetic experience and its pretext/product, the aesthetic object, which was the main interest of phenomenology from the outset in the works of Conrad (Conrad 1908 and 1909). Even Vinogradov, whom Budzyk [1937a] perceived as the precursor of methodological formalism in literary studies, took general cues in aesthetics from the Russian student of Husserl Gustav Špet (cf. Vinogradov 1930, 29; Hansen-Löve 2012, 235–237). Šklovskij’s ostranenie (estrangement), Tynianov’s literary evolution, Mukařovský’s semantic aesthetics and literary history—all these theories are as receiver-oriented as Ingarden’s description of the literary work, and they equally assume that the literary fact emerges in the confrontation of the work with the receiver, the difference being that the formalists and structuralists, in contradistinction to Ingarden, do not assume the existence of intentional objects, which are of an extralinguistic or, indeed, asemantic character. Siedlecki shows himself defiant to such approaches in his Studia z metryki polskiej [Studies in Polish Metrics, 1937 vol 1., XI): “while my study completely disregards ‘artistic’ analysis and does not use literary material for the purposes of linguistics ‘proper’, it aims to shed some light on a couple of issues concerning one ‘aspect’ or ‘stratum’ of the literary work, i.e. its phonetic structure.” Note the double emphasis on “artistic”: one cannot distance oneself any more than that in writing. Siedlecki’s structuralism rather foreshadowed French structural poetics of the 1960s, which—to paraphrase Tzvetan Todorov—determined possibilities of composition, but was not interested in the makeup of singular works, leaving the issue to its complementary discipline, interpretation (Todorov 1973 [1968], 19–20). The postwar structuralism of the Sławińskis or Michał Głowiński belonged to a greater degree within the Slavic paradigm of formalism, Prague structuralism, and the Moscow–Tartu School.

41In other words, interwar structuralism disregarded, in contradistinction to the postwar generation, the aesthetic object and experience, a major part of which is concretisation, the motor of literary and cultural evolution.

42The second generation of the Polish structuralists relinquished “methodologism”, whose spirit abandoned literary studies and migrated to the area of the social sciences and historiography, where the so-called Poznań School set forth the premises of Conventionalism (cf. Gedymin 1964; 1982; Kmita 1967; 1974; 1976; 1982; 1985; 1998; Kmita and Nowak 1968). Only sporadically did the members of the Poznań School contribute to the methodology of literary studies (Kmita 1967; 1980; Kmita and Ławniczak 1973—the later manifesto of conventionalist semantics entitled “Signe – symbole – allégorie” was presented at the 1968 semiotics congress in Warsaw).

43Lewiński (2004, 102–130) ingeniously analysed the inconsistencies in the Dictionary of Literary Terms (Głowiński et al. 1976), the magnum opus of the second-generation structuralists (Głowiński, Kostkiewiczowa, Okopień-Sławińska, Sławiński), with regard to methodology, which disappears and appears, changes places with theory in the hierarchy of the disciplines, etc. All in all, a revolution takes place so that theory gains the upper hand over methodology (Lewiński 2004, 128), which is reduced to either a history of doctrines or various sets of postulates and instructions, relative to successive theories they constitute part of (Lewiński 2004, 104). Methodology—writes Lewiński (2004, 103)—“provided the literary theoreticians with legitimacy; by way of mixing in their works the orders of ‘methodology’ and ‘theory’, they gained discursive authority over [literary] history as well”. On a less suspicious or Foucaultian note, I believe that the problematic status of methodology stemmed from the interference of a strong, albeit covert, influence of interwar indigenous methodologism, which endowed methodology with an authoritative aura, with a new and loose approach to metalanguage, or rather to the meta-levels in language. This new attitude originated in Jakobson’s writings on translation (1971a [1959]) and poetics (1960) and was fully developed in French Posttructuralism and Moscow–Tartu School semiotics. According to the Moscow–Tartu semioticians, any given text of culture may become a metatext in the light of which culture or its areas could be interpreted (Balcerzan 1978, 14; on the Tartu School’s manifesto delivered at the fateful congress in Warsaw in August 1968, see Ivanov et al. 1973, 34). Semiotics is not located above culture, in an abstract realm of science, but rather posited as a reflexive part of culture so that, consequently, any reflexive text of culture, for instance a poem devoted to a painting, may be regarded as a semiotic model of its object. This approach fits well with the eclecticism of mature structuralism in Poland: a celebrated example of this kind of approach is Balcerzan’s description of poems devoted to works of different arts as utterances, whose “langue” of tradition, poetry, is also the metalanguage of art (Balcerzan 1978). Earlier, in the formative period of the second wave of structuralism, the young Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska and Janusz Sławiński, overtly dismissed the primacy of methodology, or a network of notions, over empirical material, at least in the extreme variety they found in Franciszek Siedlecki’s writings on verse theory (Okopień and Sławiński, 1960). On the one hand, the young scholars were under the influence of Jakobson, while on the other hand they found themselves in a situation in which their teachers, Budzyk and Żółkiewski, opted for ontological Marxism rather than methodologism. Under the new circumstances, they were unable to comprehend the priority of methodology over theory in philosophical terms, but rather saw in it a mere defence against or defiance of all-threatening Positivism. As the discussion of Marxism will reveal, their ambition was to “sublate” the difference between the levels of possibility and of historical actuality, system, and alteration, in order to arrive at historical structures.

44On no account does this mean that the second generation of structuralists accepted phenomenology as a philosophical foundation of the humanities or a stance attuned to their own, for that matter. In point of fact, Ingarden also insisted—as early as 1938—on the separation when he severely criticized Manfred Kridl’s attempt to establish a minimum platform for any “scientific” literary research which would combine elements of phenomenology and formalism (Kridl 1936; Ingarden 1938).

45Ingarden’s 1960 discussion with Jakobson in Warsaw, where Jakobson presented Poetics and Linguistics, has been documented in a manner reflecting the structuralists’ attitude towards the phenomenologists, one of respect and scepticism. On the one hand, Ingarden’s lecture Poetik und Sprachwissenschaft opens the conference proceedings (Ingarden 1962), but, on the other, one cannot overlook the fact that he stands isolated as the only author critical of structural linguistics and poetics. As he made clear in his talk, poetics is not a part of linguistics, as Jakobson claims, but of aesthetics. The lines between the two disciplines are not to be blurred (Ingarden 1962, 3), as the aim of the work of literary art amounts to enabling the experience of aesthetic values, and not, say, making us aware of mechanisms of language and tradition, as the structuralists tend to read poetic utterances, whereby language and forms of utterances are deemed to be the central element of culture and the human world. For Ingarden, conversely, there is more to—and in—the work of literary art than language, which he understands as “meaningful sentences, dressed in a certain linguistic garb or guise [Gewand]” (Ingarden 1962, 3), namely literary art itself. Its dwells first and foremost in the realm of “represented objectivities” [dargestellte Gegenständlichkeiten], which are certain intentional constructs [Gebilde] (Ingarden 1962, 5). Linguists and linguistically-minded students of literature fail—Ingarden insists—to acknowledge the existence of such elements of literary works as intentional objects, even though the same students assume the existence of word sounds and meanings of sentences, both of which are also, he asserts, of an intentional nature (Ingarden 1962, 5).

46In an earlier critique of structuralist linguistics (or, pars pro toto, “phonology” 1972 [1948]), Ingarden accuses Saussure of psychologism (arguably rightly, as he spoke about “mental images” stored in “brains”). However, Ingarden levels the same accusation against his followers, specifically Trubeckoj (a clear case of guilt by association). In opposition to structuralism, Husserl, in Formale und transzendentale Logik [Formal and Transcendental Logic], Twardowski, and Ingarden himself posit elements of language as neither psychological nor ideal, but intentional. The elements of language are, strictly speaking, intersubjective, which is to say that they are accessible to all minds engaged in the process of actualizing them. The intentional character pertains both to linguistic meanings and sounds, which remain identical with their respective selves regardless of the actual pronunciation of an utterance. When a subject recognises a stable, intersubjective sound pattern, he or she repeats the intentional act of associating meanings with elements of language (Ingarden 1972 [1948], 21). Understandably, given Ingarden acknowledges exclusively meaningful entities of intentional and intersubjective language (“words, groups of words, sentences, groups of sentences”; Ingarden 1972 [1948], 20), he must reject double articulation, which according to the structuralist theory of language (the term itself was introduced by André Martinet 1949) designates the general feature of linguistic utterances, i.e. their twofold divisibility, the first articulation consisting in distinguishing units encompassing both formal and significative facets (significant and signifié in Saussure’s terminology). Roughly speaking, it is on this level of words, phrases, sentences, and groups of sentences that Ingarden’s theory of language operates. The second articulation, however, divides these units into even smaller segments, which, devoid of meaning themselves, partake in the differentiation of meanings of the first-order entities, as the sounds /k/ and /g/ set apart “cod” from “God”. Combination of meaningless units into meaningful wholes is the core procedure of structuralist semantics and literary studies, as seen above in the example of different meanings which various renditions of free indirect speech, assembled from purely formal elements, acquire in various cultural contexts. The same holds, for example, for Siedlecki’s stance in the controversy over the meaningfulness of the accent before the caesura in Polish syllabic verse. While Wóycicki argued that the transaccentuation always introduces a surplus of meaning (1960 [1912], 74–88) and Zawodziński claimed that it never does (1936, 14–15), in Siedlecki’s theory the meaning of the accent is dependent on the poem’s relation to the historically stabilized system of verse and the system of language, against which one can assign to a transaccentuation an additional semantic value. Clearly, this theory depends on double articulation. In this way, Ingarden’s methodological position is irreconcilable with the distinction between purely formal (“syntactic”) methodology and theory, which combines formal and significative elements—a distinction characteristic of interwar structuralism. It is also diametrically opposed to the postwar approach. The latter postulates, so to speak, momentary models, which are even more context-dependent than Siedlecki’s vision of the accent, i.e. they gain and lose meaning with respect to an observer. Thus, this apparently specific linguistic concern—whether phonology with its double articulation is legitimate—bears on central issues of theory of methodology and discloses the dimensions of phonology’s influence on the structural humanities as a whole.

47Moreover, in his “Poetics and Linguistics”, directly polemical towards Jakobson’s, Ingarden refutes not only the existence of purely formal elements in language, but also the linguistic nature of the proper object of poetics. Intentional objects in literary works—Ingarden stresses in his “Poetics and Linguistics”—are not made of language; they are made with the help of language by means of intentional mental acts and endowed with special aesthetic qualities (Ingarden 1962, 5) that make them interesting for aesthetics. From the standpoint of poetics, language is just a “tool” (Ingarden 1962, 6) or a means of transportation into a state which today we call “immersion” in the presented word (Ingarden 1962, 7).

48Such theory did not meet even the minimal criteria of lenient Polish structuralism formulated post festum by Sławiński (literary works are not made of language, according to Ingarden). Central European structuralism, starting with Felix Vodička (1982 [1941]), admittedly adopted Ingarden’s term of concretisation along with concretisation’s function of setting the material artefact apart from the aesthetic object. However, it dropped the process of “objectification” (Ingarden 1973 [1968], 41–50), as a result of which the active reader passes from semantic information, carried by language, to super-semantic objects to be concretized and aesthetically admired. As a result, if, in Ingarden, predominantly extra-linguistic strata of the work (objects and aspects) were subjected to concretisation, for the structuralists, who disregarded any extra-linguistic elements in the literary work and, as a result, the process of objectification altogether, all strata of a work as a meaningful utterance were context-dependant and thus inherently indeterminate and hence demanding concretisation.

49Another example of historicizing Ingarden is Michał Głowiński’s theory of the novelistic truth (Głowiński 1971). Głowiński vehemently rejects Ingarden’s notion of quasi-judgement, as it is predicated on the distinction between the linguistic sentence and judgement (proposition) which, as an intentional object, is of an extra-linguistic nature. Nevertheless, two or three pages later, he accepts one of various meanings of the term “truth” listed by Ingarden (Głowiński 1971, 186–187). Among numerous notions of the literary truth, Głowiński focuses on the “truth”, understood as the similarity between a subjective vision of reality and the represented world (Głowiński 1971, 189–190). “Truth in the literary work is understood”, Michał Głowiński writes, “above all as an utterance’s relation to an actual or potential utterance. Truth […] is a constant appealing to the social consciousness and its norms, the consciousness which, even if it has not been explicitly expressed in a complex of various texts, may be formulated at any moment” (Głowiński 1971, 199). Such truth is a sociolinguist construct; its borders shift constantly.

50In sum, Ingarden was either rejected as a whole—and as such, he served as a point of departure for interwar theories which rejected (aesthetic) experience as legitimisation and an object of study—or he was treated by the postwar structuralists as an honourable relic or, finally, adapted in a way which made his thought lose its essential features.

3.2. Marxism

51Marxism, too, helped generate the central theories and models of Polish structuralism. structuralism’s relationship with Marxism can be defined as mirror-symmetric its relationship with phenomenology.

52While assessing structuralism’s negotiations with Marxism, i.e. the negotiations of evolutionary (systemic) with genetic (context-related) approaches to literary history, the researcher is transported to a meta-level on which the evolutionary perspective on the history of Polish structuralism overlaps with the genetic perspective. The two central theoretical problems of second-generation Polish structuralism stemmed from the Stalinist period (1949–1956), when a peculiar interpretation of Marxism was imposed on intellectual life. The first dominant issue was the sociological semantics of verse (see in Section 2 passages devoted to comparative Slavic meter and the semantics of verse forms, Pszczołowska 1988). The second concern related to literary communication, after which the Polish chapter of structuralism came to be called “communicationism” (cf. Dąbrowski 1987; Bartoszyński 2007).

53The first generation of structuralists—Hopensztand, Żółkiewski, Siedlecki, and Budzyk—were Marxists or plain communists, which had been an illegal status in interwar Poland.

54The relationship between structuralism and Marxism in the interwar period was interpreted by intellectual historians in two opposing ways. Either structuralism and Marxism were two parallel views, one entertained professionally and one maintained as an empathetic or naïve or defiant citizen (Weintraub 1985; Kola and Ulicka 2015, 73; Ulicka 2017, 150), or Polish interwar structuralism was an attempt to perpetuate the Polish tradition of Marxism (Ulicka 2017, 291–292), specifically the social Kantianism of Ludwik Krzywicki, Stanisław Brzozowski, and Kazimierz Kellez-Kraus, which combined Marxist social thought with nominalist and formalist methodology (Mrugalski 2019). The evidence attests rather to the latter interpretation. When writing his letter to Jakobson in 1943, which in the light of his subsequent death appeared to be his will, and the death knell for methodological structuralism, Siedlecki clearly had in mind a combination of formalism and Marxism, which was allegedly espoused and propagated by Żółkiewski, whose methodological ideas were generally accepted in the Warsaw Circle. Although the postwar structuralists of the Sławiński generation—a generation coming of age in Stalinist Poland—dismissed Marxism as a worldview, they still regarded the work of the chief “social Kantian”, Stanisław Brzozowski, as the main positive tradition of anti-Romanticism, to which both the literary avant-garde and structuralism belonged (Sławiński 1998a [1965], 208, 210, 268–269; Głowiński 1984; 1991; 1997). The most conspicuous features of Polish postwar communicationism—as seen against the backdrop of international structuralism—that is, a sociologizing and performance-oriented approach to morphology (above all the morphology of the verse) and literary semantics, were preprogrammed by the members of the interwar generation, Żółkiewski and Budzyk. Even though after World War II they pleaded allegiance to orthodox, ontologically essentialist Marxism, they nonetheless sought to enrich it, during and immediately after the Stalinist period, with elements of structuralist output. These structuralist elements were supposed to supplement, specify, and professionalize Marxism in literary studies, which was declared to determine the general character and direction of research. In this endeavor, they were supported by Maria Janion, then a young Marxist and a peer of the second-generation structuralists.

55Before I describe the birth of communicationism and verse sociology out of and in opposition to the spirit of Stalinism, I will attempt to exemplify how non-Marxist scholars were compelled to prevaricate in order to avoid taking sides on Marixism. Under the circumstances of the Poland of the time, open defiance was unwelcome, to say the least. Real socialism’s sense of reality nevertheless allowed a silence on its philosophical legitimation. One could ignore Marxism under the cover of an individual science, not touching upon the societal groundwork. Scholars were successful in doing so in the case of various case studies and detailed works in literary history. However, when the structuralists ventured to create a summa of literary studies, the Dictionary of Literary Terms (1976), isolating Marxism became an intricate and even desperate task, bearing in mind its major contribution to literary studies. In the midst of such a complex situation, the criticism of the dictionary from Marxist positions—such as that expressed in the series of articles contained in an issue of Przegląd Humanitsyczny [Humanist Review 11, 1977) —seemed to the dictionary’s authors and their like-minded colleagues to amount to denunciation, regardless of the critics’ real motivation, who, it seems, frankly identified with Marxian philosophy and believed the socialist state allowed relative freedom of discussion.

56The impression of actually being indicted in a scholarly discussion was reinforced by the fact that most of the Marxist critics were based at Warsaw University, from which the core structuralists were removed as teachers in the wake of the 1968 purge. A popular saying among literary scholars declared that the borderline between Asia and Europe ran across Nowy Świat, the street on the two opposite sides of which Warsaw University and the Academy of Sciences (including the Institute of Literary Research) were based. This impression of denunciation was, moreover, so prevalent that it first suppressed all other points of criticism, however legitimate they might have been, such as the claim that hardly any tradition in Polish literary studies other than the structural one was considered worthy of being presented in the dictionary (Czaplejewicz 1977), erroneous literary affiliations ascribed to the Russian formalists (Semczuk 1977, 193), and abundant factual errors (Żurowski 1977). Secondly, a mere reconstruction of the structuralists’ guerilla tactic against Marxism (and phenomenology, for that matter), conducted as late as 2005, enraged Głowiński, invoking the discussion with the Marxists of almost thirty years earlier (Głowiński 2005, 87; cf. Głowiński 2010, 391–393). Both camps resorted to the hermeneutics of suspicion: the Marxists, for their part, tracked down hidden judgements in the selection, size, specificity, and form of their “own” and “alien” entries (Kasperski 1977, 165). The devices of isolating Marxism allegedly consisted in condemning socialist realism as opportunistic, as well as in describing “genetic methods” hailing from nineteenth-century Positivism as unscientific.

57It seems, on the one hand, that the dictionary’s Marxist critics intended to create a simulacrum of an open intellectual discussion, one which would contribute to normalizing the Polish version of real socialism, but, on the other hand, the rhetoric, especially the hostile tone employed by Edward Kasperski, recalled the conspiracy theories of the Stalinist era. His review was tellingly entitled “False Conception and Harmful Effects”—effects, it should be noted, on young people, novices in literary studies confronted with jargon, trying to be smart, obscure language, and narrow horizons (Kasperski 1977, 163). Kasperski accused not only the authors, but also the publishing house (Kasperski 1977, 164), of marginalizing Marxism and the kind of littérature engagée which had developed under real socialism, but which was looked down upon in the dictionary as “opportunistic literature” subjected to the interests of the Party (Kasperski 1977, 1966–167). “The entry on littérature engagée is but one of many examples of “imposing views” and, in the spirit of hostility, turning the reader—student, teacher, adept researcher –against the conception of engagement, which advocates the identification of a writer with socialist (or patriotic) ideals” (Kasperski 1977, 167). The combination of socialism with patriotism was a trademark of the anti-intellectual and anti-Semitic campaign of 1968. (Here, it is worth mentioning that Głowiński was not only a critical intellectual but also a Holocaust survivor, saved as a child by Irena Sendlerowa). An analogous charge of aggression disguised as learning was advanced against the entries on Realism (Owczarek 1977) and Socialist Realism (Semczuk 1977, 194).

58These charges were raised against mature, eclectic, and anti-Marxist structuralism. However, in order to better understand the ambivalent nature of the relationship between postwar structuralism and Marxism—it must have been ambivalent, since the authors of the dictionary bore a grudge against their Marxist critics for decades—one has to step back to the 1950s, when the two theoretical stances were yet to be separated.

59Back then, the representatives of two different generations, Stefan Żółkiewski and Maria Janion, postulated a fusion of Marxism and structuralism, but no longer as equal partners kept in check by the arbiter of formalist methodology. Marxism had gained the upper hand after World War II as a holistic and essentialist worldview. Janion upholds Siedlecki’s and the Warsaw Circle’s position that there is no contradiction between Marxism and structuralism, just as there definitely is one between Marxism and “intuitionism” (Janion 1960, 229), that is to say phenomenology. Marxism and structuralism share a rationalist approach; their dialectic thinking is interested in dynamic aspects of phenomena, which they interpret historically, while at the same time looking for regularities rather than uniqueness (Janion 1960, 240). Janion (1960, 241) agrees with Żółkiewski (1946) as to the pioneering character of Mukřovský’s claim that language is the liaison between literature and society. Such a higher form of Marixsm, capable, according to Żółkiewski, of harboring structuralist positions was represented in Lukács’ History and Class Consciousness (Żółkiewski 1970), while for Janion, who, incidentaly, distinguished between phonological and existential structuralism (Heidegger, Spoerri, Steiger, Kayser; cf. Janion 1960, 179), the prototype of such a synthesis was found in Lucien Goldmann’s The Hidden God (Janion 1960, 232–234), Goldman being an avid reader of Lukács.

60The choice of idols clearly shows that Żółkiewski—in this respect he was in agreement with the stance of the other survivor of interwar structuralism, Kazimierz Budzyk (Budzyk 1960; 1966 [1958])—had abandoned the vision of a purely syntactic methodology that would mediate between Marxism and structuralism as a sponsor of the new humanities. Żółkiewski clearly chose Marxism as their “integral” method (Żółkiewski 1967 [1960]) encapsulating, among other things, structuralism. This Marxism was obviously not purely syntactical or formalist, but a fully-fledged ontological approach, as it represented certain views on the make-up of the human world (and of nature too). During the Stalinist period, Żółkiewski condemned the currents to which the interwar Warsaw Circle with its methodologism adhered: Conventionalism (Żółkiewski 1950, 6) and specifically the Polish tradition of social Kantianism (Żółkiewski 1950, 6–7; Wołowiec 2016, 30). Both stances, according to Żółkiewski, are illegitimate, as they call into question Engels’ basic dichotomy of ideological life, one between idealism and materialism (Żółkiewski 1950, 9). In, inter alia, Prague structuralism (Żółkiewski remains tactically silent about Warsaw), “the typology of methods replaced the classification of the modalities of existence” (Żółkiewski 1950, 10). However, this apparent suppression of ontology was supposed to obscure the fact that the conventionalist method emerged from subjective idealism (Żółkiewski 1950, 11). The only properly scientific method is the Marxian-Leninist-Stalinist dialectic of the concrete, which discovers that the entire structure of society is reflected in an everyday phenomenon, as commercial exchange (Żółkiewski 1950, 11). Even after 1956, Budzyk condemned Siedlecki, interwar methodologism and structuralism in general as a school of thought that gave no answers to ontological and artistic, in short — substantial—questions (Budzyk 1966 [1958]). Even though Siedlecki stressed the fact that his statistical distributive study of Polish verse does not pertain to artistic, i.e. individual, uses of poetic language (see above section 3.1), Budzyk accuses him of not being interested in individual poems and what makes them aesthetically appealing or of historical impact. Siedlecki does not see the trees for the wood of the metric system and its structure (Budzyk 1966 [1958], 191; 1960, 136–137). The composition of a poem should, therefore, be studied from the ontological, i.e. Marxist, point of view, which is able to mediate between the general and the individual, between structure and composition (Budzyk 1966 [1958], 195–199). Budzyk trumps Żółkiewski in that he accuses Marxism of containing too few ontological views. In this respect, Marxism should pattern itself on phenomenology (Budzyk 1966 [1958], 199).

61Janion too, in 1958, renews the ideal of the integral method, set out in 1914 by Wóycicki. Marxism can open the perspective of the “abolition of [...] the division of methods into ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’. No stance other than Marxism would be able to construct a totality of the method in which genetic explanation of the influence of the ‘intermediary zone’ between literature and life is combined with the historicized description of the structure of the literary work” (Janion 1960, 244). Janion’s work ([1969] 2000) on the Romantic poet Zygmunt Krasiński’s oriental novel conforms with the ideal of mingling the sociologically-underpinned history of ideas with structuralist poetics (cf. Czermińska 2016, 243–244).

62This kind of fusion of evolution and genesis became a commonsensical stance in Polish literary studies. “It is commonly accepted today”, wrote Henryk Markiewicz, a scholar associated with Marxism, in “Dylematy historyka literatury” [The Literary Historian’s Dilemmas, 1986],

that the metamorphoses of every social system, including obviously literature, are conditioned both internally, i.e. via the influences of the earlier states of this system, as well as externally, i.e. by stimuli coming from other systems. At the junction of Marxism and Czechoslovak structuralism, a group of the most general beliefs emerged among literature researchers—beliefs which manifest themselves in specific attempts to explain the conditions of literary transformations. In the most careful wording, it can be said that the automatization (becoming ordinary) of the creation and the reception of literary arrangements induces a counteraction consisting in the intensifying and complicating of devices, and after the possibilities of such an escalation have been exhausted a certain dispersion of literary innovations ensues, characterized by varying degrees of perpetuation and negation of the previous state of the system. Of these varied inventions, some are accepted by the social milieu as functional in relation to the needs of the society in question and thus gain popularity and permanence.” (Markiewicz 1986, 18)

63This paraphrasing or rather Marxian appropriation of point 8 of Jakobson’s and Tynianov’s 1928 manifesto “Problems of Literary and Linguistic Studies” (Jakobson and Tynianov 1980 [1928], 30–31) proclaims a kind of Darwinism in which the socio-economic milieu, conceived of in Marxian terms, determines the chances of survival and success which the literary “organisms” possess, having evolved in the process of formalist-structural mutations.

64The deep involvement of Polish literary theoreticians in Slavic structuralism notwithstanding, during and directly after the Stalinist period there emerged two approaches that were deemed typically Polish and, as such, attracted partners from other chapters of Slavic structuralism. Not surprisingly, they also aimed to combine the intrinsic and the extrinsic aspects of the literary. These were comparative verse studies, including the sociological semantics of the verse, and communicationism. I will now expand on them in that order.

65In 1951, Żółkiewski published the article “Stalin’s Theses on Language and the Methodology of Literary Studies”, which opened an issue of Pamiętnik Literacki [Literary Memoir] devoted exclusively to Stalin’s views on linguistics and their impact on literary studies. In this article, Żółkiewski ventures an extraordinary ploy intended to secure relative autonomy for literary studies by means of displaying unwavering faithfulness to Stalin’s genius. His point of departure being “Stalin’s basic thesis that language is not the superstructure of the basis”, Żółkiewski points to “the permanent values of the literary work” and “language” as the “elements” of national consciousness, which according to Stalin are more resilient and unwavering than the ever-changing base of the relations of production and its reflexes in ideology (Żółkiewski 1951, 246). Drawing on Victor Vinogradov’s comparative studies of poetic and communicative language (Żółkiewski 1951, 349–351), Żółkiewski states that the revolutionary character of poetic forms is brought to the fore only in the context of literary material, i.e. language (the schema of figure and background). The study of the specificity and the socio-political charge of literary language and literary forms should set out from “verse forms, metric systems of a given literature. One ought to establish the laws of changeability of verse forms dependent on social and inter-textual (e.g. prosodic) factors” (Żółkiewski 1951, 351).

66The comparative social history of verse, comprising the sociological semantics of verse forms, as it materialized in Comparative Slavic Metrics, was just a logical step in the direction of generalizing results and pinpointing the specificity of a given literature. Neither Jakobson’s idea of the rhythmic dictionary nor Polish interwar structuralist verse studies, epitomized by the works of Siedlecki, were interested in the semantics of verse forms: such interest would have been dismissed as expressionistic. In the new sociological setting, research on verse semantics, in which social stratifications correspond with the hierarchical character pertaining to any system, including the system of verse and verse language, was conducted till the 2000s (Kopczyńska and Pszczołowska 1969; Pszczołowska 2007 [2004]; Kopczyńska 1970; et al. 1986), including a volume of on verse semantics in the Slavic Comparative Verse Studies, expanded on in section 2.

67During the trailblazing polonists’ congress of 1958 (see section 1), when literary studies sought to come to terms with the experience of Stalinism and Socialist Realism, Budzyk criticized, in the spirit of an integral ideal, all attempts to rescue the unity of literary studies that ignored the heterogeneous character of cultural reality—attempts for which the point of departure was the primacy of either form or content (Budzyk 1960, 127), attempts such as formalism and sociologism. Moreover, the categories of morphological description and the description of content remain mutually untranslatable, despite the undeniable relationship between the formal-artistic and the social-ideological features of the work (Budzyk 1960, 127). However, everyday experience or phenomenological observation—Budzyk does not explain in which way he denounces interwar methodologism—suggests that the most important aspect for literature is contact with the reader, without whom the literary work withers. “The essence of the literary work needs to be looked for in the social contact established between the writer and the reader” (Budzyk 1960, 127). And it is this lived communication—literature’s social life—that encapsulates the formal and the social-ideological aspects of the work, not a metalanguage, even if literary communication takes on the most vital function of metalanguage, as a medium of comparison enabling arbitration. That is, when literary communication becomes the point of departure

we no longer have to answer the question of the relationships between form and content, which vary from case to case, but the question of the function of these mutual relationships in the realization of the social and cultural tasks which literature actually takes up. In the framework of the new question, the relationship between form and content disappears as a central issue and the specific object of study. The object of scholarly investigation now becomes the role of literary elements in what determines the emergence and the cultural significance of literary works. […] The elements of content and form become singular facts, which by themselves are not and cannot be an object of study in their own right. Historical research always aims to present the relations between facts. A self-sufficient description of facts does not amount to a scientific issue. This is why in the new situation one does not have to worry when categories of content turn out to be untranslatable into formal categories. (Budzyk 1960, 131)

68This social “meta-level” of communication offers us another version of eclecticism—one that does not contradict the demand for the unity of science while not denying the multifariousness of the phenomena at hand. This plural unity of various dimensions of the literary—homogenous to the point of ultrastability—operates within the framework of communicationism.

69Hence, in Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska’s model of personal relations in literary communication (Okopień-Sławińska 1971), the formal (the carrier of implicit information) and the semantic elements, the later conveying explicit information, remain distinct from one another, while adding up to the overall sense of a poetic utterance. Okopień-Sławińska distinguishes between implicit and explicit information items, the first set being inferred by the reader from a text’s formal (stylistic) features. Implicit information takes priority over explicit information, and hence it may reduce the credibility and position of any explicit characterisation of persons, events, or states of affairs. The division of information items into implicit (implied by form) and explicit, which introduces a hierarchy to information, overlaps with another hierarchical formula of communication as a process consisting of three parts: someone communicates something to someone. The object of communication may also communicate and so on ad infinitum—levels of communication emerge resembling Gérard Genette’s meta-récits contained in a récit (Genette 1972, 239). Occupying the highest-level and thus the most reliable instance of communication is the subject of the work—a silent possessor of literary norms and devices who, only implicitly traceable, gives the floor to all subjects of utterances (narrators, lyrical subjects, speaking personages) constituting a literary utterance. The subject of the work equals the intention of the work. The work’s subject is even credited for its physical form, given that this form implicitly contributes to the general meaning.

70Budzyk’s 1958 paper, in which he paved the way towards communicationism, which his student Głowiński, Okopień-Sławiński, and Sławiński would develop alongside Balcerzan and Kazimierz Bartoszyński, testified to the interwar structuralists’ turn to ontological Marxisim (a variety of Marxism that acknowledges some essentialist views of reality). In the language of the interwar period: theory, precisely Marxian theory, gained the upper hand over methodology. The sociology of communication fused incommensurable problems of forms and ideas. Even though the communicationists of the younger generation were sceptical towards Marxism, certainly too sceptical for mainstream Marxists, they nevertheless reflexively accepted the basic Marxist tenet of the supremacy of theories over methodologies. Lukács’ work on class consciousness, which Żółkiewski (1970) named during the 1968 congress as an exemplary case of Marxism engulfing structuralism, states perhaps most poignantly that not only vague ideologies but also the sciences and their purportedly objective methods express nothing other than class ideologies, i.e. theories prompted by historical relations of production. The abstraction and atomism of modern sciences thus reflect bourgeois individualism as a strategy of success in capitalist society. If Marxism recognises the primacy of theories, which express class interests over methodology supposed to secure the supremacy of classes as represented by theories, then the communicationism of Budzyk’s students was a peculiar Marxism without class consciousness, a self-loathing Marxism that accepted only its structuralist aspect.

71Communicationist structuralism perceived itself as the best-founded and potentially most heterogeneous (all-encompassing) stance. Thus as late as in 1987, Michał Głowiński repeated with reference to the latest developments in linguistics and sociolinguistics the basic theses of Budzyk’s 1958 lecture: literary communication bridges the gap between the heterogeneous realm of intrinsic and extrinsic approaches, he writes in the article “From Extrinsic and Intrinsic Methods to Literary Communication” (Głowiński 1992 [1987]). Therefore, methods are merely partial aspects of the social functioning of literature, relative to heterogeneous aspects of the polyphonic communication process.

72As a specimen of the mature period of Polish communicationist structuralism, Głowiński’s Powieść Młodopolska [The Novel of Young Poland, 1969] seeks to transfer the quality of potentiality from the level of methodology to that of actual literary history; literary theory positions itself so that it assumes an angle from which literary history appears as a network of possible (and barred) creative decisions. In the title of his work, Głowiński metonymically names the occurrences that bear this historical and at once potential character: genre and the literary-historical current.

73Both determine what can and cannot be expressed at a given historical moment in the literary and cultural system. Genre and the current are concurrently both historical and systemic; they belong to the orders of historical facts and historiographical description, and they bear the character of the social consciousness and habitual, i.e. unconscious rules (Głowiński 1969, 37). At both the sending and the receiving poles of literary communication, the two designate the expressible and the comprehensible (Głowiński 1969, 48). They create the literary langue of a period (Głowiński 1969, 49), not to be mistaken with standard language, since they also contain strictly literary, compositional elements, having been accumulated and endowed with meaning in the historical process of the production of literary utterances. Moreover, the development of a genre consists in realizing possibilities concealed in its previous gestalts, such as the transformation of the narrator from the auctorial to the personal position (Głowiński 1969, 83; cf. Stanzel 1971 [1955]). In the spirit of eclecticism, Głowiński concedes that his approach, concentrating on possibilities, remains one of many possible approaches to the unfathomable historical material (Głowiński 1969, 9).

74Incidentally, the main tenet of Lewiński’s critical assessment of the Dictionary of Literary Terms, which enraged Głowiński (2005), was to show how subsuming methodology under theory generates inaccuracies, especially in entries touching upon phenomenology and Marxism. The thorn in Głowiński’s side must have been not so much the display of inconsistencies but their assumed motivation—the structuralists’ move for power and dominance over the literary field. In brief, Lewiński described the Marxian motivations of the apparently anti-Marxian stance and its ensuing slips.

4 | Russian and Czechoslovakian entanglements

75The most prima facie conspicuous difference between the period in which structuralism dominated in Polish literary theory and the heterogeneity supervened upon it in the wake of Polish socioeconomic transformation after 1989 was that the former’s self-identity was local rather than global. For the structuralists, the way to the universal led through native authors, and not through translating French and American ones. They drew predominantly on the East and Central European tradition, even though they supplemented home-grown fundamentals with French, Anglophone, and German concepts and models, provided they did not transcend the loose limits of structuralist eclecticism, marked out by the East and Central European conventions.

76Czech and Russian tenets provoked creative, not reactive, answers on the part of the Polish structuralists. This applies to a lesser degree to the Prague Linguistic Circle, the achievements of which were generally recognized and accepted, so much so that Głowiński (1977) accepted Ingarden’s central concept of concretization in a version filtered by Vodička’s (1982 [1941]) premises of literary history: no process of objectification precedes concretization, as the extra-linguistic strata of the work are disregarded, and, as a result, concretization pertains not to the objects presented but to signs, the exclusive fabric of the text.

77A good example of the Polish structuralists’ attitude towards their Czech predecessor is offered by Głowiński’s article “Świadectwa i style odbioru” [Testimonies and Styles of Reception, 1975]. While for Felix Vodička, the most reliable testimonies to the historically changing “style” of aesthetic concretization are given by literary critics, Głowiński expands both the scope of testimonies and the styles of reception. The former class now includes, alongside literary critical assessments, parodies, stylizations, translations, intertextual references, intersemiotic translations, etc. Furthermore, Głowiński supplements the aesthetic reception, which was the main concern for the Prague structuralists, with symbolic, allegoric, referential, and other “styles”. It is only by virtue of being internally differentiated and diverse that reception obtains the quality of style. In sum, Głowiński supplements Vodička’s positions to the point where new perspectives open up for literary studies. Such self-positioning is usually called standing on the shoulders of giants. (For more details on Polish–Czech relations, in which the Czechs mostly played the active role, cf. Baluch 1998; Gierowski 2013.)

78In the case of the Russian scholarly tradition, broadly understood, the situation is more intricate and thus even more intriguing. There are two layers to Polish–Russian entanglements. Alongside direct Russian precursors—chiefly Roman Jakobson, Sergei Karcevskij, and Viktor Vinogradov—there were Polish scholars working in Russia, including Jakobson’s and Trubeckoj’s professor from Moscow University, Jan Wiktor Porzeziński (Jakobson 2013 [1929]), a direct pupil and continuator of the work of Filipp F. Fortunatov (Leont'ev 1990; Alpatov 2005, 38–45). St. Petersburg was the home of the classicist Tadeusz Zieliński (Faddei Zelinskij) and the linguist Jan Niecisław Baudouin de Courtenay (Ivan Boduen de Kurtene), the teacher of Mikołaj Kruszewski (Nikolaj Kruševskij), with whom he established the Kazan School of linguistics, leading to the emergence of phonology and structural linguistics in general. I would like to call Zieliński, Baudouin, and Kruszewski “precursors of the precursors”, since they were harbingers of the formalist and structural approaches in Russia and globally, and in this way indirectly influenced those Polish scholars who set forth the same tradition, which, to a degree, determined the starting positions of Zieliński’s philology and Baudouin’s and Kruszewski’s linguistics.

79Zieliński, who advocated a Dionysian position with a stress on the actor and acting (Zieliński (1995 [1901], 2008 [1911], 1918 §17; Sirotkina 2014, 11–15, 30–35), may be regarded as the patron of Polish communicationism, since communicationism referred mostly to the theatre when modelling the situation or the “spectacle” of communication (Bartoszyński 1971, 127). The metaphors of masks, acting, and mimicking were common ground for Zieliński’s philology and the Polish theory of the literary utterance, beginning with Dawid Hopensztand’s stylistics. Hopensztand himself worked under the prevailing influence of Viktor Vinogradov, whom he eventually asked to supervise his Ph.D. thesis (Ulicka 2017, 287–288; the project never materialised). The theatrical approach to literary communication combines Zieliński’s Dionisiac vision of culture with Vinogradov’s basic assumption of the iconic nature of artistic prose, i.e. the fact that artistic utterances mimic everyday genres of communicating (see below).

80And so literary communcationism studies “the spectacle of literary communication” [widowisko komunikacji literackiej; Bartoszyński 1971, 127] and the reading as a “staging” or “performance” [przedstawienie] played for the other reader-actors (Sławiński 1982, 79). Reading amounts to plying the virtual reader intended by the work, as

the virtual recipient has a dual nature. He or she is always a role for every actual reader. And sometimes he or she is also a sign, a semantic figure. [...] [T]he task [for the reader] becomes a sign, and the sign has the character of a task. […] [The reader’s] gestures enter the structure of the work as elements of its semantics [...] The entries in the lexicon of the descriptive theory of a literary work become [...] the names of tasks for the recipient. (Balczerzan 1971, 90–91)

81Okopień-Sławińska (1981, 43) describes the theatrical communication, while focusing on the sender: “Language, and poetic language in particular, appears as a theater where the individual, by removing subsequent masks, cannot reveal his bare face, and where, by applying masks, he can never completely hide his face, where the viewer is not sure if he sees the face or the mask and which of them is truer.”

82Zieliński’s bodily, Dionysian semantics, typical of that period—to mention only Ludwig Noiré, Karl Bücher, William James, Wilhelm Wundt, Eduard Sievers, Vsevolod Meierhol'd, Sergei Eisenstein—shaped the discourse of the early Society for the Study of Poetic Language (Obščestvo izučenija poetičeskogo jazyka, OPOJaZ), above all Šklovskij and Jakubinskij, who explicitly based their attempts to develop a semantics of poetry on Zieliński’s appropriation of Wilhelm Wundt’s Völkerpsychologie (Zieliński (1995 [1901]; Šklovskij 1919 [1916], 16–19; Jakubinskij 1919 [1916], 46–47). In addition, Zieliński managed—in the short period between the October Revolution and his resettling to Poland—to become a “co-founder” (Sirotkina 2015, 117; Brandist 2016, 93) of the Institute of the Living Word in Petrograd, where the prominent students of Baudouin de Courtenay, Lev Jakubinskij, and Lev Ščerba worked together with the OPOJAZ formalists, Boris Eikhenbaum, Viktor Šklovskij, and Iuri Tynianov. Besides formalism’s early carnal-Dionysian-anti-Apollonian semantics of the “living” word, verse, and film, Zieliński influenced their theory of the “everyday” [byt, cf. Maiakovskij’s “O driani”, “IV international”, “Pro eto”, “buduščij byt”, ect.; Jakobson 1975 [1930]; Ejchenbaum 1987 [1927], 1929 [1927]), which was to a large degree derivative of Zieliński’s commentaries on his own translations of Sophocles (Zieliński 1915). In addition, Zieliński was a seminal figure in the cultural movement of svobodnoe dvizhenie (free movement), as well as being responsible for a fascination with Menippean satire and the carnivalistic way of life—observable, for examble, in Balcerzan’s depiction of structuralism quoted at the beginning of this article.

83These interests were related to his interest in “the living”, i.e. embodied, word and the situation of communicating. Zieliński’s massive influence on Russian culture may well have been the path by which he penetrated Polish modern literary studies. However, at its foundations one finds native versions of physiological semantics: Julisz Tenner’s Estetyka żywego słowa [Aesthetics of Living Word, 1904] and Kazimierz Wóycicki’s Forma dźwiękowa prozy polskiej i wiersza polskiego [Sound Form of Polish Prose and Polish Poetry, 1912]. Earlier, in 1910, Karol Appel held a lecture Język i sztuka. Lingwistyka i estetyka [Language and Art. Linguistics and Aesthetics] at the Warsaw Society for Scientific Courses. Appel’s theses may serve as a typical example of bodily semantics. Drawing on the French aestheticians Felix Le Dantec and Jean d’Udine, Appel claimed language and art have a common basis in “the law of rhythmic resonance and the transposition of rhythms” in the body: “If you can say about language that it is only an accompaniment of gesticulation, facial expressions, and postures, we should say the same about art” (Appel 1910, 8). Speaking and the creative process both consist in the transposition of the rhythmic impulse into bodily actions, whereby stylistic innovation arises as a result of synesthesia, understood as the physiologically conditioned transposition of the non-language rhythm to the linguistic rhythm (Appel 1910, 9, 12). All these traditions, under the lodestar of Zieliński the Dionysian and Vinogradov, contributed to the use of the notion of mimesis in Polish communicationism; the notion of mimesis etymologically suggesting direct participation and a mimic, theatrical element. Głowiński distinguished a subclass of works to which a mimetic trait could be attributed due to their imitating well-established models of literary and, first and foremost, extra-literary utterances. Such works implement formal mimesis, language mimesis (Głowiński 1969; 1980), and constructive parody (Głowiński [1973] 2014). Other researchers distinguished analogous phenomena, such as the critical representation of a representational patter (Nycz 1986) or critical mimesis (Mitosek 1988); Kazimierz Bartoszyński grounded all these diverse devices in communication mimeticism (Bartoszyński 1982).

84Baudouin and Kruszewski, next to Saussure, have generally been regarded as the patron saints of structural linguistics and formalist-structural poetics (in a Polish context cf. Siedlecki 1938). Prominent Russians were even more generous to Polish-Russian scholars: “Polivanov and Ščerba asserted that Russian science inspired by Baudouin had nothing to learn from F. de Saussure’s Cours de linguistique générale”, wrote Jakobson (1971e [1943], 454). Baudouin was a precursor of structuralism on a most elementary level: Jakobson observes, “From the very outset of his scholarly activities, Baudouin (1845–1929) was attracted to the question of the relationship between sound and meaning” (Jakobson 1971c [1960], 397). Such an attraction was vital to establishing phonology as a discipline researching the dialectical relationship between the meaning and distinctive features of sound. Phonology, for its part, was prototypical for structural disciplines which, according to Hopensztand’s description, undertake research into culture as a field in which shapes negotiate with meanings (Hopensztand 1946, 337).

85Baudouin’s linguistics was crucial for Jakobson’s ideological and methodological choices, as, for example, Baudoin’s notion of language union [jazykovoj sojuz, Baudouin de Courtenay 1904, 31; Chirikba 2008) enabled Jakobson’s access to Eurasianism as a theory which developed in the milieu of Russian émigrés and which postulated the separate character of the culture of the former Russian Empire, belonging neither to Asia nor to Europe. Besides reinforcing this theory—suspiciously handy for imperialist dreams—with the tools of linguistics, the interest in Eurasianism helped develop structuralism’s historical consciousness. The Baudounian notion of language union dissociated the problems of linguistic similarity and linguistic kinship: thanks to the idea of language union, one could investigate the history of languages without falling into the geneticism characteristic of nineteenth-century historical linguistics, for which similarity amounted to common descent. Eurasia constituted such a union of peoples, unrelated but similar by virtue of the geographical space and history they shared. Convergence replaces kinship as the main spring of language development, which appears to consist mostly of the blending of different languages and not of the mutations of a primal language. The Polish structuralists devoted a lot of effort to studying the internal differentiation of language in that they regarded poetic language as one displaying the natural heterogeneity that communicative language conceals for the sake of effective interacting. The mixed character of language was the foundation of their interest in different kinds of language mimesis (communicational, formal, critical), as well as in stylisation as an apparatus of literary history (Balbus 1993), and in literary works as testimonies of inter-language contacts (Dobrzyńska 2006). Generally speaking, the interwar and postwar structuralists shared with Baudouin conventionalism and a multidimensional vision of language as a phenomenon that belongs to different realms (social, psychological, physiological, etc.).

86The new humanities were to be strictly function-oriented and thus in another way were indebted to, or heralded by the Baudouin School (Jakobson 1971b [1929], 390; 1971c [1960], 416), renowned for introducing the functional approach to language, which was then further developed in the first formalist issue of the OPOIAZ almanac by Baudouin’s student Lev Jakubinskij (1919 [1916]), and which eventually, in the Prague Linguistic Circle, became substantially equivalent to the essence of structuralism. The functional approach derived from the consistency with which Baudouin perceived language as a human, i.e. purposeful, activity. To a large degree, Functionalism boils down to this orientation toward the goal: diverse teleologies differentiate language into various functional styles depending on the purpose an utterance is supposed to serve—into, for example, the poetical and the communicative styles. Hopensztand and other Warsaw “formalists” perceived themselves as followers of Jakubinskij’s Functionalism rather than Šklovskij’s expressionism. Hopensztand began his reconstruction of Russian formalist theory, which initially was nothing but an apology for Futurist poetry, by setting the poet Velimir Khlebnikov—the proto-structuralist conventionalist who modelled morphologies in order to achieve inventive semantic effects—in opposition to the expressionist Aleksei Kruchenykh; their respective theoretical spokesmen were Jakubinskij and Šklovskij (Hopensztand 1938).

87Evidently, Jakobson had the longest-standing effect on Polish structuralism with his functional approach to language and his definition of poetic function as “the projection of the principle of equivalence from the axis of selection into the axis of combination” (Waugh 1985, 150–151). Mikołaj Kruszewski’s achievement was to transfer into the field of linguistics cognitive association by likeness and association by proximity, proposed in empiricist terms by David Hume and thriving in the psychology of the day (for example that of his Russian teacher at Warsaw University Matvej Troickij, cf. Berazin 2001, 19–20; Svetlikova 2005, 78–95). He also ascribed the feature of creativity to association by likeness opposed to mechanical association by proximity (Baudouin de Courtenay 1974b [1889], 149–151; Jakobson 1971d [1966], 436–437). Whereas Kruszewski contributed to the definition of the poetic function by pinpointing the two axes of language in a gesture toward phenomenological research into the essence of language as a system and not an aggregate of facts, Baudouin’s input consisted, in this case, in drafting a dynamic model of language which continuously re-shapes itself by way of all-round projections of different grammatical categories onto one another: semantic categories are projected onto phonemes, morphemes onto semes, etc. In particular, his booklet on the psychology of the Polish language, containing a lecture he gave in Petrograd in 1915 to the members of a Polish association and eagerly read by Hopensztand, abounds in descriptions of such projections (Baudouin de Courtenay 1983 [1915], 51–99; 1974b [1889], 111).

88It is precisely within the framework of vitalism and associationism, characteristic of Baudouin and Kruszewski’s linguistics, that the device of estrangement may be theoretically grounded and related to the theory of poetic as opposed to communicative language. Associationism operated within the economic categories of the expenditure or the saving of (vital) energy by an organism tending towards equilibrium (Barewicz 1905, 110): Potebnia, Spencer or Avenarius (Shumeiko 2014; Blinova 2008, 63–67; Avenarius 1876, §7, 14) claimed that those images which by frequent association have become habitual facilitate cognition and, thus, bring about a boost of energy and joy. The opposite stance, praising those literary devices that disrupt habit to make their perception difficult and palpable, likewise becomes plausible in this very frame of thought —and has been represented by Šklovskij and his followers to this day.

89Baudouin’s theory, predating Šklovskij by at least a decade, operates more dialectically. Baudouin assumes that there are two “currents” in language—one which manifests itself in metaphors and paranomastic figures and thus, while facilitating poetic creativity, counterpoints another one tending towards abstraction and the forgetting of etymologies and formal properties of linguistic forms (Baudouin de Courtenay 1974a [1904], 83). In Baudouin, the principle of economy manifests itself both in a striving for the unity of the phonological and semantic aspects of language, a unity secured by the automatized character of their mutual association, and in poetic inventiveness, without which language would lack any cognitive and adaptive qualities in the dynamic reality. The examples provided by Baudouin in his 1888 lecture on general causes of linguistic changes prefigure the early works of Šklovskij and Jakobson’s 1921 essay on Khlebnikov (Jakobson 1979 [1921]), as the Polish linguist speaks of the deautomatization of etymologies and dead (frozen) metaphors with a view to regaining the elasticity of language towards an ever-changing reality. To support his point, he quotes the great poets of Polish Romanticism, first and foremost Juliusz Słowacki (Baudouin de Courtenay 1974a [1904], 79–83).

90Because of the entanglement of estrangement in the elementary cognitive procedures that consist of association and dissociation, Dawid Hopensztand protested against limiting the scope of this device’s activity to poetry or art, and called it “the general morphological category of the world of culture, the consequence of dialectically conceived cognitive activity” (Hopensztand 1946, 383).

91More locally, but perhaps more importantly in the perspective of the history of the humanities, Baudouin’s dialectical vision of the relationship between naturalisation and estrangement helps to link the two greatest landmark discoveries of Russian formalism—estrangement and poetic language—which are usually considered separately and even opposed to one another, as Jakobson did in his preface to Todorov’s anthology of Russian formalism (1966). Baudouin seems to reconcile both expressionist and linguistic formalism, as in his writings estrangement reveals his linguistic essence hidden behind his status as a merely epistemological or aesthetic principle.

92However, the Polish structuralists of the second generation, while tackling the estrangement or the alienation of language in poetic utterances, referred mostly to Sergei Karcevskij, a Russian active in Geneva and then Prague (cf. Sławiński 2001b [1968], 15–16; Okopień-Sławińska 1980, 7–11). Specifically, Karcevskij’s essay “The Asymmetric Dualism of the Linguistic Sign” [Le dualisme asymétrique du sign linguistique, 1929] inspired the most interesting Polish observations on the poetic function, just as it had been adopted by Mukařovský and other Prague literary scholars (Mukařovský 1940). The dual and asymmetric nature of the linguistic sign reveals itself in the moment of transition from langue to parole, i.e. from language in potentia to language in actu. A sign in potentia is just an intersection of two asymmetric axes—a homonymic and a synonymic one: “every sign is potentially a homonym and a synonym at the same time. It belongs simultaneously to a series of transposed values of a single sign and to a series of analogous values expressed by different signs” (Karcevskij 1982 [1929], 51).

93For the Polish communicationists, the great thing about the Karcevskij model was that it fundamentally assumed that the form and the content of the sign do not completely agree with one another. This basic claim thus opened up a vista on studying literary communication that would reconcile the untranslatable realms of culture, gestalts and meanings. “A sign and its signification do not form a perfect fit”—Karcevskij writes (Karcevskij 1982 [1929], 49). “Their extensions do not coincide point for point, for a single sign always has several semantic functions and a single signification is always expressed by several signs. Every sign is potentially a “homonym” and a “synonym” at the same time—that is, it is constituted by the intersection of these two conceptual series” (Karcevskij 1982 [1929], 49). Moreover, while the meaning of the formal values of a word (gender, number, case, aspect, tense) is rigid, iterative, and “represents aspects of significations known to every speaking subject which are more or less safe from any subjective interpretation on the part of interlocutors” (Karcevskij 1982 [1929], 52), the semantic part of the words is, in contrast, a residue resistant to any attempt to decompose it into elements as “objective” as formal values. “The exact semantic value of a word can be adequately established only as a function of the concrete situation” (Karcevskij 1982 [1929], 52). This vision clearly opposes Saussure’s vision of the signifiant and the signifié as two sides of one piece of paper and takes up Baudouin’s vision of language as an arena of negotiations limited by the poles of the general and the individual, the abstract and the concrete, the communicativeness and the expression of an individual (Karcevskij 1982 [1929], 49). In language, static and dynamic at the same time, preservation and innovation coincide (Karcevskij 1982 [1929], 50), just as in Baudouin’s language oscillating between estrangement and naturalisation.

94The poetic language of the Avant-Garde, as the Polish structuralists Janusz Sławiński and Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska assert, estranges language by means of demonstrating in an actual utterance [parole] the asymmetric dualism of the linguistic sign, characteristic of its potential state in language [langue]. This is how the Avant-Gardists relate their utterances directly to the system of language, while trying to avoid any connotations with literary tradition. The description of Avant-Garde poetic language is another instance of the second-generation structuralists’ fondness for discovering areas of potentiality in actual literary and cultural phenomena (see section 3.1). According to the Sławińskis’ analyses of Avant-Garde poetry, its uses of language—while bracketing out literary tradition, or at least the most recent—refer directly to the make-up of langue. Poetry’s syntactic structures—both sentences and verses, whose structures are mutually translatable (Sławiński 1998a [1965], 136)—are generated in a way that by no means reduces, as in non-poetic utterances, but instead highlights and even enhances the homonymic-synonymic entanglement of every sign. The following words by the “pope of the Avant-Garde” Tadeusz Peiper, uttered in the 1920s, quoted by Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska, and paraphrased by Janusz Sławiński (1998a [1965], 94), comply with both Karcevskij and information theory with respect to communicative, prosaic language:

In prosaic language, each incoming word tightens the conceptual scope of the previous word [...] [T]he arrival of words merely adds details to the initial vision, which changes only insomuch as it completes itself. [...] [In contrast:] The movement of the visions that comes from the metaphorical work [of poetry] cannot ensue from this type of complements. [In poetic language], the vision takes place in a flash. Under the influence of the arriving visions, previous visions will undergo immediate reductions, partitions, slips or deletions, and all this will become an invasion area for arriving visions that move on as invaders gallop. (quoted in Okopień-Sławińska 1965, 436)

95Now, Sławiński (probably inspired by Mukařovský 1977 [1940]) translates the Avant-Garde juxtaposition of prosaic and poetic language, in which the prosaic variety functions roughly according to Karcevskij’s and information theory’s models, into the idiom of the structuralism of the time (Sławiński 1998b [1961]). In this idiom, expressed eloquently in Jakobson’s definition of poetic function, the poetic utterance reveals the functioning of language, in that it brings to the fore the potentiality of words in a dictionary, as well as syntax’s involvement in semantic operations (e.g. disambiguation). As Sławiński claims:

the poetic sentence combines in a peculiar way two contradictory modalities of the word—dictionary and contextual. There is a projection of dictionary potentiality onto syntactic actualisation. What is only an ensemble [zespół] of possibilities within a lexical resource is liberated and realized here—as a complex. (Sławiński 1998a [1965], 94)

96Okopień-Sławińska assumed that the interplay of forms and meanings in the poetic sentence is relative to the communicative situation—the receiver has to recognise an utterance as an unusual, festive, offbeat one so as to realise that she or he is dealing with a poem: “recognisability of the verse form can be not only based on the phonic tissue, but largely depends on other (primarily stylistic) properties of expression, identified as poetical” (Okopień-Sławińska 1965, 426). Heterogeneous phenomena of style and phonetics are now encapsulated in a larger whole of communicating in verse language, conveying implicit information in its form.

97Beside Jakobson and Karcevskij, Viktor Vinogradov helped Polish structuralism become what it was. Specifically, Vinogradov’s two essays on artistic prose (1930) and skaz (1978 [1925]) contained in the Warsaw Circle’s anthology of modern stylistics (cf. Budzyk 1937b), were a mise-en-abyme of Polish structuralism-communicationism. The penetrating power of Vinogradov’s ideas undoubtedly has a lot in common with the fact that his views emerged in the wake of Baudouin’s activity in St. Petersburg. For example, Vinogradov mapped out his basic distinction between monological and dialogical language harking back to Jakubinskij and Shczerba, two pupils of Baudouin (Vinogradov 1978 [1925]). Tellingly, Vinogradov also wrote the methodological introduction to Baudouin’s Selected Writings (Vinogradov 1963). In this introduction, Vinogradov singles out the main topics in Baudouin’s oeuvre, all of which also pertained to Vinogradov’s scholarship and Polish structuralism: the multiplicity of realities and of languages; stress on living languages and the relation of language to communicating people, i.e. to society; synchrony and diachrony conceived of since the 1870s as two interplaying dimensions of language; the connection between language and worldview; the notion of the phoneme and phonology; the purely functional approach to language; and semantics and morphology as necessary characteristics of linguistic phenomena (Vinogradov 1963, 12–16).

98Vinogradov’s articles on stylistics, which appeared in Polish in 1937, expand on the theatricality of literary utterances, especially those implementing the dialogical forms of language, which carry with themselves rudiments of pantomimic, mimic-gestural forms of communicating (Vinogradov 1978 [1925]). Dawid Hopensztand intercepted and amplified this element in his theory of satiric discourse (Hopensztand 1946), thus paving the way for a typically Polish application of theatrical models and metaphors to literary communication. Vinogradov’s notion of the image of the author invited Polish scholars to develop their theatre-oriented approaches because the image implies total control over language and artistic devices—total control, against the colourless backdrop of which more or less fallible, unreliable speakers appear (Vinogradov 1930, 41–42).

99The younger generation of structuralists, who embraced the notion of communication, concentrated more on the fact that the situation of communication is inscribed in the work as the “seed of realisation” (Vinogradov 1930, 35). The communicationists would elevate the correspondence between the internal situation (inscribed in the work) and the external situation (into which the work is inscribed) of communication to the status of the signpost of literariness. The literary utterance—says Balcerzan—calls into question “the rules of human speech, the standard of colloquial literary communication” (Balcerzan, 1971, 81–82). The sender and the recipient exist not only outside the utterance, as in colloquial speech, but also become “the internal (semantic) structure of the work”. In this way, the very signpost of literariness (the inscription of the communicative situation in the work) becomes, paradoxically, the bridge between intrinsic and extrinsic approaches: communication as (an aspect of) form and as the mode of the societal functioning of works. Intrinsic and extrinsic approaches are thus distinguished and reconciled as Wóycicki and Budzyk suggested in 1914 and 1958, respectively.

100Moreover, in Vinogradov the intellectual historian finds the source of Sławiński’s claim, quoted at the beginning of this article, that the literary utterance participates both in the internally differentiated system of language and in the system of artistic tradition (Vinogradov 1930, 29). This is why Vinogradov distinguishes between structure and composition, which would then be continued by Budzyk in his description of compositional forms interfering with structural linguistic features in modern prose (Budzyk 1937b, 430–446). The Polish structuralists also relied on Vinogradov’s description of the internal stylistic diversity of language, containing various sub-codes: monologue vs. dialogue, spoken vs. written language (the former tending towards concreteness and motoric character, the latter towards abstraction and intellectual character), verse vs. prose (Vinogradov 1930, 33–34). Budzyk and Hopensztand recognized these oppositions as the basic distinctive features of the stylistics of literary texts.

101These elements were then transmuted into a theory which was at once deeply embedded in the tradition of structuralist thought and original—Polish structuralism. To sum up with an example, the main goal of Sławiński’s essay on the semantics of the narrative utterance (Sławiński 1998c [1967]) is to get rid of any notions that pertain to the description of narrative but do not correspond to or simply come from the dictionary of linguistic semantics. Everything in the literary work is composed of linguistic signs, even though some popular notions of narrative studies suggest otherwise and are thus symptoms of the “disease” of language, one such symptom, according to Wittgenstein, being metaphysics (cf. Wittgenstein 2009 [1953], §133, 255). These notions suggest that the level of the told (the narrative world) differs substantially from the level of telling, the latter obviously being made of words and not extra-linguistic “objects” “designated” by propositions contained in literary works (Markiewicz 1965, 125). Drawing on Viktor Vinogradov and Sergei Karcevskij (along with Viktor Voloshinov, Jan Mukařovský, and Lubomír Doležel), Sławiński (1998c [1967], 115–117) sets out to demonstrate that laws analogous to those that govern the accumulation of the meaning of a sentence also apply to narrative. However, despite what the classical French narratologists might say (Todorov 1973 [1968], 77–84), there is no such thing as a narrative syntax which subjugates elements of narrative sequences by means of introducing hierarchical relations between them. In a tight spot like this, an East and Central European structuralist like Sławiński argues that works of literary art are products made of words that refer not to one system, that of language, but to at least two systems simultaneously: besides language they participate in the system of artistic tradition (that is, the structure of historically accumulated and culturally significant forms, cf. Sławiński 2001a, 16). The latter system produces the narrative syntax. Thus, the role of the all-encompassing syntax of narrative is taken over by a specifically narrative convention—the hierarchical difference between the narrator and the hero as determined by literary tradition (Sławiński 1998c [1967], 117–121). The narrative levels usually differ through the language that their representatives, the narrator and the protagonist, speak and, through their perspective (internal/external), assume. External and internal perspectives resemble syntax by virtue of subjugating and distorting the dictionary meanings of language units. Similarly to the sound formation “address”, which signifies different things in different syntactic contexts (“my address is…”, “her address to the people…”, “let me address this issue…”), the meaning of all words and sentences of a narrative is relative to the narrative instance in which they are uttered. Just as in a grammatical sentence, there is an interplay occurs between syntax and the denotations of particular words, so in a narrative sequence there is a tension between perspectives (or levels) and denotations—between he or she who sees and describes and that which is spoken about. Points of view dovetail hierarchy, paradigm, non-linearity, and the stability of literary tradition, and are confronted with informational flux, innovation, and entropy. The paradigmatic order opposes the syntagmatic influx of ever-new information. Grand semantic figures that emerge from this interplay of synthetic points of view and meanings accumulating and shifting over time—narrator, plot, hero, and virtual reader (Sławiński 1998c [1967], 121)—are, moreover, nothing less than different perspectives on the entire narrative utterance, language, and literary tradition, since they are determined by the set of relations they maintain with other elements both inside and outside the work. The narrator is, for example, determined by his or her relations with the world presented (events and environment), the system of sociolects, the receiver, the author, literary tradition, traditional realisations of narration, and sanctioned narrative role models (Sławiński 1998c [1967], 124).

102In this way, a literary utterance participates in the system of language and of tradition that together make it possible and understandable. A Polish structuralist bricoleur, working in accordance with the regimes of eclecticism, also participates in different orders to render fascinating theories. The tradition of East and Central European theory is the paradigm which he confronts with the stream of his or her ingenuity in order to render grand scholarly figures.


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Publication details

Published in:

Mrugalski Michał, Jeziorska-Haładyj Joanna (2022) Polish structuralism I. Acta Structuralica Special Issue 4 (1).

Pages: 9-84

DOI: 10.19079/actas.2022.s4.9

Full citation:

Mrugalski Michał (2022) „Entanglements of Polish structuralism“. Acta Structuralica 4 (1), 9–84.