The article examines the rise of the postmodern Holocaust narrative in Polish literature taking as a case in point Leopold Buczkowski’s novel Pierwsza świetność (First Glory), published 1966, in the context of the musings of Edmond Jabés and the testimonial writings of Halina Birenbaum. In this study the postmodernization of the Holocaust is treated as an alternative to the traditional genre of the Holocaust testimonial. Contrary to the broadly-held view that the postmodern Holocaust narrative is a fairly recent phenomenon, the article claims that it made its appearance some time after the war, in the mid-1960s. Its emergence can be seen as an attempt to voice the aporias and doubts that resulted from the pressure to draw a line on the wartime experiences and move on. Many writers, including Leopold Buczkowski, were convinced that it was necessary to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust by encrusting the historic record with other plots, problems and metaphors. This article is the fi rst in a series of studies of this problem in the 1970s and the following decades of the 20th and the 21st century.
In this article I try to think about the terms “stories” and “ontologies” in Ewa Domańska’s works: Mikrohistorie. Spotkania w międzyświatach (1999; 2005), Historie niekonwencjonalne (2006), Historia egzystencjonalna (2012), Historia ratownicza (2014) and I try to compare my conclusions with her latest publication. I am interested in the turning point in her thoughts, giving up the theory and methodology of history and switching to the ontology of the dead body. In order to do this I look through these publications and indicate which threads could help work out the excellent, innovative, and fresh conception of Nekros. The main part of the article is a detailed discussion of this. In the other part, I consider how to interpret more traditionally a past description like “cultural memory” and whether Domańska’s works accidentally invalidate them. I suggest a short statement of Marcin Napiórkowski’s and Stephen Marks’ works to show closer (Marks) and further (Napiórkowski) parallels or completely different presentations of similar problems.
This article is built on the premise that the topos has become a potent unit of cultural memory, an image that stores a wealth of often vague, buried or forgotten ideas. Its contents, like those of literature, tend to become extraordinarily condensed and confl ated; in consequence, some topoi (in particular the Holocaust topos) defy conventional tools of understanding and analysis. A solution to this problem can be found in an approach which broadens the scope of the sources of the Holocaust to include pop culture; gives up the rigid classifi cation of topoi, based on ‘hard’, documentary evidence; and, draws on a conceptual frame that connects the topos with the mechanisms of remembrance. A practical application of this approach is offered here in a series of readings of selected passages from Marcin Pilis’s novel The Meadow of the Dead (Łąka umarłych), Zygmunt Miłoszewski’s crime story A Grain of Truth (Ziarno prawdy), Marcin Wolski’s alternate history novel Wallenrod, Justyna Wydra’s war romance The SS-man and a Jewess (Esesman i Żydówka), Krzysztof Zajas’s thriller Oszpicyn [local Yiddish: Auschwitz] as well as some poems by Jacek Podsiadło from his volume The Breguet Overcoil (Włos Bregueta).