This article is an attempt to assess the role of oral performance in the life and work of Cyprian Norwid. The study covers the whole range of the poet’s cultural practices, i.e. his lectures, recitations, and public readings with the matching introductions and comments, which exemplify Norwid’s idea of the living word (cf. Lectures on Juliusz Słowacki, On Recitation, On the Freedom of Speech), as well as the accounts of those who were in the audience at these events. The analyses show that Norwid was convinced about the exceptional value of the spoken word and importance of the oral aspect of language. He employed it systematically to create the public sphere, to infl uence people, uphold a ‘community of truth’ and open it up onto a metaphysical universe. This interpretation of Norwid’s thought draws on the poet’s own understanding of the word, the ancient Greek oral tradition (Socrates and Plato), the Judeo-Christian ideas of verbal expression and nineteenth-century philosophical and linguistic concepts of orality to present a less known profi le of Norwid, an artist of oral expression in an age of the written and the printed word.
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