Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6420-4163 Borowczyk Jerzy


This text is an attempt at repaying the author’s debt (both as an academic intellectual and as a regular reader) towards two inspiring essayists: Marta Piwińska and Józef Czapski. From the latter, the author of the article gained a lesson in establishing an intimate relationship with a work of literature he reads or a painting he views. From Piwińska he learnt the poetics of a mentally disciplined essay and gained the ability to associate the readings of the literature of the Polish Romanticism with contemporary sensitivity and the grand works of high modernism of the 20th century. In this article, the author analysed the records of fragments of the life and artistic struggles included in eight essays by Czapski (from the Patrząc and Czytając collections) as well as extensive essays with a literary studies’ focus by Piwińska (from books: Złe wychowanie and Juliusz Słowacki od duchów). The author focussed on the essayistic studies of the experiences of lostness and tiredness, the work of the mind, eyes and other senses, of spiritual and intellectual surprises, and even of moments of clairvoyance. He esteems the discussed essays particularly highly due to their exploratory value, which often takes the form of micro-stories, and elliptical and condensed biographical outlines. In these, readers are offered specific figures of artists and people engaged in everyday hustle and bustle. Both these groups encounter experiences which could be referred to as cornerstone lessons in existence.


existential and spiritual crisis, Romantic model of biography, Romantic vision, 20th century paintings, historical experiences of the witnesses to the 19th and the 20th centuries


Czapski J., Czytając, Kraków 1990.

Czapski J., Patrząc, Kraków 2004 [1st ed. 1983].

Hamerski W., Od – do. Przypis do “Pana Tadeusza” Adama Mickiewicza, [in:] W. Hamerski, Ironie romantyczne, Warsaw 2018.

Haupt Z., Baskijski diabeł. Opowiadania i reportaże, ed. A. Madyda, foreword by A. Stasiuk, Wołowiec 2016.

Piwińska M., Juliusz Słowacki od duchów, Warsaw 1992.

Piwińska M., Złe wychowanie, Gdańsk 2005 [1st ed. 1981].

Proust M., Contre Saint-Beuve, [in:] M. Proust, Pamięć i styl, transl. M. Bieńczyk, J. Margański, ed. M.P. Markowski, Kraków 2000.

Słowacki J., Król-Duch, [in:] J. Słowacki, Dzieła, ed. J. Krzyżanowski, Wrocław 1952.

Wyka K., Porozmawiajmy o eseju, [in:] K. Wyka, Szkice literackie i artystyczne, Kraków 1956.

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