Adam Ważyk Essay - Critical Essays


In Adam Ważyk’s poetic career, there were two dramatic turnabouts, the first of which can be described as vehement acceptance of the doctrine of Socialist Realism and the other as its equally vehement rejection. Thus, the middle segment of his work forms a strictly demarcated enclave that does not seem to have anything in common either with Ważyk’s avant-garde beginnings or with his last phase. There is an apparent discontinuity, then, and only a closer look allows the reader to discern a hidden logic in Ważyk’s development.

As a young poet, Ważyk was obsessed with one of the central problems of twentieth century psychology: the problem of the discontinuity of perception. Under the influence of the art and poetry of the French cubists, he discovered that the overall perception of an object is, in fact, twofold: The final impression of a whole is preceded by the act of perceiving its separate elements. Accordingly, his early poetry focused on that first stage of the act of perception by showing the world as a mosaic of stray fragments of everyday reality, put together by the means of syntactic juxtaposition. Such a perception of reality as a discrete sequence of its elements was a major source of lyrical illumination.

It was, however, a source of growing doubt and increasing anxiety as well. Discontinuity meant also disorder, lack of hierarchy, and the absence of any system of values. It is deeply significant that the young Ważyk was not able to identify fully either with the Futurists (whose anarchism he repudiated) or with the Cracow Vanguard (whose program of constructivism he considered naïve and overly optimistic). The twentieth century seemed to have brought liberation from oppressive rationalism, but what in the 1920’s had appeared as a refreshing sense of freedom was, in the 1930’s, already acquiring a threatening suggestion of chaos. Therefore, in Ważyk’s prewar poetry the technique of loose juxtapositions paradoxically...

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