Cover image for Alienated women : a study on Polish women's fiction, 1845-1918
Alienated women : a study on Polish women's fiction, 1845-1918
Borkowska, Grażyna.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Cudzoziemki. English
English edition.
Publication Information:
Budapest, Hungary ; New York : Central European University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
337 pages ; 23 cm
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PG7098.4 .B6713 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Borkowska (literature, Polish Academy of Sciences) discusses the works of selected Polish women prose writers from 1845 to 1918. First, she provides an introduction to feminist criticism in relation to art and the theory of culture. Subsequent chapters are devoted to an analysis of writers such as Klementyna Hoffmanowa, Narcyza Zmichovska, Eliza Orzeskowa, and Zofia Nalkowska. The volume was originally published in Polish by Instytut Badan Literackich Polskiej Akademii Nauk in 1996. Translated by Ursula Phillips. c. Book News Inc.

Author Notes

Grazyna Borkowska is Assistant Professor in the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Borkowska (Polish Academy of Sciences) commences this study as an exegete of feminist criticism, in relation to theory of art and culture, concentrating on the "most stormy years" (1840-1920) of Polish feminism. Her discussion of Narcyza Zmichowska, a leader of women "enthusiasts," would gain from a comparison with the men "enthusiasts." Failing to determine Zmichowska's sexual preference, the author capitulates and analyzes Zmichowska's works and letters. From the latter she gleans feminist, psychoanalytical, patriotic, and philosophical perspectives; she elevates Zmichowska's "anachronistic and innovative" prose by juxtaposing it to the "strategy of self-adjustment" and "the poetics of reticence" of Eliza Orzeszkowa, to Zofia Nalkowska's "witnessing to reality," and to Maria Dabrowska's "striving to objectivize her truth." The work of these outstanding and prolific writers is better known and formally superior to Zmichowska's; they were less self absorbed, and consequently more effective, champions of feminine emancipation. Focusing on women who tried to shed the "encumbering corset" of social, moral, and literary tradition, Borkowska contributes a new perspective on Polish letters. Recommended to those searching out the literary sources to Polish feminism; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. D. Hutchins Buena Vista University

Table of Contents

Introduction: Feminist Criticism in Relation to Art and the Theory of Culture. A Short Reviewp. 1
Does there exist a subject of dispute?p. 1
Art as play (The "post-Freudian" psychoanalytic variant)p. 4
Art as a subjective actp. 9
Art as the reinterpretation of existing realityp. 11
Art as a place of personal contactp. 14
A stroll around the themep. 16
Where do we stand?p. 17
Part 1 The Question of the "Enthusiasts"p. 23
Before Chmielowskip. 23
Two myths: The literary and the patrioticp. 26
The position of the historiansp. 32
Women and historyp. 37
Who were the Enthusiasts?p. 43
The Feminism of the Enthusiastsp. 54
Part 2 Zmichowska Versus Hoffmanowa: the Strategy of the Beep. 65
An especially important text and an especially important personp. 65
Without precedentp. 71
Mistress and pupil--two biographies, two personalitiesp. 73
An ideal coincidencep. 77
The new situationp. 79
The parting of the waysp. 81
Oversight or treasonp. 82
The strategy of the beep. 85
Part 3 Grappling with formp. 93
Baffling and peculiar novelsp. 93
A brief survey of the form of the novelsp. 101
From Sterne to Irzykowskip. 111
Zmichowska the eccentricp. 117
Zmichowska as a Post-Modernist writerp. 121
Part 4 The Samaritan Woman at the Wellp. 129
The problem of authorshipp. 129
The negative answerp. 133
The link with Michiewiczp. 134
The positive answerp. 137
The author and her sexp. 139
A woman of a transitional agep. 142
Conclusionsp. 146
The family circlep. 147
Children and family life in centuries past (according to Philippe Aries)p. 148
Family life (according to Zmichowska)p. 150
The lack of a fatherp. 159
The "Romantic" motherp. 162
Narcyza's brainp. 164
Self-realizationp. 164
The anti-martyrological trend and the "palm of martyrdom"p. 167
Self-realization--continuedp. 169
Psychoanalytic threadsp. 172
From Pierre Leroux to psychoanalysisp. 172
The androgyne: "Not to be a man, not to be a woman"p. 178
In conclusion: The story of Christ and the Samaritan womanp. 183
Part 5 Orzeszkowa and the Strategy of Self-Adjustmentp. 189
Another generation, other modes of behaviorp. 189
The rule and the exception--Konopnickap. 192
Unspoken choicesp. 198
Another modelp. 202
Orzeszkowap. 204
Molding her biographyp. 205
Asceticism and renunciationp. 209
Fiction by secondary writersp. 214
Images of the motherp. 217
Eros and Psychep. 222
Calculations, results, conclusions: Orzeszkowa's "Parnassianism"p. 223
The strategy of self-adjustmentp. 226
Part 6 Orzeszkowa: Self-Correction and the Problem of Limitsp. 233
Signals of a changep. 233
Moments of revelationp. 234
From asceticism to ecstasyp. 239
Lovep. 241
Other surprisesp. 243
Where does this all come from?p. 247
Orzeszkowa's corsetp. 251
Part 7 Four Roads: Regression, Narcissism, Struggle, Artp. 255
Feminizationp. 255
Works written by womenp. 257
Digression: What is women's literature/poetry?p. 258
The first scenario: Retrogressionp. 262
Nietzscheanism (the second scenario)p. 267
The third scenario: War and revolutionp. 280
The fourth scenario: Love and artp. 285
Parnassianismp. 291
Part 8 A Comparative Reading of the Diaries of Zofia Nalkowska and Maria Dabrowskap. 305
Mythical beginningsp. 305
The diary as a prefiguration of works to comep. 310
Diaries and truthp. 316
Conclusionp. 323
Indexp. 329