Abstract

Reading the Nobel Prize Lectures delivered by Polish Nobel laureates in literature from 1905 to 2019 as one mutually influencing narrative (the so-called “collective narrative”) clearly suggests the changing direction of how Polish writers perceive the world, Poland, and the social obligations of literature towards humanity. The early focus on Poland’s loss of independence and the injustice of fate (Henryk Sienkiewicz) gave way to seeing the entire world as a unity (Wisława Szymborska, Czesław Miłosz, Olga Tokarczuk). The mutually exclusive participation in life and being a detached observer. although seen as an insolvable contradiction (Miłosz) is acknowledged. but now with the urgent need for an engagement with the world’s fate (Szymborska, Tokarczuk). Literature is seen as a vehicle for painful memory and the acknowledgment of the injustices of the twentieth century (Miłosz), a tool of analysis of the human and non-human condition in general (Szymborska), and as a way of telling stories that represents the only remaining path to universal human understanding and bond (Tokarczuk). For Tokarczuk, “the tender narrator” represents the powerful connection necessary for searching for meaning and interhuman communication in the face of an approaching danger of the destruction of the world by humans.

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