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Reckless and Unromantic - Grażyna Borkowska

Halina Poswiatowska is today considered to have been the first Polish woman poet to speak so openly about the sensual side of love. Indeed, throughout her entire oeuvre, eroticism and death are inextricably entwined. Enough clues have remained pertaining to Poswiatowska's personal life to allow us to treat the intense experiences described in her poems as autobiographical. Indeed, Grazyna Borkowska criticizes earlier scholars and biographers for the fact that, hypnotized by the writer's biography, they have been more concerned with Poswiatowska's personal fate than with her exceptional and under-appreciated artistic work. Having given this warning, however, she proceeds to base a large part of her own argument on a new interpretation of Poswiatowska's biography.

Her point of departure is the conviction that the most under-recognized source not only of Poswiatowska's creative activity, but also of her strong eroticism, is the poet's mother, Stanislawa Mygowa. In presenting the strong ties between mother and daughter, the author draws on both feminist theory and classical psychoanalysis, in order to shed light on what she calls an exceptional situation, and one which has until now been entirely overlooked by scholars.

A woman's entry into adult life is, according to psychoanalytic theory, normally connected to a separation from the pre-Oedipal ties to the mother, and the transfer of such feelings onto men. In Borkowska's opinion, Poswiatowska's maturing process followed a different course. Her mother brought to their relationship - which was marked in particular by Poswiatowska's illness as a child - a truly unusual degree of understanding and tolerance. This - writes the author of Reckless and Unromantic - allowed Poswiatowska to enter boldly and unashamedly into relationships with men. At the same time, her mother's love and her own love for her mother endowed these later relationships with a high ethical standard. Thus, according to the author, Stanislawa Mygowa deserves credit for having had an important influence not only on her daughter's decision to become a poet and her lifelong dedication to her art, but also on her capacity for such an unparalleled and passionate explosion of emotion, the traces of which live on in her creative work. (Marek Mikos)

  • Grazyna Borkowska
    Reckless and Unromantic. On Halina Poświatowska / Nierozważna i nieromantyczna. O Halinie Poświatowskiej
    Wydawnictwo Literackie, Krakow 2001
    © Grazyna Borkowska, rights available
    145 x 205, 204 pages, photographs, paperback
    ISBN 83-08-03149-8

Tags: Reckless and UnromanticGrażyna Borkowska

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