Forum of Poetics | winter 2023

Zygmunt Haupt and his works were rediscovered by the Polish reader over thirty years ago. Such rediscoveries may be described as movable yet recurrent feasts. Indeed, the most important works written by Haupt were published only between 1997 and 2022: first Pierścień z papieru [The Paper Ring]; then two editions of collected stories entitled Baskijski diabeł [The Basque Devil]; two editions of Z Roksolanii [From Red Ruthenia], a collection of essays, journalistic pieces, and reportages; and finally letters (exchanged with Jerzy Giedroyc and the writers and thinkers associated with “Kultura” [Culture] as well as the editors of “Wiadomości” [News] and “Tematy” [Themes]). Since 1990, more and more critical studies have been published, including sketches, essays, and monographs devoted (in part or in whole) to the biography and the works of the author of “Deszcz” [The Rain], i.e., books by Aleksander Madyda, Andrzej Niewiadomski, Paweł Panas, Jagoda Wierzejska, Dorota Utracka, and Marek Zaleski. We must also mention “Festiwal im. Zygmunta” [Zygmunt Festival] which has been taking place in Gorlice every year since 2015. Also, two conferences were devoted specifically to Haupt and his works. The conference Zygmunt Haupt. Powrót pisarza [Zygmunt Haupt. The return of the writer] took place in Kazimierz Dolny in 2017 (post-conference proceedings were published in Jestem bardzo niefortunnym wyborem… Studia i szkice o twórczości Zygmunta Haupta [I am a very unfortunate choice… Studies and sketches on Zygmunt Haupt’s works], ed. A. Niewiadomski, P. Panas, Lublin 2019) and the conference Zygmunt Haupt. Warsztat pisarski – inspiracje – konteksty [Zygmunt Haupt. Poetics and style – inspirations – contexts] took place in Poznań in 2021. The conference in Poznań inspired two special issues of Forum of Poetics, the current one and the next one, which will also be published in 2023.

Even a cursory glance at the criticism and the reception of Haupt’s works in Poland after 1989 confirms the originality and significance of the writer’s artistic achievements. The more editions of both primary and secondary sources we have, the more inspirations and impulses for further research and (re)interpretations we receive. Scholars who took part in the conference in Poznań in 2021 quickly realized that the conference in Kazimierz Dolny did not “summarize” the discussion devoted to Haupt and his works; on the contrary, it opened up new perspectives. It became clear that Haupt’s works must be further analyzed; scholars should move beyond old approaches, and either complement them or engage in a critical dialogue with them. Haupt should be read anew and seen in a different interpretative light.

Articles published in the first of the two special issues of Forum of Poetics devoted to Haupt offer interpretations which are embedded in varied methodological and critical frameworks; they were inspired by different “turns” that have taken place in the humanities and by a reflection on the use of new methodological tools that could complement more traditional approaches. The goal was to show Haupt in “close-up,” to focus on details, and to notice connections that were at times imperceptible, and sometimes even risky. Indeed, articles published in this issue of Forum of Poetics are an important and ingenious contribution to Hauptology and to the study of the poetics of a single author as such.

The first two essays address the question of Haupt’s self-awareness as a writer (which was profound though not ostentatious) and they, in fact, attempt to map new theoretical trajectories in Hauptology, e.g., as regards the methodology of reading Haupt’s prose. Andrzej Niewiadomski investigates how Haupt translates the geographical and political concept of the border into the language of axiology, epistemology, interpersonal experience, and writing technique. Tomasz Mizerkiewicz, in turn, studies Haupt’s self-referential remarks pertaining to description in the wider context of the contemporary “descriptive turn.” It turns out that philosophical trends related to the study of description helped Haupt strengthen his descriptions – he recorded a passing moment or a momentary “contact” with reality.

The next two articles are micrological analyzes of Haupt’s short masterpiece – the short story “Deszcz” [The Rain]. Agnieszka Czyżak focuses on Haupt’s specific literary strategies and the ethical dimension of the story, which inspires reflections on the human condition in the world of unstable values. Adrian Gleń, respectively, compares “Deszcz” with Robert Walser’s “Little Snow Landscape” and argues that the short stories reveal an anti-essential vision of the world which both authors shared. An important critical context is provided by the works of the French philosopher, Hellenist, and Sinologist François Jullien, who studied the indefinite.

Jan Zieliński is interested in the painterly and the musical, double narration, and the (illusory) suggestion of the autobiographical in Haupt’s works. He compares Haupt’s works with the works of Andrzej Bobkowski and discusses the underlying contradiction between Haupt’s anarchist tendencies and his desire to achieve artistic perfection. The next two essays also examine internal tensions in Haupt’s works; an important point of reference for both texts is the notion of memory, which constitutes an important theme in Hauptology. Christian Zehnder expands the “epiphanic” reading of Haupt’s prose by incorporating the perspective of geopoetics. He emphasizes the role of exuberant details of the lost Galician world, which stem from what is remembered as seemingly monolithic and absolute. Antoni Zając, respectively, works with Victoria Nelson’s notion of psychotopography, that is a dynamic projection of subjective experiences, memories, and fantasies onto the space of the represented world. Haupt’s lost Galician world returns in Marek Wilczyński’s essay. Wilczyński examines how Haupt comments on and represents the annihilation of the ethnically, religiously, and linguistically diverse communities of Galicia and Podolia in his short stories.

Last but not least, Tomasz Garbol discusses how Haupt’s works exemplify the high modernist trend of believing in “poetic faith,” in the quality of artistic experience, instead of religious faith.

Table of Contents:


Andrzej Niewiadomski, Border, contour, fragment – Haupt’s strolls between the world, the other, utopia and text

Tomasz Mizerkiewicz, “Justifying description” in Zygmunt Haupt’s works


Agnieszka Czyżak, The (im)moral landscape: Zygmunt Haupt’s short story Deszcz [The Rain]

Adrian Gleń, Names of vagueness. Deszcz by Haupt and Little Snow Landscape by Walser: a comparative reading

Jan Zieliński, A watchmaker-dynamitard: From the Gałąź zachodnia [The Western Branch] archive

Christian Zehnder, Elementary memory and its limits. Element and detail in Zygmunt Haupt’s prose

Antoni Zając, “Not as a guest, not as an intruder, not as a homeowner, I am like a ghost…:” Psychotopographies of memory in Zygmunt Haupt’s short stories

Marek Wilczyński, Foreshadowing the things to come: Annihilation hidden in Zygmunt Haupt’s Galician stories

Tomasz Garbol, Poetic faith and a willing suspension of disbelief in Zygmunt Haupt’s prose