Evelyna Schmidt: Diagnosis: Disease! Reflections of Polish Authors on Communism.

Abstract

In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2012. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, pp. 159-170.

The metaphor of illness in literature and political-philosophical discourse has a long tradition and often serves to describe or to criticize a particular society and its individuals. So too was the communism case. On one hand, proponents and theorists used it to praise communism as a medicine and condemn democracy and while heralding its decline. On the other hand this metaphor worked in the opposite way, to negate the communist system and its fundamental theories, ideology and practices. In this negative function five different famous authors of polish literature, all of them opponents or victims of communism such as Józef Mackiewicz, Jerzy Andrzejewski, Leopold Tyrmand, Andrzej Szczypiorski and Aleksander Wat, used different kinds of this metaphor. By using illnesses like plague, epidemic, tuberculosis, cataract and illness in general they not only negate the nature of communism, Stalinism or ‘really existing socialism’; they also carve out the characteristics and consequences that it brought to the people.

Über die Autorin

Evelyna Schmidt, Dr., geb. 1978 in Berlin, 1998–2005 Studium der neueren deutschen Literatur und Polonistik in Berlin, Warschau, London und Barcelona, Promotionsstudium am Willy-Brandt-Zentrum in Wrocław, 2011 Promotion an der Universität Wrocław zum Wahnsinn-Diskurs in der Literatur der DDR und der Volksrepublik Polen, seit Oktober 2011 DAAD-Lektorin am Fachbereich Germanistik der Warschauer Universität, Veröffentlichungen u.a.:

  • Beschreiben des Unbeschreibbaren. Komik und Holocaust im Schaffen von Jurek Becker und Edgar Hilsenrath, Wrocław 2007
  • »Die Diagnose des europäischen Wahnsinns in Jerzy Krzysztońs Trilogie ›Obłęd‹«, in: Bettina Kremberg/Artur Pelka/Judith Schild (Hg.): Übersetzbarkeit zwischen den Kulturen. Sprachliche Vermittlungspfade, Mediale Parameter, Europäische Perspektiven, Frankfurt/M. 2010, S. 105–123.