Historia w fantastyce – fantastyka w historii na przełomie xx i xxi w.

Piotr Krywak


[History in fantasy, fantasy in history. At the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries]

The text deals with the phenomenon which can be observed in the latest Polish fantasy literature, i.e. play with history. The author begins with a comparison of prose of two most renowned representatives of the Polish 20th-century fantasy: Stanisław Lem and Teodor Parnicki, both already deceased, focusing on common features of the two, which are – despite the evident differences in the sphere of personal experience and the form of literature practised (science fiction novel vs. historical novel) – cognitive scepticism and joint interest in history, although demonstrated in different ways. Both artists also stress the futility of man’s cognitive efforts, although Parnicki deals more with individual while Lem with societal constraints. The experience of the mentioned writers was not immediately drawn from by the artists of the next generations. The younger generation did not follow in the footsteps of the star writers but began to model their writing on the Anglo-Saxon form of fantasy and cosmic horror (Howard, Tolkien, Lovecraft). Some of the writers continue to follow these models without much reflection. Yet thanks to fantasy, as if through the backdoor, history anew entered the Polish fantasy prose. At first mythic, legendary and fairy-tale like, it also began to become factual. The second, fact-based approach to history also appeared thanks to science fiction and the revival of sub-genres already known at the beginning of the 19th century such as alternative histories and histories of the future. The expansiveness of history-related topics proved particularly strong at the beginning of the 20th century. Made-up stories began to fill plots of fantasy and science fiction novels, thrillers and adventure books, they even influenced literature of fact and journalism, in particular such forms of it as interview and essay. However, this does not lead to any profound reflection concerning the historical process. The function of such texts is still mainly to provide readers with entertainment. The play with history, in which most of the authors of Polish fantasy currently engage seems to demonstrate that at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries the simplest conclusion has been drawn from the cognitive scepticism of the 20th-century classics – since the absolute truth is unattainable, let us put philosophising aside and turn a serious problem into a play. At least we will have fun.

Słowa kluczowe

literatura popularna; tematyka

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