Between Russia and Germany: Aleksander Wat’s My Century as a Theme for Modris Eksteins | Dziewulska | Polish Theatre Journal

ISSN 2451-2966


Aleksander Wat, photograper unknown. Photo from: Stanisław Jaworski, Awangarda, Warsaw 1992, p. 89. Source: Wikipedia.
Małgorzata Dziewulska

Between Russia and Germany: Aleksander Wat’s My Century as a Theme for Modris Eksteins


Małgorzata Dziewulska analyses the ‘funeral of the avant-garde’ of the late 1920s and early 1930s, presenting the history of local avant-garde milieus in Central and Eastern Europe. The author finds the historical interplay of two totalitarianisms – fascism and communism – to be an intriguing point in the Central and Eastern European avant-garde’s common fate. In her description of the decline of the avant-garde, she reaches for Aleksander Wat – poet and co-creator of Polish futurism – through his Mój wiek. Pamiętnik mówiony [My Century: The Odyssey of a Polish Intellectual]. Dziewulska examines Wat’s turn towards political journalism and his activity in the literary-political magazine Miesięcznik Literacki[Literary Monthly], a platform for the voices of Marxist writers and poets including Władysław Broniewski, Andrzej Stawar, Władysław Daszewski, Witold Wandurski, Bruno Jasieński and Leon Schiller. Another publication crucial for the author’s analysis of the ‘funeral of the avant-garde’ is historian Modris Eksteins’ Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age, in which he describes the critical year 1929 in Germany: devastating due primarily to the sudden deterioration of the economic situation, the issue of reparations and responsibility for the First World War. 


Aleksander Wat; avant-garde; Central-Eastern Europe; Modris Eksteins; totalitarianism

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Małgorzata Dziewulska

is a theatre writer and director. She has published widely on the subject of contemporary modes of staging. In the 1970s, she co-founded the Theatre Studio in the town of Puławy, was co-editor of the journal Res Publica, and collaborated with Jerzy Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre. In the 1990s, she worked as a literary specialist at the National Stary Theatre in Kraków, and in Warsaw’s Dramatyczny and Narodowy Theatres (as chief literary specialist at the latter during director Jerzy Grzegorzewski’s tenure as managing director). She then convened seminars at the Theatre Institute in Warsaw: Profecja i promcja and Pracownia Kantorowska. She teaches at the Theatre Studies Department of the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw. Film (particularly documentary) is also an interest. Her books include Teatr zdradzonego przymierza (1985), Artyści i pielgrzymi (1995) and Inna obecność (2009).