Research article
Issue: № 4 (12), 2017


In the article, we again draw on the study of J. Bobrowski's poetics of the epic works, we reveal its national and cultural identity using a complex method: literary analysis and description of the national and cultural specifics of the language. Novels "Levin’s Mill", "Lithuanian Claviers" absorb and filter the layers of the national spirit, creativity and art by their style, language, rhythm, remind of episodes, then a song and then a painting. J. Bobrowski continues the tradition of oral folk art, comprehends folklore material in a creative way, so "demonstrates" the relationship between literature and folklore in the historical and literary plan. It helps to reveal the specifics of his work and creates the special background for the "new" sounding of Bobrowski's artistic style.


The national German history is closely intertwined with neighbor nations’ histories and it is brightly expressed in the creativity of German writer J. Bobrowski, Prussian, Gipsy, Lithuanian, Polish, Slavic roots of whom thread the text of his poetic and prosaic works. Folklore of German and Slavic nations – the national epic (myths), legends, couplets, lyrical songs, circle dances – folk and music principles of novel’s composition are the artistic means, which reflect Bobrowski’s worldview and national-cultural originality of his literary space. In other words, it is a case of world’s reflection in the writer’s mind, his representation of environment. The prose of the described writer is considered to be "information of human and nature world around him", where are “all the background knowledge and ways of reflection of these meanings in the national world-picture image of exact ethnos". In his creativity Bobrowski broadly used as "hook up" and "stream of consciousness". To Albert’s mind the peculiarities and the poetics of Bobrowski’s prose are emphasized which are into embedded "hook up" of traditional and folk speech. The writer uses different styles: just as traditional so as modern [5]. His novels’ structure and composition with their visions, musicality, language and characters’ speech are coincided with works created in the past and nowadays by people, their expressers – creators, artists. For these targets Bobrowski immensely uses folk structure in the composition of his novels (especially in "Levin’s Mill"). Folklore objectively takes an important place in the writer’s novels: 1. folklore – nation’s creativity; art, created by human-being is a mirror of historical way of each nation; 2. he aims to make the complicated composition of all his novels more clear, "using folk strokes", as folklore is usually characterized by such traits as simplicity, clarity, precision of presentation and free-narration story-telling.  


The choice of methods of linguistic analysis is determined by the specifics of the material under research, the main tools of which are: comparative method, exactly historical and historical-functional methods. There was used the system analysis methodology while reading the artistic text of novels.


The author waves the complex shape and plan of work with bright threads, which hardly keep its structure. For instance, Gustav’s children, having buried a dead sparrow in the garden (which was found here, in the garden) were singing a simple song.

"Long Abel

Goose beak

Played in dib

Paws up" [1].

Firstly, poetics of novels is born borrowed from folklore habit and manner of talking clearly and in detail, different people talk diversely, freely. "But firstly we’ll tell the story of Poleski. It goes that…"or "So, let’s go to the Dreshers" and so on [1]. So this folksy manner of presentation of events according to the points, replacing of them, "unties his hands» and it gives to the writer some opportunity to get away from them or come. The personification of wind, river (Neman was breathing), so this folk spirit can be immutably observed in both novels.

A separate story telling is presented by “spirits’ occurrence”, so-called "flash-backs". It is also a kind of folk poetry reminder which, in its own way, embellishes the style of this complex literary work. These “little stories” are presented by the author with a shade of fabulousness and singularity. “The spirits’ occurrence” along with folk traditions, folk songs the subject of which is a historic events of 1863 (the rebellion of the Poles in the Duchy of  Posen in Galicia), - all these work as a connection with the folk art. Memories of nine years old events and uprisal of kosiners make feeling bitterly, sad, awakens a sense of loss and even causes tears of Yan Marcin and Geete and tears of Marie and Levin.

Memories are on the fields of Russian Poland in Cracow, and are always where people will never accept them [1]. The strength of national spirit can be also observed in Vayzhmantel song where Bobrowski’s thought is released; humiliated and offended nation – "but fury of our fire is rising… Spits, spits mow the enemies’ army …" [1] will rise from “smoke and ashes” and avenge the ground of “fathers and grandfathers”. So by using of folk song – the folk legend, – the author enriches the material of his novel, and thereby achieves plainness of its presentation.

From the first lines of writing, in particular, in the novel “Levin’s Mill”, we point its fantastic beginning, which reminds the refrain, the author revoices a bit differently: "The main thing is to begin and, of course, it’s known where to do but nothing more is evident here – only the first paragraph, and it is still in doubt". And then it begins as a fairy tale: "In the lower reaches of the Visula River, in a small flow of it in the 70s was a village of the last century, which was populated mostly by Germans". It should be noted also that folk outset used by Bobrowski was not only in his novels but also in the stories, he uses material freely, he looks for and finds his own ways of narration, skillfully conveys the vitality of oral legends in writing. The fact that the writer really appreciated the oral folk legend, also confirm his stories "Malige dancer", "Lithuanian history." "They say, once there stood a beggar. And so every night, "vividness of speech to the narration is also given to the "Lithuanian tradition" – another name of "Lithuanian history." "Malige dancer" leaves the same impression as if you are reading not just a story, but some legend or fairy tale. The very beginning of the writing’s manner reminds us of the oral folk tale, so the reader is informed of time and place of the action: "We will tell you a whole story about the dancer of Malige. It began in August, thirty-ninth year, at the end of the month, in a diminutive provincial town" [1]. Ever since childhood, having learned the depth, the beauty of the national life, songs and dances, Bobrowski tends to diverse using of German, Polish and Lithuanian folklore elements, knowledge of which he skillfully applied, having showed his attitude to the controversial relationship of German, Polish and Lithuanian  nations, and even Gipsy and other nationalities. "Miracle of miracles, Moses climbed to the water" or “the water in river raise – Moshe shouted:" Oh! It’s a trouble! " [1]. Or, when the writer uses the elements of a fairy tale and personificates  the nature in Lithuanian song, in Lithuanian fairy tales the main characters talk to the sun, moon and stars in difficult life situations. Sympathizing the deity of the day, helps them (as in our case, the moon gives necessary advice to one of the main characters).

From an early age Bobrowski was fond of music and painting. The writer was devoted to his youthful fascination with poetry, music and art (in 1938 he studied art history at the Humboldt University) until his death. Therefore,  it should be noted  that both novels absorb and filter the national spirit, creativity, and their construction, style, language, rhythm  – all these elements work together as a song or a painting masterpiece. While reading literary text, it sometimes strikes your mind that you are listening to music (folk or classical), or looking through a work of art. The attention of Voigt in the church ("Lithuanian Clavier") was drawn to a picture of the 16th century, which had a relation with the type of Salzburg churches, stringent hall structures (they were erected by Austrian exiles, when after a long plague the abandoned villages began to revive again). "Epitaph is a wooden board in a rich gold bolection frame, which was strongly peeled: to a certain Bartel Skrinius, his image at the bottom and at the top, under the crown. The middle part-gifts offered to the temple. The space of the temple, only slightly indicated at the edges, is widely disclosed in depth; in the background – along the white road crowd of peasants was approaching with pitchforks and spears; they are following the cross which is carried by the red-haired man. Painting was like singing, it seemed, it could be heard: "We pray to the Holy Spirit ..." [6]. In this regard, G. Fensen said: "The visual dominants in the prose of Bobrowski. Perception categories are related with categories of visual image" [6].

Artistically, with knowledge of the musical school, he gives a description of folk songs, dances. For example, during the summer celebration of Baptist congregation there was a song "...  of was being sung in four voices ... and are singing now – soprano has beautiful modulation: firstly terce down, then quint up ... other voices continued on the same note ..." [1]. Or "at the christening of Gustav in Malken Frau Palm orders "Sobotka": country four tacts motive with dance quarters under which feet tap themselves, but just a little sad at the end" [1].

The following passage of "Levin’s Mill" clearly indicates a relationship of Bobrowski’s verbal music with fugue by Bach. ”In Strasburg Habedank plays at the funeral, Vayzhmantel sings a song of his own composition ... on four tact tune the size of four quarter that begins on a low note, but with at each line it raises by the tone at regular drops per quart at each line but with the constant increase in the tone of each new line, the song no one present is able to evaluate" [1]. Yes, and for no one it had occurred, that Vayzhmantel "composed" the melody, which is based on a form of polyphonic music works. In fact, by this description of "new brand" Vayzhmantel songs, the author gives the concept of musical term – a fugue. Critics have already noted the affinity of the novel’s form to the "sound architectonic" of Bach: Fugues, transitions from one tone to another ... musical element inherent in a fugue: "ricercar", ceaseless repetition of topic, returning, growth of it [6].


J. Bobrowski creates a complex composition of novels  (introduction of theme, repeated returnings, voice system) and there is neither a clearly outlined plot, nor a sequence of narration in them as there is no deliberate narrative course like the story itself. The folk-poetic style, the "free independent style" of the writer (the author preserves the poetic simplicity and inner majesty by which folklore can be characterized and in his texts, using "samples of works of folk art from folklore legends" [2, P. 70]) was borrowed by a number of young writers of the 1970s and received its new "sound" [2]. "The breadth and diversity of our lives confronted him with the problem of creating his own style: a laconic narrative with the perspective of depicting an action," says H. Fensen in his article of literary journal "Text and Criticism" [9, P. 32]. Bobrowski’s prose is like a "symphony of ancient sounds, in which the reality is represented in its full entirety, and he insistently and convincingly voiced them. This goal was served by the choice of words, the construction of sentences and rhythm "[6].


The author of novels keeps poetic simplicity which is natural for folklore and inside grandeur using "samples of folk work of folk tales" [10].  In his works (novels and short stories) there is no clearly delineated plot, or sequence of presentation and calm manner of history narration. Bobrowski in his prose combines folk music and folk speech tends to capture the people's view of history and in the art system he integrates folkloric elements and tools such as lyricism, symbolism, metaphor. Poetic of Bobrowski’s literary context is born from taken from the folklore tradition to speak clearly and objectively: these include works of the ancients, modern folklore and, finally, each poem available to the people. As an expert of German history and German literature, he comes to a very important conclusion that true poetry is powered by life-giving juices of folk art. It teaches the ability to convey the feelings, thoughts, experiences and people deeply and truly, so he introduces us to the uniqueness of the national cultural traditions of German and Slavic peoples, pointing to its originality.


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