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The Theater of Life or The Search for Self
by Mark Stephen Rudnicki

I am, which means that I comment on myself as a creation that I shall never be able to analyze to the end. I am reduced to experiments with the coauthor of my existence, psyche. The form of my thoughts and one day a beautiful death are in store for it. I would like to watch myself in the course of dying when the interpretation of pure, aesthetic sensations, merging into one, reaches full freedom ... I imagine the disappearance of the proportions of my body and the growing devastation of my consciousness. It must be extremely fascinating. Perhaps, one day, even for a second, I shall be able to imitate the workings of death...[1]

S.I. Witkiewicz

When exploring the work of a particular philosopher, Witkacy often found it "a matter of importance" to have an image of the thinker's "mug" (gęba) in front of him. However, he offered no detailed explanation as to why he needed this, just that it was essential to see what the philosopher's face looked like. If we were to begin this present work in the same way, a difficulty would immediately arise: which photograph of Witkacy adequately represents his mug He photographed and painted hundreds of self-portraits, illustrating himself as a buffoon, drug addict, priest, doctor, and a madman: one of the most interesting was entitled, A Madman's Fright, revealing his fragile psychological state. There is a famous photograph, taken in Russia, presenting Witkacy in his officer's uniform, seated in front of two mirrors. It presents multiple Witkacys from different angles. Janusz Degler persuasively suggests these four reflections reveal Witkacy as a painter, philosopher, writer, and photographer. Interestingly, though, we do not have access to the "real" Witkiewicz. who stands with his back to us. This photograph, perhaps. best captures the multi-talented artist's face and his struggling search for identity and, ultimately, inability to establish a stable "self'.

In the present chapter, I would like to investigate the life of the multi-talented artist not only in order to reveal sources of inspiration for his works, but also to unravel his personal search for self and continuous efforts to justify his existence. Unfortunately, by investigating the writer's life, we may become "more fascinated by his personality and himself than by his creative work."[2] Can we base literary criticism on a collection of anecdotes? Of course, the work should stand independently of its author. However, we venture into dangerous territory if we attempt to separate Witkacy's work from his life, because "familiarity with the personality of Witkiewicz. .. is the indispensable condition for fully understanding the most profound sense of his philosophical work;"[3] for his life and his work proceeded along parallel lines. Undoubtedly, his life not only provides valuable insight into his dramas, novels, paintings, theoretical treatises, etc., but, the opposite is also true, his oeuvre will be necessary to interpret and explain his life.

I will primarily focus on two aspects: First, a brief detour through his practice of "buffoonery," revealing a man both horrified and full of a sense of joyful, childlike wonder of existence (joissance). Second, an investigation of the most significant experiences in Witkacy's quest for self and justification of his existence: his relationship with his famous father, who encouraged (and pressured) him to be an artist; his tropical excursion with his dearest friend the famous anthropologist, Bronislaw Malinowski; most importantly, the Russian experience, more specifically, participation in the First World War, the Russian Revolution and his life in St. Petersburg, and lastly his incredible outpouring of artistic and philosophical output after the war until the end of his life in 1939.


 The very fact of individual existence here on earth implies irony, trick playing, sticking one's tongue out like a clown.
  Bruno Schulz

The scholar Bernard Dukore described Witkacy's world as "a cosmic amusement park, designed by Dali and Magritte, where Strindberg sells peanuts and popcorn, while Spengler performs a cooch dance, Heidegger and Sartre turn somersaults, and Dostoevsky and Nietzsche sling custard pies at each other."[4] Witkacy treated the world as a game, a play, a place to create as many characters as possible, however, "the genre of the play was tragedy acted out as farce,"[5] examining the experience of the uniqueness of the human condition in all its wonder (and horror). His subsequent aesthetic and philosophical programs were precisely efforts to explicate this Mystery of Being and experience the metaphysical strangeness of existence in a world composed of Particular Existences, i.e. human beings. Each particular existence regards him or herself with amazement: "Why am I exactly this and not that being? at this point of unlimited space and in this moment of infinite time? in this group of beings, on this planet? Why do I exist if I could not exist at all?" ["Czemu ja jestem właśnie, a nie innym istnieniem? W tym miejscu nieskończonej przestrzeni i w tej chwili nieskończonego czasu? W tej grupie istnień, na tej planecie? Dlaczego w ogóle istnieję? mógłbym nie istnieć wcale... "(NFM 7)] Underlying this "metaphysical experience" was the fundamental philosophical issue of the one and the many (unity in diversity). This problem, permeating through almost all of the artist's work, plagued Witkacy for his entire life both existentially as a solitary individual confronting otherness in the world and aesthetically to give form to diversity. Personally, the metaphysical feeling of the strangeness of existence and the concept of unity in multiplicity affected him deeply as his lofty philosophical, literary, and artistic endeavors were intensified by his personal quest to justify his own existence (as is clearly evident in his personal correspondence). However, his quest for establishing a unified, stable identity in a world of multiplicity' was problematic for he was aware of his own multiple possibilities, potential creations, and manifestations of the self. As a result, Witkacy continually strove to experience this metaphysical feeling, this sense of wonder about life, and, what's more, attempted to restore it in others by creating a world of play, fantasy, and grotesque ghoulishness: a fantastic world of childlike wonder and apocalyptic horror, where the divisions between the dream world and reality cease to exist. This world was not only created in his artistic endeavors but also in his interactions with others. In these encounters Witkacy often resorted to pranks, tricks, and manipulation hopefully to uncover the unknown lurking in the depths of the human psyche. The only fate worse than death for the artist was the lack of originality. For him the world was born anew every day in a different, unique and unexpected form.

With this in mind, Witkacy engaged on occasion in eccentric behaviors. During a conversation, for instance, he would suddenly turn his back on his companion. A moment later he would face him again, now however, peering at his companion through holes cut out in the centers of bisected ping-pong balls otherwise covering his eyes. Or, in the middle of a conversation, he would adopt the role of a drunken tsarist officer or imitate a close friend. He had a special gift for impersonating his friends' voices and mannerisms. Another of his gambits was to crouch down as low as possible when opening the door to greet a guest and then slowly to draw himself up just to see the surprise on the face of the person on the other side. On one occasion he ordered a Viennese cutlet with a fried egg on top of it, then put it into his wallet -- much to the disgust of the waiter. He kept a formal list of his friends in order of importance. His best friend would be in the first position and so on. In the event that a "friend" somehow irritated him or, perhaps, pleased him in some way he would be demoted or promoted on the list as the case may be. Witkacy then would send a formal letter to the person indicating his new position. Occasionally he would publish the list in the local newspaper.

Perhaps his favorite activity was to devise strange scenes of unusual events. He manipulated his guests (sometimes rather cruelly) to perform bizarre roles creating unique and sometimes tense situations. Sometimes he would move around during a party explaining to selected guests the role to be played and convincing others to act different roles. Or he would establish the roles to be played by his group of friends before hand and take them to the party to create a unique "happening". Once the famous Polish poet Aleksander Wat was cast in the role of an Italian or Spanish aristocrat. Wat performed his role excellently and took it so much to heart that eventually, having consumed a considerable quantity of alcohol, he came to believe in his aristocratic descent. The night ended with a terrible melee in a local restaurant where Wat ran amok and from which he had to be forcibly removed. Witkacy could not contain his delight. The game had been a success![6]

Another interaction happened when the avant-garde poet Julian Przyboś accompanied by the painter Władysław Strzeminski came to visit Witkacy in Zakopane to discuss the theory of Pure Form, about which Witkacy published numerous articles. The two artists were hopeful to have an "essential conversation." Unfortunately, for the very disciplined artists, their hopes for a philosophical conversation turned into a frustrating experience or, yet again, a "happening". Przyboś years later described the event as such:

The room hung with pictures, all of them in the Witkacy style, so well known later on — pictures he produced in such a quantity that they could be counted in the hundreds, on which besides his signature, there was always an indication as to whether they were painted in a smoking or non-smoking strain, on an alcohol drinking or narcotic taking day. It was the first time I saw them and the impression was unpleasant: the glaring cacophony of colors and the confusion of lines in the Secession style, as if washed down with soapsuds and "licked clean". What else in the arrangement of the room stuck in my memory? A washbasin: a tin bowl and a pot of water. These I remember because, every few minutes, Witkacy interrupted the conversation, went out, came back and washed his hands! I suspect that he did it to make the situation "strange". Another thing he did, seemingly with the same purpose, was shouting out "without any reason" two proverbs: the French one: Aprés nous le deluge! and the notorious Russian one, which he later immortalized in his book on narcotics: 'I would be famous for heroism if not for my hemorrhoids!'
          Strzeminski, who took things in earnest, started to talk about Pure Form right away. But Witkacy did not say anything new; he just repeated all those generalities, already known to us from his publications. How should a picture be painted to fulfill the postulate of Pure Form? -- Strzeminski asked. And he went on saying that it was the principle of construction which was involved and not the unknown feelings of doubtful status ... As to myself, I attacked in a stormy way, so characteristic of me at that time -- the very core of Witkacy's theory, the 'Metaphysical Feeling'. This notion, I told him, was of religious nature in the Young Poland style. But Witkacy, who immensely admired Miciński, a leading figure in the Young Poland movement, did not take any offense, neither did he utter any rejoinders. He only repeated that the end of art was approaching and he kept screeching, aprés nous . . . The atmosphere was getting tense, I felt intuitively that our host was more and more embarrassed, that he was lacking self- assurance, that it was only to summon up courage that he performed his ablutions and kept repeating the tedious French-Russian tag. It went on like that when suddenly Strzeminski grabbed his crutches and cried: 'Let's go, I cannot look at it any longer!' and pointed at the pictures on the walls. 'It pricks the eyes!'
          Witkacy giggled 'satanically'. He said that his pictures were not art, but a portrait- painting firm.[7]

There are dozens of similar stories about Witkacy's eccentric behavior. How could a man, who wrote so many complex theoretical treatises, who preferred to have "essential" conversations with the likes of Hans Cornelius, Roman Ingarden, Tadeusz Kotarbiński, Bruno Schulz, and who had such ambitions in art and philosophy, practice "buffoonery"? The answer is quite simple: Witkacy's actions were not only an attempt to "make the situation strange" nor to "summon up courage"; rather, as Artur Sandauer perceptively notes, these activities, running in and out, washing his hands every few minutes, [FOOTNOTE 1] repeating the French-Russian sayings, were, in fact, an answer to his guests' reservations about the practicality of his theory. Perhaps, Witkacy was demonstrating the impossibility of his own theory. Whatever the specific reason(s), his buffoonery was his response, possibly intended to reveal something that was inexplicable through rational discourse.

Roman Ingarden regarded such buffoonery as very personal. Ingarden befriended Witkacy around 1924, and his first impression of the extroverted artist, particularly his buffoonery, was rather unfavorable. Years later, however, they became better acquainted through letters and annual meetings in Zakopane, where they often discussed philosophical, in particular, epistemological issues. While Ingarden enjoyed philosophizing with Witkacy, he viewed Witkacy as a man full of shyness and anxiety as to the lasting value of his art and philosophy. He concluded that Witkacy's buffoonery was the result of "a certain emptiness in the ultimate core of his personality." Unable neither to comprehend this metaphysical emptiness fully nor to fill it with lasting values, Witkacy, torn by passions and fantasies, succumbed to the strength of his drives, which found release in art. These artistic outbursts, however, were often followed by "a tremendous drive to thrust into the incomprehensiveness of being with his own life and to penetrate it with his own experience."[8] In other words, the tortured artist seemed unable to sublimate his energies solely in his art; thus releasing his drives and passions not only in art, but in life, as well. Ingarden perceptively surmised in reference to the cause of Witkacy's unique "philosophical/artistic life" that "sometime before I knew him, somewhere in the bottom of his being, he must have experienced a kind of cataclysm, a breakdown or a certain revelation full of horror at the strangeness and othemess of being which never allowed him to regain tranquility."[9]

Witkacy's considered his work as "imaginative self-commentary," in which the roots of an individual spirit reveal the metaphysical strangeness of existence. With this in mind, an investigation of his most significant experiences may reveal the "cataclysm(s)" and provide insight into the subsequent "self-commentary".


 Plasfodor: . . . But then why doesn't anything satisfy me?
. . .
Plasfodor: Now I can understand my life all over again from the very beginning -- nothing ever happened to me. And yet I could have been whatever I wanted. I didn't have that certain little spring.
Masculette [Kobieton}: You didn't have what creates a sense of reality so strong that you have to accept it -- just the way it is and not some other way. I've known that torment of disbelief in one's own love. (TM 12)
  The Pragmatists
 Plasfodor: Czemu jednak nic mi nie wystarcza?
. . .
Plasfodor: Pojmuję moje życie, życie bez wypadków, znowu od samego początku. A jednak czym tylko chciałem -- mogłem być jakiejś małej sprężynki --brakło mi.
Kobieton: Brakło ci tego, co stwarza rzeczywistość konieczną do przyjęcia -- taką, nie inną. Znam te męczarnie niewiary we wlasną, miłość. (D I 205)

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz's birth, life, death, and even his reburial are shrouded in mystery and legend. He was born on February 24, 1885. Even upon entering this world, Witkacy could not avoid experimenting with temporal games, as his birth certificate inexplicably certifies March 24, 1885 as his date of birth. As a child and throughout his life he was encouraged to develop his individuality in as many outlets as possible to manifest his creativity: painting, photography, drama, novel, and philosophy; however, his most important and lasting creation came shortly after he returned from his military service in Russia: he created Witkacy -- a combination of his last and middle names. He began signing his experimental paintings, and most of his correspondence by this name, or some variation of it (Witkac, Witkatze, Witkacjusz, Vitkacius, Vitecasse), which helped distinguish him from his famous father with the same name. This creation was simply a manifestation of an identity crisis. Witkacy attempted throughout his life to distinguish himself in many outlets, as a painter, aesthetician, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher, and, through whatever means necessary, marriage, sex, drugs, and alcohol. All of these efforts proved futile during his lifetime, as he was privately and publicly, for the most part, unsuccessful; only posthumously did his work receive proper attention, and, subsequently, national and international success.

Determined to be an artist, his artwork received some favorable critical attention. Although he enjoyed modest success and found kindred spirits for a while in the Formist group in Krakow, he remained an outsider to the cultural and literary establishments of his day. Most criticized the artist and his theories as the ravings of a maniac or dilettante, who produced nonsensical works, with no redeeming qualities. For philosophers, he was intriguing, but lacked technical training; for writers, he was a painter trying his hand at writing; for painters he was too 'literary.' Additionally, his methods and lifestyle seemed to overshadow any artistic output, i.e. as a drug experimenter, alcoholic, and bohemian sex addict. Witkacy, likewise, found little value in the movements of the day: abstract art, futurism, dadaism, and constructivism; he claimed that theories are starting to create movements and not vice versa Alienated from all of these avant-garde movements, he found no group to support him and no followers to reinforce his fragile ego.

Although Witkacy remained on the outer limits of the cultural and literary movements, his unique experiences afforded him insight into questions regarding ontology, epistemology, aesthetics, and philosophy of history. His experiences included being raised in the elite literary culture of Zakopane by an enlightened, and often demanding, father. He witnessed through his travels revolutions in art, music, and science. Trends in mathematics and science perceived the world in radically new ways. These new ways of perceiving the world were implemented in the domain of the arts, particularly in the dissonance and atonality of Picasso's cubism. Additionally, he was personally introduced to psychoanalysis as he underwent treatment; he witnessed the exotic non-western cultures on his trip to Ceylon and Australia; and he participated in a war and revolution, which overthrew old Empires and changed the course of history. These experiences were internalized, and later utilized in his work. The earliest and most intense influence occurred in his own home.

* *

Witkacy's constant quest for an independent identity was never fully realized, as he was never able to break the most intimate of familial bonds. Without question the most influential person in Witkacy's life was his father, Stanisław Witkiewicz. The elder Witkiewicz, an ardent Polish nationalist, played an instrumental role in the spiritual and national Polish cause, and was among the Polish intellectual, cultural, and artistic elites of his day. He, like his son, was multitalented, and well known for his paintings, written works, and as the creator of the Zakopane style of architecture. By the time of his death in 1915, he had become something of a national hero. He had three passions in life, which were inextricably linked: Patriotism, Art, and his son, Stamslaw Ignacy (Witkacy)

Stanisław Witkiewicz senior (1851-1915) was born into an environment of intense patriotism and social democratic ideals. At the time of the 1863 Insurrection the entire Witkiewicz household (living in the Russian partition) offered their services to the homeland; even the young Stanisław contributed by delivering ammunition and other provisions to the camps. He experienced the bitterness of defeat, searches of the estate, the loss of property, and the arrest of his father. His father's participation in the Uprising resulted in exile to Tomsk, where the Witkiewicz family spent the next four years. There, amongst the insurrectionists, Witkacy's father absorbed "everything that was the nation's pain." In 1868 the 17 year-old Witkiewicz left Tomsk for Warsaw. Warsaw was a sobering experience. Rather than regrouping and reenergizing efforts for independence, Witkiewicz observed a distressing resignation in the Poles. His paintings in the later years (such as, The Hanging of Insurgents in Szawle) reflect these patriotic, yet, tragic experiences.

In these turbulent conditions of exile he began to pursue art, or more specifically, the role of the artist in society. After these physically and psychologically demanding years, Witkiewicz began his formal studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. Later, while studying in Munich with a group of students, who would later become important figures in Warsaw cultural life, he improved his technique in painting and more importantly, became acquainted with the new theories and movements in art. This, along with his own research and discussions with the leading artists of the day, provided the foundation for his critical and artistic positions. He established himself amongst the artistic elite, such as, Boleslaw Prus, Henryk Sienkiewicz, and the famous actress, Helena Modrzejewska (Modjeska). In this circle, he published articles in the journal, Wędrowiec, and contributed to the work, Malarswo i Krytyka u nas, and wrote his own Malarswo i Krytyka u nas, in which he defined his ideas of artistic naturalism, maintaining that art was the expression of experience where new ideas clashed with old. He fought to liberate artistic expression in the field of human thought and establish art as an autonomous philosophical medium.

In 1890, due to his ailing health, Witkiewicz Sr., along with his wife and five-year old son, Staś, moved from Warsaw to the mountain resort town, Zakopane, located in the south of Poland in the Tatra mountains. This move was hardly unique, as many people were resettling in Zakopane at this time to take advantage of the healthy climate that the mountain resort offered. But for some this was only the ostensible reason. In effect, this small resort town in the Austrian partition in the late 19th century became the spiritual capital of Poland. Thoughts of liberation and Polish idealism, which were suppressed in the Russian and Prussian partitions following the unsuccessful 1863 Uprising, exploded in Zakopane, as the Austrian kingdom permitted more freedom and fewer restrictions than were allowed in the Russian and Prussian partitions. Thus, various types of individuals flocked to Zakopane, such as, artists, academics, and political activists, all of whom displayed unique characteristics of apostles for the national cause, restless and dreaming spirits, and noble maniacs. This healthy atmosphere was both literal and figurative: it provided comfort for those in poor health, but, also, was conducive to a free exchange of ideas from concerns for the socio-political situation to aesthetic discussions and artistic creations. The Tatra mountains and the unique customs of the highlanders (górale) became (along with Kraków) the center of a cultural revival, which seldom strayed from the moral and ideological patriotic hopes of a liberated Poland, manifesting itself in the rebirth of a romantic-messianistic ideology in the new literary age of Mloda Polska (Young Poland).

In these artistic surroundings amongst the Polish elite, the elder Witkiewicz, as a patriotic son of the fatherland, a believer in a unique Realistic philosophy in the arts, and deep admiration of the folklore and handicrafts of the highlanders, began a unique artistic and educational experiment with his son, Staś. Claiming that schools are completely at odds with the physiological make-up of the individual and that the "methods of instruction and the goals of learning have nothing in common with the living person and with real life," he insisted on educating the young boy at home, in order to create an outstanding artist, who would embody native values and his ideas of art, culture, and civilization; he gave his son his first lessons "in everything." Encouraging his son to be free, radiant, independent, lofty, and sublime, he arranged distinguished tutors from elite circles to assist in developing the young boy's talents freely and precociously. The young boy was free to play and pursue whatever course he wished.

Undoubtedly, the elder Witkiewicz was influenced by the nineteenth-century notion in Poland of the poet-hero or "ruler of the souls," who acted through artistic means as a spiritual guide for the nation. This concept was popularized in the Romantic era, and resurrected in the Young Poland era. However, not surprisingly, his efforts to cultivate his young son into a patriotic poet-hero and, simultaneously, Nietzschean free spirit proved to be extremely stifling and demanding. Hundreds of letters to his son throughout the years 1905-1914 are scattered with Nietzschean aphorisms and theories of self-overcoming:

In intellectual concepts reach to infinity, in social ideas, go to the ultimate extremes of boundless universal love. Don't be encumbered by any caste limitations by any professional prejudices, by any petty-minded forms of individual or class egotism. . . Live in the future. Constantly stand on the heights from where you can see the farthest horizons and spread the wings of thought and action for flight beyond time.

W koncepcjach umysłowych sięgać w nieskończonośćé, w pojęciach społecznych iść do ostatnich krańców wcielenia bezgranicznej wszechmiłośći. . . Niech Ciebie nie czepiają, żadne zacieśnienie kastowe, żadne uprzedzenia fachowe, żadne drobne egoizmy jednostkowe ani klasowe.. . żyj w przyszIości. Stój ciągle na wirchu, z którego widać najdalsze horyzonty i szykuj skrzydła myśli i czynu do lotu poza nie. (LS 143-144)

Due to the excessive freedom to develop and pursue his talents and the intense and lofty aspirations of his father, Witkacy's efforts at self-development inevitably failed, as an adult he continued to treat life as a game, free to play, yet was fraught with self-doubt. According to Daniel Gerould, the source of all creativity for Witkacy was the incessant need to justify one's existence. Thus, his art, his work, and his entire life were placed "within the critical framework of a theory that could explicate his being." Due to self-doubt and the belief in Nietzschean notions of constant self-overcoming, he was unable to commit to any one career; instead, he attempted "to manipulate his own identity and that of others through artifice and disguise."[11] Contrary to Schulz's declaration that "shape does not penetrate essence," he found life as yet another medium of artistic expression, a place to create as many shapes as possible.

While the enormous pressure the father placed on his son led to a world of never-ending and mutable fantasies, his efforts to instill the theories of realism in art may have been, oddly enough, the origin of the young man's own aesthetic theoretical endeavors, which expressed an autonomous art freed from referentiality. Although the eider Witkiewicz professed a program of realism in art and pursued the naturalism of the Polish painter Matejko, he clarified this position by emphasizing that realism does not lead to a "possibly faithful reflection of the world" but only reconciles the "subjective truth of the world," with autonomous structure of the picture. Further clarification can be found in a letter to his son:

I dream that you might live in the Tatras. . . to grow and devote yourself to their life -- and that you would paint them not as a 'study of foregrounds and backgrounds', but as an intrinsic expression of them and of yourself as well.

Marzę o tym, żebyś żył w Tatrach. . . zrósł się i przeznał z ich życiem -- i żebyś je malował the jako studia "da1szych i pierwszych pianów", tylko jako wyraz ich i siebie. (LS 193)

Underlying this theory is the romantic conviction that the artist must be the creator of form, rivaling God himself, and not the mere imitator and slave of nature.

Despite the fact that Witkacy, under the influence of European trends in art, wrote an autobiographical novel, 622 Upadki Bunga czyli Demoniczna Kobieta, and began creating his own very original monster paintings and drawings, including, "The Prince of Darkness Tempts Saint Theresa with the Aid of a Waiter from Budapest," he still remained utterly dependent financially on his mother, similar to Leon in his drama Matka, and psychologically on his father's approval throughout his life. A telling sign of this fact and as to the mental state of the twenty-eight year old artist occurred when he underwent psychoanalytic treatment by Dr. Karol Beaurain. The Doctor concluded that the artist had an embryo complex. Although Witkacy, at that time, disavowed any faith in psychoanalysis, the basic bonds with his father and mother were undeniable, even after their respective deaths.

 As for the disease, "tropical madness," opinions are divided. Some consider it pure fiction, a sickness invented by the colonial European sadists to justify the crimes they commit against the colored people -- or even against the representatives of the "superior" white race. Others believe in the reality of this insanity, considering it on par with paranoia or dementia praecox. On the basis of personal experience we are inclined toward the latter opinion. "Tropical madness" is actually a serious nervous disease in the tropics, arising from the influence of the terrific temperature. . . and also the influence of spicy foods, alcohol, and the constant sight of naked bodies. (TM 39-40)
  Mr. Price
Or: Tropical Madness
 Co do samej choroby, "tropikalnego bzika". Opinie są, podzielone. Jedni uważają, go za czyste urojenie, chorobę wymyśloną przez kolonialnych Europejczyków-sadystów dla usprawiedliwienia zbrodni dokonywanych przez nich na ludziach kolorowych lub nawet na przedstawicielach tzw. ,,wyższej" rasy białej. Inni wierzą w rzeczywistość tego oblędu, traktując go na równi z paranoją lub ,,dementia praecox". Na podstawie osobistych doświadczeń przychylamy się do ostatniego mniemania. Bzik tropikalny jest faktyczną, groźną, chorobą, nerwów w tropikach, powstającą, pod wpływem szalonej temperatury. . . następnie pod wpływem pieprznych potraw, alkoholu i ciągłego widoku nagich czarnych ciał. (D I 285)
  Mister Price
Czyli Bzik Tropikalny

Anna Micinska, an eminent Witkacy scholar, argues that in the years 1914-1918 Witkacy transformed from an "embryo playing with art into a full artist and person" As a result of the contact with an alternative reality, the process of unification and crystallization of the artist's eclectic youth began. The elitist cultural life of Kraków and Zakopane were not sufficient catalysts. "His expedition to 'subtropical regions' was the threshold to this different reality." Further, his participation in the World War I and the Russian Revolution completed the process of crystallizing Witkacy's world-view and aesthetic vision.[12] [FOOTNOTE 2]

In 1913 Witkacy became secretly engaged and viewed his future life with Jadwiga Janczewska as a way to salvage his meaningless existence. In a state of despair his fiancée committed suicide. The reason for her actions remains uncertain. However, in many letters to friends, Witkacy acknowledged his part in her death. He claimed that he was not emotionally supportive, and, also, suggested that he, along with Tadeusz Miciński and Karol Szymanowski, tried playing some sort of erotic game with her, without her knowledge. Alexander Wat in his work Mój Wiek concurred that Witkacy was conducting some kind of experiment with his unknowing fiancée. [FOOTNOTE 3] Witkacy's feelings of helplessness intensified. His suicidal thoughts embodied both guilt-ridden despair and self-justification. In a letter to Malinowski he describes not only the grief over the tragic death but also over the inability to establish his own identity: "I'm in horrible pain, the whole meaning of life is lost, my youth has been wasted and now I'm bearing the brunt. Death would end and justify it all." {Ból okropny, sens życia stracony, zmarnowana młodość i skutki tego mszczą się. Śmierć teraz byłaby końcem usprawiedliwiającym wszystko.][13] Without a profession or direction in life and in a suicidal state, he accompanied his dearest friend, the famous anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski to Australia and New Guinea to do work among the Mailu people as a photographer and draftsman, but more importantly to calm his tortured soul. He wrote "only the thought of traveling with you to some wild country seems to make some sense. A change radical enough to turn everything upside down." [Jedynie myśl o podróży z Tobą w jakiś kraj dziki coś przedstawia. Jakaś zmiana tak radykalna, żeby wszystko wywrócić do góry nogami.[14]] The trip went via India, Ceylon, and the Malayan archipelago. Similar to Conrad, Gauguin, and later Artaud, the colors and strangeness of the environment and the people of the East had an amazing effect on the artist, who had previously been confined to the European continent. In a letter to his father, he attempted to convey the splendor of the land:

I'm in no state to describe the wonders I'm seeing here. These things are absolutely monstrous in their beauty. . . Meadows flooded with water in the midst of forests. Strange olive-green calami. In little ponds, purple-violet water lilies. The vegetation madder and madder, and the people more and more gaudily, but wonderfully dressed (violet, yellow, and purple, and sometimes emerald green), which along with the chocolate and bronze bodies, and the strange plants in the background, creates a diabolical effect. . .

Nie jestem w stanie opisać tych cudów, które tu widzę. Są rzeczy wprost powtorne od piękności.. . łąki wśród lasów zalane wodą. Dziwne tataraki oliwkowozielone. Na stawikach -- nenufary purpurowofioletowe. Coraz wścieklejsza roślinność i ludzie coraz bardziej jaskrawo, ale cudownie ubrani (flolet, żółć, i purpura, czasem zieleń szmaragdowa), co przy ciałach czekoladowych i brązowych, na tle roś1in dziwnych, robi efekt piekielny.[15]

The tropical colors, while extremely impressive to the artist, often intensified his desperation: "Whatever I see that is beautiful, strange and unusual turns into horrible torture. I wish I could see it with her."[16] He wrote many letters describing his intense feelings of despair. In fact, he claimed to have been on the edge of suicide during the trip, to the point of having a pistol to his temple. Only the thought of his mother caused restraint.

Not only the physical wonder of the tropics proved invaluable resource for Witkacy, but also questions on the origins of religion, as the primary goal of the expedition was to investigate "primitive" cultures and religions. Witkacy maintained, in opposition to Malinowski, that religion was an individual's (or society's) method of facing the unknown, a metaphysical attempt to answer questions about man's aloneness in the universe. Most likely, his contact with primitive art and religion helped him formulate his own conception of theater with its magical and ritual functions. They witnessed their first magic ceremony while in Dambulla. The two friends heard the drums of Buddhist music coming from the jungle, and they observed "a man sitting at a table covered in flowers, incense, and candles performing a magic ceremony."[17] They assisted the man as he recited prayers while the incense burned.

Undoubtedly, Witkacy gained unique insight into non-western cultures. Moreover, the tropics clarified some of Witkacy's theories, but primarily regarding content not form; one notices many tropical colors in his formist paintings, and the setting in his literary works (Mr. Price, Metaphysics of a Two-Headed Calf Farewell to Autumn) show strong influence from the tropics; however, less influence can be detected in his theoretical treatises as he claimed to have conceived of the idea of Pure Form in 1902. What is more in a letter he wrote to Malinowski before the expedition he stated that he had been "writing a theoretical piece that [was] supposed to include all [his] ideas and thoughts on art, philosophy and social problems."[18] Moreover, a few years later in his "Second Response to the Reviewers of The Pragmatists" he mentions with surprise, although without qualification, that some critics view his art as "religious, a return to the mysteries;" perhaps indicating that this was not necessarily his intention.

It is in the next stage of his life that he underwent his most significant transformation, yet another mask.


Plasfodor: The infernal banality of existence. It's four o'clock in the afternoon. Then there will be supper, then the orgy, then a séance, then the nightly bad dreams, then the usual dose of pills to give us the strength to go on. Oh! it's unbearable! (TM 14)

Plasfodor: Ta piekielna banalność istnienia. Jest godzina czwarta po południu. Potem będzie kolacja, potem orgia, potem seans, potem nocne koszmary, potem zwykła porcja środków wzmacniających. Och! To nie do wytrzymania.

(D I 206)
The Pragmatists

As soon as World War I began, Witkacy left his travels in the tropics to offer his services to the war effort. The excursion to the tropics did little to calm his shaky nerves over his lost love, and did less to provide any guidance as to possible future goals. In a letter to Malinowski, Witkacy refers to a falling out the two friends had. Interestingly, he refers to himself as awaiting some type of transformation: "I'm writing to Bromo about Malinowski and the other guy who is not Staś any longer but hasn't turned into anything new." [Piszç do Broma o Malinowskim i o tym, który przestał byc Stasiem, ale me stał się niczym innym.][19] So, Witkacy at the age of thirty began the most significant transformation and experiences of his adult life: participation in World War I in the famous Pavlovsky Guard in the Russian army, the Russian Revolution, and the bohemian culture and philosophical currents in St. Petersburg. [FOOTNOTE 4] It was here that Witkacy looked into the nascent monstrosities of the twentieth-century and experienced the strangeness of existence, which penetrated all the spheres of his psyche.

Witkacy, born in Warsaw and hence a Russian subject, joined the Russian forces. Of course, this decision was very unpopular with his father (and other family members and friends), as he recalled the days of his youth in the oppressed Russian partition. [FOOTNOTE 5] For Witkacy this was an opportunity to rid himself of the guilt he still felt for his fiancée's suicide. Moreover, still lacking direction or vocation, the war finally provided somber justification for his life. He wrote that the war was "the sole possibility of saving one's honor and at last accomplish something by dying in the ranks of the combatants. . ." and further, that "[he] would like to be there now and take part in the fighting, and at least end [his] life in a worthy cause," because "there is nothing but this terrible madness from which no creative urge results that could perhaps justify [his] existence."[20] After some difficulty enlisting because of lack of identity papers, Witkacy quickly finished the training program, and joined the elite Pavlovsky regiment. His aunt, Aniela Jałowiecka, in a letter to Maria Witkiewicz, Witkacy's mother, described the sudden change in the soldier's attitude. "He'd never been like he is now. Cool, one might even say -- joyful, holding himself erect, canying his head high, he shook himself free of that desperate apathy and inertia in which we saw him on his arrival."[21]

Shortly after his training program, he was sent to the front where he was involved in heavy combat. In fact, during an artillery barrage he claimed that he had worked out the basic principles of his philosophical system. In July 1916, Witkacy was seriously wounded in battle on the river Stokhod in Ukraine, and was taken to a hospital in St. Petersburg, where he spent time convalescing. Although he did not return to the front, he continued with the reserve battalion of the Pavlovski Regiment in St. Petersburg. Shortly after his convalescence, the Russian Revolution broke out. At some point, he had been elected officer of his regiment, which caused him incessant paranoia and feared for his life with danger lurking around every corner, as no one was safe, particularly an elected officer. He rarely ever spoke of his time in Russia He offered a rare glimpse into his state of mind during that time in his 1936 work Unwashed Souls:

During those final days I had much food for thought in the spectacle of the Russian Revolution from February 1917 to June 1918. I can't call it anything but a spectacle since unfortunately I watched it as though from a box at the theater, not being able to take an active part in it due to my schizoid inhibitions. I observed that unparalleled event at absolutely close quarters, as an officer in the Pavlovsky Regiment, which began the Revolution. .. I consider anyone who has not experienced this extraordinary phenomenon at close quarters literally as a wretched cripple. (WR 320)

W ostatnich czasach wiele dał mi do myślenia widok (inaczej the mogę powiedzieć, bo niestety patrzyłem nato jak z loży, nie bçdąc w stanie przyjąć w tym żadnego udziału z powodu schizoidalnych zahamowań) Rewolucji Rosyjskiej, od lutego 1917 do czerwca 1918. Obserwowałem to niebywale zdarzenie zupełnie z bliska, będąc oficerem Pawlowskiego Pułku Gwardii, który je rozpoczął. Uważam wprost za nieszczęsnego kalekę tego, który tego ewenementu z bliska nie przeżył. (NNM 229) [FOOTNOTE 6]

Aside from witnessing such horror at "close quarters", the lifestyle of the regiment and atmosphere in St. Petersburg, also, left an indelible mark on Witkacy. Within this unstable political and social environment, Witkacy experienced the aprés nous le deluge Russian decadence in the forms of drug experimentation, of drunken sexual orgies, of wild debaucheries revolving around the demonic, grotesque figure of Rasputin.[22] In the end, Witkacy's experiences in Russia -- a brutal war, desperate revolution, and satanic orgies- resulted in his catastrophic vision of the future. It is here amongst this turbulent environment that the literary, cultured upbringing ended and Witkacy began.

While there is no doubt the moral implications of the above-mentioned experiences altered Witkacy's thinking and way of life, it is important to note that he never strayed from "traditional" artistic and philosophical circles. His time in St. Petersburg was spent painting extensively, visiting friends and art galleries, including the Ermitage and Shchukin's Gallery in Moscow where he became a lifelong fan of Picasso. In addition, he completed his first major aesthetic work: New Forms in Painting, which he began before his adventures in 1913. What is more, Petersburg was philosophically very lively. Neo Kantianism was the dominant philosophical school at the University. In fact, Bakhtin was a student at the University, finishing his studies around 1918. Interestingly, Bakhtin and Witkacy concerned themselves with similar issues, such as the antinomies mind - world, and unity - oneness.

In 1918, Witkacy received official release papers. After almost four years outside of his native land, he returned home to an independent Poland. During the following year, the thirty-four year old published New Forms in Painting and the Misunderstandings Arising Therefrom, prepared an exhibition of his paintings at the Society of Friends of the Fine Arts, joined the Formists, wrote his first two mature dramas, Maciej Korbowy I Bellatrix and Nowa Homeopatia. During the next twenty years, he had an incredible outpouring of activity. He wrote over 30 dramas, including The Madman and the Nun or Nothing is so bad that it cannot be made worse; Mr. Price or Tropical Madness; Gyubal Wahazar or The Passes of Nonsense: A Non-Euclidean Drama in Four Acts. Unfortunately, he published very few in his lifetime and enjoyed only modest success, for example when he won honorable mention in a contest for his now lost drama, Multiflakopulo (1920). Further evidence of his lack of popularity occurred when actors refused to perform in his drama Tumor Mózgowicz after the opening night as they deemed the play nonsensical. Almost all of his dramas that were performed created quite a controversy, which led to Witkacy's many polemical articles. Additionally, he wrote three novels, with Insatiability gaining the most attention. Once again his work led to another series of polemical articles with his critics. In 1925, Witkacy ceased painting artworks and established a Portrait Painting Firm, which he did not consider art; ironically, he gained noticeable popularity with his psychological portraits.

In the 1930's he established the Artistic Theater in Zakopane, and devoted the last years of his life to philosophy, most notably his magnum opus, Pojęcia i Twierdzenia Implikowane przez Pojęcia Istnienia (1935)(Concepts and Principles Implied by the Concept of Existence), in which explicated his theory of Biological Monadism, based partially on Leibniz's theories. In the field of philosophy he gained some notable success and acceptance, as he befriended Kotarbinski, Hans Cornelius, Tatarkiewicz, Leszczyński, and Roman Ingarden. He maintained with these philosophers a very lively correspondence, and often hosted his friends in Zakopane where they held "essential conversations." Witkacy referred to every discourse "which met the harsh requirements of 'conceptual discipline" as "essential conversations" (rozmowy istotne). These were moments of consolation and comfort to Witkacy, evidenced by numerous references to these meetings in his various correspondences (in particular to his wife, Jadwiga): "I am comforted by Ingarden, with whom I am conducting ontological conversations." (Pociesza mnie Ingarden, z którym prowadzę rozmowy on to logiczne.)[23] However, these conversations were nothing new to Witkiewicz as he conducted similar conversations with his friends from the time of his youth, among them: the philosopher and formist painter Leon Chwistek, the distinguished composer Karol Szymanowski, the writer Tadeusz Miciński and, most notably, the anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski. Malinowski and Witkacy constantly became involved in a wide range of intellectual debates, including existential, anthropological, aesthetic, and of course personal. In fact, the character Prince Nevermore from Witkacy's first novel 622 Falls of Bungo was based on Malinowski. Moreover, the first chapter of that work is entitled "Essential Conversations."

In his adult life two philosophers, and also personal friends, had a great impact: Hans Cornelius and Jan Leszczyński. Witkacy claimed that the work of Hans Cornelius was the primary inspiration of his own theory of biological monadism. A mentor relationship developed as the younger Witkacy regarded the German philosopher as his spiritual master. Recalling warmly the time when Witkacy hosted Cornelius in Zakopane, where they conducted numerous essential conversations, he wrote, "[t]ogether with L[eszczyński] we dream that the three of us shall meet once again. Every time I pass 'Ryś' my heart quivers. Yes, those were truly beautiful days!"[24] Undoubtedly, Witkacy, after many years, found peace in philosophizing, however, through his philosophical explorations he paradoxically concluded, "we must acknowledge as futile the search for a way to vanquish the metaphysical dread of existence, which in reality is absolutely invincible" (WR 316).

His death, like his birth, was an experiment with space and time. In 1939 as the Germans invaded from the West, and the Soviets from the East, Witkacy, in a physically weak state (he couldn't hear or walk very well due to injuries) and in emotional despair, decided to take his own life. His companion, Czesława Korzeniowska, upon waking and discovering Witkacy's corpse, claimed to have seen "two Staśes." Even in death, he seemed to play with life. However, the legend of Witkacy does not end there. In 1988 the Polish Ministry of Culture decided to bring the remains of the dramatist home for a proper burial reserved for great figures in Polish literature and philosophy. The body was exhumed from the hastily made grave in Ukraine. Upon examining the X-ray of the coffin, a Witkacy scholar determined at once that the remains in the coffin were not that of Witkacy, for the corpse had a full set of teeth, whereas Witkacy did not. The officials proceeded with the elaborate celebration, only to face accusations for the scandal afterwards. Most of Witkacy's admirers were in fact quite pleased that almost fifty years after his death he was able to practice buffoonery once more.


Witkacy remained until the end of his days uncertain about his place in the world artistically, philosophically, and personally. Amidst a personal life fraught with self doubt, he was able to transform life with an overbearing father, the death of his fiancée, the intense colors of the tropics, the violent experiences in war and revolution, decadent bohemian lifestyles in Kraków and St. Petersburg, and his own inner anxiety and feelings of inadequacy into a creative expression of a world of metaphysical insatiability. It was a world situated somewhere between unmasking reality and continually constructing artificial realities, between revolution and dis-utopian futuristic visions; a world portrayed in grotesquely demonic dimensions, a world that was "perishing rotting degenerating;" a world full of "ex-human beings, the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, financiers, diplomats, artistic-intellectual bohemians giving themselves up to satanic orgies while waiting for the deluge. ,,[25]

In concluding this attempt to show the inseparability of the Polish artist's life and work, I would like to turn to the words of another famous Pole, Józef Konrad Korzeniowski, or better known by his pen name, Joseph Conrad. Marlow's description of Kurtz's death can easily be transferred as a description of Witkacy's quest and subsequent realization:

'Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. Oh, I wasn't touched. I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of somber pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror -- of intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision -- he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath --
"The horror! The horror!"'[26]


Works by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz in Polish:
DI,DII Dramaty. Edited by Konstanty Puzyna. Volumes I and II. (Warsaw: Państwowy Jnstytut Wydawniczy, 1972).
JW Jedyne wyjście. Edited by Anna Micińska. (Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1993).
N Nienasycenie. Edited by Janusz Degler and Lech Sokoł. Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1992)
NND Narkotyki-niewmyte dusze. Edited by Anna Micińska. (Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1979).
NFM Nowe formy w malarstwie i wynikające stąd nieporozumienia; szkice estetyczne. Edited by Janusz Degler i Lech Sokół. (Warsaw: Państwowy Inst tut Wydawniczy, 20 02).
PiT O idealizmie i realizmie: Pojęcia i twierdzenia implikowane przez pojęcie istnienia i inne prace filozoficzne. Edited by Bohdan Michaiski. (Warsaw: Pahstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1977).
ZF O znaczeniu fllozofii dla krytyki i inne artykuły polemiczne. Edited by Jan Leszczński. (Warsaw: Państwow~ Instytut Wydawniczy, 1976).
UB 622 upadkl Bunga, czyli Demoniczna kohieta. Edited by Anna Micińska. (Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1996).
T Teatr i inne pisma o teatrze. Edited by Janusz Degler, (Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1995).
ZP Zagadnienie psychofizyczne. Edited by Bohdan Michalski. (Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1978).
Works by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz translated into English:
BS Beelzebub Sonata: Plays, Essays, Documents. Translated and edited by Daniel Gerould and Jadwiga Kosicka. (New York: Performing Arts Journal, 1980).
I Insatiability. Translated by Louis Iribane. (illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1996).
MN The Madman and the Nun and Other Plays by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Tanslated and Edited by Daniel C. Gerould and C.S. Durer. (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1968).
NTP "On a New Type of Play." from Four Decades of Polish Essays. ed. by Jan Kott (Northwestern University Press: Illinois 1990).
OPF "On Pure Form," Aesthetics in Twentieth-century Poland: Selected Essays. trans. Catherine S. Leach, ed. Jean G. Harrel and Alma Wierzbiańska. (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1973).
TCB "Theorems Implied by the Concept of Being," Dialectics and Humanism No. 2, (1985): 5-23.
TM Tropical Madness. Translated and edited by Daniel and Eleanor Gerould. (New York: Winter House, 1972).
WR The Witkiewicz Reader. Translated and edited by Daniel Gerould. (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1992).
Stanisław Witkiewicz
LS Listy do syna. Edited by Bożena Danek-Wojnowska and Anna Micińska. (Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1969).


1.Witkacy obsessively washed his hands throughout his adult life. Daniel Gerould argues that when Witkacy studied in Kraków, he acquired more than theoretical instruction; due to his bohemian lifestyle, he contracted a sexually transmitted disease, which may have led to his obsessive-compulsive behavior.
2.While there is no doubt that these years were decisive for Witkacy's development as an artist, he remained in his life utterly dependent on his mother and father (even after the elder Witkiewicz's death in 1915).
3.Wat even suggests that a police inquiry began and that is why Witkacy left Poland; however, evidence to support this is lacking.
4.For Zarathustra and Jesus 30 was a significant age. Zarathustra retreats to the mountains and Jesus begins his teaching. Interestingly, Witkacy experiences a major change in his life and thought.
5.Witkacy viewed Germany as the true enemy to Poland and he was rather distressed when some friends fought on behalf of Austria and Germany
6.Interestingly, Witkiewicz Sr's attempts to encourage his son to be a politically conscious artist-hero following in the footsteps of the three great Romantic poets and, later, Wyspianski, ultimately, failed; likewise, the avant-garde in Kraków rejected Witkacy's work as the eccentric work of a madman. Ironically, Witkacy was avant garde in the true sense of the term, after joining the Russian army, he was in the most advanced position of the army, i.e. he was on the front lines and he was in the Pavlovsky regiment which began the revolution. Additionally, he actively participated in war efforts, which lead (although indirectly) to the re-establishment of the Polish borders, something his father dreamed of.


1As quoted in Tadeusz Witkiewicz, "ten który czeka wciąż na nowych biografów," Oficyna poetów 1971 no. 2 (1971): 25-26.
2Kott, Jan, The Theater of Essence (Evanston: Northwestern Universit Press, 1984), 62.
3Jan Leszczyński,. "Filozof metafizycznego niepokoju," in Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz: Człowiek i twórca. Księga pamiątkowa, ed. Tadeusz Kotarbiński and Jerzy Eugeniusz Płomieński (Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniezy, 1957), 93.
4Bernard Dukore, "Who was Witkacy?" Theater Quarterly vol. 5-6 (1975-76): 65.
5Kott, 64.
6I have paraphrased these stories from the following sources: Anna Micińska, Witkacy: Life and Work, translated by Bogna Piotrowska. (Warsaw: Interpress Publishers, 1990); Daniel Gerould, Witkacy: Stanisiaw Ignacy Witkiewicz as an Imaginative Writer. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1981; and Daniel Gerould "Introduction: Witkacy and the Creative Life" from The Witkiewicz Reader, translated and edited by Daniel Gerould. (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press).
7Julian Przyboś, Linia i gwar (Krakow: 1959), vol. I 147-149. As quoted in Artur Sandauer "Art after the End of Art," trans. Anna Bartkowicz Dialectics and Humanism no. 2 (1985), 125-6.
8Roman Ingarden, "Reminiscences of Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz," translated Barbara Leś and Joseph Czarnecki in Dialectics and Humanism no. 2 (1985): 55
9 lbid., 58.
10 Witkiewicz, Stanisław, Listy do syna translated in Daniel Gerould, Witkacy,(Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1981), 7.
11 Daniel Gerould, "Introduction: Witkacy and the Creative Life" from The Witkiewicz Reader, translated and edited by Daniel Gerould. (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press), 2.
12Anna Micińska, "At the Roots of Pure Form," trans. Anna Bartkowicz in Konteksty. (Kraków: Instytut Sztuki Polskiej Akademii Nauk, 2000), 205-215.
13Witkiewicz, Stanisław Ignacy. "Listy do Bronisława Malinowskiego," trans. Daniel Gerould and Michał Klobukowski in Konteksty, 246-7.
14Ibid., 250-1.
15Ibid., 300-3.
16Ibid., 258.
17Daniel Gerould, "Witkacy's Journey to the Tropics and Itinerary in Ceylon," in Konteksty, 224.
18Witkiewicz, Stanisław Ignacy, "Listy," in Konteksty, 250.
19Ibid., 276.
20Witkiewicz, Stanisław Ignacy, "Listy do Bronisława Malinowskiego," in Konteksty, 264.
21Aniela Jałowiecka, "Letter to Maria Witkiewicz" in Konteksty, 304.
22Daniel Gerould, "Witkacy," introduction to Tropical Madness, translated and edited by Daniel and Eleanor Gerould. (New York: Winter House, 1972).
23Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, "Essential Conversations" in Konteksty, 371.
24Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, quoted in Bohdan Michalski, "Witkacy's Essential Conversations," in Konteksy, 372.
25Konstanty Puzyna, "Witkacy" from the introduction to Dramaty I, by Stanisław Witkiewicz edited by Konstanty Puzyna, vol. I. (Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1972), 23-24.
26Joseph Conrad, (London: Penguin Books, 1994), 99-100.

The above text constitutes Chapter I of a dissertation submitted by Mark Stephen Rudnicki in partial fullfilment of the requirements of the Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Comparative Literature of the University at Buffalo. It is posted with the permission of the author.


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