Letter from Karol Irzykowski written 14.01.1936
Warsaw 14 January 1936
I’m authorised by the Polish Academy of Literature to invite you to deliver a lecture for us in February. The Academy allocates 100 zlotys for this purpose to you, so that you can cover travel and accommodation costs.
c Now for the matter of a topic. Some time ago you proposed three to me: 1. The life of a literary work; 2. A theatrical spectacle vs a purely literary work; 3. Forms of cognition of a literary work. Well, because the third topic seems to be more or less already familiar from what you’ve said here at the Union, I think that topic 1 or 2 would be suitable for the Academy. Judging by the title, I’d choose the first, provided that it addresses the so-called eternal nature of a work of literature (Homer) and the aging of works (Ibsen), why they age and what this signifies, about the establishment of firms and fame, e.g. the story of Shakespeare’s fame, the story of Pan Tadeusz [epic poem by Mickiewicz] (according to Pigoń’s work). The history of literature has already provided a great deal of information on this topic; it’d be necessary only to pour some philosophical spirit into it.
c But I’d also prefer you not to leave out – no matter which topic you choose – two issues in your lecture: 1) to say at the beginning what phenomenology is, and proceed from there to the literary work – you’d simply present your spiritual curriculum vitae, and that would be interesting to most listeners and would be a way of confiding in them – how a philosopher approaches literature; 2) to relate something about your literary circle at the University, what’s being done and prepared there, in order to provide an idea of your work and of higher-level research. Perhaps even the whole lecture would be devoted to such a profession of your belief, but I don’t know what else to suggest. Given your marvellous zest, you could, at any time, improvise such a lecture, upon sensing a favourable or indifferent atmosphere. Academics aren’t interested in such lectures themselves, but I’ll provide you with a suitable group of excellent debaters, unlike the ones at the Union.
c As for me, I regret that I’m not yet au courant [French: conversant] with your book; I’ve been wasting recent months on occupational work, and apart from casual sampling, I can’t engage in intelligent reading (I don’t consider novels and poetry to fall into this category).
c I think the date would be from 10 February on, or possibly at the beginning of March, because we already had a lecture on 7 January.
With profound respect
ul. 6 sierpnia 45 building 8 apt. 8