Accepted Paper:

Witkacy's deconstruction of the 'Spiritual Journey to India' myth in 'Farewell to Autumn'  


Krzysztof Iwanek (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies)

Paper short abstract:

This paper seeks to analyse the Indian motifs in S.I. Witkiewicz’s 'Farewell to Autumn', as an example of critising the 'spiritual journey to India' myth.

Paper long abstract:

This article seeks to analyse the importance of Indian motifs in S.I. Witkiewicz's Pożegnanie Jesieni (Farewell to Autumn). I start with claiming that while India and its aspects are depicted in a very general and sometimes erratic way in the novel, Witkacy's Farewell to Autumn can't be simply summed up using Edward W. Said's (and Erazm Kuźma's) method. India, and the East as such, is not described here as a simple mirror image of the West nor any myth of it is being construed. My conclusion is that rather with dealing with the image of the East, the novel deals much more with the image of certain Europeans that were fascinated with the East. In my opinion Hela's conversion to Buddhism, a crucial point in novel's plot, is indicative of this. However, following Jan Tuczyński, I find it possible that the final moment of the book, Atanazy's death, may point out to finding a common ground between elements of Witkacy's philosophy and a certain concept from Indian classical schools of thought. If that is the case, than Witkacy might have meant that a true dialogue between the West and the East should be based not on a superficial, 'spiritual' journey to the East, but on a meaningful philosophical search to find common elements in Western and Eastern schools of thought.

Panel P05
Imagining India in Central and Eastern Europe