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Joanna Trzeciak Huss

Tertium Datur: Rozewicz’s Final Act

Tadeusz Rozewicz (1921-2014) came of age as a poet after the Holocaust, explicitly taking on the challenge of reinventing poetry after Auschwitz. The metaphysical stance of his poetic persona is that of a survivor, saddled with moral anxiety. Jewish by genealogy but baptized Catholic, Rozewicz has been, and for the most part continues to be seen as a Polish writer. His status was further problematized by his agnosticism and ongoing intellectual interest in Protestant theology. This paper maps out, in literature and in life, Rozewicz’s engagement with Judaism, including his somewhat surprising posthumous escape route, and its implications for our understanding of the pervasive Jewish themes in his literary corpus. Despite the fact that the Holocaust is a prominent theme, especially in Rozewicz’s poetry, the paper argues that it is only the present generation of Rozewicz scholars that has the critical apparatus to tackle some of the subtleties of his Holocaust discourse.

Joanna Trzeciak Huss is associate professor in modern and classical language studies at Kent State University. Her research areas include Nabokov as a self-translating author, the relationship between Polish poetry and philosophy, and Polish theatre. Her translations of Polish and Russian literature have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Times Literary Supplement, Harpers, The Atlantic, and Czas Kultury, among others. Miracle Fair: Selected Poems of Wislawa Szymborska (2001), was awarded the Heldt Translation Prize. Sobbing Superpower: Selected Poems of Tadeusz Roewicz (2011) was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize and received the Found in Translation Award and the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages’ Award for Best Scholarly Translation.