The Unfinished Text in the Thickening Description: From Genetic Criticism to Cultural Transfer Studies (The case of Zbigniew Herbert’s Winter Tale)

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Mateusz Antoniuk


On the threshold of the 1970s Zbigniew Herbert, an eminent Polish poet and writer, was working on a play entitled Baśń zimowa (Winter Tale), which can be described as a truly international, interlingual, and transcultural phenomenon of textual culture. Written in Polish and ultimately intended for publication in German translation, it was inspired by a short story by James Stevenson published in The New Yorker magazine. For a number of reasons, Herbert never completed the text and all that remains is the archival material (plans, rough drafts, a newspaper cutting). Using this case as a platform, I attempt to investigate the potential for cooperation between the disciplines of genetic criticism on the one hand and cultural transfer studies on the other. A discussion of the ontology of unfinished and abandoned work provides a backdrop to the major themes. 



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