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DOI 10.12887/32-2019-4-128-12

Joanna MICHALCZUK, “Turn back if possible!” On Fears Related to the “End” and Hopes for a “Continuation” in Plays by Jarosław Jakubowski

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The article comprises an analysis of selected plays by Jarosław Jakubowski, one of the most interesting Polish playwrights of the recent years. The analyzed plays were published in two collections of, respectively, 2014 and 2017. Jakubowski’s works address the questions of the foundation of the humanity and of the actual meaning of a human life. In order to answer these questions he unveils in his plays the consequences of the cultural transformations of modernity. His special focus is the results of the erosion of traditional values (shaped within the Judeo-Christian culture) and he investigates in particular the implications of replacing them with ones that are merely contingent and short-term. Among others, he issues a warning against the destructive tendency to rid the area of public discourse of the spiritual element. His plays are literary exemplifications of the prevalence of anthropological reductionism in the ideational realm, triggered by modern day philosophy. The insights into the social reality of today he offers describe the process the gradual passing of what is ‘human’ in our world and are contrasted with the popular view that humankind has power and dominion over everything. Jakubowski’s futurological dramas make use of catastrophic and postapocalyptic motifs which he turns into metaphors. The quotations used in the title of this article come from the play entitled “Kosmonauci” [The Astronauts], in which a severely damaged spaceship with its crew on board drifting in the space becomes a metaphor of the postmodern world. In the wobbly reality that leads to nowhere, Jakubowski’s protagonists long for a stable and certain element in their lives and start an unequal fight so as to save both their lives and their humanity. Although the disaster seems unavoidable, Jakubowski leaves his readers with a hope for a “continuation” which is far from naive optimism. It is a hope for the return of what has been rejected and rendered no longer valid by the modern world: the spiritual dimension of human existence and a stable value hierarchy which can become a reliable foundation of human relations.

Keywords: Jarosław Jakubowski, the Polish theatre after 1989, the anthropological perspective in literary studies, (post-)apocalyptic fiction, hope

Contact: Chair of Drama and Theatre, Institute of Polish Studies, Faculty of Humanities, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Al. Racławickie 14, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
E-mail: joanmi@kul.lublin.pl

  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. e-ISSN 2720-5355
  3. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 100.00
  4. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  5. DOI Prefix 10.12887