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Grzegorz Raubo, Jarosław Włodarczyk (red.), Światy (nie)równoległe. Literatura wobec astronomii

Grzegorz Raubo, Jarosław Włodarczyk (red.), Światy (nie)równoległe. Literatura wobec astronomii



The collection of essays entitled Światy (nie)równoległe. Literatura wobec astronomii [(Un)parellel worlds. Literature vs. astronomy] offers a discussion of astronomical motives in Polish literature. These motives serve to popularize scientific models of cosmos and to harmonize astronomy with the ideas and aesthetics of successive epochs, starting from early modern period till contemporary time. Such inspirations can be traced in the ‘subtle presence’ of astronomy in a variety of literary genre and other written texts. 

The multitude of references to the knowledge of the universe can be traced already in the old Polish literature. The traditional biblical and Aristotelian cosmology was compared and confronted with then astronomical advancements. Writers were keen on assessing the size of cosmos as well as the distances between the Earth and other heavenly bodies. Astrology, foregrounding the connections between the macrocosm and the microcosmic of human organism, would inspire poets to explore the themes of “planetary children”, trigger the interest of medicine and encourage satirical approaches. The rejection of astrology in the age of reason was counterbalanced by the appreciation for astronomy, expressed in accordance with the scientific ideals of the time. 

The works created in the age of positivism bear witness to the fascination with astronomy and document the attempts of the literati to popularize astronomical advancements, reconcile astronomy with religious worldview, and inscribe astronomy into various epistemological and anthropological frameworks. Prompted by contemporary knowledge, writers of the Young Poland would consider the possibility of the existence of multiple worlds inhabited by living creatures, expose poetic features of astronomy and present it as the “realm of dreams”. 

The literature of the past decades shows that the inquiries concerning the model of the universe (including those employing mechanical explanations) provoke often vivid polemical response. The most recent texts include examples of some stereotypical representations of the knowledge about cosmos, a tendency observable in s-f literature focused on elucidating social relations and contemporary culture.

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