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  • Allegory between Baroque, Romanticism and Modernism: Theoretical Aspects (the Case of M.K. Sarbiewski (1596-1645))

Educational Programme
Final Grade
Year of Graduation
Nika Kochekovskaya
Allegory between Baroque, Romanticism and Modernism: Theoretical Aspects (the Case of M.K. Sarbiewski (1596-1645))
In his treatise “De acuto et arguto” (1626) influenced by Aristotle, Polish poet and literary

theorist M.C. Sarbiewski, analyzed poetry as a peculiar kind of knowledge which reveals the

hidden truth behind the appearances of things. Poetry is the most fruitful strategy for the

elaboration and ordering of knowledge, because it alone can bring together the traits which

seem contradictory and inconsistent in reality, but which are able to coexist in the artificial

body of the poem, and so in this collision to seize the whole subject, suddenly revealed from

all sides. In presenting poetry as a melancholy revelation of the evasive and fluid verity of a

tragically deceitful world, and in the preference for metaphorical language and poetical

images over abstract schemes and formulas, Sarbiewski’s theory finds an echo in the role

assigned to rhetoric in Baroque culture. This makes “De acuto et arguto” very interesting for

the ordering knowledge issue, since it paradoxically derived knowledge from disorder and

transgression. For R. Lachmann, the main principle of Sarbiewski`s ideal poetry-knowledge is

“the rule of breaking rules”.

The history of Sarbiewski’s reception continues to the Romantic period, when his poems were

translated into English by S.T. Coleridge. The similarity of these two cultures, consisting in

the interconnection between poetry and knowledge, have been frequently problematized and,

in particular, have taken an important place in the theories of Benjamin and Deleuze.

Consequently, the English translations of Sarbiewski give a promising opportunity to study

poetry as a way of ordering knowledge in both Baroque and Romantic settings, and to

develop the 20th century’s theories of allegorical and poetical knowledge. I will thus use

Benjamin and Deleuze’s concepts of allegory, symbol, image and imagination as the tools of

“poetical” knowledge ordering as the theoretical basis upon which to compare the reception of

Sarbiewski’s texts in the Baroque and Romantic periods.

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