Tragedy — between a history text and literature
The problem of relations between literature, history and the generic orientation of historical writing is one of the elements of the modern metahistorical awareness. Hayden White represents the concept of linguistic primacy over the “documentary aspect” and “authenticity” of accounts of the past. The confrontation between genology and the need to be part of history is also visible in literature. We can see this, for instance, in the works of Zbigniew Herbert, who is referred to as a classic because of his distinctive ethical and aesthetical declarations. He builds his poetic identity by juxtaposing traditional cultural elements with his historical experience. He uses the axiologically marked categories of tragedy and epic, which played an important role in the description of human condition in historiography at the turn of the 18th century (e.g. J.G. Droysen) and in 19th century testimonies (e.g. M. Mochnacki). Marian Maciejewski points to this in his description of a wide spectrum of pre-Romantic literature in Poland. Deconstructed classical genres are used today, as they were in the early 19th century, to constitute the subjectivity — devoid of solid foundations — of the participant in and the describer of historical events.