Wojtyła began his philosophical journey within the pages of literature. It was only later that he came to academic philosophy per se. But his love for literature, which he has carried with him throughout his life and which is a distinctive trait of his personality, has from the outset taken the form of a search for the truth of man. If one sees philosophy and literature as intermingled, that might legitimate a philosophical reading of the poetic works, such as we are equipped to offer. Moreover, as Krzystof Dybciak has noted in his essay about Karol Wojtyła, the cross-fertilization of literature and philosophy has always been a part of the great tradition of Polish culture.1 Mickiewicz, Słowacki, Krasinski, and Norwid have not only built beautiful castles of words; they have always tried to express universal truths and to direct us toward them through their poetic creations. Polish philosophers, moreover, typically engaged in the practice of literature or at least of literary or artistic criticism: they have done so from Znaniecki to Witkacy and from Kotarbinski to Kolakowski and Ingarden himself. Within the Polish tradition, the work of art is understood as giving form to the ethos of the nation; and it is by virtue of that ethos that universal value is concretized and made affectively available within it. But literature also represents a rediscovery of the values of the experience of life, following upon the failure of the totalizing systems which had presumed to demonstrate such values.
1. Cf. Krzystof Dybciak, La grande testimonianza (Bologna: CSEO, 1981). The essay
about Wojtyła is “Penso…ci× che sento col cuore. Sull’opera letteraria di Karol Wojtyła,”
pp. 167-86. See especially p. 167.