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 John Lennon Wall
Being a Witness.Albert Camus and Polish
Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Rights
Anglo-American University, Prague, Czech Republic

Being a Witness.

Albert Camus and Polish Alternative Culture

of the 1970s and 1980s











Being a Witness.

Albert Camus and Polish Alternative Culture of the 1970s and 1980s.

Proceedings of The 1st Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Rights,

March 7–9, 2019, Prague, Czech Republic:

Anglo-American University, Prague 2019, pp. 1-11.

Abstract: In the 1970s and 1980s, Albert Camus' philosophy of rebellion, despite Marxist criticism claiming that it was only an empty theory that could not change anything on a social scale, was adopted by the Polish political and artistic opposition. For many alternative theater artists, Camus was an extremely important thinker, deducing from the absurd three consequences – rebellion, freedom, and passion, and proposing a healing rebellion that changes the negation of reality into the affirmation of values. “The Rebel” by Camus convinced: you have to act. It argued that in order to survive one must have an active attitude towards reality. Camus' postulate of moral, collective, constructive rebellion abstaining from violence, united Polish theater artists and political activists.

Keywords: Albert Camus, Polish Culture, Political Opposition, Alternative Theater, Student Culture



A Camusean Theater:
Theater of Vision and Movement, 1986
A Camusean Theater: Eight Day Theater, 1989
The Possesed by Wajda,
The Stary Teatr, Krakow 1971
The Possesed by Camus, 
Théâtre Antoine, Paris 1959

1st International Conference

Russian Language and Literature
in Intercultural Context

University of Rzeszow, Poland

Provocateurs and Victims.

"The Possessed" by Camus, Warmiński and Wajda

It was Dostoyevsky's The Possessed that helped Camus to shape his own understanding of the relationship between philosophical ideas and their historical and political incarnations. The adaptation of the novel prepared by him is a testimony to the maturation of Camus as a man and as a writer, an expression of the breakthrough that took place in the philosophy of his texts, and which in the 1970s was to finally come to the fore in the Polish reception of the author's literary output.


In my presentation, I would like to remind that in the period when Dostoyevsky's philosophical and ideological views were highly problematic in the Soviet Union, Camus, enjoying popularity not always desired by the authorities in Poland, confirmed the validity of The Possessed. In the 1970s, his adaptation of The Possessed was not only used by the  theater directors of the first two Polish stagings of this controversial novel but also helped to shape the previously absent way of interpreting Dostoevsky's work.


July 2019

The Polish émigré writers had one thing in common - they appreciated not so much the maturity of artistry inthe author of The Plague but rather the magnetic moral beauty of his literary 

productions. They summarized the specifics of his philosophical thought in the following way: "Camus lived like he preached that we should" (Wierzyński, 1995, p. 65). Gombrowicz admitted that he admired his ethics, agreed with it and supported it -

 yet at the same time observed his affirmation with absolute disbelief (Gombrowicz, 1989, p. 72).

In this series of essays, I will remind the voices of many Polish publicists, novelists and poets 

thinking of Albert Camus. I will try to explain this element of enchantment with Camus. The enchantment that was more about a man than about a writer.

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