This essay examines the work of Ewa Lipska, who, since the publication of her first book in 1967, has been among the most acclaimed of recent Polish poets but less well known in the West than Czesław Miłosz, Wisława Szymborska, or Adam Zagajewski. She is a philosophical poet, making frequent reference to the tradition of the Frankfurt School, in order to ironize the Enlightenment, Marxism, and Critical Theory, but also in order to assess the dangers of globalization. The focus of the analysis is Lipska’s volume 1999, the linchpin of a poetic project that engages centuries of social systems (political, economic, scientific, technological, artistic) and their vocabularies in order to examine the viability of human knowledge and the motivations underlying its creation.

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