When Formalism Meets Phenomenology: The Case of Kridl and Ingarden

Andrzej Karcz, University of Kansas

The two respected Polish scholars, Manfred Kridl (1882-1957) and Roman Ingarden (1893-1970), represent two distinct schools of thought and two different disciplines. Kridl was one of the most laborious proponents of formalism in literary study, and Ingarden came to be known as one of the most renowned theorists and practitioners of phenomenology in philosophy. The two scholars might be regarded as thinkers situated poles apart from one another if it were not for the fact that Kridl at some point of his career came close to addressing literature in phenomenological terms, and that Ingarden was a philosopher for whom some theoretical aspects of literature which happened to be of interest to formalist scholars constituted strictly philosophical and phenomenological problems. In the mid-1930s in Poland, amidst animated discussions between different critics on the nature, tasks, and reform of literary scholarship, Kridl and Ingarden engaged in a polemic with each other. The paper will take a look at the two scholars' activities and examine the similarities and differences between their approaches to literary study. It will be especially important to indicate those areas of the two scholars' efforts where they comment on each other's views. In the case of Kridl it is, for example, his borrowing of some of Ingarden's notions, such as "quasi-judgments" and "phenomenological description," and using them in his definition of the literary work and in his presentation of the "integral" method. In the case of Ingarden it is his reservations about Kridl's simplified understanding and utilization of phenomenological terms, and his praise of Kridl's efforts to reform literary scholarship. The following classic works of the two scholars will be analyzed in the paper: Kridl's An Introduction to the Study of the Literary Work (1936), and "The Integral Method of Literary Scholarship: Theses for Discussion" (1951) and Ingarden's The Literary Work of Art: An Examination from the Borderlines of Ontology, Logic, and Literary Scholarship (1931) and On the Cognition of the Literary Work (1936).