Traces in the Ocean. On Melville, Wolanowski, and Willing Suspension of Disbelief


The present article locates Lucjan Wolanowski’s prose in the space of reflection upon the magical dimension of writing traditionally classified as 'non-fiction' or 'literature of fact'. The magic of 'prose factography' is addressed here both in the perspective of the conditioning of its readerly reception and in the context of the writerly potential of the 'suspension of disbelief'. The argument presented in the article aims at bringing into light the mechanisms responsible for the fusion of the material reality and rhetoric into a faith-based 'magic reality'. The acknowledgment of the role of poetic imagination in the process of shaping the reader’s awareness of the world allows one to observe that the traditional concept of 'the factual' is largely based on a volitional pursuance of the mirage of objectivity and is a product of the craving for certainty. Illustrating the central phenomena of this text with examples of the everyday experience of a Polish reader of 1980s (whose 'factual' knowledge of the world largely depended on the extent of his or her reading in reportage and travel literature), as well as with reference to Herman Melville’s Typee (a novel, which gained wide recognition only after it has been sanctioned as 'non-fiction'), the author of the article seeks to demonstrate how Lucjan Wolanowski’s prose calls into existence a 'factual reality', i.e. a reality, in which one is prone to believe, which one is inclined to take for granted, and which becomes one’s frame of reference in the context of everyday choices. If truth is a function of faith, then fact and magic merge into one and thus inescapably rendering factual reality a 'magical reality'.

Nietzsche, F. (2005) Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality. Edited by Maudemarie Clark and Brian Leiter, translated by R.J. Hollingdale. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Parker, H. (1996) Herman Melville. A Biography. Vol. 1: 1819–1851. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Wolanowski, L. (1980 [1981]) Buntownicy Mórz Południowych. Reporter na tropie buntu na okręcie Jego Królewskiej Mości ‘Bounty’.
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Published : 2015-05-01

JędrzejkoP. (2015). Traces in the Ocean. On Melville, Wolanowski, and Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Review of International American Studies, 8(1). Retrieved from

Paweł Jędrzejko
University of Silesia in Katowice Faculty of Philology Institute of English Cultures and Literatures Department of American and Canadian Studies  Poland

Paweł Jędrzejko, Ph.D., D. Litt, Associate Professor at the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland, is the Chair of the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the Institute of English Cultures and Literatures, University of Silesia in Katowice and the director of the University of Silesia Press. A member of his home Institute’s faculty since 1995, Paweł Jędrzejko has performed the functions of the Academic Secretary of the Institute, and Rector’s Plenipotentiary for Recruitment at the University of Silesia in Katowice. Currently, he is a member of the Open Access Advisory Board at the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education. In the years 2003–2008, he had served as a IASA Member At-Large and currently is a member of the Executive Council of the Organization. A co-founder and co-editor of the Review of International American Studies, Jędrzejko is also an author of over a hundred publications, including two authored books (Melville in Contexts [2007] and Liquidity and Existence [2008]) and five co-edited multi-author monographs, numerous journal articles and book chapters. He co-edited all of the existing issues of the Review of International American Studies. An ocean-going yachtmaster and a musician, seeking refuge from the stringencies of academic life, he goes sailing, sings sea shanties in the vocal sextet Banana Boat, plays the guitar, or devises plans for future sailing expeditions.

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