Literature from the perspective of interpretative anthropology
Kryminalna odyseja oraz inne szkice o czytaniu i pisaniu [Criminal Odyssey and Other Essays About Reading and Writing] by Wojciech J. Burszta and Mariusz Czubaj is not the first text written together by the two scientists. Their other joint work was, for instance, published over a decade ago in 2007 Krwawa setka. 100 najważniejszych powieści kryminalnych [The Bloody Hundred. The 100 Most Important Crime Novels]. What is more, together with the two above-mentioned texts, Czu-baj’s monography published in 2010, Etnolog w Mieście Grzechu. Powieść kryminalna jako świa-dectwo antropologiczne [An Ethnologist in the City of Sin. The Crime Novel as an Anthropological Testimony], creates a thematically consistent cycle devoted to “the stories of crime and punishment” whose key to interpretation is Clifford Geertz’s concept of interpretative anthropology.
The authors of the “Criminal Odyssey…” admit that the choice of the literary examples pre-sented in their work was subjective. Thus, one could accuse the authors of incompleteness resulting from the choice of these particular texts as well as their contexts. However, it seems that the authors did it purposefully, which also complies with Greetz’s attitude, as he believed that a complete study of any cultural phenomenon is a utopian project. Paradoxically, it is the very incompleteness that induces the reader to inquire further, which is the subject of “Czytanie” [Reading] (pp. 17–58), the first essay of the “Criminal Odyssey…”. It serves as an “introduction to reading”, complemented with the following essays which focus on specific problems and which, if examined separately, seem to be subject to the case studies of literary phenomena, poetics of specific writers, or motives.
One could also examine Burszta and Czubaj’s work from another perspective and read it not
as an anthropological interpretation of literature, but as a literary conceptualisation of anthropology.