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Even among his extraordinary generation of Polish avant-garde literary and artistic figures, Arkady Fiedler (1894–1985) stands out as one of the most original and creative authors. His travel reportage from the experimental inter-war period of the 1920s and 1930 is an example of an avant-garde production—ahead of its time, eclectic, and exploring new ideas. As avantgarde is a very broad term referring to a variety of experimental literary and artistic techniques, I focus on Fiedler’s innovative and ethical approach to the natural world. This essay explores how the historical changes of the early twentieth century, affecting literature, theater, and art, also transformed the way in which the natural environment was perceived. Fiedler was a pioneer of this biocentric and holistic orientation toward nature, which gradually became more and more influential in literary and cultural studies. I revisit Fiedler’s work as a source of the growing discipline of environmental ethics, and by doing so, I propose to revive the field and the canon of the ecological avant-garde.


“The Ecological Avant-garde: Arkady Fiedler’s The River of Singing Fish.” The Poetics of Avant-garde in Literature, Arts, and Theater, edited by Slav Gratchev. Lexington Books, 2020, pp. 113-131. Reproduced by permission of Rowman & Littlefield. Available from the publisher at All rights reserved. Please contact the publisher for permission to copy, distribute or reprint.