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Wojciech Antkowiak, Piotr Derlatka

The pear tree and pear fruit theme and its functions in culture

The article shows various ways in which the motif functions in the broadly defined field of culture. The starting point is the issue of names given to the pear, an analysis of various names associated with the tree and the fruit, and variations of these that appear in the Polish language (also in its dialects) as well as in other European languages. The examples mentioned in the article prove that the pear tree is present in the Polish phraseology, common sayings and aphorisms. It often appears in onomastics, as proved by an analysis of some Polish place names and surnames. The motif is also present in the symbolism of both Eastern and European culture (there the pear tree is an important part of Christian symbolism, often appearing in sacral art). What is more, the pear tree is also present in art: in music (E. Satie), painting (van Gogh, Cezanne), political criticism, even in film and advertising. The analysis of ancient writings reveals the presence of the pear in medicine and the art of cooking. The pear tree is also one of the most important figures in literature. It appears relatively early, starting from Greek mythology and Homer’s works, through the 19th century (Mickiewicz, Orzeszkowa and Reymont), right up to contemporary literature (Dąbrowska, Redliński and Myśliwski). The functions of the pear tree motif in literature vary - the pear tree symbolizez happiness, weaith, well-being, relief and redemption, and it is also a common element of the Polish Countryside and the Lithuanian landscape. Moreover,  the pear tree is the tree that symbolizes happiness, wealth, wellbeing, relief and redemption; the pear tree may symbolize homesickness, remembrance of national history, and the enslavement and apathy of Polish society.

Key words: Pyrus communis, Pyrus pyraster, common pear, wild pear, pear