Writers, Literature and Censorship in Poland. 1948–1958

by Kamila Budrowska (Author)
Monographs 382 Pages
Series: Cross-Roads, Volume 21


The book describes the system of communist censorship in Poland in the years 1948–1958, as well as its effects on the development of literature. It is the first literary studies work which takes up the subject in such broad and systematic terms.
The book is divided into three main parts: an attempt at synthesis (theory and practice of censorship), special cases (censorship of specific writers), authorial strategies (the authors’ ways of dealing with censorship) and contexts.
The most important conclusion which can be drawn from the research is that out of many small changes emerges an image of a very significant one. Numerous small cuts and alterations build up to an image of Polish literature of the 1940s and 1950s as a whole. A whole that was always dependant on and subservient to politics.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • 1 Research objectives
  • 2 The state of the archives
  • Part 1: Towards a synthesis
  • 1 Censorship theory
  • Arguments in relation to literature
  • Arguments relating to censors’ work
  • 2 Content-related censorship
  • 3 Author-related censorship
  • Accounting for the author
  • Authors viewed positively
  • Authors viewed negatively
  • Blacklisting, or the non-existent author
  • 4 Publishers
  • 5 Readers
  • 6 The poetics of censors’ reviews
  • 7 A few words on censors in communist Poland: Towards a portrait
  • Working conditions
  • Social background and education
  • Errors and oversights
  • Personality
  • Part 2: Case studies
  • 1 Between accommodation and resistance. Jerzy Andrzejewski
  • Popiół i diament (Ashes and Diamonds)
  • Short stories
  • Bramy raju (The Gates of Paradise)
  • Idzie skacząc po górach (He cometh leaping upon the mountains)
  • The missing ‘opening night’ scene
  • ‘Cuts’ made on political and moral grounds
  • 2 Stanisław Lem as a writer for young readers?
  • Wywiad i atomy (Intelligence services and atoms)
  • Człowiek z Marsa (The Man from Mars)
  • Szpital Przemienienia (Hospital of the Transfiguration)
  • Astronauci (The Astronauts)
  • Sezam i inne opowiadania (Sesame and other stories)
  • Obłok Magellana (The Magellanic Cloud)
  • 3 Władysław Broniewski uncensored: 1949–1955
  • Wiersze zebrane (Collected poems), 1949
  • Wiersze zebrane (Collected poems), 1952
  • Wybór poezji (Selected poems), 1950
  • Wiersze zebrane (Collected poems), 1955
  • Wiersze warszawskie (Warsaw poems) 1948, 1952
  • Nadzieja. Poezje (The Hope. Poems), 1951
  • Mazowsze i inne wiersze (Mazowsze and other poems), 1952
  • Młodym do lotu. Wybór wierszy (Poems for Youth. Selected poems), 1952
  • 4 Jan Brzechwa, Irena Jurgielewiczowa and others. Children’s and youth literature
  • The Case of Jan Brzechwa
  • The Case of Irena Jurgielewiczowa
  • Others
  • Children’s literature and youth literature
  • A positive programme
  • Part 3: Authors’ strategies
  • 1 A model response. Tsarist censorship and censorship in the People’s Republic of Poland
  • 2 Aesopic language and porcelain puppies. Authors’ strategies for dealing with censorship
  • Jerzy Andrzejewski
  • Stanisław Lem
  • Władysław Broniewski
  • Jan Brzechwa and other children’s authors
  • Part 4: Contexts
  • Context 1: Literary studies
  • Wiedza Powszechna 1947–1950
  • Ossolineum 1948–1951
  • Książka i Wiedza, 1948–1950
  • Państwowe Zakłady Wydawnictw Szkolnych 1948
  • Łódzkie Towarzystwo Naukowe 1948–1951
  • Wydawnictwa różne na T 1948–1956
  • Context 2. Ilya Ehrenburg’s The Thaw and Polish censorship
  • Conclusion
  • Afterword. Ten years later
  • Bibliography
  • Index


The workings of key institutions remained a closely guarded secret in totalitarian systems. The concept of ‘official secrets’ was taken to absurd lengths, with the Soviet Union even classifying the telephone book of ordinary citizens’ numbers as such. As far as any reasonably intelligent and interested person living under such conditions was concerned however, the situation was, broadly speaking, transparent enough. The average participant in literary and cultural life, even during the most repressive period of Stalinism, was well-informed both as to what could and could not be written about at a given point in time and as to who was ultimately responsible for deciding whether or not questionable materials could be published. Responsibility, of course, did lie with the security service. Since the impact of censorship was visible to all in the form and quality of works that were published, even hidden procedures ultimately proved easily decipherable. It is for this reason that insightful descriptions of the workings of censorship appeared even before the archives were officially opened.

However, it was only after 1989 that researchers could seek to supplement the widely-available interpretations with source materials illustrating the detailed work undertaken by censorship officials while also demonstrating how their approach shifted over time. Research on censorship in the communist People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) has become an established field. Among the existing literature, there are not only purely conceptual outlines of the nature and functions of the censorship authorities but also extensive studies based on archival sources. Kamila Budrowska, the author of this book, thus did not have to start from scratch. Nevertheless, her study offers an outstanding contribution to the field.

Firstly, she has examined all the available sources relevant to the subject of her book – literally thousands of pages of materials. Secondly, she has used the empirical data and the existing literature to develop a conceptual framework that is sufficiently neutral in methodological terms to enable its use in diverse future research projects. What is particularly useful for specialists is that Budrowska has highlighted gaps, both in the archival sources and in the existing literature. She offers multiple pointers as to what is required of future research and what is likely to prove impossible for future research.

←9 | 10→

As a result, this work is essential reading for anyone interested in the culture of communist Poland. Furthermore, this is a work that particularly sounds methodologically, meaning that it should be of interest to anyone working on various forms of political restriction and repression of literature during other periods. The chapter comparing communist-era and tsarist censorship is particularly significant in this respect. This book also provides readers with insight into the everyday life and work of censors, thus offering, indirectly, an illustration of the standard of living in post-war Poland. The image of the world of censorship that emerges from this study underlines the ‘banality of evil’ that was fundamental to the communist system. The majority of people serving in the Polish censorship office (GUKPPiW) were not demonic individuals but ordinary people, often intelligent and endowed with a sense of humour. While they sometimes did work in authors’ favour, censorship officials were nevertheless fundamental to the overall existence of the repressive regime.

Authors’ attempts to outsmart censors were destined to fail because the main method of communicating forbidden content was ‘Aesopic language’. This was generally something that more insightful readers picked up on – with this group necessarily also including censors, who were, after all, trained to receive such messages. It is for this reason that ‘GUKPPiW officials were surprisingly often fully aware of the strategies that authors had adopted’ (p. 284). Thus, if texts that employed allusions did indeed make it through the censors’ filter, then this fact is to be interpreted first and foremost as an indicator of the Party’s prevailing cultural policy.

It thus comes as no surprise that during the Stalinist period, almost no author sought to adopt the strategy of using Aesopic language, because doing so could easily have landed the author in trouble with the security service. That authors did face the threat of being reported is evident in this telling note from July 1950, cited in the book: ‘It would be worthwhile to not only deny approval to publish the yearbook, but also to inform the security service and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of this matter’ (p. 306).

Following the breakthrough in October 1956, when a government led by Władysław Gomułka took control, such severe sanctions were no longer applied and writers again started playing little games with the censorship office. However, the outcomes of such efforts were, at best, ambivalent. As Budrowska notes, ‘each author always employed some form of self-censorship’ (p. 285).

Despite the wealth of available sources, which in themselves are undeniably quite monotonous, this book in no way leaves readers weary. It gives a general impression of the institutional mechanisms that were in place during the period from 1948 to 1958 alongside detailed descriptions of individual cases ←10 | 11→that confirm the broader sociological truths that Budrowska seeks to outline, while also giving an indication of the human agency that sometimes modified the course that these processes took.

Alongside such structural and human factors, what Budrowska also shows is the significance of historical factors. Literary censorship during the Stalinist era was in total effect , as it affected both literary works themselves (their subject matter, ideology and poetics) and their reception. After October 1956, the authorities attached less significance to controlling poetics. However, their attitude towards subject matter and ideology, as well as to the potential scale of reception of questionable or controversial works, did fluctuate. Generally, though, these shifts tended towards permitting authors greater freedom of expression.

Budrowska is aware of the transformations to which censorship was subject as a result of political changes taking place not only in the decade that she studies, but also in the periods on either side of it. Thanks to the fact that she examines issues that were crucial to life in Poland beyond the period from 1948 to 1958, her book presents a panoramic image of an institution that was certainly dynamic but ultimately maintained a strong core identity throughout its existence.

At one point in her book, Budrowska cites what she considers to be a prevailing opinion in existing research while also adding her own comment that it is necessary to add a more nuanced perspective. This is something that, I believe, gives an impression of the overall significance of her study. Writers, Literature and Censorship in Poland. 1948–1958 is a work that does not seek to turn the fairly substantial body of existing knowledge in this field on its head. However, it does cast this knowledge in a more nuanced light. There are many examples where she offers a corrective to previous findings. I will highlight just two examples here. The first is ‘that there is no evidence that censors altered canonical Polish texts between 1948 and 1950 (of course, this does not rule out such cases occurring later)’ (p. 310). The second relates to texts towards which censors were ‘indifferent’ or had no interest in. The category of texts that were ‘equivocal from a censorship perspective’, she argues, ‘did not exist in the context of books aimed at adults. It was thus something that was exclusive to children’s and youth literature’ (p. 250). As a result, she finds, ‘works thus classified could remain on the market but they could not be given new editions nor could they be recommended for school libraries’ (p. 247). What this means in the broader context is that ‘[t];he prevailing view that censorship treated children’s literature as strictly as works aimed at adults between 1948 and 1958 can thus be questioned’ (p. 251).

Her book thus offers various correctives to claims that prevail not only in broader discourse but also in specialist literature on communist-era censorship. The most impressive contribution offered by Budrowska’s study, however, is that ←11 | 12→she has turned to previously unused sources to support the central thesis of the work. Her key argument is that ‘taking all literary works published in Poland between 1944 and 1989 as a whole, they could be defined as editio purificata’ (p. 333). Literature produced during the communist era emerged at a time when the shadow of the notorious censorship office loomed large over each work at every stage from its conception to its reception. This is an argument that can be supported wholeheartedly and is proven in the study.

In conclusion, I would like to add that the term ‘definitive work’ is often misplaced in the context of contributions to literary studies. However, having read Kamila Budrowska’s work, I have no hesitation in applying the term in this case, despite the author’s own reluctance. Writers, Literature and Censorship in Poland. 1948–1958 is indeed a definitive work in its field.

Zdzisław Łapiński

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1 This preface to the English translation of this study is taken from Prof. dr. hab. Zdzisław Łapiński’s review written in 2009 before the publication of the Polish version.


1 Research objectives

This study aims to describe the impact of censorship in communist Poland (known as the People’s Republic of Poland – Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, abbreviated as PRL2) on the development of Polish literature in the 1940s and 1950s. My interest does not lie in the organization of Główny Urząd Kontroli Prasy, Publikacji i Widowisk (GUKPPiW; the Central Office for the Control of the Press, Publications and Performances) and the systems that shaped how it functioned, since they have already been described in depth by historians.3 Instead, my focus is on its specific activities in relation to literature – interventions in literary works, the pressures and official directives issued to blacklist a work or an author (zapis), and bans on publication resulting from preventative censorship – and the traces these measures left on texts. In contrast to a number of other works, my research seeks to produce philological interpretations and literary-historical findings, rather than contribute to the historiography of the period.

My aims and research strategies were determined by the scope of the available sources. Material relating to the restrictions imposed on writing before 1948 is very limited. There are evidently significant gaps in the records available at Archiwum Akt Nowych (AAN; the Central Archive of Modern Records). There are no personal records, while the materials on the majority of texts are incomplete, with draft editions of publications rarely available. There are also few registers of proposed changes. I have therefore focused my analysis, out of necessity, on the most common type of document found in the files, namely censors’ reviews. These materials thus encourage a number of assumptions ←13 | 14→and hypotheses, while also inspiring further research on the broader questions addressed here.

I can thus propose the cautious hypothesis that it is relatively unlikely that the set of sources covering the period from 1948 to 1958 will lack any references to particular key works of literature. In cases where the primary review is not available, there are usually secondary reviews, letters from publishers or references to these works in highly detailed descriptive reports. However, the fact that the complete documentation is missing means that definitive statements are not always possible, meaning that imprecise claims or overinterpretation is a risk. In order to avoid making unsubstantiated claims in my research, I have avoided overstating the applicability of my findings. There is significant scope here for others who might later seek to verify my findings.

This work is based on archival research conducted over several years. My goal was to access all available materials relating to literature in the 1940s and 1950s. I read all the documentation pertaining to the period from 1945, establishing that the oldest materials relating to non-periodical writing come from 1948. This is the reason for the temporal framework for the study, whose findings are based on the sources relating to the period from 1948 to 1958. Any archival material predating that period is used to provide context. Historically speaking, my study could establish three distinct sub-periods: 1944 (1945)–1948, 1949–1955 and 1956–1958. I am more interested, however, in the continuities evident in processes and practices.

The archives hold 1330 files relating to the ten-year period from 1948 to 1958. Three hundred of them contain references to literary censorship. My study is based on a reading of all the documents relating to literature – some 45,000 source documents in total. I have attempted to use as much of this material as possible, while remaining as close to the archival materials as possible in my readings.

The limited scope of the research is deliberate and results from both empirical and methodological factors. It would not be possible to present in a single book all the material relating to the entire period from 1945 to 1990, since the available documentation is too broad and the differences between the contents of particular files are too significant. Comparing materials from significantly diverse historical periods while at the same time producing meaningful generalizations would be no simple task. Indeed, such a study would be beyond the means of a single researcher, as is evident in the works produced by others working on the issue of literary censorship.4 It thus seemed that limiting my study to the selected period was the most sensible option.

←14 | 15→

The majority of my findings relate to censorship during the period from 1948 to 1958, although it seems that many of my claims could be generalized and applied to the period beyond 1958. I have always sought to clearly differentiate such claims.

The period explored here does not fit neatly with the commonly recognized turning points in literary history. My choice was shaped by the nature of the available sources. Relatively complete (and preserved) traces of literary censorship are available for the period from 1948, while 1958 can be seen as the point by which the reformist spirit of the Polish October of 1956 had dissipated. In order to offer a comparative perspective, I have drawn on materials from later periods in order to trace the fate of particular texts in the context of the most significant variable – namely the oscillation between liberalization and clampdowns in politics.

My exploration of the earliest available sources relating to the activities of GUKPPiW is justified for many reasons. Firstly, this was a time when the political situation was still very fluid, with various fissures in the system evident as the new order was installed in a manner that can hardly be described as precise. What becomes evident in the course of my study, then, are the ways in which Polish literature adapted to the new realities. In this relatively short, ten-year period the political situation also shifted dramatically, as did the ways in which culture was treated and created. This is explicitly evident in the changing directives regarding interventions in literary texts. It is worth noting that in the periods 1948–1949 and 1956–1958 controls were less strict than during the period of socialist realism.

The records of GUKPPiW show that censorship restrictions intensified towards the end of 1948. Previous studies have written of a turning point in either 1948, marked by the formation of the Book Popularization Committee (Komitet Upowszechniania Książki) and of the Department of Press and Publications (Wydział Prasy i Wydawnictw) within the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party (KC PZPR), or 1949, which saw the Szczecin Congress – which declared socialist realism as the only legitimate mode of art – and the formation of the Polish Library Book Selection Commission (Komisja Selekcji Książek w Bibliotekach Polskich).5 A more moderate approach to censorship started to emerge in early 1955. The greatest liberalization came between October 1956 and October 1957.6 Censorship did not disappear – it was simply ←15 | 16→less invasive than before. While these turning points are familiar from the existing literature, my primary aim is to demonstrate their presence and impact on the basis of archival evidence. Nevertheless, the vast divergences of readings of the same work are quite surprising. What is also interesting is the transition from a degree of certain liberalism towards stricter controls during Stalinism. Tracing this shift allows us to establish the forms that the Stalinization of Polish culture took before this trend was reversed in the period around the Polish October of 1956.

During the initial post-war period, representatives of the interwar literary milieu, accustomed to freer conditions for expression and publication, were still active. They were socialized in conditions that were based on different principles and trends to those served up by communist rule. The clash between their personalities and talents and the vulgar demands of the censorship authorities gave rise to various strategies for dealing with what was ultimately a stalemate situation. There are numerous cases that can be used to describe and trace this process. Many younger writers who had never known creative freedom also made their debuts between 1948 and 1958. Both the ‘old masters’ and the ‘young pups’ applied various strategies for circumventing censors’ demands, including stalling, disguises, camouflage, Aesopic language and ‘porcelain puppies’, i.e. deliberate red herrings used to distract censors. Over the course of this book, I will attempt to establish whether or not particular approaches were more typical of a particular generation or whether the strategies adopted tended instead to reflect individual creative preferences.

Owing to my research interests, I would like to focus on literary fiction, paying particular attention to interventions into texts that can be considered to be of particularly significant artistic value. I will dedicate the least amount of attention to dramas and plays owing to the specific nature of such texts and the significantly different restrictions which such texts faced (with censorship affecting both the written texts and the performances). My investigation will concentrate primarily on new literary works submitted for publication for the first time. This set of works includes both works that were created ‘freely’ before 1944, which were confronted with censorship for the first time during the post-war publication process, and those that were written with censors, and the pressure they exerted, in mind.7 The period examined here is, ultimately, the final time ←16 | 17→that works written without the awareness of the political changes, that would affect post-war Poland, were published in significant numbers. The encounters of such works with GUKPPiW were quite specific and their path to publication was often very long and winding.

Suggestions for further research using the same documents are worth noting at this point. A different perspective could be achieved through systematic exploration of subsequent editions of existing works, thus raising questions relating to selection criteria, changes in texts and outright bans on publication.8 Investigating the censorship of foreign literature and comparing assessments of different works could also offer an interesting angle on the activities of GUKPPiW.9 In order to offer more context, I will address the fate of works in literary studies, thus enabling me to consider the question of reissues of classics, as well as Ilya Ehrenburg’s The Thaw, a famous work of foreign literature that exposed one of the most significant errors made by censors during the period under investigation.

In her study of Russian censorship during the period that Poland was under partition (1772/1794–1918), Maria Prussak states that the archival sources are highly particular and difficult to interpret. ‘The documents reveal, above all, the censor’s consciousness, his sensitivity to possible codes, and the current strategies of the authorities, while revealing very little about the issues related to the text itself’.10 There are similar difficulties involved in interpreting censorship documents from communist Poland. Establishing the truth about the control exerted over literature demands in-depth insight into the content of documents, while always retaining a degree of scepticism towards them. It is crucial to read against the authors’ apparent intentions, thus conducting a quasi-deconstruction of the statements, seeking instead ruptures, gaps in logic, and mistakes.

A work based on GUKPPiW sources, thus relating to just one of the parties involved in the conflict, is limited in many respects. The image that emerges ←17 | 18→from analysing such sources is distorted, since the documents follow their own logic. It is thus always necessary to bear in mind that the censorship office was not an authority in itself, but merely carried out orders. Thus any conclusions and findings must be stated cautiously here.

There is relatively little philological research on censorship in the People’s Republic of Poland. Given the vast amount of archival material available at the Archive of New Records, the number of books and archives based on them seems quite modest. Literary historians have tended to explore the sources selectively, usually seeking information about a particular author or text, often in connection with editorial work, as was the case with Tadeusz Drewnowski and Sławomir Buryła’s preparation of Tadeusz Borowski’s Pisma (Collected writings) for publication. The same applies to Alina Molisak’s monograph on Bogdan Wojdowski. Dariusz Jarosz, meanwhile, edited a collection of some thirty censorship office reviews of artistically significant works submitted for publication between 1948 and 1955, contributing a short introduction.11 It is worth remembering that the archive of GUKPPiW materials was made available for the first time only in 1990 and it would seem that scholars have yet to establish how best to work with this resource. Recently, researchers in Polish studies have showed greater interest in working with the archives of the censorship office, with my book seeking to contribute to this growing body of scholarship.

In writing this book, I have drawn on many existing studies on the broad subject of literary censorship and restrictions on literary expression. Here I would like to limit my attention only to those pioneering works that established the standards of scholarship, developed methods for working with sources and laid the foundations of knowledge on the subject of GUKPPiW’s activities in relation to literature. This group includes studies by Marta Fik, Tadeusz Drewnowski, John M. Bates, Joanna Hobot and Piotr Perkowski. I will refer to these works on numerous occasions. Here I will outline their key ideas that have served as the starting point for my research.

In her article Cenzor jako współautor (The censor as co-author), Marta Fik established an important principle guiding the work of censorship in Poland – namely, its secrecy.12 Given the strict confidentiality clauses that were invoked, ←18 | 19→censors had a significant influence on the final form of a book, film or performance. This influence, we should add, was imperceptible to the recipients of a work.

In his articles Cenzura w epoce stalinowskiej (Censorship under Stalinism)13 and Cenzura wobec problem niemieckiego w Polsce (1948–1955) (Censorship and the German question in Poland),14 John M. Bates examines two fundamental questions: the intensification of censorship in the period between 1949 and 1954 and the servility of GUKPPiW in relation to the Party’s other organs of control. Examining censorship records relating to over a dozen literary works that were submitted to the censorship office during the Stalinist era, Bates offers an analysis of the entire system of exerting control over literature. His studies are thus genuinely pioneering and I will draw on their findings at several points throughout this book.

The most substantial study drawing on the archives of GUKPPiW, which I have encountered, is Joanna Hobot’s book Gra z cenzurą w poezji Nowej Fali (Playing with the censors in New Wave poetry).15 Her work features numerous important statements and examples, with the most interesting, including her description of the strategies, employed by New Wave poets in their struggle against censorship. Hobot’s study found analogies between the structures of censorship in People’s Poland and the tsarist period, while also presenting an important argument relating to de-actualization, which was the price that had to be paid for the complex and multifarious operations carried out on one’s own texts.

In an extensive article that is a fragment of a larger unpublished work titled Pół wieku z cenzurą: Przypadek Tadeusza Konwickiego (Half a century with censors: The case of Tadeusz Konwicki),16 Piotr Perkowski offers a detailed account of the publication history of that author’s works. Perkowski highlights the ←19 | 20→censor’s constant presence in Konwicki’s literary consciousness that meant that he shaped his texts in a permanent dialogue with censors. The censor acts as the most detailed (and perhaps thus the ideal) reader. Perkowski’s innovative findings can be applied to other authors, as my study of the archives suggests, thus enabling us to consider the universality of the findings presented here.

I also owe an intellectual debt to many historical studies, with the works of Daria Nałęcz and Aleksander Pawlicki deserving special mention. The study Kompletna szarość: Cenzura w latach 1965–1972 – Instytucja i ludzie (Total greyness: Censorship between 1965 and 1972, institutions and people)17 is particularly worthy of attention given its completeness (it goes significantly beyond the timeframe outlined in its title) and breadth of its research, which proves its worth in relation to materials from a significantly earlier period.

My study is divided into four parts: 1. Towards a synthesis; 2. Case studies; 3. Authors’ strategies and 4. Contexts.18 There is also an introduction and brief conclusion. The first part presents the theory and practice behind the activities of GUKPPiW, describing the mechanisms at work both when the institution was working successfully and when it was facing ruptures and uncertainties. The case studies focus on the censorship of particular authors, works or literary forms. The selection of the cases was shaped by the facts emerging from the study of available materials. I wanted to avoid creating models and have instead sought simply to describe the most interesting situations present in archival sources. In the third part I seek to outline authors’ strategies for dealing with oppression. This section puts to the test findings from numerous other studies on the response of Polish literature to institutional controls over freedom of expression, including Tadeusz Drewnowski’s notion of a retreat into the private realm,19 Stanisław Siekierski’s argument that ‘second circulation’ or underground publishing was a response to censorship,20 Leszek Szaruga’s claim that the development of realist prose about contemporary life was stunted,21 Ryszard Nycz’s thesis that the ‘Aesopic’ became ←20 | 21→the dominant style in Polish literature, leading to hermetic content22 and Jerzy Smulski’s idea that there was a particular mode of reaching an understanding with the readers.23 I would also like to test the hypothesis that there were similarities in the response of Polish writers to censorship under both tsarist and communist rule by examining the strategies employed by particular authors.

This book examines censorship and ways of avoiding it, as well as self-censorship, treating the latter as a mode of anticipating and replacing the censor’s pencil. I am thus interested in both sides: the authors, their internal strategies (as documented in the archival record and their works) and their external practices adopted in light of the presence and inevitability of control, on the one hand, and censors as thinking individuals, as agents and as state functionaries, on the other. Ultimately, there were other parties involved in this bloodless conflict. Indeed, the role of publishers and readers cannot be overlooked. I will examine the crucial role of the former at several points in this study. Readers, I argue, sometimes were very much aware of the efforts to efface authors’ intentions (the agonistic reader), while at other times they proved completely powerless in the face of these procedures (the naïve reader).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (December)
Main Office of Control of Press Publications and Public Performances People’s Republic of Poland Politics and the authors Writing strategies Reading strategies Censored books
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 382 pp.

Biographical notes

Kamila Budrowska (Author)

Kamila Budrowska is a professor at the Faculty of Philology at the University of Bialystok, head of the Department of Philological Studies on the Censorship of the People’s Republic of Poland and Editorship. She is the author of over hundred publications on censorship towards literature in the years 1945–1989.


Title: Writers, Literature and Censorship in Poland. 1948–1958