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The Literature of Polish Romanticism in Its European Contexts

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Edited By Krzysztof Trybuś

The book contains essays on the heterogeneity of Polish Romantic literature and its links with Europe’s cultural heritage. The essays deal with, among other topics, the idea of beauty and truth, correspondences between the arts, the role of tradition and memory in the Romantic era, and the significance of mysticism and irony. The authors of the essays write about such seemingly distant issues as music and revolution in Chopin’s times, and travel to places as disparate as Siberia and Italy. Their thematically diverse reflections are linked by questions they pose about the romantic roots of today’s Europe. The works of Mickiewicz and other Romantic poets discussed in this book thus clearly do not concern merely the past, but also speak to the present day, describing the experiences of everyday life in its various dimensions.

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Introduction

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The authors of the essays contained within this book focus their attention primarily on issues concerning Polish Romantic literature. The ‘European context’ signalled in the title is explained by the genesis of this literature, which was produced largely in exile and closely linked to the dominant trends and ideas of the Romantic era. Polish poets of that time helped create this epoch, inspired in their thinking about humanity and history by influences that transcended ethnocentric perspectives.

The present volume seeks to show the heterogeneity of Polish Romanticism, often unfairly narrowed in its reception abroad to the issue of nationality. Therefore, apart from analyses of works connected with the history of Poland and Russia in the nineteenth century, also addressed here are aesthetic problems concerning the ideas of truth and beauty, irony and mysticism, correspondences between the arts, and the role of tradition and the influence of past literature during the era of Romanticism. In addition to views on revolution and democracy, likewise of importance is the ‘spirit of the place’ (genius loci) in romantic poetry, places often very different from one another, such as Siberia and Italy.

These essays by Poznań-based researchers of Romanticism do not treat the significance of the historical contexts they reference as absolute, and the Romantic poetry they read is certainly not locked in the past. Texts travel in time: this assumption allows the authors of the essays published here to express the phenomenon of Romanticism as one of...

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