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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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Memory Instead of History: Mickiewicz, Słowacki, Norwid1

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Abstract: The author focuses his attention on the role that Romantic literature played in Poland’s struggle to regain its independence (1918, 1989) over the last two centuries. The chapter’s main thesis that cultural memory replaced history in thinking about political reality is supported by an analysis of the works of leading Polish Romantics. The author presents how a romantic memory was born that preserves the imperative to strive for independence found in the poetry of Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki, written and further developed in exile. The author’s reflections also refer to how the Romantic memory created by the Romantics shaped Józef Piłsudski’s thinking about state-building in the first years of Polish independence (the coup d’état of 1926) and how Romantic memory influenced political discourse in contemporary Poland following the Smolensk catastrophe (2010). The author ponders whether it is possible today to formulate a narrative of Poland’s past that could compete with the heritage of the Romantics, and points the non-martyrological romanticism of Cyprian Norwid as an example of a different path.

Keywords: Polish Romanticism, collective memory, Vico, messianism, Piłsudski

Vico and Polish Romanticism

The argument that Vico’s thought should be situated within Romanticism is based not only on its place in the philosophy of history but also on the thinker’s original reflections on memory, which are strongly present in The New Science and constitute an undercurrent running through much of his philosophical discourse. Memory played a...

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