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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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The Views of Mickiewicz and Krasiński on Russia1

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Abstract: The chapter compares the views of Adam Mickiewicz and Zygmunt Krasiński on Polish-Russian and Russian-European relations, the political system of nineteenth-century Russia, and the history, collective mentality and national self-consciousness of that nation. It is pointed out that both writers saw Imperial Russia as a major threat to Europe and were critical of the Tsar’s despotism. In their view, Russian history had been dominated by the rule of a strong central power, which turned into tyranny, with the notions of citizenship and freedom barely present. The two writers differed in their views on Russia’s future. Mickiewicz considered the country to be an integral part of Europe and sought prospects for its democratic transformation, believing that the Russian people would be able to comprehend the idea of freedom. Krasiński, like de Custine, associated the despotic system with the slave mentality of the Russian people. Seeing Russia as an Asian country, he did not believe in its potential transformation; he favoured the idea of defeating Russia through an alliance of European states (led by France and Poland), separating it symbolically and politically from Europe and enforcing a change in direction towards Asia in its imperial expansion.

Keywords: Russia, Slavic antagonism, romanticism, Adam Mickiewicz, Zygmunt Krasiński

Two towering Polish Romantics, Mickiewicz and Krasiński, each placed Russia at the centre of their historical and political thought. Both poets were attentive students of Russian history, but this chapter will be concerned less with their...

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