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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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A Duet to Democracy. Cyprian Norwid – Alexis de Tocqueville

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Abstract: This chapter discusses some areas of interest to the Polish thinker and artist Cyprian Norwid, inspired by Alexis de Tocqueville’s idea as well as his stay in America in the mid-19th century, such as the notion of “citizen”, the idea of representation, the idea of aristocracy in a democratic society, and the connection between work and freedom. As a representative of a nation without a state, Norwid was interested in those achievements of American civil society that could be introduced despite lack of political freedom: founding associations as a counterbalance to the atomisation of society, development of the press (especially the emigré press), forming public opinion, and promoting civic education in all social classes. The author of the chapter also points out the role of the Polish philosopher August Cieszkowski in perceiving Alexis de Tocqueville in Poland and his concept of a “new aristocracy”.

Keywords: Alexis de Tocqueville, Cyprian Norwid, democracy, aristocracy, civil society

When I was in North America, there were two noblemen, former captains, with large moustaches. They democratically decided that they would live together in holy-brotherhood and that seeing as one was going to work in the town, the other would cook him dinner, […] but both, despite the democratic breath of American air, were noblemen. […] And so, the second returned to find the table laid – his comrade, brother, captain serves the soup… The one who sat down to eat had barely touched the soup with his spoon and slurped some,...

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