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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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India and the History of Slavdom in Mickiewicz’s Paris Lectures1

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Abstract: The chapter discusses Lectures at the Collège de France by Adam Mickiewicz in the context of his interest in India in the nineteenth century. Like many of his contemporaries, Mickiewicz was immersed in the historiosophic theory of India as the source of Western civilisation, developed by German intellectuals like Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schlegel and, in some ways, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Lectures provide examples of a search for the roots of ancient Slavs in India, based on linguistic comparative studies of Sanskrit and Slavonic languages. Mickiewicz presented two approaches to this issue: the first, related to the historiosophy of Herder, which considered India as a place that represents the past, and its carefree innocence. In this case, the Slavs and Hindus were idyllic and passive nations; the second, related to the Hegelian concept of a linear historical process in which the Orient, including India, was the initial and primitive phase of the history of mankind. India was recognised as one of the first civilisations, but at the same time, it was seen as imperfect and inferior to Western culture. Mickiewicz’s view of India was in line with Hegel. He tried to present the Slavs to his Western audience as Europeans at present and rightful members of the Indo-European family, who had great ancestors. That is why Mickiewicz created a double history of Slavdom – the Indian epoch was a thing of the past, while Europe was its present. This allowed Mickiewicz to avoid the Orientalisation of...

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