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At the Crossroads: 1865–1918

A History of the Polish Intelligentsia – Part 3, Edited by Jerzy Jedlicki


Magdalena Micińska

The three-part work provides a first synthetic account of the history of the Polish intelligentsia from the days of its formation to World War I. The third part deals with the period between 1865 and 1918. It is the period of numerical growth of the intelligentsia, growth of its self-consciousness and at the same time of growing struggles and rivalries of various political streams. The study concludes with the moment when Poland regained the independence that had been lost in 1795. The work combines social and intellectual history, tracing both the formation of the intelligentsia as a social stratum and the forms of engagement of the intelligentsia in the public discourse. Thus, it offers a broad view of the group’s transformations which immensely influenced the course of the Polish history.


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Chapter 1: The situation of the Polish intelligentsia after the January Insurrection


1. Professional development opportunities The late 1860s and early 1870s were marked with a deep and long-lasting change in the Polish intelligentsia’s self-consciousness and ideological profile, and impressed their stamp on most issues relating to the intelligentsia’s every- day exist ence and prospects for professional development� The intelligentsia had to (re) define themselves, and continue developing in the bosom of three thor- oughly different state organisms which themselves were subject at that time to grave transformations and reforms� After the January Insurrection was defeated, the Russian Partition was subject to brutal repression affecting the whole of society, not just its intellectual elite� The physical losses in the insurgent fights and summary executions were multi- plied by the subsequent deportations into the depths of Russia, of Siberia, which embraced some 40,000 insurrectionists and their families, thus eliminating them for a number of years, often forever, from the country’s life� Detentions and de- portations were accompanied by the confiscation of property, upsetting owner- ship conditions (particularly in rural areas) or, at times, irrecoverably changing the country’s map, since a frequent practice in Białystok Land, Byelorussia and Lithuania was the displacement of entire nobility-owned small farms, under the pretext that their dwellers had participated in the uprising� A majority among the deportees were the movement’s most active and most conscious participants, dedicated to the idea of an expeditious restoration of an independent Poland� The Circum-Baikal [also called Baikal] Uprising of 1866 closed this stage of Pol- ish history� Initiated by a...

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