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Book versus Power

Studies in the Relations between Politics and Culture in Polish History

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Edited By Jacek Soszyński and Agnieszka Chamera-Nowak

This volume considers the various interactions between the culture of the book and politics in Polish history. Each of the fourteen authors deals with a different topic, chronologically starting with the beginnings of the early Piast monarchy in the 10 th century up to contemporary times: for instance, E. Potkowski discusses the political ambitions of Duke Mieszko I and his descendants with regard to the introduction of early writing and reading in Poland; A. Kamler analyses the attitude of the Jagiellonian dynasty in the 1500s towards books and education; and D. Jarosz traces the changing approach of the communists towards book production and the promotion of readership in their attempts to persuade Polish society to accept their ideology.
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Books in the Hands of Stalinists (1948–1956): Policies, their Implementation, and Results

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The year 1948 is generally treated as the first important watershed in the post-World War II history of Poland. It was precisely during that year that the communists, having previously assured their hold on all major state institutions, initiated the battle to subdue Polish society as a whole. The so-called “system of people’s democracy”, which allowed for a limited presence of private enterprise in the economy and put up with elements of authentic life in the organisational and social functioning of the nation, was replaced with the omnipresence of centralised power, which embarked on the shortest possible course towards totalitarianism. One of the major components of this new destiny was the ideological vision of creating the “new man”. To make this vision real, the communists decided to launch intensive propaganda and persuasion actions, which required changes in the system of book production and distribution. Books had to deliver ideologically “correct” contents. And to assure the “correctness” of the printed materials, communists used the state censorship bureau, established as one of the first agencies of the new authorities.1

The first general elections in post-war Poland were held in January 1947. Their results were falsified so that the communists could claim legality of power. During the same year, President Bolesław Bierut announced that there would be changes with regard to the treatment of artists, and that planning would be introduced also in culture: “[…] in the sphere of cultural creativity there should be introduced the same relationship between...

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