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Book versus Power

Studies in the Relations between Politics and Culture in Polish History


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 10th 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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Forbidden Books: The Polish Instytut Literacki in Paris and the Editorial Policies of Jerzy Giedroyc, 1946–1989


Jerzy Giedroyc and his Instytut Literacki (Literary Institute), one of the most important publishing centres of Polish post-World War II emigration, hold a special place in the history of Polish culture of the twentieth century. The Instytut Literacki was established by Giedroyc in Rome in the spring of 1946, as an agency of the II Corps of the Polish Army in the West led by General Władysław Anders. Its first official name read Casa Editrice “Lettere”. During its Italian phase, subordinated to Polish military structures, the Instytut pursued dynamic publishing activities for various departments of the army, as well as an editorial agenda of its own.1 After the dissolution of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, Giedroyc decided not to close the Instytut, but to transfer it to Paris. He chose France instead of England—the main centre of Polish émigré political and cultural life—in order to keep distance from “Polish” London. In the autumn of 1947, accompanied by Józef Czapski and the couple Zofia and Zygmunt Hertz, Giedroyc moved into a house at avenue de Corneille in Maisons-Laffitte, on the outskirts of Paris, which became their first French quarters. In 1954, they transferred to another location in the same Parisian suburb, on avenue de Poissy, where the Instytut is still located.2

The books published by the Instytut Literacki3, with the characteristic symbol of the Ionic column on the cover, gained widespread acceptance and popularity among Polish readers, in particular the...

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