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Book versus Power

Studies in the Relations between Politics and Culture in Polish History


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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Relations between political power and the book—understood in the broadest sense, as encompassing all forms of governance on the one side and the author, copying scribe, publisher, printer, bookseller, librarian, and reader on the other—can assume very different forms, from patronage through subtle manipulation to brutal persecution, and in reverse from praise, through indifference or sarcastic ridicule to outright contention. Polish history is perhaps particularly abundant in all kinds of attitudes linking the persons and forces carrying authority and the people representing the written text. Thus, the authors of the articles making up this volume touch upon nearly all aspects of these complicated connections.

The book is organised chronologically. It begins with an account by Edward Potkowski of the beginnings of written culture in Poland in the tenth century, which started with the Christian conversion of the country at the politically motivated and executed order of the first historical ruler of the Polans, Duke Mieszko I. Medieval themes are continued by two other texts, the first of which, written by the author of these words, is related to the Chronicle of Popes and Emperors by a Dominican friar from Silesia, Martin the Pole (d. 1278), a curialist and representative of the political ideology of the papacy during the times of its political apogee in the thirteenth century. The latter article, by Krzysztof Ożóg, discusses the development among fifteenth-century intellectuals in Cracow of the important concept of the necessity of education for the ruler....

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