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Poland and Artistic Culture of Western Europe

14 th –20 th Century

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Edited By Barbara Przybyszewska-Jarminska and Lech Sokol

In ten studies by Polish authors this book offers an overview of Polish artistic culture and its relation to Western European culture. Thematically, it ranges from fine arts, sculpture and architecture to music, drama and theatre, spanning seven centuries of European artistic culture. While forming an array of topics, it provides a perfect factual introduction into history of art and culture of Eastern and Western Europe for both professionals and readers interested in the humanities. Not only does the book provide historical knowledge, it also helps to understand the peculiar character of Polish culture by triggering the imagination. Absorbing cultural influences from the West, Poland usually tried to integrate these into its own traditions, transferring Western culture further into other parts of Eastern Europe. On other occasions Poland is broadcasting its own culture to the outside world.
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Jarosław Komorowski, To the Poet’s Country: Polish Journeys Towards Shakespeare

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Jarosław Komorowski

TO THE POET’S COUNTRY: POLISH JOURNEYS TOWARDS SHAKESPEARE

Wer das Dichten will verstehen, Muss ins Land der Dichtung gehen. Wer den Dichter will verstehen, Muss in Dichters Lande gehen.

Some of the most famous ‘winged words‘ of European culture were written in 1815 by Johann Wolfgang Goethe as the motto to the Notes and Queries for a Better Understanding of West-Eastern Divan. The usually quoted fragment reads: ‘He who wants to understand the poet, must go to the poet’s country’. This seems quite obvious. Yet these famous lines are the second part of a quatrain whose beginning is usually forgotten, but which reminds us that: ‘He who wants to understand the art of poetry, must go to the land of poetry’. That statement is no longer so obvious. Does it imply that the land of poetry is simply the ‘poet’s country’? Then we would be dealing with a tautology; or perhaps this land is made up by the space most essential for poetry – the vast land of the language in which it was created? A land separated by a barrier which an outsider would find difficult, if not impossible, to overcome, a land shrouded in a fascinating mist of mystery. Those Poles who wanted to get to know the authentic oeuvre of William Shakespeare were precisely in such a position. They were faced with ‘a sea of mists’, just like the Wanderer from the famous painting by Caspar...

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