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Studies on Socialist Realism

The Polish View


Anna Artwińska, Bartłomiej Starnawski and Grzegorz Wołowiec

This anthology presents a selection of texts on Polish socialist realist literature, written from the early 1980s to date. They depict a comprehensive picture of this literary phenomenon: starting from its holistic interpretations, through detailed analyses of the poetics of literary and political texts and a presentation of specific, also untypical embodiments of this artistic doctrine, to descriptions of the functioning of the institutions of literary life under socialist realism. All the texts in this anthology share a historically and culturally determined general methodological perspective, representing a combination of the Polish version of structuralism in literary studies – on the descriptive plane – with the anti-communist attitude on the plane of evaluation of presented phenomena.
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Anna Artwińska, Bartłomiej Starnawski & Grzegorz Wołowiec - Introduction: Socialist Realism in Polish Literary Research


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Anna Artwińska, Bartłomiej Starnawski & Grzegorz Wołowiec

Introduction: Socialist Realism in Polish Literary Research

The texts contained in this anthology, published in Poland from the early 1980s, present the phenomenon of socialist realism in statu nascendi in the historical perspective. Together, they amalgamate into the qualitatively specific ‘Polish perspective’ on socialist realism, as portended by the title, and at the same time clarify what is specific in this culturally determined approach. We may venture to state that the theoretical bases of socialist realism in Poland were most thoroughly explored not ex ante, but rather ex post.

The necessity of selecting from an enormous amount of bibliographic material compelled us to reduce the number of texts and to forgo chronological order. This order in and of itself would have been an interesting topic for specialists who avail themselves of the tools of broadly understood comparative studies, discourse analysis or history of literary criticism (for instance, as an example of the critical reception of Stalinist era in one of the former countries of the ‘Eastern Bloc’). Instead, we adopted the criterion of content-based representativeness. For this reason, the texts in this anthology are presented by subject matter and the issues discussed have been reduced exclusively to those taken up by literary studies, and so focusing on literary language, poetics, literary communication and institutions of literary life.

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