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The Vicious Circle 1832–1864

A History of the Polish Intelligentsia – Part 2

Series:

Edited By Jerzy Jedlicki

The three-part work provides a first synthetic account of the history of the Polish intelligentsia from the days of its formation to World War I. Part two (1832-1864) analyses the growing importance of the intelligentsia in the epoch marked by the triumph of the Polish romanticism. The stress is put on the debates of the position of intelligentsia in the society, as well as on tensions between great romantic ideas and realities of everyday life. A substantial part deals with the genesis, outbreak and defeat as well as the consequences of the national uprising in 1863, whose preparation was to a high degree the work of the intelligentsia. The work combines social and intellectual history, tracing both the formation of the intelligentsia as a social stratum and the forms of engagement of the intelligentsia in the public discourse. Thus, it offers a broad view of the group’s transformations which immensely influenced the course of the Polish history.
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Chapter 1: In lands foreign

Extract

In exile, 1832-1845

Wanderers, exiles, pilgrims: so they would call themselves, but the collective term ‘émigrés’ or ‘immigrants’ was most frequently in use. Some of them found their errant destinyto be a must: the tsarist amnesty did not extend to the conspiracy members who commenced the uprising; similarly, to parliamentary deputies who had advocated at the sejm that Nicholas be dethroned; National Government or Patriotic Society members; those who had participated in the Warsaw mob-law incidents; military officers that had not laid down their arms after Warsaw surrendered (unless they had their loyalty oath to the Tsar renewed); and, volunteers from the guberniya1 incorporated earlier on in the Empire. All of them could be certain to be taken to a criminal court, in case they would turn up within the Kingdom or Lithuania. Others could come back to be at the tsar’s mercy, albeit no-one knew what the price could be in each individual case. All those formally covered by the amnesty, particularly if one was a simple soldier or non-commissioned officer, were urged to return – brutally, in many cases, by the Prussian and Austrian authorities, who had provided them with temporary shelter; only if resisting efficiently, would they eventually be dispatched to the West. For many an Insurrection participant, interned once they crossed the frontier, refusal to submit a request for the tsar’s mercy was a matter of honour. They would rather emigrate, which they did – hoping it would not last long.

They felt...

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