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The Vicious Circle 1832–1864

A History of the Polish Intelligentsia – Part 2


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 6: Jump into an abyss


Warsaw and the country-at-large, 1862-1864

On 5th May 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi, together with his thousand valorous men, set forth on two pretendedly hijacked ships from near Genoa, sailing southwards. 11th May saw him land at the western headland of Sicily; the conquest of Palermo came on 27th May. Two months later, he appeared in Messina: the factual dictator of the whole island.

Europe held its breath. A legion of journalists, adventurous tourists and female admirers of the General drifted behind the Redshirts’ camps and supply columns. Thousands of volunteers streamed in, more than filling the gaps caused by the fallen or wounded. August 1860 saw Garibaldi ferry through the strait and cross Calabria like a whirlwind, suppressing the tenfold larger crews of the stupefied King of the Two Sicilies. On 7th September, the minister of police betrayed his ruler and let Garibaldi into Naples, without a struggle. The victorious commander offered Naples and Sicily, on 26th October, to Victor Emanuel II, King of Sardinia and Piedmont, addressing him, for the first time as ‘the King of Italy’ – true, not the whole of it yet then.

This marked the peak moment of his European fame and the legend of the ‘Hero of the Two Worlds’ found a more fertile ground nowhere else than in Poland. Garibaldi was popular there already before – as a dauntless, although losing, defender of the Roman Republic in 1849; young people in the Kingdom, to the fury of Paskevich and his...

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