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At the Crossroads: 1865–1918

A History of the Polish Intelligentsia – Part 3, Edited by Jerzy Jedlicki

Series:

Magdalena Micińska

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. The third part deals with the period between 1865 and 1918. It is the period of numerical growth of the intelligentsia, growth of its self-consciousness and at the same time of growing struggles and rivalries of various political streams. The study concludes with the moment when Poland regained the independence that had been lost in 1795. 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 3: The development conditions of a national culture

Extract

Starting with the 1860s, the external circumstances informing the development of Polish science and culture were becoming remarkably different in the four provinces of a varied political status, into which the former Commonwealth territory had been divided (i.e. the Prussian Partition, Galicia – including Cieszyn (Teschen) Silesia, the Kingdom of Poland, and, Lithuania and Ruthenia – the so called Stolen Lands).

The most beneficial situation, as has been mentioned several times, was the case in the Austrian Partition, where political autonomy enabled an almost untrammelled development of national culture. It was in Galicia that the conditions favoured the development of sciences the most – with two Polish universities and a few other tertiary schooling institutions. Alongside those, the already-mentioned Mr. Baraniecki ran his Higher Courses for Women; in 1872, an Academy of Arts and Sciences (literally, ‘Abilities’) was established; numerous scholarly and artistic societies functioned; ‘classics’, i.e. Latin, secondary schools offered the top education standard, within the entire Polish territory. However, barriers to the development of sciences and culture were anchored in the overall condition of the Galician economy, shortages, low industrialisation, and a very traditional social structure. In Eastern Galicia and in Cieszyn Silesia, the Polish element had to enter into a rivalry against its Ukrainian and Czech counterparts, with the result that Polish culture developed in this area in an opposition to what its as-large, or larger, neighbours produced.

This latter factor was of an even greater importance with the Prussian Partition. The rights of Polish language...

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