A History of the Polish Intelligentsia – Part 3, Edited by Jerzy Jedlicki
Chapter 6: The Polish intelligentsia in Europe. The influence of pan-European trends on Poland
The existence of immensely important opinion-forming milieus outside the country, in the emigration (as a broad concept), was the factor of essence that informed the shape and reach of cultural, intellectual or scientific Polishness during the whole Partition period. The phenomenon was first recorded before the final collapse of the First Republic (i.e. the Commonwealth), with the first wave of emigration of Polish elites to Saxony and to the west of Europe, following the defeat in the war with Russia in 1792, and the abolition of the Third-of-May Constitution. In the course of the subsequent century, the emigration always co-created, and indeed even dictated, in certain periods, the shape of Polish intellectual and artistic life. While in the former half of the 19th century, determined outside the divided country were the most important findings in the domain of literature and, to an extent, other fine arts and political thought, after 1870, once higher scientific institutions were abolished in the Kingdom of Poland, a number of important scientific milieus gathered in exile, along with student, artistic, journalistic, and political environments. As a social and cultural phenomenon, Polish emigration subsequently lasted till the beginning of the 21st century, at least. Clearly, it was not a specifically Polish phenomenon, but rather, a trait typical to all the nations destitute of their own sovereign state and peripheral in relation to the centres – particularly, to the neighbouring nations of this part of Europe. Ukrainians, Slovaks, Croatians and, especially, eastern-European Jews moved in the same directions...
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