In order to be noticed in American society, a common-interest group (we prefer this designation to the ideologized 'minority') has to be described in a language that incorporates the idiom of the day and remains comprehensible to the group in question. The Irish have described themselves abundantly, the central and eastern Europeans less so. The writers John Merchant has so aptly selected reveal some of the secrets of Polish American and other central and eastern European neighborhoods. There are more secrets to be revealed. The invisibility of central and eastern European ethnics in American society results partly from the scarcity of writers who would give these groups a literary voice. It also stems from the reluctance of the ethnics to adopt Nietzschean and Hegelian ways, as expressed in Maya Angelou's famous 'I rise from my poverty and shame,/ I rise to take my rightful place.' If the ethnics ever rise, they will find a different way of asserting themselves, a way more congenial to their cultural characteristics.
Related to this issue is Professor Joseph Kotarba's observation, in his excellent review of Adam Zamoyski's book, that by comparison to their neighbors, Poles lack aggressiveness and militancy. Kotarba also perceptively observes that Poles often do not own the 'means of production' which profit from their labor. In the United States, professionals of central and eastern European background tend to be doctors, teachers, engineers etc., but not entrepreneurs, bankers, or corporate board members.
The Sarmatian Review is pleased to present Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm's interview with Isaac Bashevis Singer, a text never before published in English (beating our own drum, we would like to note that virtually every issue of SR contains materials that cannot be found elsewhere a principal reason why SR continues to gain subscribers!). A seasoned and prolific writer herself, Ziolkowska-Boehm has interviewed dozens of famous and not-so-famous persons in Canada, Poland and the United States.
"The March Breezes," a powerful Hemingwayesque story by the German writer Marie Luise Kaschnitz, was ably translated by Professor Hal Rennert. It deals with what is still insufficiently known and understood in German society: Nazi behavior toward Polish peasants and Polish intellectuals in World War II.
Among the crop of excellent reviews, we would like to single out Mark Wegierski's comments on the reminiscences of a Canadian Polish doctoral student about the fate of her peasant ancestors in Canada and in their native Ukraine (yes Virginia, in Europe nationality transcends borders). Wegierski rightly emphasizes the massive hardships which eastern European nationals underwent, as their homesteads were repeatedly destroyed by invaders from east and west. Somehow these tragedies have been shelved by America's intellectuals as unimportant, while lesser tragedies became paradigmatic.
Last but not least, we are happy to publish Professor David Malcolm's translation of one of our favorite childhood poems, "Cat Was Sick," by an early nineteenth-century Polish children's writer, Stanisaw Jachowicz.
One of our subscribers, Richard C. Prusinski, recently wrote us the following: "How dare you charge so little for such a great publication!" He dared us to tell you about the necessity of raising subscription prices. If it were not for the generosity of some of our subscribers who, in addition to the subscription price, also send us donations, we would have been unable to carry our enterprise forward. Even with higher subsciption prices we will be far away from breaking even. Prices have to rise in April 1998 to $15.00 for individual subscribers and $21.00 for libraries and institutions (overseas prices will rise accordingly). THOSE WHO RENEW THEIR SUBSCRIPTIONS BEFORE APRIL 1998 WILL NOT BE AFFECTED, but new susbcriptions and renewals after that date will. We are also cutting down on the number of complimentary copies we distribute. Incidentally, if you haven't noticed, the current issue is four pages longer than the previous one.
Return to January 1998 Issue
The Sarmatian Review
Last updated 01/15/04