The Wrath of Nations: Civilization and the Furies of Nationalism, by William Pfaff. 256 pages. Index. New York. Simon & Schuster. 1993. Hardcover.
There is a trend under way to make out of 'nationalism' a bad word, one akin to 'fascism.' Yet unlike most ideologies, nationalism catches on without propaganda in a literate community. The awareness of sharing language and memory makes groups of people feel an affinity for each other, just as the sharing of other characteristics does. Yet the relation between nationalism and state-building remains unclear, or rather, it is at this point that nationalism can display destructive characteristics.
William Pfaff is as reliable a guide to the problem of nationalism as can be found. Without hysteria and with impartiality, he taxonomizes and analyzes various nationalisms in Europe, Asia, America and Africa. He contends that 'nationalism is a phenomenon of the European nineteenth century....a political consequence of the literary-intellectual movement called Romanticism, a Central European reaction to the universalizing, and therefore disorienting, ideas of the eighteenth-century French Enlightenment.' While the definition is arguable, the book as a whole is engaging, and its grasp of central European problems is excellent. Much recommended.
Culture and Imperialism, by Edward W. Said. New York.. Alfred A. Knopf. 1994. xxviii + 379 pages. Index. Hardcover. $25.00.
An analysis of major works of English and French literature, with a view to demonstrating how the realities of Empire were reflected in apparently non-imperial topics. Influenced by Marxism and very leftist, the book is nevertheless a rhetorical treasure trove. Said is probably the most talented literary critic alive today, and his insights into imperial politics in culture could help Ukrainians, Poles, Lithuanians and other central and eastern Europeans articulate the cultural politics of the exploitative imperial domination which they have endured, and which some are still enduring.
All You Who Labor: Work and Sanctification of Daily Life, by Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski. Translated by J. Ardle McArdle. Manchester, N.H. Sophia Institute Press [Box 5284, Manchester, NH 03108]. 1995. Foreword by Lech Walesa. Preface by Jozef Cardinal Glemp. x + 191 pages. Hardcover. $16.95 plus shipping.
Written in a distinctly non-Freudian and a deceptively simple language, this major work by a little known Polish writer is packed with profound philosophical insights. Originally published in 1946 and titled Duch pracy ludzkiej , it first appeared in English translation in 1960. The present revised edition has become a bestseller in Catholic circles. It contains reflections on work as related to human nature, work as fulfillment and as social duty. It is also a how-to book, as it teaches the secrets of patience and perseverance, conscientiousness and joy in work. The quality of this edition is excellent, and the book is poised to be a handsome addition to anyone's home library. The Preface and the Foreword are a thin frosting on a very large and tasty cake.
Polish Renaissance Literature: An Anthology, compiled and annotated by Michael J. Mikos. Columbus, Ohio. Slavica [P.O. Box 14388, Columbus, Ohio 43214]. 1995. 275 pages. Hardcover. $24.95.
All too many Polish scholars in the U.S. engage primarily in professional survival, while their concentration on the subject matter of their work, Polish literature or history or politics, remains ancillary to their main goal. The result is that they often write about authors and problems marginal to the Polish cultural identity. Professor Miko╩ is a worthy exception to this rule. He has produced two period-oriented volumes of annotated translations of literary works that can serve as a basis for discussion and dialogue, in addition to providing the fundamental texts for medieval and Renaissance courses in which Polish literature can be taught. Without such volumes, no further research or teaching are possible. They are the first step with which one can disagree, and upon which one can improve, but without which one cannot go forward. The status of Polish literature in America today resembles that of Russian literature a century ago, when only a few translations could be found. To put it another way: if one desired for Polish literature to make absolutely no headway in the American academia, one would work to discourage the publication of works such as those of Professor Mikos.
The volume contains some very traditional selections from Jan Kochanowski, Mikolaj Rej, Piotr Skarga and others, but it also a wealth of selections from the less known writers, such as Wawrzyniec Goslicki, Marcin Kromer, Andrzej Krzycki, and a dozen others. One criticism of the Notes which we can offer is that they pay little attention to the previous English-language publications. E.g., Goslicki's The Accomplished Senator was published in English twice before, most recently by the American Institute of Polish Culture in Florida (SR, XV:3, April 1995). We also think that the (likewise unmentioned) translation of Kochanowski's "Treatise on Virtue" published in the SR (XIII:3, September 1993) is better than the one contained in this volume.
A longer review to follow.
The Little Trilogy, by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Translated by Miroslaw Lipinski. New York. Hippocrene Books [171 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016]. 1995. 245 pages. Introduction. Hardcover. $19.95.
No, this is not an abbreviated version of The Trilogy but three of Sienkiewicz's most popular short stories: "Hania," "The Old Servant," and "Selim Mirza." Lovely and relaxing reading.
Rethinking Russia's National Interests, edited by Stephen Sestanovich. Washington, DC. The Center for Strategic and International Studies [Suite 400, 1800 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006]. 1994. (Significant Issues Series, Vol. XVI, No.1) xii + 115 pages. Paper.
Among the hundreds of recent academic books promoting post-Soviet imperial interests, this is a refreshing exception. It is a series of essays by Henry Kissinger, Francis Fukuyama, Paul Goble and others, including Russians Sergei Stankevich, Nikolai Travkin, Vladimir Lukin and Aleksandr Shokhin. The points of view, though varied, eschew the blatant chauvinism of Vladimir Zhirinovsky or the lachrymose complaints about Sovietism destroying Russian greatness Ó la Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The essays' refreshing novelty comes from the authors' attempt to envisage Russia as a state with 'normal' national interests and without the secret kleptomania affecting the lands of its neighbors.
Russia's Future: Consolidation or Disintegration? Edited by Douglas W. Blum. Boulder, CO. Westview Press [5500 Central Avenue, Boulder, CO 80301-2877]. 1994. 173 pages. Hardcover.
Another collection of essays by the somewhat less known authors, all of whom (except one) are Americans. The issues discussed have to do with the centrifugal and centripedal tendencies in the post-Soviet Russian Federation. The authors argue that there is a good chance that the Federation will continue to disintegrate, since the mega-trends in the world tend to favor the return of nations to their original ethnic borders. On the other hand, the tradition of the garrison state in Russia is strong, and the military continues to fight for prominence - and a condition for military prominence is the maintenance of an empire.
Polska walczaca w oczach CIA [Fighting Poland through the Eyes of the CIA], by Alfred Tworkowski. Chicago. Wydawnictwo Wici (Panorama Publishing, 3104 North Cicero, Chicago, IL 60641). 1994. 325 pages. Paper. In Polish.
This volume purports to be a work informing the public about the contribution of Polish military forces, both in the regular Army and in the Underground, to victory in World War II. It also deals with the disloyalty and mendacity of western powers after the war, when the Polish Army in the West was no longer needed, and when Poland was handed over to Soviet Russians at Yalta. While we are sympathetic to the book's ostensible goals, we have to say that these goals have not been reached. The author seems to have wasted a considerable amount of energy on a book that will have no influence on either scholarship or opinion. His ignorance of elementary rules of scholarly discourse invalidates any research that went into the writing of this volume. He does not seem to be able to distinguish between presentation of evidence and opinion, or between argument and editorializing. He has no idea of how to construct chapters so that they can hang together. He has little idea of the state of academic research into the subjects he chose to investigate. Without these fundamental skills, it is impossible to write a credible book. Possibly, someone somewhere will find here a hint about sources of his/her research; but as it stands, the book is a wasted effort.
We have spelled out this volume's failings to provide an example to those who occasionally send us other samizdat publications, and who expect to receive regular reviews. Unfortunately, several hundred printed pages between two covers do not yet a book make. We regretfully discard these mailings, wishing that their authors spent their considerable talents, time and money on enterprises that have some chance of succeeding in American society, such as getting involved in the local Polish American Congress chapter or volunteering for some Polish charity. But these authors seem not to understand that working diligently on some established ship over a period of time brings results, whereas engaging in solo trips across the Atlantic generally brings disaster.
The Foreign Worker and the German Labor Movement: Xenophobia and Solidarity in the Coal Fields of the Ruhr, 1871-1914, by John J. Kulczycki. Oxford-Providence, USA. Berg Publishers. 1995. xiii + 294 pages. Bibliography & Index.
A History of the Poles in America to 1908, Part II (The Poles in Illinois). Translated by Krystyna M. Jankowski. Edited by James S. Pula et al. Washington, DC. Catholic University of America Press. 1995. 288 pages. Hardcover. $54.95.
Polish Americans: An Ethnic Community, by James S. Pula. New York. Twayne. 1995. Bibliography and Index. Hardcover.