Tajne oblicze GL-AL, PPR: Dokumenty (the secret face of the People's GuardPeople's Army, the Polish Workers' Party). 3 vols. Edited with an introduction by Marek J. Chodakiewicz, Piotr Gontarczyk and Leszek Zebrowski. Warsaw. Burchard Edition (01-673 Warszawa, ul. Podlesna 15). 1997. Volume 1, 261 pages; volume 2, 227 pages; volume 3, 286 pages. Indices. Paper. No price given. In Polish.
A collection of previously unavailable documents about the Soviet-shaped and controlled Polish Workers' Party formed after the Polish Communist Party had been dissolved and its leaders executed by Moscow. The documents reveal that the PPR was a Soviet agency whose real goals were known to a small circle of the initiated, while ordinary members were fed the pabulum supplied by the Moscow managers, namely, that the party supported workers' interests and was anti-Nazi. In fact, the military arm of the party, the People's Guard (Gwardia Ludowa) and People's Army (Armia Ludowa), murdered "reactionary" Poles from the anti-Soviet military underground, as well as unarmed civilians deemed reactionary by the Soviet order-givers. The leaders of the PG and PA maintained a sophisticated apparatus of deception which remains virtually unknown to this day, the editors allege. Each volume contains a hundred or so annotated documents with archival sources listed. The documents include reports of various PG-PA units on the county and village level, reports of executions of members of the Polish underground who fought the Nazis, reports of burglaries (the PA and PG partly maintained themselves by burglarizing Polish homes), propaganda documents, and others.
The Paradise Myth in Eighteenth-century Russia: Utopian Patterns in Early Secular Russian Literature and Culture, by Stephen Lessing Baehr. Stanford, CA. Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA 94305). 1991. xiv + 308 pages. Two appendices. Index. Hardcover.
Humanity has always dreamed about paradise, and Russia is no exception. The author concentrates on various Western tales deriving from classical, biblical, and patristic traditions, and on the ways they penetrated eighteenth-century Russian culture. He discovers the paradise motif in virtually all eighteenth-century writers and versifiers, while noting its bifurcation between writers who uncritically embraced it, assuming that a good tsar was essential to it (Sumarokov), and those who, like Radishchev, were critical of a possibility of a truly good life in conditions of tsarist autocracy. The paradise myth dissipated in the turbulent nineteenth century; according to the author, Pushkin's "Bronze Horseman" reflects rather the myth of a "paradise lost." But the Slavophile myth and numerous other brief reappearances of this motif testify to its enduring attraction.
Arkusz: Miesi´cznik Kulturalny Pozna - Warszawa - Kraków - Wroclaw. A monthly. No. 5 (90), May 1999. Edited by Boguslawa Latawiec. ISSN 1231 - 9763. Editorial offices: 60-782 Poznan, ul. Grunwaldzka 19. Foreign subscription Zl 16.80/year (ca. $5). In Polish.
We have been receiving Arkusz for some time now. Its quality is improving steadily. The current issue contains interesting poems (and drawings) by Kiejstut Bereznicki, a reading of Tadeusz Rózewicz's poetry by Andrzej Skrendo, an interview with Professor Hubert Ostrowski by Piotr Luszczykiewicz, remembrances of Leningrad by "la Marquise de Custine," a penetrating article on the Polish Russophile Adam Gurowski (by Arkadiusz Pacholski) and several other worthwhile pieces by, among others, Edward Balcerzan and Anna Bolecka. All this on 16 newspaper-size pages.
O ideach, ze zlowrogie bywaja: Recepcja rosyjskiej mysli filozoficzno-politycznej w Polsce po roku 1989 (about ideas, some of them malignant: the reception of Russian philosophical thought in Poland after 1989), by Marek Styczynski. Lódz. Instytut Studiów Miedzynarodowych Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego-Wydawnictwo Ibidem (ul. Krótka 6, 95-004 Kurowice k/Lodzi). 1999. 197 pages. Index. Paper. In Polish.
A collection of essays probing postcommunist changes in Russia and the possible directions which Russia might take in the future. The author invokes the major thinkers of Russian history, as well as their major contemporary Polish interpreters such as Andrzej Walicki, Grzegorz Przebinda, and others. While accusing the West of misunderstanding Russia, however, the author does not fully succeed in adumbrating a conceptual framework in which his own thought would become comprehensible in the West. His work (as well as the work of other members of the Sovietology Institute at the University of Lódz) would profit from closer exchanges with Western universities and journals. Members of the Institute need to secure visiting positions in the Departments of Political Science and in Slavic Departments at American, British and German universities in particular. Where are the American Polish donors who would underwrite a series of fellowships for such visits?
Na tropach Wakowicza, by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm. Warsaw. Prószyski i S-ka (02-651 Warszawa, ul. Garazowa 7). 1999. 362 pages. Index. In Polish.
A loosely-structured book on Melchior Wakowicz, with many digressions concerning Polish social life in intelligentsia circles before and after World War 2, by a close friend of Wakowicz who herself is a prolific writer and is considered by some to be Wakowicz's artistic heir. Particularly interesting are the sections dealing with Wakowicz's relationship with Kultura and its editor.
Zofia Kossak na emigracji, co-authored and edited by Miroslawa Palaszewska. Warsaw. Oficyna Wydawnicza Rytm (ul. Górczewska 8, 01-180 Warszawa). 1998. 397 pages. Index, illustrations. Hardcover. In Polish.
A critical biography and a collection of letters by and to Zofia Kossak-Szatkowska, a heroine of the Polish Resistance and a writer of note who gained popularity before World War 2 as the author of novels about the brutalities of the October Revolution in Ukraine. She is also known for her work on behalf of Jews during World War 2. Her works were banned in Soviet-occupied Poland from which she escaped in 1945. Her strongly Catholic views alienated her from the leftward-leaning Polish émigré circles and limited her access to émigré periodicals and readers. Yet she has a great deal to say, and the present sketch of her life and a selection from her letters deserve attention.
Other Books Received:
Gombrowicz's Grimaces: Modernism, Gender, Nationality. Edited by Ewa Plonowska Ziarek. Buffalo, NY: State U of New York Press, 1998. viii + 327 pages. Introduction, Index. Paper.
A collection of papers on one of the twentieth-century's most challenging writers. A review to follow.
Lily of the Valley, by Suzanne Strempek Shea. New York. Pocket Books. 1999. 273 pages.
A novel by a rising Polish American writer. A review to follow.
Zukunft als Geschichte: Historisch-politische Analysen und Prognosen zum Undergang des Sowjetkommunismus, 1980-1991 [future as history: historical and political analyses and prognoses related to the disintegration of Soviet communism, 1980-1991], by Imanuel Geiss. Stuttgart. Franz Steiner Verlag. 1998. 308 pages. Paper. In German.
A scholarly analysis of events in Poland, USSR, Germany and Europe generally in the 1990s by a noted German historian whose debate with Jürgen Habermas on the future of Germany gave him wide publicity. A review to follow.
Comparative Literature: Theory, Method, Application, by Steven Tötösy de Zepentek. Studies in Comparative Literature vol. 18. Series Editors: C.C. Barfoot and Theo D'haen. Amsterdam-Atlanta, GA: Rodopi 1998. 297 pages. Index. $49.50.
A review to follow.
Szkolny slownik literatury staropolskiej, by Janusz Golinski, Roman Mazurkiewicz and Piotr Wilczek. Katowice. Videograf II (40-153 Katowice, al. W. Korfantego 191, email:firstname.lastname@example.org). 1999. 352 pages. Index. Hardcover. In Polish.
A most useful compendium on "old" Polish writers and artists, i.e., those of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque. A most readable text dealing with periods of history crucial to the modern Polish identity. Recommended for the general reader.
Slady egzystencji: szkice o polskich pisarzach emigracyjnych, by Piotr Wilczek. Katowice. Slàsk Publishers (al. W. Korfantego 51, 41-160 Katowice). 1997. 107 pages. In Polish.
Essays on Jan Lechon, Witold Gombrowicz, Czeslaw Milosz and Adam Czerniawski.
M jak Mickiewicz, by Tomasz Lubienski. Warsaw. Bertelsmann Media Co. 1998. 317 pages. Index. Hardcover. In Polish.
A very personal biography of Poland's most popular Romantic poet sketched out against a detailed background of European history. The book contains many insights about Mickiewicz and his time, and it succeeds in capturing the development of Mickiewicz's personality.
Mikolaj Czernyszewski: pózny wnuk Oswiecenia, by Grzegorz Przebinda. Katowice. Wydawnictwo Slàsk (al. W. Korfantego 51, 41-160 Katowice). 1996. 103 pages. Paper. In Polish.
A study of Russia's famous progressive writer, one of the radical members of the intelligentsia who prepared the ground for twentieth-century events. The study is authored by a Polish scholar famous for his interpretation of Russian culture as deeply rooted in Eastern Orthodoxy. Truth be told, Chernyshevskii (we use the American transliteration) was a half-baked scholar, and his knowledge of Western philosophy was fragmentary, as has usually been the case in Russian intellectual life.
Quo Vadis nowa ero? New Age w Polsce, by Hanna Karas. Warsaw. Pallotine Publishing House (02-914 Warszawa, ul. Sw. Bonifacego 9). 1999. 373 pages. Paper. In Polish.
A critical analysis of the inroads which the New Age trends have made in Poland.
Rozszerzenie NATO w Kongresie Stanów Zjednoczonych, 1993-1998 (the enlargement of NATO in the U.S. Congress, 1993-1999), by Boguslaw W. Winid. Warsaw. American Studies Center, University of Warsaw (Aleje Niepodlegosci 22, 02-653 Warszawa). 1999. Index. 121 pages. Paper.
The book discusses in chronological order the major confrontations over NATO in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
Polonian Settlements in Texas: An Illustrated Chronology, compiled by Earl James Lasworth. Marshall, Texas. 1999. 115 pages. Numerous photographs.
This self-published book is in the best tradition of gentleman scholarship. It is lively and informative, and it offers a good insight into the subject. A model of volunteer work which we would like warmly to applaud.
Polish Champions: Sketches in Human Dignity, by Zbigniew Tyburski. Pulaski, WI. Franciscan Publishers and Printers. 1998. 203 pages. Index, maps. Paper.
A well-intentioned book providing several dozen vignettes of notable Polish politicians, writers, and scholars from the eleventh century to the present. Suitable for high school students.
Prasa Polska: Przeglad najlepszych tekstów z najlepszych gazet. Paris. Vol. 5, No. 4/55. In Polish.
Polish-language texts by Polish and American journalists and writers.
Kuchnia erotyczna, by Tadeusz Olszanski. Illustrations by Artur Golebiowski. Warsaw. Iskry. 1994.120 pages. Hardcover. In Polish.
A semi-serious and elegant chat about the aphrodisiac value of various foods, with recipes and history going back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The best recipe for ambrosia this side of Mount Olympus.
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Last updated 10/11/99