Antonomasia's Reviews > The History of Polish Literature

The History of Polish Literature by Czesław Miłosz
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Reading Progress

October 29, 2018 – Started Reading
October 29, 2018 – Shelved
October 29, 2018 –
page 1
0.18% "This is to read dotting about and browsing (rather than cover to cover) in a way that GR updates and challenges can too easily discourage. I may know about and have the book because of computers but I don't want to have a computer-friendly reading pattern for everything too"
October 29, 2018 –
page 1
0.18% "I guess actually getting this shows how much more seriously I'm taking Polish lit. Some of those Histories of Scandinavian Literature https://www.goodreads.com/series/1392... have been in my Amazon 'saved for later' for literally about 7 years, and back then I was appallingly extravagant with books."
October 29, 2018 –
page 1
0.18% "xv. "Polish literature has always been orientated more towards poetry and the theater than towards fiction... Romanticism, both as a literary trend and a political attitude, has been considered the very core of Polish letters, and Roman Catholicism an inseparable ingredient. But, in fact, these commonplaces are of relatively recent origin.""
October 29, 2018 –
page 1
0.18% "xvi "a curious dichotomy ... a more or less permanent trait of Polish letters; namely an emotional moralism obviously nourished by a strong residue of Christian ethics has coexisted with anti-clericalism and an utter skepticism as to any dogmas (religious or political)."
Either I grew up more imbued with Polishness than I thought, or this is describing an outlook which is the norm in parts of C21st W Europe too."
October 29, 2018 –
page 1
0.18% "xvi Miłosz: "I am imbued, for better or worse, with the historicism typical of many European intellectuals. For the reader who is expecting an eager search for purely aesthetic values, this will not be a good credential."
(1969/1983 - typical more specifically of his generation due to experience of war & occupation, and of E Europe because changing borders & Soviets = longer experience of occupation than e.g. France."
November 25, 2018 –
page 153
26.84% ""First Half of the 18th Century - the 'Saxon Night', v short chapter under 10pp. Presents this as the nadir of [independent] Polish history, makes it sound so bad it's a) almost funny, b) ripe for young historians to present a revised version about why it wasn't *quite* that bad after all.
"stagnant economic & political system. rigid class division into masters & serfs stronger than ever in the nearly ruined country""
November 25, 2018 –
page 153
26.84% ""Wars had devastated towns so completely that some had lost up to 90% of their inhabitants. Country as a whole sustained a population decrease of about 30% due not only to wars & epidemics but also due to the utter misery of the peasants. Concentration of only existing capital, land, in the hands of a few lords" led to division in the nobility, btwn a few powerful magnates"
November 25, 2018 –
page 153
26.84% "and gentry living similarly to peasants but having pride in their titles and right to vote. Some worked in administration of magnates latifundia, "the spread of sycophancy, servility, intrigue and false politeness in social behaviour" and a gluttonous cult of feasting - implicitly connected to Sarmatianism. Jesuits also bolstered Sarmatianism. 51 Jesuit colleges, where only Latin taught & speaking Polish forbidden."
November 25, 2018 –
page 154
27.02% ""though the pupils of these schools could read & write in Latin, they were frozen in tradition, chauvinistic, isolated from the rest of Europe, and insensible to any new ideas. Wealthy aristocrats did travel abroad, where they acquired a fondness for everything French, but...they imitated only the superficial features of Western civilization. These two calamities - either Sarmatism or a stupid imitation of everything"
November 25, 2018 –
page 154
27.02% "foreign - became the targets at which Polish representatives of the Enlightenment were to aim their vigorous attacks"
Also sounds a lot like the world some characters in Pan Tadeusz are nostalgic for / still partially living in."
November 25, 2018 –
page 154
27.02% "situation of Protestants & other denominations worsened gradually, sometimes death sentences for blasphemy. "Religion actually meant little more than a fear of devils and witches." Proliferation of devotional literature with silly titles. A successful & popular 'academy of knowledge' book contained folk superstitions.
Political balance of power in the region shifted: Pol-Lith no longer a rival of Muscovy."
November 25, 2018 –
page 155
27.19% "in spite of enormous territory, there was no standing army; internal disintegration, country a pawn in the hands of Prussia & Russia. King August II & his son were from a Saxon dynasty (hence Saxon night) sided w Peter tG v Sweden in Northern War & country became theatre of war.
Lowest point in education, economy, literature c.1750, after that "new and vigorous forces" prepared the ground for the Enlightenment."
November 25, 2018 –
page 155
27.19% "Many rubbish poets about. Verbose legacy of Sarmatian Baroque.
Best used prev. century's religious theme "juxtaposing transient human glory & omnipotent death" with macabre imagery.
Father Jozef Baka (1707-80) often considered worst poet in Polish history and treated as source of amusement, like Wm McGonagall in English.
Notable poets Elżbieta Drużbacka & the rediscovered Konstancja Benisławska."
November 25, 2018 –
page 155
27.19% "Benisławska (1747-1806) "turned to religious poetry at the 'advanced age' of 28, after having given birth to many children". A good exponent of a Baroque style which was unfashionable at the time. These two not indexed in margin unlike several male writers.
Background of "general marasmus", with a few greats hobbled by this.
Much on Stanisław Konarski (1707-73) precursor of Enlightenment, monk,"
November 25, 2018 –
page 156
27.37% "writer on political reform, admirer of Montesquieu. King Stanisław Leczynski (1708-10, 1733) hoped to win back power via treatise on reform, but fear of offending the gentry meant he could not make suggestions that would strengthen the polity.
Franciszek Bohomolec (1720-84), Jesuit, transformed medieval style religious drama, fan of Moliere, bowdlerised versions for schools, paved way for modern theatre."
November 25, 2018 –
page 158
27.72% "Andrzej Załuski book collector & bishop (Wiki shows 2 brothers), collection of 300 000 books and 10 000 manuscripts donated to Polish govt. On partition, Russians took it to St Petersburg. After Rus Rev, returned to Poland, but Nazis burned it down in 1944 and everything destroyed. (Sounds like Polish Library of Alexandria.)
Easier to understand why Tokarczuk shocked by presence of C16th furniture in Scotland."

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