Studies in Language, Literature, and Cultural Mythology in Poland

Author: Grossman, Elwira, editor


"This is the first volume in English to grapple seriously with the problem of 'otherness' in the context of Polish culture and as such it deserves to be congratulated. The sixteen essays covering various aspects of Polish language, literature, theatre, art, and history, as well as the editorial introduction, display a courageous determination to explore territories which to date have been considered too controversial, minority, marginalized, silenced, prohibited -indeed 'othered' -in such a way as to expose the mendacity and redundancy of any idea of Polish cultural homogeneity. The notion of 'quintessential' or 'monolithic' Polishness, which Polish politicians and intellectuals have tried to instil since the time of the partitions at the end of the eighteenth century in the mindsets of Poles and non-Poles, at home and in emigration, in order to maintain an environment of secure and self- approving national identity, is convincingly revealed for what it is: a myth ... the most significant achievement of this book is that Polish culture is perceived and treated as just another culture, just another literature -nothing special, unique or fundamentally different from other European cultures, with no extenuating circumstances, neither superior nor inferior, but above all as one which can be analysed with the same critical apparatus and methodologies, and hence as comprehensible to an English- speaking audience as any other 'foreign' culture could be, or would be once properly explained. This achievement, together with its direct and clear-sighted approach to many controversial and alternative issues in the diverse complexity (as it is now clearly revealed) of Polish culture, make it an entirely worthy memorial to its dedicatee: Donald Pirie, Stepek Lecturer in Polish at the University of Glasgow (1984-1994) and Grossman's predecessor in this post, who died in January 1997." - Ursuala Philips, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London and Reviewer for the Seer

“. . . a treasure trove of unconventional perspectives on Polish literature, theatre, language, and cultural history. . . . provides an enormously rich spectrum of insights into ‘the other’ in Polish culture. . . . The collection of articles does not only address specialists and readers interested in the representation and construction of ‘the other’ in Polish culture, but also scholars who explore related problems in other communities.” – Jan Fellerer

“The essays are of high intellectual standard, but their style is refreshingly lively, so they may appeal to anyone who is interested in Eastern Europe. The volume will also help to advance thae view that despite its uniqueness, Poland will not escape the transformation which has radically altered other Catholic countries in Europe in the last few decades. . . . it will be carefully read by subject specialists in the West as well as by the academic community in Poland.” – Piotr Kuhiwczak