Year XVII, Issue 5-6 (187-188)

June 2013
Jerzy Jedlicki. The State of the Polish Intelligentsia
Andrzej Mencwel. Concerning “The Nature of Polishness
Alexander Smolar. Leadership in Post-Communist Transition
Przemysław Czapliński. Bonding and Violence
Hanna Gosk.Identity Formation in Post-Dependency Polish Studies
Mykola Riabchuk. A Ukrainian Friday and His Two Robinsons
Rafał Stobiecki. Polish Historiography at the Beginning of 21st Century
Olena Sheremet.A Passion For Exploring the World
Iwona Kurz. A Beautiful Failure: Poland, Post-Wajda
Taras Prokhasko.Sherlock for Robinson, or Crusoe for Holmes
Krzysztof Michalski.The Frailness of All That
Edwin Bendyk.An Uncharted Area
Izabela Kowalczyk.Polish Critical Art and the Holocaust
Joanna Derkaczew.Zombies vs. Transformation Children
Łukasz Gorczyca.The Alternative–Real and Otherwise



The new social and art practices in Poland are the focus of the May-June, 2013 special edition of Krytyka. Funded by the Polish Institute in Kyiv, the issue examines two decades of social transformation in Poland and the paradigms that infl uenced Polish group identity.

The issue opens with “The State of the Polish Intelligentsia” by the historian of ideas, Professor Jerzy Jedlicki. He surveys the evolution of the Polish intelligentsia as a class since the end of Stalinism in 1956, through the upheavals of 1968 and 1989, and then the massive shift caused by the Internet and the new life styles and class identities emerging in the twenty-fi rst century.

In “Concerning “The Nature of Polishness” Andrzej Mencwel, cultural anthropologist and historian and Director of the Institute for Polish Culture at Warsaw University, reviews the contributions of the emigre journal “Kultura” to the redefi nition of “Polishness” in the 1950s.

In his “Leadership in Post-Communist Transition” Alexander Smolar, Director of the Stefan Batory Foundation, examines why in spite of so many pessimistic predictions the parallel development of democratic institutions, of the rule of law, and of the market economy was in fact possible in the Central and East European countries which have now become part of the European Union.

Przemysław Czapliński, a literary critic and Professor at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, argues in his essay “Bonding and Violence” that literature always invents a world, and Polish literature of the late 20th century had indeed invented society three times – and each time in a different way.

In her “Identity Formation in Post-Dependency Polish Studies,” Hanna Gosk, Professor of Literary History at Warsaw University, explores the cognitive structures which originate in the yearning for and opposition to change, and the effects these structures have both on Polish identity and on Polish literature.

Mykola Riabchuk, a Ukrainian critic and columnist, uses the “Robinson Crusoe and Friday” metaphor to highlight the difference between Russian-Ukrainian and Polish-Ukrainian relations and mutual expectations in the longue durée in his essay “A Ukrainian Friday and His Two Robinsons.”

In his “Polish Historiography at the Beginning of 21st Century,” Rafał Stobiecki, professor of history at Łódź University, reviews the state of the discipline and the various internal, academic and social transformations affecting it.

The Ukrainian translator and literary scholar Olena Sheremet gives an extensive overview of Polish reportage and non-fi ction in her “A Passion For Exploring the World.” Professor Iwona Kurz of Warsaw university challenges Polish fi lm director Andrzej Wajda’s legacy and myth “A Beautiful Failure: Poland, Post-Wajda.” She argues that the outstanding director has fi lled the Polish imagination with symbols of defeat and used his genius to dwell on Polish failures as a form of guilty pleasure.

In his “Sherlock for Robinson, or Crusoe for Holmes” the Ukrainian writer and essayist Taras Prokhasko compares the story of the recently discovered Ukrainian artist Josyp Vaskiv’s life with the Robinson Crusoe myth, in which the small Carpathian town of Deliatyn – becomes his island (in the early 1930s Vaskiv abruptly left his art and family life in Warsaw and moved to Deliatyn, then a Polish resort). According to the author, this plot requires a Sherlock Holmes.

An essay “The Frailness of All That” by Krzysztof Michalski (1948-2013), philosopher, co-founder and Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, is devoted to Michalski’s teacher Leszek Kołakowski, Polish philosopher and historian of ideas, and his ethical and intellectual legacy.

In his “An Uncharted Area” Edwin Bendyk, a columnist for “Polityka” magazine and a popular blogger, writes on the “blind spots” in the mainstream vision of Polish cultural and social practices: the areas which social studies do not fully see and where new and thrilling forms of life are emerging.

In her “Polish Critical Art and the Holocaust,” Izabela Kowalczyk, a critic and historian of art, reviews the most controversial works by Polish artists on the Holocaust and examines the confl icts that arise between contemporary art and the demands of historical veracity. Joanna Derkaczew, a theatre critic and a journalist for “Gazeta Wyborcza”, exposes the crucial changes in the Polish theatre during the last fi ve years in her “Zombies vs. Transformation Children.”

The issue concludes with an essay by art critic and curator Łukasz Gorczyca “The Alternative–Real and Otherwise,” which puts the question as to what really constitutes an alternative in contemporary art.

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