Completing Miłosz, and other new Polish books : the August 2021 Slavonic items of the month

Our long-suffering Polish suppliers took a rush of orders in late June with their usual good grace, despite the need to supply them before the end of our financial year little more than a month later.  Among the resulting new arrivals is a particularly exciting addition – the two-volume Wygnanie i powroty : publicystyka rozproszona z lat 1951-2004, a collection of Nobel laureate Czesław Miłosz’ articles in the press, one of whose editors and contributors is Dr Stanley Bill of MMLL’s Slavonic Studies.  The publication was many years in the making, as Miłosz pieces published all over the world were carefully brought together.  The significance of the nearly 2,000-page-long set means it has been granted what is still a pretty rare post-lockdown open-shelf classmark.  The vast majority of our new arrivals continue to go into the closed but borrowable C200s class, to help us deal promptly with incoming books while still having our numbers in the physical office significantly capped .

Stan has also co-edited Światowa historia literatury polskiej  (A world history of Polish literature), published at the end of 2020, which I am hoping to get as an ebook but will buy in print if an electronic version suitable for institutional purchase doesn’t appear soon enough.

Wyganie i powroty appeared on a trolley full to bursting of Polish arrivals.  Among them were the following (pictures of front covers are provided at the end).

  • Anna Kaszuba-Dębska’s biography of the Polish Jewish writer and artist Bruno Schulz murdered in 1942 (a book of his drawings featured in an earlier blog post), 
    Bruno : epoka genialna.
  • Three novels by Magdalena Parys, including Magik which was one of the winners of the 2015 European Union Prize for Literature (a prize I have to admit I had never previously heard of, but whose winners our language and English specialists and I are now looking at and checking against our holdings)
  • Several books about Jewish history in Poland:
    • Warsze-Warszawa, a study of the history of Jewish Warsaw from 1414 to 2014
    • Wolny ptak, a collection of cartoons in the Jewish press published during Poland’s independence between the Polish-Soviet War and the Second World War
    • Anna Kuchta’s Wobec postpamięci, a study of “post-memory” of the Holocaust and Polish literature,
    • Jan Grabowski’s Polacy, nic się nie stało!, which explores the conflicted historiography of the Holocaust in Poland
  • In a earlier post, I made reference to a troubling ruling against a book co-edited by Grabowski about the experience of Polish Jews in the Holocaust and the response of Poles, a ruling which seemed to take academic research out of academia and into the highly charged political boxing ring.  Among those who voiced objections to the book was the IPN, the Instytut Pamięci Narodowej (Institute of National Remembrance).  The IPN is a state research institute and in recent years has reflected much of the increasingly far-right approach of the Polish government in its activities.  It publishes huge numbers of books looking at the Polish 20th century, normally with its Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu (Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation) arm.  We select and buy IPN publications fairly regularly, sometimes because the subject and its handling are of relatively straightforward interest for our readers, but also sometimes specifically because the subject is fraught and the handling is a useful example of how one political sector sees it.  The latest IPN purchases are:
  • Indoctrination, but this time through film, is the subject of Grzegorz Lecicki’s
    Widmo prawdy, projekcja falszu
    , a university press publication which studies the power of cinematic manipulation in Poland from 1944 to 2019.
  • Two books about the Solidarność movement:
  • And finally two exhibition catalogues:

Mel Bach

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