This article attempts to throw some light on what may be called Poland’s new national-identity literature and its leading fi gures, Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz, Wojciech Wencel and Przemysław Dakowicz. They see their work as a psychopolitical educational tool in the service of a patriotic mission to reactivate the ‘real’ national identity. They believe that such an identity is necessary for individuals to develop strong personal identities, founded on a sense of belonging to an integral national community. Rymkiewicz, Wencel and Dakowicz champion this, somewhat archaic, model of national identity which claims total commitment from its members in virtually all their writings. This article focuses on the rhetorical devices used by the new national-identity literature to present and promote its key concept, especially the idea of a ‘sublime’ ethnic community, or a sentimentalized vision of a Polish Commonwealth.
The article analizes Stanisław Pigoń’s essay ‘Some Golden Thoughts on the Chair of Polish Literature’ written to commemorate the 600th jubilee of the Jagiellonian University. Stanisław Pigoń (1885-1968), Distinguished Profesor of Polish Literature, had it published in the Cracow weekly Życie Literackie in May 1964; its expanded version was published two years later in a volume of essays Drzewiej i wczoraj [In the Old Days and Yesterday] in 1966. Both versions were published again in a a bibliophile volume in December 2018 (the manuscript and the printed versions). At the heart of Pigoń’s essay are the twin ideas of freedom and the ‘spiritual life of the nation’, borrowed from Juliusz Słowacki’s epic poem The Spirit King. The article examines Pigoń’s key theme and the manner in which, as he saw it, it shaped the lectures of the most eminent professors of Polish literature in the 19th and 20th century (Michał Wiszniewski, Karol Mecherzyński, Stanisław Tarnowski, Ignacy Chrzanowski). Pigoń’s survey ends in 1910, but, as the author of the article observes, by that time the ideas he so strongly believed in were as relevant as ever.