Polish modern literature emerged from the nineteenth century in a state of inner tension and contradictory drifts. Its messianic tradition and national commitment were challenged by the forerunners of Modernism, particularly by Stanisław Przybyszewski, who wrote proudly in his Confiteor (1899) that ‘art has no aim, it is an aim in itself’ and, consequently, ‘tendentious art, art-pleasure, art-patriotism, art possessing a moral or a social aim ceases to be art and becomes a biblia pauperum’. His idea of the ‘naked soul’ in all its vagueness aimed at a much broader concept of ‘absolute consciousness’. Another Modernist, Zenon Przesmycki, went so far as to condemn unequivocally social equality and mass education in the belief that they resulted in increased pressure on genuine art from a semi-illiterate mob, whose vulgar taste and mediocre aspirations were hostile to sublimity and metaphysical yearnings.
KeywordsMass Education National Commitment Polish History Polish Literature National Mythology
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