„Wo in dieser Welt ist Platz für uns?“ Stanisław Brzozowski, das russische Imperium und die polnische Nation
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This paper highlights some key aspects of Stanisław Brzozowski’s understanding of Russian history, politics, and literature during the last years of his life, from 1906 to 1911. In a letter written some months prior to his death, Brzozowski expressed his outrage at Walt Whitman’s Democratic Vistas and Other Papers (1888), in which Whitman understood America and Russia as culture-fusing empires. The desperate question Brzozowski posed in this letter, “Where is there a place for us in this world?”, was not mere rhetoric. He was in fact deeply concerned about Poland’s position in the modern world, a position that he felt must be claimed and protected from other nations, particularly from the Russian empire. The struggle for Poland’s right to exist in the modern age had to be carried out on various levels – social, political, and cultural. Very much like Whitman, he ascribed a crucial role to literature and literary criticism in the process of creation of a truly “modern” national self-consciousness. This is why he confronted Russia’s imperial dominance through and throughout his literature, from his 1906 “poem” on Fedor Dostoevsky and the “Darkness of the Russian Soul,” his novel on the history of the fi rst wave of Russian terrorism (Flames, 1908) to his latest works, the novel Alone among People (1911) and the essays of the posthumously published Voices in the Night (1912).