Gdy runął mur. Literatura polska w dobie przełomu
When the wall fell. Polish literature in the wake of the change
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The year of the fall of the Berlin Wall is an important turning point in the history of the 20th century Europe. It symbolises the erosion of the communist system, which in Poland had began thirteen years earlier – with breaking the omnipotence of censorship by the independent self-publishing. When in 1989 the Opposition came to power, they changed both the economic and political system, which in turn changed the whole Polish culture – the book market, publishers’ position, function of the magazines, and even writers’ status. The readers’ first reaction was a sudden increase of interest in the emigrant, gulag, and underground literature, however, not even a decade passed, when that interest started fading. Then came the second wave: popular literature (romances, crime stories, thrillers, speculative fiction). Also, there were changes in the literary life: the dominant role of the capital city during the Polish People’s Republic had been undermined by local initiatives (including art zines, publishing houses in the provinces), “the headquarters’” position was nevertheless maintained by the state television and the authority of the Nike Literary Award, which had been created in 1996. Poetry was dominated by “the old poets” (Cz. Miłosz, T. Różewicz, Z. Herbert, W. Szymborska), who, despite nearing the ends of their lives, were in an exceptionally good literary shape. They were accompanied by the authors of The New Wave, with whom the poets of “BruLion” group soon waged war. In prose, the writers born around 1960, who are well-known today in Europe (e.g. O. Tokarczuk), gained a strong position. The world recognition was also won over by the masters of the Polish reportage (e.g. R. Kapuściński, H. Krall) and their pupils (W. Tochman, W. Jagielski, M. Szczygieł).
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