Whitman in Poland

The Reception and Role of the American Poet in Polish National Culture

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272 pages, 2 B&W figures, 6×9 inches
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“Following a comparatist and semiotic perspective, Skwara guides the reader through the re-envisioning of Whitman over a 100-year period by Polish translators, poets, interpreters, and ideologues. The cultural panorama she presents is one that Western European and American readers of Whitman have rarely explored, one that has a better grasp of the role Whitman plays in our globalized world.”—Marina Camboni, coeditor, Translating America: The Circulation of Narratives, Commodities, and Ideas between Italy, Europe, and the United States

“This volume presents the varied portraits of Walt Whitman by Polish authors as well as an analysis of his poems in Polish translation. It shows how Poland appropriated ‘the Bard of America’ and its democracy as an exemplar and spokesperson for the Other, a futurist icon, and the poet of the workers.”—Dorothy M. Figueira, coeditor, Literary Culture and Translation: New Aspects of Comparative Literature

Whitman in Poland examines the reception of Walt Whitman in Poland from 1872 to the present day. The many ways in which Whitman was read, translated, and constructed in Polish culture are analyzed using a unique interdisciplinary approach that melds reception, communication, translation, and comparative studies. Marta Skwara shows how Whitman’s biography was portrayed in Poland; how and why the mid-1950s saw the greatest flourish of interest in Whitman as he was read in terms of “socialist realism” in accordance with the political indoctrination of the era; how Whitman’s image in Poland evolved from his first Polish translators and enthusiasts on through modernist poets’ responses; and how reading multiple Polish translations of the same Whitman poem by different translators allows us to see changing cultural and comparative contexts. Readers will get a full picture of how Whitman has functioned as a presence in Polish prose and poetry, and even in cinema and television.