Larry Wolff (Boston)

The Spirit of 1776: Polish and Dalmatian Declarations of Philosophical Independence



The article compares some texts and cultural phenomena from Eastern Europe or East Central Europe, which would correlate cultural manifestations in the region with the distant trans-Atlantic developments emphasizing the principle and agenda of national independence At 1776 Ignacy Krasicki published “what can be called the first Polish novel,” The Adventures of Mikolaj Doswiadczynski, Written by Himself (Mikolaja Doswiadczynskiego Przypadki, przez niegoz samego opisane) and Giovanni Lovrich, also known as Ivan Lovric, from Venetian Dalmatia, published in Venice his one and only literary work, Observations on Various Parts of the Voyage in Dalmatia of the Signor Abbé Alberto Fortis (Osservazioni di Giovanni Lovrich sopra diversi pezzi del viaggio in Dalmazia del Signor Abate Alberto Fortis).

In the intellectual tensions of the Enlightenment, in its hierarchical rankings and resentments by language and culture, Polish and French, Dalmatian and Italian, it is possible to discern some aspects of national self-assertion, a kindred spirit of 1776, within the literary forms of the ancien regime in its first crisis. Furthermore, the consciousness of foreign domination among Poles and Dalmatians in 1776, in conjunction with a sensitivity to foreign literary condescension, provoked certain common cultural patterns of response, and even some inklings of a regional resemblance that would eventually be summed up in the idea of Eastern Europe.


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