Kaleidoscope of Poland: A Cultural Encyclopedia (Russian and East European Studies) (Hardcover)

Kaleidoscope of Poland: A Cultural Encyclopedia (Russian and East European Studies) By Oscar E. Swan Cover Image

Kaleidoscope of Poland: A Cultural Encyclopedia (Russian and East European Studies) (Hardcover)


Email or call for price.
Foreword by Adam Zamoyski

Kaleidoscope of Poland is a highly readable volume containing short articles on major personalities, places, events, and accomplishments from the thousand-year record of Polish history and culture. Featuring approximately 900 compact text entries and 600 illustrations, it will be a handy reference at home, a perfect supplement to traditional guide books when traveling, an aid to language study, or simply browsed with enjoyment from cover to cover by anyone with an interest in Poland.
The entries describe essential features of Poland from the mundane to the sublime. Whether it is bagels or the Bug River, Chopin or Madame Curie, the authors offer colorful and often witty snapshots of significant individuals, customs, folklore, historic events, phrases, places, geography, and much, much more. Beginning with the emergence of the Polish state in 966 under Mieszko I, to the resurrection of present-day Poland within the European Union, it’s also a sweeping account of the tumult and triumphs the nation has witnessed through much of its history.
This highly entertaining yet informative book is essentially a “cultural dictionary”—offering a knowledge base that can be referred to time and time again. Kaleidoscope of Poland will be welcomed by readers of Polish descent, students of Polish, or anyone planning to visit Poland—anyone seeking a greater insight into this fascinating land.
Oscar E. Swan is professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh.  The author of over fifteen books, Swan was the first American selected for the Thesaurus Poloniae Award from the Center of International Culture, Kraków. He is also the recipient of the Polonicum Award from the University of Warsaw for the outstanding promulgation of Polish language, literature, and culture outside of Poland, among other honors.
Product Details ISBN: 9780822944386
ISBN-10: 0822944383
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication Date: December 31st, 2015
Pages: 400
Language: English
Series: Russian and East European Studies
“A balanced, splendidly illustrated survey of Polish history and culture, Swan’s encyclopedia covers the gamut from numerals, the Mazur ethnic group, and the folk dance varsovienne to Auschwitz, pigeon breeding, and the national dog. Alphabetical entries summarize the history of Radio Free Europe, Jagiellonian kings, and Deeds of the Princes of the Poles. An insightful introduction is followed by a pronunciation guide to 12 vowels sounds and 9 consonants and a rather grim chronology of events from 840 to 2010, with good coverage of the disappearance of the state of Poland in 1795.A vigorous writing style introduces the Warsaw Nike monument, post-WWII resistance, and Sarmatism, which linked Polish nobility with Russian forebears. Stress on the arts reveals the short fiction of Boleslaw Prus, the Lajkonik hobbyhorse, actor Ida Kaminska, the folk-art industry, and the primitivist painting of Nikifor. Concluding time lines of historic events, literati, monarchs, and uprisings promote the impression of perpetual conflict and struggle. A bilingual, 45-page index ensures reader connection to a variety of festivals, industries, and currency. This reasonably priced introduction of national and ethnic uniqueness belongs in most libraries, especially in areas heavily settled by Polish immigrants.”
—ALA Booklist

“Kaleidoscope of Poland is a book that will give you a basic yet very authentic knowledge of Poland, without being in any way dry. It will also impress you with its detailed information on the contemporary culture of the country, so you’ll quickly discover who’s who in Poland and even familiarize yourself with the country’s celebrities. Its many entries on Poland’s rich history and the Poles’ passionate drive for freedom through often turbulent times make it a must-read for anyone wanting to learn about Poland.”
—Mariusz Siara, PROLOG Polish Language School, Kraków

“This book is full of insights into the Polish state of mind.  As such, it is an absolute must for anyone meaning to visit the country, do business there or gain some idea of what has been going on in that part of the world for centuries—in an accessible and pleasurable way. But its usefulness is by no means confined to novices. Even after decades of living with and struggling to understand what ‘Poland’ really is, I will be quietly dipping into it to find out things I never got round to enquiring about.”
—Adam Zamoyski, from the foreword

". . . a charming and quirky reference volume with a surprising range of entries—just more than 1,000—on all and sundry aspects of modern Poland. . . . highly engaging. Unlike most reference works, this "kaleidoscope" is fluidly written and the personality of the author frequently breaks through, usually in comments on contemporary culture. " 
Austrian History Yearbook