Positivism in Poland

Positivism in Poland defined progressive thought in literature and other walks of life following the disastrous January 1863 Uprising until the turn of the 20th century.

In the aftermath of the Uprising, many Poles abandoned their hopes of regaining Poland's independence from Russia, Germany and Austro-Hungary by force of arms. Together with those hopes they — often reluctantly and only partially — set aside the style of the Romantic period. Polish "Positivism," drawing its name from Auguste Comte's philosophy and much of its ideology also from the works of British scholars and scientists, advocated the exercise of reason before emotion. It argued that independence, if it is to be regained, must be regained gradually, by "building from the foundations" (creating a material infrastructure and educating the public) and through "organic work" that would enable Polish society to function as a fully integrated "social organism" (a concept borrowed from Herbert Spencer).

The leading Polish journalist, short-story writer and novelist Bolesław Prus advised his compatriots that Poland's place in the world would be determined by the contributions that she made to its scientific, technological, economic and cultural achievements.

Specific societal questions addressed by the Polish Positivists included the establishment of women's rights, the assimilation of Poland's Jewish minority, and the defense of the Polish population in the German-ruled part of Poland against "Kulturkampf" and displacement by German settlers.

The Positivists viewed work, not uprisings, as the true way to maintain a Polish national identity and demonstrate a constructive patriotism.

Leading writers of the Polish Positivist period included:
* Adam Asnyk (1838-1897)
* Adolf Dygasiński (1839–1902)
* Eliza Orzeszkowa (1841-1910)
* Maria Konopnicka (1842-1910)
* Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916; Nobel Prize, 1905)
* Bolesław Prus (1847-1912)
* Wiktor Gomulicki (1848–1919)
* Aleksander Świętochowski (1849–1938)
* Antoni Sygietyński (1850–1923)
* Gabriela Zapolska (1857-1921)
* Maria Rodziewiczówna (1863-1944)

Poets:
* Adam Asnyk (1838-1897)
* Felicjan Faleński (1825-1910)
* Maria Ilnicka (1825 or 1827-1897)
* Aleksander Michaux (1839-1895)
* Wacław Rolicz-Lieder

Dramatists:
* Adam Asnyk
* Michał Bałucki (1837-1901)
* Józef Bliziński (1827-1893)
* Felicjan Faleński (1825-1910)
* Edward Lubowski (1837-1923)
* Józef Narzymski (1839-1872)
* Zygmunt Sarnecki (1837-1922)
* Józef Szujski (1835-1883)
* Aleksander Świętochowski (1849-1938)
* Kazimierz Zalewski (1849-1919)

Literary critics:
* Piotr Chmielowski (1848-1904)


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