April 4, 2019
9.21 Inches (US)
6.26 Inches (US)
1.5 Pounds (US)
$105.00 USD
v2.1 Reference

Customs and Culture in Poland under the Last Saxon King

Selections from Opis obyczajów za panowania Augusta III by father Jędrzej Kitowicz, 1728-1804

Jędrzej Kitowicz was a parish priest in central Poland with a military and worldly past. In his later years, after putting the affairs of his parish in order, he composed a colorful chronicle of all aspects and walks of life under King August III. He seems to have written mostly from memory, creating in the process the most complete record that exists of society in eighteenth-century Poland. A man with omnivorous tastes, a keen sense of observation, and a wry—at times bawdy—sense of humor, Kitowicz's realistic and robust literary technique has been compared in its earthiness and evocativeness to Flemish genre painting. A noteworthy example of eighteenth-century writing and narrative talent, his Opis reveals an astounding visual memory and a modern ethnographer's eye for material culture.

The present book consists of fifty-one chapters, including all of the most celebrated ones, from Father Kitowicz's Opis, complete with a comprehensive introduction. Topics include religious beliefs, customs and institutions, child-rearing, education, the judiciary and the military. Particularly vivid are the descriptions of the lives of the nobility, ranging from cooking through men's and women's wear to household entertainments and drinking habits. A commentary by the editor introduces each chapter.

About the Authors

Jędrzej Kitowicz (1728–1804) was a parish priest in central Poland with a military and worldly past. In his later years, after putting the affairs of his parish in order, he composed a colorful chronicle of all aspects and walks of life under King August III.  Oscar E. Swan is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh.


"Oscar E. Swan's English edition of Kitowicz's Description is a terrific addition to the scholarship on the history and literature of early modern Europe. Swan's treatment does not merely translate an interesting work for curious readers. His translation, annotation, and commentary are self-admittedly novel and bold in interpretation, and they demonstrate the text's wide-ranging scholarly applicability. It emerges well contextualized for a diverse audience, attractive as either a secondary or primary source, either literary or historical. This edition is especially useful as a model for scholars who desire to make sources from less commonly studied languages or cultures accessible to a wider readership."
https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=54364—Bryan Kozik, H-Net Reviews

"Eines der bedeutendsten Quellenwerke zur polnischen Geschichte ist nun auch in einer westsprachlichen Übersetzung zugänglich. Kennern war dieses Buch über die Sitten in Polen zur Zeit der Herrschaft des zweiten Wettinerkönigs August III. (1733–1763) schon lange bekannt, und es ist auch häufig in historischen Arbeiten zur frühen Neuzeit in Polen ausgewertet worden. Wer sich für die Geschichte des alten Polens interessiert, findet hier einen höchst informativen und amüsant zu lesenden Text, der in manchem von der klassischen Narration zum 18. Jh. in Polen abweicht und gerade dadurch weitere Neugier wecken kann."—Martin Faber, Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung


For anyone interested in the history and development of Polish culture Kitowicz's work is a must-read. Writing in the late eighteenth century about gentry life during the reign of August III (1734-63), when French influences had not yet strongly affected the dress and customs of the land-owning class, Kitowicz provided a vivid portrayal of life under the last of the Saxon kings. Professor Swan's faithful and fluent translation, accompanied by copious explanatory footnotes, allows the reader to become a kind of participant-observer of the details of every-day life (religious practice, eating and drinking, child rearing, military service and much more).—Robert A. Rothstein

Armed with the curiosity and meticulousness of an ethnologist, Father Jędrzej Kitowicz observes the changing landscape of eighteenth-century Poland through the lens of objects, customs, habits, and regulations. Quintessentially Polish himself, Kitowicz represents major native vices and virtues: fear of foreign influences, short-sighted conservatism, at times even misogyny, but also curiosity, unique powers of perception, and a desire to order the chaotic world. Consequently, his ubiquitous, sometimes sardonic sense of humor is laced with underlying worry for the future of Poland, inscribing the publication into the long tradition of national melancholic narratives. Customs and Culture in Poland under the Last Saxon King, masterfully translated by Professor Oscar Swan of the University of Pittsburgh is an inexhaustible source of information not only for historians, but also scholars who examine the difficult relations between east and west, religious studies, political sciences, and, above all, material culture enthusiasts.—Agnieszka Jezyk


9789633862759 : customs-and-culture-in-poland-under-the-last-saxon-king-kitowicz-swan
412 Pages
$105.00 USD

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