Coming of Age under Martial Law

August 2015
232 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in East and Central Europe
ISBN: 9781580465281
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC HIS010010, HIS037070, LIT004110

Coming of Age under Martial Law

The Initiation Novels of Poland's Last Communist Generation

Svetlana Vassileva-Karagyozova

Examines a selection of post-1989 coming-of-age novels authored by the generation of Polish writers whose transition from adolescence to adulthood coincided with Poland's transition from communism to liberal democracy.
2016 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

This volume is a study of approximately thirty coming-of-age Polish novels written by the so-called '89ers -- the generation who became adults just as Communist rule was ending. Narrating fictionalized childhoods in Poland in the 1970s and '80s and the transition to adulthood in the late '80s and early '90s, these novels depict the consequences of the fall of Communism for their protagonists' maturation process. Svetlana Vassileva-Karagyozova argues that the liminal aspects of these narratives, in which the protagonists' rites of passage remain suspended in important ways, reflect the effects of the cataclysmic events of the late 1980s as well as the ways in which, for the Polish '89ers, the clash with their predecessors did not produce the anticipated generational change in leadership. Instead, the elders refused to give up their leadership positions, while the young were stifled in their development and occupied marginal social spaces. In Vassileva-Karagyozova's fascinating account, these novels illuminate the authors' attempts to define themselves as a generation as well as to narrate the sociocultural shift in democratic Poland from collectivism to Western-style individualism.

Svetlana Vassileva-Karagyozova is associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures at the University of Kansas.

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Table of Contents

The Displaced Generation of the Children of Martial Law
Arrested Maturation
Emasculated Men, Absent Fathers
Exorcising Mother-Demons: The Myth of the Polish Mother Revisited
At the Roots of Apostasy
Conclusion: Kitschy Parents, Barbaric Children


2016 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

[An] engaging study of coming-of-age novels by Polish authors born between 1960 and 1975 . This compelling study and its findings will interest Slavists and Polonists alike, as well as scholars in gender studies, childhood studies, children's and Young Adult literature, comparative literature, and post-Communist studies. SLAVIC AND EASTERN EUROPEAN JOURNAL Vassileva-Karagyozova takes into consideration aspects of gender, postcolonial literary theory, anthropology, sociology and psychology and draws a convincing picture of a society in transition and its generational struggles. SLAVIC REVIEW

2016 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

Brilliantly reversing the traditional inquiry--how do generations shape literature?--Vassileva-Karagyozova asks: "How do [works] shape 'the identity of Poland's last communist generation'?" . . . This is a much-needed addition to the scholarship on cultural work in Poland, as it overthrew the chains of communism and moved toward democracy and freedom. In sum, this is a brilliant work by an original and perceptive scholar. Essential. CHOICE

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