The Polonica in Czech Samizdat project came about through a collaboration between the CLB team and our counterparts at the Institute of Literary Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences and the attached Digital Humanities Centre.
Under the supervision of Piotr Wciślik, a database was compiled of records of Polish dissident culture in Czechoslovak and Czech samizdat. The initial results were shared in a joint presentation by Anna Gnot, Gabriela Romanová and Cezary Rosiński at the Central European University Summer University in Budapest in July 2019. This was part of the workshop Cultures of Dissent in Eastern Europe (1945–1989): Research Approaches in the Digital Humanities.
The database covers a broad range of articles with a focus on reports on the Polish Solidarity movement, interviews with Polish dissidents and related writers and samples of their fiction. There are also records of other aspects of Polish culture and the Polish political scene: book, theatre and film reviews, reports from festivals and commentaries on the current political situation in the country.
Most of the records come from social studies and political periodicals such as Fakta, připomínky, události (Facts, Comments, Events), Informace o Chartě 77 (Charter 77 Information) and Severomoravská pasivita (North Moravian Passive Resistance). Material about historical developments including postwar Polish–Czechoslovak and Polish–Soviet relations is drawn especially from Historické studie (Historical Studies). A significant proportion of the database comprises fiction that appeared in Revolver Revue, Obsah (Content), Kritický sborník (The Critical Anthology)and Ječmínek. This includes poetry by Czeslaw Miłosz, Edward Stachura and others.
A separate section focuses on samizdat monographs and non-periodical anthologies particularly Slovo a zeď (Word and Wall), which showcased works by prominent Polish poets. These samizdat volumes often dealt with historical and social issues and, for example, include many interviews with Adam Michnik and reports on the Polish workers’ movement. This section also features reissues of Milan Hübl’s study Češi a jejich sousedé (The Czechs and Their Neighbours), Józef Maria Bocheński’s collection of philosophical lectures Cesty k filozofickému myšlení (Journeys to Philosophical Thought)and books on Catholic themes.
All of these records are sourced from the Polish underground library collections at Libri prohibiti. The database is constantly being updated and the latest verson can be seen here. All data are processed in the nodegoat online research environment.