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Unformatted text preview: , the last two in particular appearing very close in nature to the fights between medieval
warlords in Europe. The terrorist war, so close to guerrilla war, calls for
yet another redefinition of the concept of war in the Western society.
That is, if western armies are to successfully fight the terrorist organizations, their way of war must change, as in the war on terror there will be
no single decisive battle.
5. Literature and war
One of the strains of research within sociology mentioned by Roxborough, was a representation of war in culture, i.e. films, comics and other
media. In the present section I want to shortly present the image of war
in Polish and British literature. This brief overview makes no claims
concerning a thorough or novel study of the issue. It rather aims at identifying the major points and relies completely on the expertise of literary
critics. First, I shortly review a collection of essays written by Maria Janion, a professor of the Polish Academy of Sciences speing in literature and culture, in the years 1975-1998 and published as Janion (1998). Chapter III 92 When it comes to British literary tradition I turn to a monograph on war
and peace in the 20th c. by Jacek Wiśniewski (1987).9
Janion (1998) perceives the myth of the Polish national insurrection as constitutive of the Polish understanding of war and its close relation to patriotism. The failure of the three consecutive national uprisings
(Kościuszko Uprising 1794, November Uprising 1830-31 and January
Uprising 1963-64) contributed to the myth that it is not the winning but
the honourable death which is the aim of a military action. The Polish
mythic imperative, as defined by Janion (1998: 258), consists of six elements:
THE UPRISING – the need for the uprising is overwhelming, it is a necessity, in accord with the Polish insurrection tradition;
THE DEED – often stemming from an anxiety that it may be delayed, because the delay brings utter disgrace, an eternal flaw;
THE REDOUBT – to dig in on an indomitable position, possibly perish there;
as in the words of Warszawianka:10 “today – your triumph or your death”;
THE SACRIFICIAL STAKE – as in the romantic image of the referendum of
the ashes from Lila Weneda [a tragedy by Słowacki]: “This is the most
glorious referendum, in which the nation to disclose its will carries not the
ballots but its own ashes” or as in (Gazeta Polska Aug 28th 194411): “Let
the city burn, Poland will rise”;
THE WORLD WILL SEE THE SACRIFICE AND BE ASHAMED – the quote from
Słowacki will suffice: “Let them see us, as we perish”;
THE FIGHT IS HOPELESS, BUT NECESSARY FOR THE FUTURE GENERATIONS –
Okulicki [the Commander in Chief of the Warsaw Uprising 1944] and others
spoke about “the seed” and “the supreme sacrifice” [my translation, MF]. The mythic imperative, as defined above, Janion clearly identified in
Wańkowicz’s Legenda o Hubalu [The legend of Hubal],12 where the
9 Marek Wilczyński and Jacek Fabiszak have suggested this source to me.
Warszawianka – La Varsovienne was written by a French...
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