Toward the end of the nineteenth century, political conditions in Poland were approximately the same as those which prevailed after the Insurrection of 1863. Social and cultural life developed along the lines described in the preceding chapter; at times we even anticipated the chronology a little in order to maintain the continuity of the picture. However, the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first fifteen years of the twentieth (it is impossible to establish the dates more exactly) mark a distinct turn in Polish intellectual life. This turn is in part a continuation of some tendencies existing during the positivist epoch, but it is also an attempt to create a new world view, inimical to positivism, and, in literature, a new esthetics, opposed to realism. Among the new tendencies, which had already begun in the preceding period, one must recall the appearance of strong, political mass organizations, such as the P.P.S. and the Peasant Party, which, acknowledging the idea of 'organic' work, proclaimed political struggle against both the oppressors and native reaction as their principal task. And political struggle, as we know, was not in the spirit of the strict positivist program. The social policy of these two parties also went further than the progressive liberalism of the positivists; the socialists demanded a fundamental transformation of the polity, while the agrarians subordinated all social issues to the interests of the peasant class. Some distinguished positivists of high intellectual and moral culture rose above the spirit of the epoch; the most outstanding example is Prus. Sienkiewicz's work did not fit at all into the framework of the positivist world view or its literary program, while that of Asnyk and Konopnicka also revealed many elements contrary to the 'official' trends of the epoch.
This tendency to react against the positivist mentality, both in politics and in literature, gained in strength and influence during the new generation, and found support in the similar reaction which had taken
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Publication information: Book title: A Survey of Polish Literature and Culture. Contributors: Manfred Kridl - Author, Olga Scherer-Virski - Translator. Publisher: Columbia University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1956. Page number: 403.