Poland in Transition: 1989-1991

David R. Pichaske, Author
David R. Pichaske, Author Ellis Press $11.95 (246p) ISBN 978-0-944024-27-0
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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``The old symbols are dead,'' muses one of Lech Walesa's countrymen in this perceptive and seductive portrait. ``All our lives it's been the Party or the Church, but neither works any more.'' From 1989 to 1991 Pichaske ( A Generation in Motion ) was a Fulbright lecturer living in working-class Lodz. In these personal essays he chronicles the inflation, political chaos and economic reform as well as the cultural transformation that would result in Stalinist memorials being replaced by ads for Diet Coke and Levi jeans. ``Poles love the West,'' he writes, ``because to them it represents the Future in which they believe as fervently as Jay Gatsby believed in the green light at the end of Daisy's dock.'' Pichaske loves the old Poland and realizes that the country's venture into free market economics is not without its painful lessons. Still, his descriptions of Poland are always entertaining, especially in poetic ``cityscapes'' and his comparisons of U.S. and Polish student life. Literature parties at the University of Lodz, for example, reflect a 1960s American culture in which Bellow and Vonnegut are lionized and Toni Morrison is unknown. With a scholar's analysis, a traveler's practicality--and 95 worthwhile photographs--Pichaske illuminates many facets of the nation and its inhabitants. (Aug.)
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