Warsaw 1596-1996 review

Another book about Warsaw’s history read, and reviewed now. A long time has passed since I finished reading last book by Polish author and took time in the Polacy nie gęsi challenge. It’s my 9th of 12 books required for the “minimal level”.

Warszawo, Ty moja Warszawo 1596-1996 – Wiesław Głębocki and Karol Mórawski

Warszawo, Ty moja Warszawo - Wiesław Głębocki & Karol MórawskiTitle: Warszawo, Ty moja Warszawo 1596-1996 (Warsaw, oh my Warsaw 1596-1996)
Author: Wiesław Głebocki and Karol Mórawski

Language: Polish

Published: Warsaw, 1994
Edition: 1st
Pages: 414
ISBN: 83-7001-770-3

About the Author

Both authors are varsavianists, but I can’t find enough bio information on them. Karol Mórawski is a “big name” in the field of varsavianists, a historian, but that doesn’t help me at all.  I’m not sure about their age, I know for sure that Mr. Mórawski is a senior.

About the Book

The book is divided into chapters, every one has specific theme, for example: legends, education, theatres, Vistula river. There are many maps and illustrations.

Quote

Straż miejska z drewnianymi kołatkami obchodziła ulice, przeciągle nawołując:

Już dziesiąta na zegarze,
Idźcie więc spać gospodarze.

Translation:

Municipal police with wooden rattles were walking through the streets, protractedly exhorting:

It’s ten on the clock,
so go to sleep, landlords.

My Opinion

My biggest problem with this book is the target. I can’t understand for whom the book was written. Was if for the generation of my parents? When the book was written I was a teenager, reading it 20 years later, the book feels outdated not only because of the time flow. The language in the book feels outdated too – who uses words like “wywianować” (it’s a verb meaning “to give dowry”), especially when talking about collections in museums? I doubt the young people 20 years ago used it, it’s related to a custom that is no longer practised. A historian and a senior person tho could use such words. And the way he describes things also feels outdated. “A servant of Mars”? Seriously? Or using “victor” (Latin word) instead of “winner”.

There are lots of info and data, dates. Sometimes the dates aren’t where they’d be needed more. For example in places comparing libraries in different countries. Or when writing about Buffalo Bill’s visit to Warsaw. I tried to find its exact date online, but even the “Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave” operated by Denver city in its list of his trips called “Did Buffalo Bill Visit Your City?” mentions only Warsaw in Indiana, USA, not Warsaw in Europe. No footnotes, no bibliography so I can’t verify where did the authors get this information from.

I miss some things in chapters. For example in a chapter about the unlawful people (“Hultaje i wszetecznice”) I expected also stories about “modern” people like Tata Tasiemka, a gangster from Wola district, who died during Second World War.

I especially enjoyed the chapter “O czym śpiewano ballady” (Topics of ballads). Lots of interesting facts and songs, but again they think that everybody knows who was Felek Zdankiewicz and they don’t bother to explain it, but use it to  introduce some other information. It isn’t the best way to introduce Warsaw’s history to people who might not grow up in here.

It makes me laugh seeing them writing from the point of views of old gramps, who weep the world has changed. Seriously, I don’t need to know their opinion on changes (usually bad) especially since they’re so “morally upright”. Ah, years ago the people were so good, and now it’s changing for the worse… Yeah, sure.

Did you notice the book was published in 1994 but theoretically it’s 1596-1996. 😉

There are also good things: lots of information, references to small cultural things from centuries ago like proverbs (and explanations of the old ones), sayings, songs etc. (see the quote). And lots of daily life information.

My opinion: 7/10.

Did you read it? What do you think about “Warszawo, Ty moja Warszawo”?

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