Biweekly about culture


“You Poles are so, so…, erm, cultured! Yes, that’s the word, cultured!”

My English musician friend used to tell me that whenever we used to meet in a pub years ago to talk all things Polish (for his benefit) and all thing British (for mine).

What he meant was probably this: most Poles are not afraid of so-called high culture, they see it as an important part of their lives. And I suppose that’s still the case nowadays when Polish TV schedules overflow with numerous variants of Britain’s Got Talent and Dancing on Ice. Being an intellectual (not always synonymous with ‘cultured’, mind) is, unlike in Britain, not a sign of snobbery. It’s a sign of much-admired sophistication. Of being ‘cultured’.

Now those of you who are more interested in poetry, art, literature, non-commercial music etc. from Poland have a great source of the latest cultural news.

Biweekly is a great, recently launched website in English (with a Polish version too) and I like how they justify their existence:

We came upon such a sentence: ‘culture is not an obligation, one can do very well without it’ (Kot Jeleński). And we do not dare to state otherwise.

Yet, there are those, who, for some reason, do not want to live without it. Maybe they do remember Witold Gombrowicz and, just like him, they desire culture without all this juvenility and senile atrophy, butterflies and rainbows, dust and exaltation, patriotic and pseudo-intellectual demands.

The site has great content, very well written and well translated. Its eclectic collection of contributors makes it quite addictive.

Highly recommended. If you like feeling cultured, that is. 

4 thoughts on “Biweekly about culture

  1. Whilst I would agree that the Polish are ‘cultured’, this would refer to the general way people talk and act. It would not be about ‘high culture’, which seems to me to be more heavily used as a form of social snobbery in Poland, perhaps because, as you say, more people go to the Theatre, etc and there are therefore more people who believe it separates them from the rest. The English quite rightly think that not being interested in high-culture is just a matter of personal taste; unfortunately the anti-snobbery element (and often cost) prevents them from even trying it.

    ‘Intellectual’ has a completely different meaning in English, usually meaning someone who has a more esoteric way of thinking, rather than the well educated and well brought-up meaning it has in Poland. By definition, the standard English intellectual is odd, while the Polish intellectual is conventional.

    1. Although I have to add that from my experience, the expression ‘cultured’ probably refers to both the way of speaking and manners as well as the overall level of exposure to the cultural world. Older generations in particular were exposed to the best of literature, theatre, arts etc. at school, and it wasn’t always only a matter of snobbery.

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