Four Harvard scholars--all native Poles--yesterday called the release of Polish dissident scholar Stanislaw Baranczak a sign that the country is becoming more liberal, but they said they were unsure how long the current climate would last.
Baranczak, a 33-year-old poet, essayist and literary critic from Poznan, Poland, was granted a passport by the Polish government this week after seven refusals. A founding member in 1976 of the Committee for Social Self-Defense, Poland's most prominent dissident group. Baranczak first applied for the passport in March, 1978, when he accepted a three-year associate professorship in Harvard's Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.
George G. Grabowicz, associate professor of Slavic Languages and Literature, said yesterday. "We are all very happy to hear the long-awaited news, but we are apprehensive as to the security of [Baranczak's] coming." Grabowicz said the release may be part of a government effort to keep control over other dissidents.
"Baranczak's release is very significant," Wiktor Weintraub, Jurzykowski Professor of Polish Language and Literature Emeritus, said yesterday. "Not only is he a specialist in literature, but he is also active politically, and will make an impact on both Polish and Western culture."
The four Polish experts spoke at a round table discussion yesterday, which they said they had planned hoping Baranczak would be present to join.
Weintraub discussed the problems of writers in Poland today, saying. "Writers are privileged citizens, and to enjoy this privilege, they must be obedient."
Censorship in Poland is "arbitrary," he said, citing occasions when the Polish government had allowed to be published material that probably helped bring about the recent political upheavals there. The government allows some work to be published unofficially "to maintain its facade of independence," Jolanta Bak, a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature who did undergraduate work in Warsaw, said. Bak was a member of Baranczak's Committee for Social Self-Defense.
"The modern Polish literature addresses contemporary problems instead of romantic or abstract concepts," Bak said. They were part of the revolutionary movements in the country and influenced the lawmakers, she added.