In this article Maurycy Mochnacki’s martyrological and messianic declarations in the Preface to the Uprising of the Polish Nation in 1830–1831 are examined in the context of the martyrological discourse in the literature of the Great Emigration. Such an affirmation may appear puzzling given Mochnacki’s rejection of martyrological interpretations of Poland’s history or messianic readings of his political philosophy, let alone his reputation of being radically opposed to Adam Mickiewicz’s idea of the sacrifi cial victimhood of the Polish nation. In this study the ideological and rhetorical aspects of their statements are compared and analysed. There can be little doubt that in the Preface Mochnacki’s phrasing is steeped in patriotic pathos which seems to be at odds with the tone of his other writings. This article claims that it was a tactical move on his part: he chose the familiar martyrological loci merely as a means to enlist the readers’ support for his own pragmatic programme of restoring Poland’s independence. A general conclusion to be drawn from this apparent inconsistency is that already at that stage (The Uprising was published in Paris in 1834) the logosphere of the Great Emigration had become so dominated by the martyrological discourse that Mochnacki could not afford to ignore it.
This article looks at a character of Jakub Frank, the 18th-century Jewish Messianic leader, in Andrzej Żuławski’s book of idiosyncratic essays Moliwda (published in 1994). Żuławski, a controversial fi lm-maker and writer, whose historic musings are usually focused on an individual who embodies the spirit of the age in this case turns his attention to Jakub Frank. Moliwda is typical of the early phase of Żuławski’s writing career characterized by a radically revisionist explorations of the Age of the Enlightenment in search for parallels with the modern age and his own life. Jakub Frank is presented as a trickster, religious charlatan, political fraudster and fateful ancestor of 20th-century tyrants, but at the same time as a rebel against the idea of God and history enshrined in the Judaic tradition. The article views Żuławski’s interpretation as an attempt to appropriate certain elements of the history of religion to create an authoritarian vision of modernity and its historical roots, based on mechanisms of self-aggrandizement, sexualization of power and subversion of all hierarchies.