Pan Samochodzik w terenie, czyli geopoetyczna podszewka pewnej utopii
Mr. Automobile in the Field, or the ‘Geopoetical Inside-out’ of a Certain Utopia
For several decades, one of the most popular Polish literary series for teenag- ers has been that of over one hundred novels about Pan Samochodzik (‘Mr. Auto- mobile’), initiated in the 1960s by Zbigniew Nienacki (1929–1994) and continued after 1989 by several authors who emulated and developed Nienacki’s narrative style and plot-making. In many of these novels, of both the communist and post- communist periods, the same pattern is rehearsed in which the protagonist who is an art historian and detective working for the Ministry of Monument Protection, and therefore is permanently based in the capital city, arrives in a remote town of one of Poland’s provinces to prevent a plunder of national heritage and thereby restore order in the periphery. Dwelling on postcolonial theory, cultural geography, and Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of libido dominandi, the paper offers insights into the post-1989 parts of the series, disclosing the paradoxical implications of such plot structuring for center—periphery relations. The author argues that despite the rediscovery of ‘little homelands’ and the succeeding interest in regionalism in Pol- ish literature after the demise of communism, the peripheries as presented in Mr. Automobile series have failed to regain agency. Rather, they remain stereotypified and silenced, sharing the fate of those of the communist colonial era.