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After the Fall

On the Writings of Czesław Miłosz

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Tomasz Garbol

Tomasz Garbol’s book reconstructs Czesław Miłosz’s poetic vision of the world after the Fall. The entry point to this approach is the conviction about the ambivalence of previous interpretations of Miłosz’s works, especially about his bipolar poetic worldview (his intellectual and existential division between pessimism and ecstasy) and his understanding of the consequences of the Fall (reversible or fatalistic). The book is a literary studies take on the relationship between literature and religion. The main direction is that Miłosz’s main need in art comes from his yearning for contact with the meaning of reality, which he seeks in the activity of poetic imagination.

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She Was One of My Initiations

Extract

For Miłosz, love between a man and a woman and the sphere of human Eros in general is the space in which the important truths about people come to the fore. In Treatise on Theology, the poet says:

While I wanted to believe in Adam and Eve, and in the Fall,

And in the hope of Restoration (Second Space, p. 52).

In a conversation with Renata Gorczyńska, Miłosz confesses:

Yes, for me the Fall and original sin are the key mysteries. … The problem of nakedness did not exist before. Now Adam is conscious that he is not Eve, and Eve is conscious that she is not Adam. Eyes that look and see. There’s no question here of any primitive interpretation of this as a punishment for sex. … What matters here is the consciousness, the realization of duality (Conversations, p. 296).

It is in the relationship between a man and a woman that the Fall occurs, not only in the case of the first parents but continuously. Its external manifestation is the attitude to the body, to nudity. This relationship reveals an aspect of the Fall, defined by Miłosz as the body surrendering to the power of the mass. A similar thought appears in the essay “Sex Provided:” “Beaches, swimming pools, concentration camps—that is, places where people voluntarily or by force surrender to the mass” (“Sex Provided,” in: Visions, p. 100).

Subjecting the human...

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