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Jews and Non-Jews: Memories and Interactions from the Perspective of Cultural Studies

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Edited By Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pędich and Jacek Partyka

The book adds new studies of memories and interactions between Jews and non-Jews to the historical and cultural research on this topic. It gathers in one volume the results of work by scholars from several countries, while the topics of the articles cover various disciplines: history, sociology, psychology, literary and language studies. The specific themes refer to the cultures and interactions with non-Jews in places such as Kiev, Vienna, Ireland, Springfield, Sosúa as well as reflect upon interactions in literary texts by Czesław Milosz and other Polish writers, some contemporary Jewish-American novelists and South American writers. Finally there are texts referring to the experience of the Holocaust and the post-Holocaust trauma as well as German-Israeli and Polish-Jewish relations and heritage.
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No Longer Other? Jews in Czesław Miłosz’s Landscape

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Jews appear frequently in Czesław Miłosz’s writings, although they are rarely the object of systematic reflections exclusively devoted to them. It would be difficult to claim that these scattered references are somehow representative of Polish images about Jews as a whole, since Miłosz was often at odds with many of his countrymen, striving to redirect the conversation. Two of the poems he wrote in 1943, “Campo dei Fiori” and “A Poor Christian Looks at the Ghetto,” did indeed help to frame more recent discussions of Polish-Jewish relations in his country (Błoński, Biedni Polacy 5–74).1 Since he (along with his brother Andrzej) were named Righteous Among the Gentiles by Yad VaShem in 1989, his life, and not just his writings, can also become a point of reference for understanding Polish-Jewish relations. In what follows, I will not focus on his work and life during the Second World War, however, but rather on his writings about Jews in the postwar period. These poems and essays capture a way of speaking about Jews, I contend, that, while addressed to Poles, extends beyond Poland to reflect the place of Jews in the imaginary of the broader contemporary Western world.

In drawing freely from a multitude of Miłosz’s published postwar works, I can hope to retrieve only a fragment of a complex mosaic about Jews in his writings. This fragment is nonetheless important, for running through much of Miłosz’s reflections on Jews...

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