Edited By Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pędich and Jacek Partyka
No Longer Other? Jews in Czesław Miłosz’s Landscape
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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