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«Miłosz Like the World»

Poet in the Eyes of Polish Literary Critics

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Edited By Zdzislaw Lapinski

Czesław Miłosz, poet, literary critic, essayist and Nobel Laureate, is a familiar person to the Anglophone literary community. But American and British critics in the main are not very competent in the intimate features of Polish literary culture and have no access to the Polish language. This volume presents some of the most penetrating commentaries on Miłosz’s œuvre by Polish critics. They illuminate both intrinsic poetic matters, such as the verse structure or the genre tradition, and the specific historic background of his poems, such as life under Nazi occupation. This comprehensive outline will be indispensable to anyone wanting to understand the real meaning of the often enigmatic writer and his, as Helen Vendler called it, Shakespearean breadth.
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“Thrown in the Geographically Shaky Position”: Czesław Miłosz’s Experience of Space and Place: Ryszard Nycz

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“Thrown in the Geographically Shaky Position”: Czesław Miłosz’s Experience of Space and Place

Ryszard Nycz

These remarks are part of a bigger project, which considers the work of Czesław Miłosz in the broader categories of cultural anthropology.1 This attempt at renewing the critical language used in interpretations of his works and life runs the risk of, on the one hand, substantial simplification, while on the other – repetition of self-evident truths. I believe, however, that it firstly allows us to grasp his attitude towards the changes in the status and function of 20th-century literature better than purely literary categories. Secondly, this approach enables to capture Miłosz’s perspective on the epoch’s self-knowledge, which was not only passively (or unconsciously) articulated in his works, but also actively (and consciously) shaped by his oeuvre. It would not remain in accordance with the maximalist principles of his work (which define its goals, on par, as epistemological, axiological and aesthetic) to consider the portrait of an epoch, with the author looming in the background, solely as an object of contemplation. It should rather be treated at least as an original “testimony to the times” and – at the same time – a general conception regarding man and his position in the 20th century, which deserves to be treated in the same way as other such global attempts at understanding humanity.

Adopting this perspective, I would like to briefly point out the crucial points of Miłosz’s position....

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