The History of Polish LiteraturePaperback
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- Publisher: University of California Press
- Format: Paperback | 570 pages
- Dimensions: 154mm x 222mm x 42mm | 862g
- Publication date: 1 January 1984
- Publication City/Country: Berkerley
- ISBN 10: 0520044770
- ISBN 13: 9780520044777
- Edition: 2
- Edition statement: Updated ed
- Illustrations note: Ill.
- Sales rank: 1,158,795
This book is a survey of Polish letters and culture from its beginnings to modern times. Czeslaw Milosz updated this edition in 1983 and added an epilogue to bring the discussion up to date.
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Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004) was born in Lithuania and was Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Polish literature is so little known in the English-speaking world, or indeed on the continent, that only Sienkiewicz' Quo Vadis can be said to ring any bells. No doubt this is due to the great flowering of Russian works which seems to overshadow all other Slavic contributions, even though, as Czeslaw Milosz points out in his superb study, Czech and Polish writers reached maturity centuries before their Muscovite counterparts. Milosz' survey - a sound, lively, and exhaustive commentary - may now remedy matters, especially for the interested college student. Certainly, activity in poetry and drama, if not necessarily in fiction, has not been lacking in Polish culture. Not only was there a "Golden Age" during the late Renaissance and "a refinement of taste, which produced lyrical poetry comparable to that of Elizabetha?? England," but more important, at least for the reader, all the famous European movements in philosophy, religion, politics, and the arts reverberated throughout Warsaw. The Reformation and Romanticism occasioned particularly fruitful debates, the first surprisingly strengthening the Catholic hierarchy and the second setting the wheels of modernism and/or nationalism in operation. So Milosz deals with history in more than one sense, demonstrating how unparochial the literary situation in Poland really was and is, concluding with the present confrontation between Communist and existential allegiances. A commanding work. (Kirkus Reviews)