Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland 1942-1943 By Czeslaw Milosz Translated by: Madeline G. Levine (268 Pages)2005
Legends of Modernity, now available in English for the first time, brings together some of Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz's early essays and letters, composed in German-occupied Warsaw during the winter of 1942-1943.
As relevant today as when they were written, the essays collected in this volume record the young Milosz's attempt to answer the question, "Why did the European spirit succumb to such a devastating fiasco?" Half a century later, when Legends of Modernity saw its first publication in Poland, Milosz said: "If everything inside you is agitation, hatred, and despair, write measured, perfectly calm sentences." That concept is applied in these essays to an extended analysis of what Milosz sees as the inevitable consequences of specific notions as represented in the writings of Defoe, Stendhal, Balzac, William James, Gide, and Witkiewicz, among others. While the essays here reflect a "perfect calm," the accompanying contemporaneous exchange of letters between Milosz and Jerzy Andrzejewski expresses the raw feelings of "agitation, hatred, and despair," as experienced by these two close friends struggling to understand the proximate causes of this debacle of Western civilization, and the relevance, if any, of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Passionate, poignant, and compelling, this volume provides deeply moving insight into the mind and emotions of one of the greatest writers of our time.