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Legends of Modernity: Essays & Letters from Occupied Poland

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Product #: BK2387
ISBN #: 0374530467
UPC #: 9780374530464
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Legends of Modernity: Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland, 1942-1943
Written by Czeslaw Milosz
Translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine
Introduction by Jaroslaw Anders

Legends of Modernity brings together some of Czeslaw Milosz's early essays and letters, composed in German-occupied Warsaw during the winter of 1942-1943, in which he examines specific "legends," created in literature, as causes of the tragedies of the twentieth century.

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. . ." While the essays here reflect a "perfect calm," the accompanying contemporaneous letters exchanged between Milosz and Jerzy Andrzejewski express the raw emotions of "agitation, hatred, and despair" experienced by these two close friends, both struggling to understand the proximate cause of this debacle of Western civilization and the relevance, if any, of the teachings of the Catholic Church. Passionate, poignant, and compelling, Legends of Modernity is a deeply moving insight into the mind and emotions of one of the greatest writers of out time.

"These early reflections..., written in the midst of unspeakable horror, form a remarkable testament to an uncaptive mind consecrated to living in truth."
JACOB HEILBRUNN, The New York Times Book Review

"[The book] is in some sense Milosz's attempt to reconcile everything he knows about literature and humanity with the total destruction he was witnessing."
ANNE APPLEBAUM, The New York Sun

CZESLAW MILOSZ was born in Szetejnie, Lithuania in 1911. A witness to the devastation of Lithuania and Poland by the Nazi and Stalinist tides, he survived World War II in German-occupied Warsaw with his wife, Janina, publishing in the underground press. After the war he was stationed as a cultural attache from Poland in New York, Washington, and Paris; he defected to France in 1951. In 1960 he accepted a position at the University of California at Berkeley. Milosz received the 1978 Neustadt International Prize in Literature and the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in Krakow, Poland, in 2004.

Publishing House: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 2006
SoftCover book measuring 5.1" x 8"
266 pages
English Language Version

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