On August 1, 1944, Miron Białoszewski, later to gain renown as one of Poland's most innovative poets, went out to run an errand for his mother and ran into history. With Soviet forces on the outskirts of Warsaw, the Polish capital revolted against five years of Nazi occupation, an uprising that began in a spirit of heroic optimism. Sixty-three days later it came to a tragic end. The Nazis suppressed the insurgents ruthlessly, reducing Warsaw to rubble while slaughtering some 200,000 people, mostly through mass executions. The Red Army simply looked on.Białoszewski's blow-by-blow account of the uprising brings it alive in all its desperate urgency. Here we are in the shoes of a young man slipping back and forth under German fire, dodging sniper bullets, collapsing with exhaustion, rescuing the wounded, burying the dead. An indispensable and unforgettable act of witness, A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising is also a major work of literature. Białoszewski writes in short, stabbing, splintered, breathless sentences attuned to "the glaring identity of 'now.'" His pages are full of a white-knuckled poetry that resists the very destruction it records.Madeline G. Levine has extensively revised her 1977 translation, and passages that were unpublishable in Communist Poland have been restored.the force of the inhuman Nazi machine could not--and cannot--obliterate.
Memories, dreams and reflections from the Nobel Laureate The ABC book is a polish genre--a loose form related to a hypertext novel-composed of short, alphabetically arranged entries. In Milosz's conception, the ABC book becomes a sort of autobiographical reference book, combining entries concerning characters from his earlier work with references to some of his memory poems. He also writes of real, historical figures like Camus who were particularly influential during his formative years, and of broader topics such as "The City," "Unhappiness," and "Money. " Another fascinating entry in Milosz's bold opus, Milosz's ABCs is an engaging tribute to a brilliant mind. Czeslaw Milosz was awarded the 1978 Neustadt International Prize in Literature and the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. Since 1962 he has been a professor, now emeritus, of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. Among his recent publications are To Begin Where I Am,Striving Towards Being: The Letters of Czeslaw Milosz and Thomas Merton,and Road-side Dog. He lives in Berkeley, California, and Krakow, Poland. The ABC book is a Polish genre, a somewhat loose literary form composed of short, alphabetical entries. In Czeslaw Milosz's conception, the ABC book becomes a cross between autobiographical exposition and reference-book writing, combining citations of characters from his earlier prose works and poems with references to real, historical figures--such as Camus, Cezanne, Edward Hopper, Arthur Koestler, and Mark Edelman; the Polish writers Gombrowicz and Herbert; and the poets Baudelaire and Frost--who were particularly influential during his formative years. Throughout, the book investigates the times, towns, and terrains that have led this poet to think and write as he does. Milosz also looks to broader topics like "Unhappiness" and "Money" and "Churches. " Another outspoken and fascinating travelogue from Milosz's bold and crucial journey, Milosz's ABCs is an engaging tribute to a brilliant mind--the memories, dreams, and reflections of a literary master. "It is a source of wonderment and pleasure that at the age of 89, Czeslaw Milosz, arguably the greatest living poet, continues to publish exploratory works of self-definition and commemoration. Milosz's ABC's, expertly translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine, remakes the relatively recent Polish genre of the ABC book--a kind of subgenre of memoir--so that it becomes a flexible hybrid form, a probing and quirky reference book. "--Edward Hirsch,The New York Times Book Review. "It is a source of wonderment and pleasure that at the age of 89, Czeslaw Milosz, arguably the greatest living poet, continues to publish exploratory works of self-definition and commemoration. Milosz's ABC's, expertly translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine, remakes the relatively recent Polish genre of the ABC book--a kind of sub genre of memoir--so that it becomes a flexible hybrid form, a probing and quirky reference book ... In the end, Milosz's ABC's is a benedictory text, an alphabetical rescue operation, a testimonial to those who have suffered and gone before us, a hymn to the everlasting marvel and mystery of human existence. "--Edward Hirsch, The New York Times Book Review. "Milosz's greatness as a writer has something to do with his gift for going straight to the heart of a question--be it moral, artistic, political, autobiographical-- and answering it directly ... He is among those members of humankind who have had the ambiguous privilege of knowing and standing up to far more reality than the rest of us."--Seamus Heaney.
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