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Title page for ETD etd-03312009-185252

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Mazurska, Joanna Maria
Author's Email Address liz.leis@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03312009-185252
Title Czeslaw Milosz in Transition
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Michael Bess Committee Chair
Ruth Rogaski, Ph.D. Committee Member
  • intellectual exile
  • Milosz
Date of Defense 2009-06-01
Availability unrestricted
The case of Czeslaw Milosz’s exile is significant because the writer epitomizes a 20th century intellectual torn among different loyalties, threatened by the totalizing claims of the Nazi or communist regimes, finally forced to leave his homeland. In my paper I focus on Milosz’s experience of exile in the period immediately following his defection. I argue that the poet in the years 1951-1953 remained in a state of painful transition, a wanderer suspended between multiple worlds. The political character of his exile put him in an uneasy position between the two Cold War blocs. The poet could not be accepted by the West or the East, and remained mentally fixed in a space that hovered somewhere above both these realms, belonging to neither. Not only did Milosz experience a difficult process of cultural adjustment, but he also remained suspended between contradictory states in his private life. Moreover, in this period of emotional homelessness, Milosz experienced geographical displacement as well and explored the possibility of immigration to Canada, Great Britain, or Uruguay. The transition in his professional life was expressed by the shift from poetry toward prose, which gave him a better chance to attract an audience and thus to enter Western intellectual life. Finally, in his interaction with the Polish emigrant community, Milosz was torn between his self-imposed separation and his desire to belong to the Polish community. My research project is the first scholarly study devoted to this crucial period in the life of the recognized Nobel Prize winner.
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