Cover: Milosz: A Biography, from Harvard University PressCover: Milosz in HARDCOVER


A Biography

Product Details


$35.00 • £30.95 • €31.95

ISBN 9780674495043

Publication Date: 04/24/2017


544 pages

6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches

41 halftones, 3 maps

Belknap Press


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[A] magnificent biography… Miłosz: A Biography will reframe our picture of the poet in a way that will last—devastatingly human, flawed, ferociously strong-willed, living with a daemon that never left him, even into his nineties.—Cynthia Haven, The Times Literary Supplement

[A] richly detailed, dramatic, and melancholy book.—Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker

An enthralling account of the poet’s work as well as the events he endured to create it… Franaszek’s meticulously researched account of the two decades bookending Milosz’s 1951 defection to the West is particularly revelatory.—Micah Mattix, The Wall Street Journal

[A] masterful biography of Czesław Miłosz… Franaszek does an excellent job of dramatizing Miłosz’s oscillation between belief and unbelief.—Maria Rybakova, The Los Angeles Review of Books

Franaszek’s biography recommends itself and confirms the stature of Miłosz as an extraordinary figure.—Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books

Now at last we have a biography of Miłosz… Andrzej Franaszek’s book provides an admirably clear account of Miłosz’s long and troubled life… Franaszek captures this life in all its complexity and darkness.—David Herman, New Statesman

[An] excellent full-length biography… Franaszek’s work moves gracefully between the events in Milosz’s life and his obsessive writing about it. Along with historical maps, its chronology enables us to pinpoint the fateful intersection between Milosz’s experience and historic events, showing a poet who was determined both to embody and to transcend his own historical circumstances, who longed to liberate himself from the times that entangled him… One comes away from this biography with a fuller sense of Milosz’s struggles and his complexity.—Edward Hirsch, The New Republic

Franaszek’s intelligent and comprehensive biography should be read in conjunction with Milosz’s New and Collected Poems: 1931–2001… Together they provide a detailed and at times startling portrait, not only of one of the most fascinating and significant poets of the past hundred years, but of what it was like to be alive, curious, politically engaged and spiritually conflicted in the 20th century.—Troy Jollimore, The Washington Post

Franaszek, with exquisite balance, blends Milosz’s life story with his intellectual and aesthetic journey, enriching both with perfectly chosen fragments from his poetry and other writings… In Milosz’s life, so well illustrated by Franaszek, poetry’s confrontation with history converged with the poet’s engagement, sometimes mystical, with humankind’s most basic values.—Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

In a time of great distress worldwide over race, religion, migration, war—and fake news—a truth-teller’s voice should be re-heard.—Sudipta Datta, The Hindu

It took Franaszek ten years to compose this life of Milosz, and Aleksandra and Michael Parker another six to translate it. The result is a classic of the genre: a biography based on interviews and exhaustive documentary research. It is tolerant, perceptive, beautifully written and utterly objective. It is also an effective critical study, containing generous excerpts of Milosz’s writing that make it almost an anthology of his poetry and essays… Milosz’s poetry is, on its own, sufficient inducement to learn Polish, and so is this magnificent and, on the whole, sensitively translated biography of a very great poet.—Donald Rayfield, Literary Review

[A] compelling, well-written biography.—Diane Scharper, National Catholic Reporter

Impeccably researched… Makes for highly compelling reading.—Graham Hillard, National Review

This is a formidable book.—David Pryce-Jones, New Criterion

An immersive narrative, one that lends Milosz’s poems a new depth of perspective… This scholarly portrait of a poet who was both conscientious witness and child-like mystic has been skillfully rendered for English readers… Above all, it is a book that brings history down to a human scale.—Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times

The story it tells, with sympathy and perception, is of great interest.—Lucy Beckett, The Tablet

Replete with poetry and prose quotes from the work of this 1980 Polish Nobelist, Franaszek’s judiciously abridged, superbly translated biography of Czesław Miłosz (1911–2004) reads like a fascinating historical novel… [A] monumental biography… Detailed references translated from the original make this biography required reading.—D. Hutchins, Choice

Czeslaw Milosz was one of the great poets of the twentieth century. He lived through many of its terrors, its spiritual agonies, and the fierce intellectual combat about its meaning, and there is something heroic about the intensity of his desire to name what he saw and make sense of it. Andrzej Franaszek has mastered Milosz’s wide-ranging poetry and prose and deployed them to create a vivid, richly textured portrait of the man, his art and his era. For anyone who wants to understand Milosz’s work, perhaps for anyone who wants to understand the European twentieth century and its terrible violence, this is an essential book and it is a spellbinding read.—Robert Hass

Franaszek’s outstanding biography of Czeslaw Milosz narrates one of the great lives of the twentieth century, and does not shy away from recounting the more private side of the poet’s loves, moods, victories, and defeats. Milosz was an artist who was also a political thinker, who stood in the center of the ideological debates of his time, who was an incredibly industrious writer and on top of all this had a sublime gift for poetry. One of the finest literary critics of his generation in Poland, Franaszek is well suited to his subject. A triumph.—Adam Zagajewski

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