Synopses & Reviews
The Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz began his remarkable A Treatise on Poetry
in the winter of 1955 and finished it in the spring of 1956. It was published originally in parts in the Polish émigré journal Kultura.
Now it is available in English for the first time in this expert translation by the award-winning American poet Robert Hass.
A Treatise on Poetry is a great poem about some of the most terrible events in the twentieth century. Divided into four sections, the poem begins at the end of the nineteenth century as a comedy of manners and moves with a devastating momentum through World War I to the horror of World War II. Then it takes on directly and plainly the philosophical abyss into which the European cultures plunged."Author's Notes" on the poem appear at the end of the volume. A stunning literary composition, these notes stand alone as brilliant miniature portraits that magically re-create the lost world of prewar Europe.
A Treatise on Poetry evokes the European twentieth century, its comedy and terror and grief, with the force and expressiveness of a great novel. A tone poem to a lost time, a harrowing requiem for the century's dead, and a sober meditation on history, consciousness, and art: here is a masterwork that confronts the meaning of the twentieth century with a directness and vividness that are without parallel.
About the Author
Czeslaw Milosz was born in Szetejnie, Lithuania, in 1911. He worked with the Polish resistance movement in Warsaw during World War II and was later stationed in Paris and Washington, D.C., as a Polish cultural attaché. He defected to France in 1951, and in 1960 he accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980, and was a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He died in 2004.