English Summary – Czesław Miłosz 3/2011

Jeremy Driscoll OSB
The Witness of Czesław Miłosz

J. Driscoll’s study attempts to arrange an introduction to the religious way of reading the works of C. Miłosz. Besides the biographical introduction the author highlights certain moments in the works of Miłosz, which refer to his relationship to the questions of Christian faith. He shows that Miłosz always consciously considered himself to be a religious author; however it did not prevent him from thematizing his own search and struggle for faith. He used a poetic language still having the power to express an authentic relationship to the sacred against the artificial constructions of theologians. The key question of the presence of evil in the world inevitably brings Milosz to the proximity of gnosis; Driscoll, however, shows also a dimension much more Christian in his relationship to the Book of Job. The author displays on the paradigm of the Theological Treatise and some other later poems Miłosz’s relationship to the specific features of Catholic piety, especially to Marian devotion, which at the same time can be seen as a kind of legitimization of the poet’s relationship to the beauty of the world.

Jerzy Szymik
“Christ is Here, Because…”

The Anthropocentrism of Milosz’s theologia crucisThe Polish priest and expert on Milosz’s work in this study deals with some key features of Milosz’s Christianity. He considers the motive of the Incarnation in Milosz’s thinking, which finds itself more related to the Thomistic tradition than to the Scotistic one. The author analyzes the motive of a suffering God – Christ beholding a seemingly empty and silent heaven, and refers to the influence of the thoughts of Oscar Miłosz and Simone Weil. Finally, he concentrates on the “Folly of the Cross”, which – when connected with the Resurrection is for Miłosz the guarantee of a sense of the world. But at the same time the author shows how all these categories are carried rather by a poetic spirit, which is indeed extremely sensitive to religious and theological contents, but often lacks the proper knowledge and accuracy of their usage.

Aleksander Fiut
A Moment of Eternity
Between Faith and Unfaith

The prominent Polish literary historian and interpreter of Milosz’s work analyzes in his study of primarily late Milosz poems, and shows how the religious experience is there thematized. The author points out how the polyphonic nature of poems allows the fine screening of various religious feelings, how this authorizes the plurality of viewpoints from the declaration of faith, including expression of doubt, to the straight atheistic position. Personal perspective enables a move from intimate, private confessions to hiding behind a mask to reconstruct the feelings and opinions of another person, whereas particularity of each position is all the time clearly articulated. In other words, the religious experience is no longer an abstract concept, but it becomes a specific description of the experience of someone particular in a particular moment.

“One Step Forward, One Step Back…”
Interview with the Literary Historian Łukasz Tischner

The interview of Jaroslav Šubrt with the Polish literary historian Lukasz Tischner places Miłosz into a broader context of Polish literature, from which he stands out – for example – alone by his claim to religious values. There are meetings mentioned with people who have greatly influenced him; he himself is mentioned in regard to his relationship to gnosis, the key theme of religious imagery and the danger of its erosion. The end of the interview is dedicated to the relationship between Milosz and the well known Polish priest Józef Tischner.

On the Theological Treatise

In connection with the new translation of Milosz’s Theological Treatise, the editorial board of Salve contacted several personalities, and asked them to write their reflection on the opus in question. There are presented thoughts of the Czech philosopher Professor Jan Sokol, of the Polish Dominican Professor Jacek Salij O.P., of the Czech historian of literature Docent Jaroslav Med, the director of the Polish Culture Centre “Pogranicze”, Krzysztof Czyżewski, the Czech priest and philosopher Professor Tomáš Halík, and Polish Dominican and president of the foundation “Ponad Granicami” Tomasz Dostatni O.P.

On the Border between Reason and Imagination
The Letters of Thomas Merton and Czesław Miłosz

This block contains a brief selection of letters of Czesław Miłosz to an American Trappist monk Thomas Merton from the end of the 50’s and 60’s of the last century. They record the transitory period of Milosz’s life when he accepted the position at the University of California in Berkeley, and was solving a series of personal dilemmas associated with emigration and the adoption of a new way of life. In Merton he found an understanding and attentive partner to hear his spiritual, cultural and human questions and considerations, and their correspondence, presented at least in a fraction, is a valuable document not only about the relationship of two great artistic spirits, but also about the atmosphere in the Church towards the Vatican II.

An American Perspective of Czesław Miłosz
(To the Hundredth Anniversary of the Poet’s Birth)

This issue of Revue Salve is completed by two poetic memories of Czesław Miłosz from the pen of Edward Hirsch and Jane Hirshfield. Meditative commemorative texts and poems reveal how Miłosz and his poetry are perceived in America, and what he had transmitted to his readers.