Cover Osteuropa 1/2011

In Osteuropa 1/2011

A Somewhat Decayed, Large Republic
Czesław Miłosz’s Ambivalent Image of America

Ulrich Schmid

Deutsche Fassung


Since the Romantic era, there has been a pronounced enthusiasm for America in Poland. Czesław Miłosz (1911–2004), the most prominent Polish emigrant of the 20th century in the United States, clearly sets himself apart from this tradition through his scepticism vis-à-vis western social systems, such as democracy and capitalism. From his point of view, the United States is dominated by a course nature and, due to its own lack of history, remains blind to the lessons of both world wars, which devastated primarily Europe. Miłosz saw his own poetry as the defence of an evolved and religiously transformed culture under siege by rationalisation, technology, and commodification.

(Osteuropa 1/2011, pp. 191–206)