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The Land of Ulro
This major prose work, originally published in English in 1985, is both a moving spiritual self-portrait and an unflinching inquiry into the genesis of our modern afflictions. A man who was raised a Catholic in rural Lithuania, lived through the Nazi occupation of Poland, and emerged, first in Europe and then in America, as one of our most important men of letters, speaks ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 22nd 2000 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
(first published 1980)
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The anti-Stalinist and Polish poet's literary and spiritual autobiography. The Land of Ulro is William Blake's name for the fallen, empty, mechanical civilization we now live in. Milosz's reflections on his engagement with works - from Dostoevsky to Swedenborg - that attempt to counter Ulro makes for a beautiful but weird essay. I found I didn't have the context to fully understand his comments on Polish literature and poetry.
Heady stuff here, and many rabbit holes to get completely lost in, but worthwhile. Ulro is a term borrowed from Blake to represent man's alienation as a result of the triumph of scientism. Although Milosz strangely never refers to Buber, it is the essence of living in an I-It world. We've been cast out of Eden, and now we're stuck with ourselves, wandering about the desert like lost wraiths. Nice stuff.
Czesław Miłosz memorialised his Lithuanian childhood in a 1955 novel, The Issa Valley , and in the 1959 memoir Native Realm . After graduating from Sigismund Augustus Gymnasium in Vilnius, he studied law at Stefan Batory University and in 1931 he travelled to Paris, where he was influenced by his distant cousin Oscar Milosz, a French poet of Lithuanian descent and a Swedenborgian. His first volu ...moreMore about Czesław Miłosz...