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To Begin Where I Am: Selected Essays

4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  117 ratings  ·  11 reviews
A comprehensive selection of essays--some never before translated into English--by the Nobel Laureate.

To Begin Where I Am brings together a rich sampling of poet Czeslaw Milosz's prose writings. Spanning more than a half century, from an impassioned essay on human nature, wartime atrocities, and their challenge to ethical beliefs, written in 1942 in the form of a letter to
Paperback, 480 pages
Published October 2nd 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2001)
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Dhanaraj Rajan
First Impression:

- It is an important document that analyses in detail why so much cruelties were possible during the World War I, Russian Revolution, French Revolution and World War II.

Some Prerequisites:

- Some basic knowledge about the philosophical concepts of Human Nature, Existentialism, Marxism, Renaissance, Hegel, F. Nietzsche. It is OBLIGATORY.

- A basic knowledge about the Polish History, Polish Literature and some concepts of Literary Criticism. It is OPTIONAL.

- Patience of a good read
I read this over a weekend camping trip. I ignored people for long stretches of time because I was simply too lost in thought.
I know that some folks find Milosz a little bit with one foot in the 19th century but I really love thatthis has fostered his philosophical outlook, his ideas about good and evil (very Polish in that it's an old culture influenced heavily by fairly old religious practices -- Catholocism and Judaism)and his morality. I am currently watching the Decalogue by Kieslowski and I think they would have had much to talk about. What's really wonderful about this book are the short essays about life, about ...more
So far mostly about being a writer in exile (depressing) or about people/places in Poland (mildly incomprehensible to me). Some moments of startling (is that word overused in reviews?) depth, interest, insight, beauty: particularly his essays about a place he was familiar with in his childhood, and traveling with his friends by canoe through Europe.
Megan Abbatelli
I was a little put off by the book at first. Once I started I couldn't stop until it was finished. The essays in here are wonderfully written. It keeps you interested. Very good read.
Donna Carpenter
I can't really rate this book as I don't have sufficient knowledge to fully grasp many of the essays. The translation seemed confusing at times, adding to my difficulties completing this book. I should have started out reading just a few essays at a time, because once I started reading that way, I got more out of it.
Jul 31, 2012 Janessa marked it as to-read
looking forward to reading this one. I recently skimmed through it at a book store but didn't end up buying it. I bought a book of his poems instead. I figured I should start with that before jumping into any personal essays or memoirs. I thought it better to get to know him as a poet first.
Nov 10, 2008 Alison marked it as unfinished
Recommended to Alison by: Book Lust
Shelves: nonfiction
I just could not get into these essays.

That said, his poetry (at least in translation) is wonderful. I'm primarily familiar with what's in "The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry."
Andrew Boyle
Very moving and mature collection of essays. Milosz's honesty is perhaps his greatest feat.
Milosz is just so good. Reading this book is like tasting a really yummy dish.
I just love Milosz.
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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 ...more
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