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Milosz's ABC's

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  173 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
The ABC book is a Polish genre, a literary form loosely composed of short, alphabetically arranged entries. In this "splendid" volume (Edward Hirsch, The New York Times Book Review), Czeslaw Milosz's telling eye for detail and sharp judgements create unforgettable portraits as he combines sketches of characters from his earlier prose works and poems with references to real ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 15th 2001 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 2001)
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Eric
Mar 04, 2009 Eric rated it liked it
Shelves: etudes-slaves
"He didn't die in the war, though. He served in the air force and came home as a highly qualified electrician."

"In Beauvoir, everything was adoption of the next intellectual fashion. A nasty hag."

"The story of this couple would make a moving film script, which no one will write."

The first thing I liked about this book was Milosz's tart and abrupt summations of the lives he mentions.

Full of émigré themes, émigré melancholies: a roll-call of friends, colleagues and acquaintances who disappeared in
...more
Anatolij
May 27, 2015 Anatolij rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
В общем, оценивать это скорее не нужно было, поскольку книга представляет собой именно словарь. Словарь личных взглядов пана Милоша.

Возможно, правильному восприятию книги мешает тот факт, что читал её я не на польском, а в переводе на русский (что неизбежно сказалось на порядке статей из-за разницы в алфавитах). Книга изобилует совершенно ненужными вставками на английском и французском языках (вроде «real estate» со сноской, где указан перевод, когда можно было прямо воспользоваться необходимым
...more
Jim
Jul 28, 2009 Jim rated it it was amazing
As one approaches one's own end, I would imagine that the thought of people and places and things that once were and are no more becomes an obsession. Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz exorcises these thoughts by having recourse to a Polish genre: an encyclopedic survey of the elements of a life, with short entries, many ending with the sad thought that the author is not sure when, or where, or how a once close friend met his or her end in the charnel house that was Eastern Europe in the thirtie ...more
Angelo Ricci
Esiste da sempre una interessantissima produzione editoriale che riguarda i libri che parlano di altri libri, di altri autori, di altre narrazioni.
Abbecedario, di Czeslaw Milosz appartiene proprio a questo tipo di produzione letteraria e nel suo più alto intendere. Premio Nobel per la letteratura nel 1980, Milosz racconta in sostanza la sua vita, le sue esperienze, i suoi incontri e lo fa suddividendo la narrazione in lemmi, proprio come un abbecedario.
La lettura di Abbecedario ci accompagna att
...more
Beverly
Oct 25, 2007 Beverly rated it really liked it
Another take on the Abecedaire style, this time in essay form (see Dictionary of the Khazars - possibly my favorite book ever). It's easy to get lost in this sometimes, as I have absolutely no knowledge of 20th century Polish Intellectualism. The language is gorgeous (three cheers to the translator!), however, and I often find myself rereading passages to savor the words again.

A slow read.
Megan
Nov 22, 2007 Megan rated it liked it
I loved his writing, but my enjoyment of this book was limited by a lack of knowledge and appreciation of Polish culture and history. Not that that should stop anyone from reading his work, because the book was still witty, insightful, and thoughtful. And a nice shape, also.
Caroline
Jan 27, 2011 Caroline rated it liked it
"It is therefore moral - at a structural level." - from Roger Ebert's review of the Gaspar Noe movie 'Irreversible,' which tells its unbelievably violent story backwards. Milosz's version is to tell a messy life alphabetically, not chronologically.

Peter
Apr 25, 2008 Peter rated it it was amazing
This is a great companion to Roadside Dogs. He looks back into his life and ponders the truth of what happened how it could have been. It's a profound book, deals with the personal side of the WW wars and Communism, the 60's etc...
Sophie
Aug 31, 2007 Sophie is currently reading it
Recommends it for: fellow slavophiles :-)
Only half-reading this, so I hesitate to put it on here. An interesting format -- but the contents of each entry are not so interesting so far...were the reviews on the cover misleading? I can't tell.
Alex
Dec 21, 2009 Alex rated it it was amazing
I recommend reading through parts of this book several times--Milosz's entries are deep and compelling.
Kate
Feb 17, 2009 Kate marked it as to-read
Shelves: shelved
what a lovely (and temporary) little remedy for my clumsy knowledge of things
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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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“Misfortune simply is. And when you wall it off, you do not have a clear conscience, because perhaps you are supposed to dedicate all your efforts and all your attention to it. And all you can say in your own defense is 'I want to live.” 3 likes
“Contradiction is an inseparable part of the human condition, and that suffices as a source of miraculousness.” 2 likes
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