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My Century

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4.2  ·  Rating details ·  109 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
In My Century the great Polish poet Aleksander Wat provides a spellbinding account of life in Eastern Europe in the midst of the terrible twentieth century. Based on interviews with Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz, My Century describes the artistic, sexual, and political experimentation --in which Wat was a major participant-- that followed the end of World War I: an exp ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 31st 2003 by NYRB Classics (first published 1977)
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Buck
Sep 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
There's no way I can confine myself to a capsule review, so if you just want the glib, soundbite version, I'll say this: My Century makes most autobiographies, and most novels for that matter, seem hopelessly lightweight - mere bundles of vanity and fatuousness. Okay, that's a tad unfair, maybe, but still, the book is just that profound; it puts you off lesser things for a while.

By rights, My Century shouldn't exist, since its author had no business living long enough to tell his story. In the
...more
John Gaynard
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My Century is a memoir based on lengthy warts-and-all tape-recorded conversations between Aleksander Wat and Czeslaw Milosz, the Polish Poet, in Berkeley and Paris in 1964-1965 towards the end of Wat's life.

Wat was the founder of the communist leaning "Literary Journal" in Poland at the end of the 1920s. As Milosz says in his foreword, "there are many heroes in this book" and while talking about his own experiences Wat pays tribute to them all. Wat began life in a genteel assimilated, intellectu
...more
J.W. Dionysius Nicolello
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew Davis
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Masterpiece of life under Russian communism experienced by Poles who found themselves in the eastern Poland when it was partitioned by Stalin following Ribbentrof-Molotov pact signed in August 1939. In truly Kafka'esque manner shows the life ruled by NKVD arrests, forced settlement in the east of Russia, enforced take-up of Russian citizenship. All this presented in a series of discussions between Aleksander Wat and Czeslaw Milosz, Noble Prize laureate in literature, another refugee from Communi ...more
Tomasz
Poeta futurystyczny, krytyk literacki, wydawca, polski Żyd, ateista, katolik, komunista i lewicowy antykomunista. Z pewnością nie był konformistą i przemiany jego poglądów szły na przekór modom i falom politycznym. Bardzo szczegółowa analiza dylematów i przemian światopoglądowych, osobistej odwagi wobec zewnętrznych nacisków i stalinowskiego terroru.
Mamy tu świetne opisy polskiego społeczeństwa, życia literackiego, portrety czołowych postaci wraz z różnymi strategiami radzenia sobie z polityką,
...more
Dan
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended only for readers interested in the subject: the experience of a Polish Jewish intellectual dealing with the nightmare of his country overrun from the west by Hitler, then from east by Stalin. Wat headed east and, in Soviet hands, by luck and pluck escaped death and torture (except for near-starvation) but not some brutal incarcerations and separation from his wife and son, about whose circumstances he greatly feared but was generally unable to learn.

Wat gained interesting insights in
...more
PhiloLogos
Puncte forte:
+ uimitoarea memorie, care dezgroapă o galerie foarte stufoasă de personaje, bine conturate, cu ştiinţa detaliului definitoriu;
+ exemplaritatea traseului existenţial, pornit sub auspiciile nihilismului avangardist, continuat pe post de tovarăş de drum al comuniştilor, şi terminat, după experienţa închisorilor comuniste, cu convertirea la catolicism.
Puncte piano:
- ultradetalierea lumii artistice poloneze din anii avangardelor şi de după, de scăzut interes pentru un trăitor în alte
...more
Cynthia
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ik dacht dat het een moeilijk boek zou zijn om te lezen, maar uiteindelijk bleek het uitermate fascinerend te zijn om te lezen over de parallelle wereld van verbannen Polen in Rusland gedurende de tweede wereldoorlog en hoe iemands geestelijke toestand is wanneer hij jaren wordt opgesloten in de gevangenis. Het personenregister en de voetnoten hielpen erg bij het begrijpen van het boek. Echter zonder enige kennis van de Poolse geschiedenis is dit geen eenvoudig boek om te lezen
Steven
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful memoir about Aleksander Wat's time in prison during both the soviet and the nazi occupation of Poland in the forties. It is vivid and wonderful, it reads like a story even though the author seems to have an aversion to story telling. He often will get to the point of conflict only to skip the conflict.
Adam Dupaski
Oct 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Amazing.
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NYRB Classics: My Century, by Aleksander Wat 1 6 Oct 29, 2013 09:37AM  
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Aleksander Wat, (born Aleksander Chwat to a Jewish father and a Polish mother) was a Polish poet, writer and art theoretician, one of the precursors of Polish futurism movement in early 1920s.

In 1919 he was among the young poets to proclaim the advent of new, futuristic poetry. The following year he published the first set of his poems, which gained much popularity among the supporters of the new
...more
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