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The Issa Valley
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message 1: by Diane , Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane  | 12997 comments Start discussion here for The Issa Valley by Czesław Miłosz.


message 2: by Diane , Armchair Tour Guide (last edited May 15, 2018 07:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane  | 12997 comments About the Book (from MacMillan Publishers)

Thomas, the child-protagonist of The Issa Valley, is subject to both the contradictions of nature in this severe northern setting and sometimes enchanting, sometimes brutal timbre of village life. There are the deep pine and spruce forests, the grouse and the deer, and the hunter's gun. There is Magdalena, the beautiful mistress of the village priest, whose suicide unleashes her ghost to haunt the parish. There are also the loving grandparents with whom Thomas lives, who provide a balance of the not-quite-Dostoevskian devils that visit the villagers. In the end, Thomas is severed from his childhood and the Issa River, and leaves prepared for adventures beyond his valley. Poetic and richly imagined, The Issa Valley is a masterful work of fiction from one of our greatest living poets.

About the Author (from Nobelprize.org)

Czeslaw Milosz was born June 30, 1911 in Seteiniai, Lithuania, as a son of Aleksander Milosz, a civil engineer, and Weronika, née Kunat. He made his high-school and university studies in Wilno, then belonging to Poland. A co-founder of a literary group "Zagary", he made his literary début in 1930, published in the 1930s two volumes of poetry and worked for the Polish Radio. Most of the war time he spent in Warsaw working there for the underground presses.

In the diplomatic service of the People's Poland since 1945, he broke with the government in 1951 and settled in France where he wrote several books in prose. In 1953 he received Prix Littéraire Européen.

In 1960, invited by the University of California, he moved to Berkeley where he served as Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures. Czeslaw Milosz died on August 14, 2004.


message 3: by Carol (last edited May 22, 2018 01:46PM) (new) - added it

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1134 comments Diane, remind me, please. Does this book take place in Poland or in Lithuania? I’m starting it now and realized after reading Milosz’ mini-bio that I may be confusing language with country.

So... Poland?


message 4: by Diane , Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane  | 12997 comments Both, actually. It is an area that belonged to both countries at different points in history. It historically was part of Lithuania, but temporarily became part of Poland. The locations in the book are in present-day Lithuania.


message 5: by Diane , Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane  | 12997 comments Milosz is claimed as native by both countries.


message 6: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1134 comments Thanks, Diane. I’ll consider it Lithuania, then.


message 7: by Diane , Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane  | 12997 comments I'm still waiting for my copy to become available from the library.


message 8: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1134 comments Diane wrote: "I'm still waiting for my copy to become available from the library."

Bummer. I hope it comes in soon.


message 9: by Janice (JG) (new) - added it

Janice (JG) | 16 comments As far as I can tell, the Issa river is in Belarus. I got curious because "Issa" is also the name given to a man answering Jesus' description who traveled through India and Kashmir during what is often called his "lost years" (between the ages of 12 and 30). The reason I made this connection at all is because one of the main characters in the story is the woman named Magdalena, which seemed entirely too coincidental to be an accident.

It made me wonder if the author had something in mind with this story beyond the obvious.


message 10: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1134 comments Janice (JG) wrote: "As far as I can tell, the Issa river is in Belarus. I got curious because "Issa" is also the name given to a man answering Jesus' description who traveled through India and Kashmir during what is o..."

That's a fascinating observation. I need to push past the first 20 pages and voluminous descriptions of landscape. His writing is lovely, but so far not compelling me to stick with it. It's me, not him.


message 11: by Janice (JG) (new) - added it

Janice (JG) | 16 comments It does become more engaging, the author seems very personable... I like a storyteller who makes me feel that they're just sitting in my living room and leaning back on the sofa while they tell their tale.


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