Books: Honoring a Pole Apart

Nobel Prize goes to émigré Poet Czeslaw Milosz

He is familiar to serious students of poetry. Otherwise he is little known outside Poland and the Slavic language department of the University of California at Berkeley. Yet last week Czeslaw Milosz (pronounced Chess-wahf Mee-wash), 69, an émigré poet-scholar and naturalized American citizen, won the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature.

In announcing the award, worth $212,000, the Swedish Academy cited Milosz's "uncompromising clear-sightedness" in a world thick with moral and intellectual conflicts. This is the familiar yet urgent condition of the modernist tradition into which Milosz was thrust by history. As he...

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