THE YEAR OF THE HUNTER by Czeslaw Milosz


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 A twilight journal by Nobel Prize winner Milosz (Beginning with My Streets, 1992, etc.), very much concerned with fame, the aging body, his place in Polish literature, and general regrets for mysteries unsolved and unsolvable in the remaining time before death. Daily in 1987 and 1988, Milosz recorded a variety of thoughts and feelings on a wide range of topics: the burning pace of his renown (readings and papers delivered everywhere, a conference on Central Europe in the presence of the Polish Pope); the state of his Berkeley garden (deer keep eating the heliotrope); his health (occasionally poor, usually robust); his recently dead wife (nursed through Alzheimer's at the end, but earlier subject to a misdiagnosed brain tumor); his alienation from contemporary American poets (``American poetry equals an enormous collection of snapshots from which we divine the things observed and the mind of the observer. In his mind we may discover the conviction that `there is nothing to write about' ''); and his ruminations on the body and the soul. About Pope John Paul II Milosz is especially interesting, the Pope being an ex-poet himself. His countryman clearly fascinates Milosz, and scares him a little as well: A shadow of nationalistic messianism peeks from behind what Milosz otherwise approvingly sees as the Pope's moral rigidity. But it is Poland and its faults and strengths that Milosz pays most attention to in this journal. And in light of these, he seems to want to put things finally right with his countrymen vis-Ö-vis himself. Because some if not most of these references are to a time and place and people American readers are far less than familiar with, these sections may be heavy going, and Milosz is not always concisely intelligible. Still, this is an intimate portrait on the whole, more personal than Milosz's prose usually is--a generosity, finally.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1994
ISBN: 0-374-29344-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1994


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