Poet Czeslaw Milosz, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize...

Poet Czeslaw Milosz, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature, was born in Vilna, Lithuania, in 1911 and has since lived in Poland, France and the United States.

He has been a lecturer in Slavic Languages at the University of California at Berkeley since 1960.


Milosz, 69, is the father of two sons, a United States citizen and the ninth American to win the prize for literature. He is the third writer in Polish to win the Nobel.

Although Polish is the author's native tongue, he writes in English as well.

Milosz's poetry has not been published in Poland since 1951, when he was declared persona non grata after defecting to the West.

Polish critics rate his poems on the Warsaw uprising of 1944 among his best and his works recently began to resurface as a result of the easing of censorship.


Milosz' childhood was spent partly in Russia just before and after the Revolution and he has written about the era in his novel,'Issa,' and in his autobiography, 'Native Realm.'

He was an undergraduate student at the University of Wilno in Polish-ruled Lithuania where he received a diploma in law and where he published his earlier major poems.

'They consisted of experimental and apocalyptic works that reflected a well-founded belief in the imminence of global war,' a spokesperson at Ecco Press, one of his publishers, said Thursday.

His first book was 'Poem of the Frozen Time,' published when he was 21.

Milosz learned English during the German occupation of Poland in World War II and immediately after the war he produced much of his verse.

'The Captive Mind' published in 1953 was written to explain his reluctant defection from Poland. It is a book that analyzes the impact of Communism on four contemporary writers.

Milosz has published studies of Defoe, Balzac, Gide, Tolstoy, William James as well as numerous Polish writers. He has translated Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Milton, Whitman and Robinson Jeffers as well as French, Spanish and Yiddish writers into Polish.

Milosz' father was a civil engineer who served with the Russian Army during World War I.


His native Lithuania is a Baltic state of 3.4 million people which became a part of the Soviet Union in 1940.

During World War II, Milosz was active in the Polish resistance movement of the Nazi-occupied capital. At this time, he published via the underground an anti-Nazi anthology of poems called 'Invincible Song.'

After the war, a volume of his collected poems entitled 'Rescue' was one of the first books to be published in the People's Republic of Poland.

He is related to the French poet Oscar V. de L. Milosz.

He served in the Polish diplomatic corps between 1946 and 1950 in Washington and Paris. He joined the foreign service partially to avoid censorship.

Milosz, who was accepted in his country's intellectual elite, denounced Stalinist rule in 1951 and moved to Paris.

From Paris in 1953 he published 'The Captive Mind', a work sharply critical of Stalinism and East European intellectuals.

He wrote for the Paris-based Polish emigrant publishing house Instytut Literacki.

He has been translated into English and German and considers himself a 'difficult' poet.

Polish critics claim Milosz' essay on the loss of western man's sense of unity after the Enlightenment _ 'The Land of Ulro' _ is the summation of his works.


Milosz won the 1953 Prix Litteraire Europeen for his first work published in French, La Prise Du Pouvoir. He was awarded the Polish P.E.N. Club's 1974 award for his translation of poetry and most recently the International Books Abroad-Neustadt prize from the Univeristy of Oklahoma in 1978.

He was made an honorary doctor in 1977 by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Milosz' work has been published by several Western publishers and includes 'Emperor of the Earth: Modes of Eccentric Vision', published by University of California Press and 'History of Polish Literature' published by MacMillan in 1969.

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