My Century (New York Review Books Classics)
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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 explosion of talent and ideas which, he argues, in some ways helped to open the door to the destruction that the Nazis and Bolsheviks soon visited upon the world. But Wat's book is at heart a story of spiritual struggle and conversion. He tells of his separation during World War II from his wife and young son, of his confinement in the Soviet prison system, of the night when the sound of far-off laughter brought on a vision of "the devil in history." "It was then," Wat writes, "that I began to be a believer."
preached the extermination of the intelligentsia to the point where Lenin had to condemn his excesses. Many years later in People’s Poland, I observed that the workers hated the party not only because of its alienness, its betrayal of the nation, but also because they considered communism a movement of intellectuals, the party cloaking itself in the name of the workers—all those stylized images of the worker and the presence of former workers at the top only fueled that hatred. That’s nothing
literature that we read as young people, we cannot, nor do we wish to, be freed from the charms of that initial reading. Still, we were prematurely exposed. What could we have known of their roots in human life? Under conditions like those in Lubyanka—cut off from the world, aware of the vast roaring world outside, the deathly hush inside, where time slows terribly while we continue to grow terribly old biologically—under those conditions we sought to recover our initial freshness of perception,
Ossietzky, Karl von, 30 Ovseenko-Antonov, Vladimir A., 47 Panch, Petro (orig. Panchenko), 101, 107, 110, 111 Pan Tadeusz (Mickiewicz), 2 Paragraph, 58, 181, 258 Parandowski, Jan, 338 Parnicki, Teodor, 353 Pascal, Blaise, 22, 228 Passportization campaign, 361–378 Pasternak, Boris L., 40, 59, 195, 200, 253, 304, 323, 327 Pasternak, Leon, 118–119, 122 Paustovsky, Konstantin G., xix, 147, 280, 319, 320, 327, 331, 351, 352, 354 Pavlenko, Piotr A., 326–327 Pavlov, Ivan P., 148, 231
(criminals), 36, 170; creation of, 171–172; hatred of intellectuals, 194, 275–276 Uzbeks, description of, 334–335 Valentin (Alma-Ata prisoner), 375–382 Vanya, 178 Vettori, Francesco, 206 Vigilev, Boris, 43 Vladimir Mayakovsky (Mayakovsky), 23 Vogel, Debora, 160 Voznesensky, Andrei A., 199 “Wandering Jew, The” (Wat), 115 Wandurski, Witold, 8, 14, 63, 121, 196 Warsaw Courier, 248 Warsaw Uprising, 145 Warski, Adolf, 38, 42, 91, 175, 196, 298 Wasilewska, Wanda, 49, 99, 101, 105,
had fled from Warsaw without a cent; he had no money, no friends, and so he spent the nights in shelters. And the lice were terrible there. But even that doesn’t explain their numbers. Lice just loved him, that’s all there is to it. That’s very important. I had relatively few lice; they didn’t like me. The bedbugs, however, loved me. They can smell your blood; they know what kind of blood you have. Majtełes viewed us as enemies from the start. He was there by mistake! He had signed up for labor