The Captive Mind has ratings and reviews. Glenn said: Beginning with Hitler and Nazi Germany in up until the fall of the Soviet Union in. The Captive Mind (Polish: Zniewolony umysł) is a work of nonfiction by Polish writer, academic and Nobel laureate Czesław Miłosz, published in the. The best known prose work by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature examines the moral and intellectual conflicts faced by men and.

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The Captive Mind by Czesław Miłosz

Their learning and intellect did not guard against surrendering their consciences and becoming lackeys of a totalitarian regime. Robert Hass says that in Milosz’s own hierarchy of his readership, Parisian opinion remains important.

I was in constant correspondence with good friends in Paris, as my friendships were based upon my poetry.

I translated a number of his poems into Polish. The book is described by historian Norman Davies as a “devastating study” which “totally discredited the cultural and psychological machinery of Communism”.

Though the author’s experience was of Stalinist communism, his analysis of the mental and spiritual attractions that totalitarianism presents to the intellectual are of such a sound structure that they further elucidate the hold miloss rule of all stripes exerts upon the allegiance of those seemingly best disposed to oppose such constricting bonds.

The criticism is devastating and it has not lost its impact more than fifty years later. I read it for a european captice class, and I’m really glad I did. View all 29 comments. The process was different for each one, but they all arrived at the same place.

Take your answer from Czeslaw Milosz, who knew better than almost anyone, living in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Among the few intellectuals to assist him was Albert Camus, but most of his old friends shunned him, including Pablo Neruda, who went on to become the Nobel literature laureate.

The Captive Mind

They were under direct siege from the Nazis and thousands of lives were lost in the Warsaw Uprising, even as the Soviet troops waited on the outskirts of the city for the combatants to destroy each other.


While they are presented as individuated, personal characters, the reader gets the feeling that Milosz is to turn them into archetypes while at other times working deliberately against this, which has an odd way of turning them into alienating abstractions for the czes,aw. Should he not, in fact, be ashamed of them? Beta is Tadeusz Borowski, who survived the concentration camps and wrote many stories about them, which were useful for the new power to promote the cult of horror of Hitlerism as an only and unwanted alternative to itself.

Feb 26, Michael Perkins rated it it was amazing.

Regardless, his move to Paris was physically, politically and artistically dangerous. Why would intellectuals and creative artists adapt themselves to invaders and their totalitarian regimes? The book elaborates the idea of “enslavement through consciousness” in the penultimate chapter, and closes with a pained and personal assessment of the fate of the Baltic nations in particular.

I had left the world of the future for the world of the past. Milosz says that he doesn’t like the word defect and prefers to say that he broke with the regime. The lone individual inevitable asks himself if his antagonism is not wrong; all he can oppose to the entire propaganda apparatus are simply his irrational desires.

The barn at his childhood home has been converted into a literary and cultural conference centre under the name The Czeslaw Milosz Birthplace Foundation. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Religion had no answers. Upon returning, he worked as a commentator at Radio Wilno, but was dismissed, an action described as stemming from either his leftist views or for views overly sympathetic to Lithuania.

The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz | : Books

Want to Read saving…. Milosz wrote, however, that the same intellectuals who denounced Western consumerism in print would often read Western literature in search of something more worthy that the books published behind the Iron Curtain. We shared stories, exchanged ideas and grumbled a lot about the current political climate and our disappointment in czsslaw could have been — what should have been.


Milosz was a part of that. These systems can—and do—arise on all sides of the political and ideological spectrum. Thankfully we have the stories of those who have gone before us — miind down — to show us the way as they lead with imnd and nourish our own resistance. He did not participate in the Warsaw Uprising due to his residence outside of Warsaw proper. Jun 16, Aubrey rated it it was ok Recommended to Aubrey by: However, whatever you create will not even reach the point of being taken seriously since it will not be taken at all; quite the contrary – you will be completely ignored.

Because we are insulted.

Free speech is essential, as Milosz explained, because it is uncomfortable. Married Janina Dluska diedtwo sons; married Carol Thigpen For instance, isn’t it paradoxical that a country where most people go to church on Sunday miloz vote for the post-communists?

A century’s witness

And I assume that little in his prior reading would have prompted him to allude to the colonial activities of early modern Polandgiven that, for all but about 20 of the previous ca;tive, Poland had not been an independent country, and Polish cultural life had been heavily affected by the circumstance of occupation.

According to Witold Gombrowicz, the main accomplishment of The Captive Mind is not its deconstruction of communism, but proving that man can do anything to another man. But Motion also acknowledges that Milosz’s use of Polish history and literature as subject matter can be difficult for the uninitiated reader.

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