Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Legends of Modernity

Legends of Modernity

Essays and Letters from Occupied Poland, 1942-1943

Czeslaw Milosz; Translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine; Introduction by Jaroslaw Anders

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Trade Paperback

Legends of Modernity, now available in English for the first time, brings together some of Czeslaw Milosz's early essays and letters, composed in German-occupied Warsaw during the winter of 1942-43.

"Why did the European spirit succumb to such a devastating fiasco?" the young Milosz asks. Half a century later, when Legends of Modernity saw its first publication in Poland, Milosz said: "If everything inside you is agitation, hatred, and despair, write measured, perfectly calm sentences..." While the essays here reflect a "perfect calm," the accompanying contemporaneous exchange of letters between Milosz and Jerzy Andrzejewski express the raw emotions of "agitation, hatred and despair" experienced by these two close friends struggling to understand the proximate causes of this debacle of western civilization, and the relevance, if any, of the teachings of the Catholic church.

Passionate, poignant, and compelling, Legends of Modernity is a deeply moving insight into the mind and emotions of one of the greatest writers of our time.


Praise for Legends of Modernity

“A giant elusive in our midst.” —John Updike, The New Yorker on 'To Begin Where I Am'

“Extraordinary...These 400 pages or so document the development, over seven decades, of a great mind.” —The Economist on 'To Begin Where I Am'

To Begin Where I Am bears witness to Milosz's lifetime of toil in the fields of memory, faith, and art.” —Adam Kirsch, Bookforum on 'To Begin Where I Am'

“Splendid...Milosz's ABC's is a benedictory text, an alphabetical rescue operation, a testimonial to those who have suffered and gone before us, a hymn to the everlasting marvel and mystery of human existence...Milosz [is] arguably the greatest living poet.” —Edward Hirsch, The New York Times Book Review on 'Milosz's ABC's'

“Eloquent...A remarkable fusion of passion and balance.” —Richard Eder, The New York Times on 'Milosz's ABC's'

“Few writers in our time can rival Milosz's ability to render justice to the strange spectacle of the world. We should be grateful for the wisdom of his extraordinary life.” —Jaroslaw Anders, Los Angeles Times Book Review on 'Milosz's ABC's'

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Czeslaw Milosz; Translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine; Introduction by Jaroslaw Anders

Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004) was the winner of the 1978 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. His last book was To Begin Where I Am (FSG, 2001). He is the author of numerous works, many of which have been translated into English, including Beginning with My Streets (FSG, 1992), The Year of the Hunter (FSG, 1994), Road-side Dog (FSG, 1998) Milosz's ABC's (FSG, 2001) and To Begin Where I Am (FSG, 2001).

Czeslaw Milosz

© Jerry Bauer

Czeslaw Milosz

Madeline Levine

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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