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Czesław Miłosz – Polish Samizdat

Traktat moralny [A moral treatise].

Poznań: Witryna Amatorska, 1981. Duodecimo (14 × 10.5 cm). Original printed staple-stitched wrappers; 28 pp mimeographed to rectos and versos. Very good.

An underground edition of a manifesto-style poem by the Polish-American poet, novelist and Nobel laureate, Czesław Miłosz (1911–2004). The poem was written in Washington DC in 1947, where Miłosz worked at the Polish embassy, and reflects his understanding of poetry in a post-WWII world. The poem was first published in the prominent literary journal “Twórczości” in 1948. Officially banned in his native Poland for thirty years in 1950–1980, Miłosz' works were enormously popular in underground publications. In this period he was published exclusively by independent publishers such as NOWa, until he was awarded the Nobel prize in literature in 1980. Official censorship of his works relaxed thereafter, with the exception of The Captive Mind, which was directly critical of Soviet-style communism. This volume was published in this transitional period simultaneously by NOWa and by the Poznań imprint Witryna Amatorska.

The activities of independent publishers like those of most non-governmental organizations in Poland took place in a legal grey zone. Publishers faced harassment and unpredictable short-term arrests but were not persecuted as harshly as similar operations in other Soviet bloc nations. Many of the publishers had open editorial boards, but printers and distributors typically remained anonymous. By the late 1970s, larger publishing operations such as NOWa employed close to 200 workers and were able to compete with state publishers in quality and to attract famous contemporary Polish authors. The popularity of authors such as Miłosz contributed to the commercial success of the independent publishers which allowed for their continued operation. See Siobahn Doucette, Books Are Weapons: The Polish Oppositional Press, and the Overthrow of Communism, pp. 99–100.

As of August 2022, KVK, OCLC show no copies of this Poznań edition outside of Poland.

Book ID: 52312

Price: $250.00