Czesław Miłosz: A California Life

Cynthia L. Haven

Czesław Miłosz, one of the greatest poets and thinkers of the past hundred years, is not generally considered a Californian. But the Nobel laureate spent four decades in Berkeley–more time than any other single place he lived–and he wrote many of his most enduring works there. 

This is the first book to look at his life through a California lens. Filled with original research and written with the grace and liveliness of a novel, it is both an essential volume for his most devoted readers and a perfect introduction for newcomers. 

Miłosz was a premier witness to the sweep of the twentieth century, from the bombing of Warsaw in World War II to the student protests of the sixties and the early days of the high-tech boom. He maintained an open-minded but skeptical view of American life, a perspective shadowed by the terrors he experienced in Europe. In light of recent political instability and environmental catastrophe, his poems and ideas carry extra weight, and they are ripe for discovery by a new generation of readers. 

This immersive portrait demonstrates what Miłosz learned from the Golden State, and what we can learn from him.