Czesław Miłoszs Bemerkungen zum Slaventum (in einem imaginierten Dialog mit Maria Janions ‚Unheimlichem Slaventum‘)
Pages 413 - 441
Czesław Miłosz’s Notes on Slavdom (in a Feigned Dialogue with ‚Niesamowita Słowiańszczyzna‘ [‚The Uncanny Slavdom‘] by Maria Janion)
One of the key features of Czesław Miłosz’s work is the reflection on the sources of his personal identity in its complex interaction with the imagined communities of his generation and of the “small homeland” of a historically and politically isolated part of Europe. In his attempt to find an answer to the questions he had posed on the first pages of his 1977 book ‚Ziemia Ulro‘ [‚The Land of Ulro‘]—“Who was I? Who am I now?”—he returned to the myths of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, of “Central Europe” and of “Slavdom.” The article reconstructs the context in which the idea of Slavdom emerges in Miłosz’s work. The topic is important not only in the context of Miłosz’s biography, but also when set against the backdrop of contemporary tendencies in Polish cultural self-reflection as analyzed by Maria Janion in her famous book ‚Niesamowita Słowiańszczyzna‘ [‚The Uncanny Slavdom‘] (2006). Would Miłosz have agreed with Janion’s ideas? Does the fact that he looks at Slavdom simultaneously from the inside (as a Polish poet) and from the outside (as “a citizen of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania,” as he liked to call himself) would have made him take a different stand? The present essay seeks answers to these questions.