- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 14, 2004

WARSAW (AP) — Polish poet and Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz, known for his intellectual and emotional works about some of the worst cruelties of the 20th century, died yesterday, his assistant said. He was 93.

Mr. Milosz died at his home in Krakow surrounded by his family, Agnieszka Kosinska said by telephone. The exact cause of death was not known.

“It’s death, simply death. It was his time — he was 93,” the assistant said.

Mr. Milosz had lived in Krakow since the fall of the Iron Curtain allowed him to return home after almost 30 years in exile in France and the United States, a time in which he became a prominent symbol for communist dissidents.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1980, an honor that coincided with the emergence of the Solidarity worker protest movement that shook communist rule in Poland.

Mr. Milosz’s best-known works include “The Captive Mind,” a study of the plight of intellectuals under communist dictatorship. It brought him international fame in the early 1950s.

Born to a noble family in what is now Lithuania, Mr. Milosz lived through the World War II Nazi regime and the Stalinist tyranny that wiped out the culture in which he grew up.

Once a diplomat for communist Poland, he broke with the regime and immigrated to the United States, returning to live in his native country only after Poland won freedom in 1989.

Mr. Milosz was “a witness to crucial and terrible events of the 20th century, and an original and contrary thinker — and feeler — about them,” said Robert Hass, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who translated Mr. Milosz’s poetry.

Mr. Milosz described his outlook this way:

“How do you write about suffering and still be able to approve of the world at the same time? If you really think about the horror of the world, the only suitable attitude seems to be to reject it,” he told the Polish weekly Tygodnik Powszechny in 2001.

“I’ve always regretted that I’m made of contradictions. But, if contradiction is impossible to overcome, we have to accept both its ends.”


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