In Miłosz wobec Conrada: 1948 – 1959 (Miłosz and Conrad: 1948 – 1959) Jolanta Dudek shows how Czesław Miłosz — who belonged to the first generation of Poles who had been ‘brought up’ on Conrad’s stories and novels — helped to maintain the connections between Polish literature and Conrad, whose works were put on the communist index of banned literature in 1949 (where they remained until the Polish ‘Thaw’ of 1956). Reading poetry and prose written by Miłosz in the years between 1948 and 1959, we can see that Conrad’s writings not only helped the poet to define his own moral, political and artistic position, but also helped him to create his very own ‘Eastern Borderlands’ cultural identity, as well as accompanying him in his search for the ‘bare truth’ about Man and the world in which he lives.
Jolanta Dudek’s close reading of the Treatise on Morality (1948), the Treatise on Poetry (1956/57), Joseph Conrad’s Father (1956), Joseph Conrad in Polish Eyes (1957), Conrad’s Stereotypes (1957) and Russia (1959) reveals significant references to Conrad’s works as well as the poet’s own understanding of them, thus casting new light on the Polish postwar reception of Conrad and also on the work of Miłosz himself. The poet’s own view of Conrad is constantly confronted with the findings of Conrad critics on both sides of the Atlantic.
Although Miłosz later sought out the company of other interlocutors in his quest to understand the meaning of life, more than a few open and hidden references to Conrad’s work are to be found in the poetry and prose which the poet published after 1959, albeit in a less condensed form.
JOLANTA DUDEK is a professor in the Faculty of Polish Language and Literature at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. She was educated at the Jagiellonian University, (where she obtained a Ph.D. in Polish literature) and at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford (where, as a Rawnsley Scholar, she obtained a D.Phil. in comparative literature). Since 2006 she has been director of the Jagiellonian University Joseph Conrad Research Centre, editor of the Yearbook of Conrad Studies (Poland) and a member of the Joseph Conrad Society (Poland). She is interested in comparative literature and the interpretation of complex twentieth-century poetry (mainly English and Polish). She has written on the poetry of William Blake, Kazimierz Wierzyński, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Czesław Miłosz, Zbigniew Herbert and Tadeusz Różewicz.