So look what arrived in the post today! Three thick books of Czesław Miłosz: Rozmowy zagraniczne, 1979-2003. I’ll bet it means nothing to you.
Turn to p. 435. That’s right. That’s me. “Świętość istnienia.” My Q&A with Czesław Miłosz, “A Sacred Vision,” which ran in the Georgia Review in 2003, is finally in Polish. Wydawnictwo Literackie in Kraków, the co-publisher of the Nobel poet’s work in Poland, has just released another volume within its Collected Works of Miłosz series. This time it’s a volume of interviews published outside Poland – that may sound like a narrow niche, but recall that Miłosz wasn’t getting a lot of press in Poland between 1951, when he defected, and the 1980s. For that matter, he didn’t get many interviews in the West before the Nobel in 1980. Clearly, he made up for lost time: the full edition of Miłosz’s conversations that Wydawnictwo Literackie is planning will run to several volumes. The endeavor is a prestigious one, my contact at Wydawnictwo Literackie said, but at the same time a non-profit effort. Go to the publisher’s website here; the list is pretty impressive.
I was pleased that the volume picked up thirteen interviews from my own Czesław Miłosz: Conversations. Some of those, such as James Marcus‘s excellent interview for Amazon, might have disappeared in the whirlpool of time without republication – it’s no longer online, and hasn’t been, to my knowledge, for years. I’m not sure Carl Proffer‘s 1983 interview, from the pre-internet days, is that easy to find, either. The Polish publisher expressed gratitude for my humble book, which helped them greatly in culling for the best interviews. Delighted to have been of service.
“Świętość istnienia” is the very last interview in the volume. The first shall be last, or the last shall be first…something like that. I was the last person to interview Miłosz on Grizzly Peak before he returned to Poland in 2000. Maybe it’s simply that the last will be last. In any case, you can still get my volume, in the English tongue, here.