While scholars have chronicled Czesław Miłosz’s engagement with religious belief, no previous book-length treatment has focused on his struggles with theodicy in both poetry and thought. Miłosz wrestled with the problem of believing in a just God given the powerful evidence to the contrary in the natural world as he observed it and in the horrors of World War II and its aftermath in Poland. Rather than attempt to survey Miłosz’s vast oeuvre, Łukasz Tischner focuses on several key works—The Land of Ulro, The World, The Issa Valley, A Treatise on Morals, A Treatise on Poetry, and From the Rising of the Sun—carefully tracing the development of Miłosz’s moral arguments, especially in relation to the key texts that influenced him, among them the Bible, the Gnostic writings, and the works of Blake, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Schopenhauer. The result is a book that examines Miłosz as both a thinker and an artist, shedding new light on all aspects of his oeuvre.
LUKASZ TISCHNER is an assistant professor in the department of Polish literature of the twentieth century at the Institute of Polish Philology, Jagiellonian University, in Krakow.
STANLEY BILL is a lecturer in Polish studies at the University of Cambridge.
"Milosz’s poetics are expansive, but Tischner does an outstanding job of tracing the evolutionary consistency that underlies the writer’s sense of ontological wonder. There are many excellent close readings of individual poems and passages from the fictional prose throughout each of the chapters—thoughtfully presented in both the original Polish and in English translation... Tischner does not eschew the darkness prevalent throughout Milosz’s work, but he does remind us that the ecstatic is every bit as present and even more necessary to understanding the great poet’s power. Milosz and the Problem of Evil provides a very good introduction and exploration into one of the great moral artists of the twentieth century." —Slavic and East European Journal