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The Library of Babel

A Spin-off of http://bookwormshead.blogspot.co.uk

The Captive Mind - Czesław Miłosz

I'm not an avid reader of essays - well, actually I have a tendency to keep them out from my bookshelves -, but 'The Captive Mind' is a different matter.

As some earlier Goodreads reviewer stated: 'This book has some power'.
Well, a Hell of a lot of power, indeed!

'The Captive Mind' is an extraordinary study on the different behaviors of human beings when they are engulfed by history.

At first it was all but easy to get into the spirit of the book, but then the whole fruitful meditation took off from the moment in which Czeslaw Milosz introduced four characters:
Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. Four turncoats, each in his fashion.

Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta were four men of letters of pre-World War II Poland. They were, as it comes, acquaintaces, friends (and sometimes rivals) of Mr. Milosz himself.

I toyed myself trying to guess who the four case studies actually were and it turned out that I only got one right: Tadeusz Borowski (Beta). For a while I thought Gamma was Witold Gombrowicz, before realizing that I was wrong and that my knowledge of Polish literature is still quite poor.

The fierce sarcasm and merciless irony used by Milosz when talking about the political somersaults of Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta here is certainly contemptuous, but it does hit the target.