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on 20 February 2011
Native realm is an insight into pre war Lithiania and Poland and also covers the war years. Milosz is of joint Polish Lithuanian ancestry, but seems to have settled for being Polish though he speaks fondly of things Lithuanian. The book covers his life as a child and young man and describes life in the Wilno area of Poland. Wilno was an important Polish regional city, which was ceded twice to Lithuania. Once during 1939-1941 then again post 1945 and the Polish population ethnically cleansed.

Milosz is the winner for the nobel prize for literature and as I have found the pace of the book a little slow where I would have expected a faster, more fluid tempo I think it maybe, because the book is a translation.

I found Milosz's insights of factual events interesting, such as ordinairy life in those times, the interraction between the various ethnic groups such as Poles, Lithuanians, Belorussians, Ukranians and Jews. He also seems to have a somewhat privileged background as his studies seemed to constitute such am important part of his life. He received a degree in Law from the Stefan Batory University and continued his studies in Paris before returning before the war and working for Polish broadcasting.

The gem of factual detail that Milosz presents us is somewhat tempered by his many opinions and thoughts which he proceeds to share with the reader. These tend to be contradictory, depending on which chapter is being read. He also seems to flirt with the idea of Communism. I found little criticism of the Communists until the end, but there seems to be many instances where he refers to the Polish resistance, or those who were opposed to Stalinism/Nazism with contempt. He calls them "right wingers" and "Nationalists" and dismisses the fact that he was not allowed to join their ranks. This contradicts with the books fly sheet that states that he was "active in underground circles in Warsaw". I would say more accurately "flirted" with the Underground and avoided doing anything useful.

He also refers with contempt "The Polish emigres of the Right.." who objected to the tone of his writings. Since Milosz took so long to realise what an ass he was for embracing Communism in the first place and taking so long to reject it for not suiting his purposes who can blame them. Again this talent for labelling people. "The Right" is again anyone not as far left as Milosz. In this case the Polish pilots of the Battle of Britain and of the dozen or so squadrons of fighter and bomber command, the 250,000 soldiers and families of the 2nd Corps that fought in North Africa and Italy. The Poles of the 1st Polish armoured division that fought at Falais, the Poles of the Parachute Brigade that dropped with the British on Arnhem. Really anybody who suffered and fought for Poland and western values which Milosz didn't.

"The Marxists taught much the same thing, and they had attracted me as a young man because I sensed in them something vital and bracing." page 266.

There are many insights such as..

"At the Nuremberg trials, Generl Jodl admitted that the Germans escaped disaster in September 1939, only because the 110 French and English divisions failed to take action against 25 German divisions left behind on the Western front, and Marshal Keitel revealed the German General staff had been amazed...." page 277.

The book is a must read for fans of Milosz. He is one of the few Poles to have gained such a prestigious prize for their country, but I feel his writings reveal what a self-important, small minded person he seems to have been.
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on 11 January 2014
NO wonder a Nobel prize went to this thoughtful and brilliant writer. One can only thank him for his discipline and his thoughts. GK
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