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Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition Paperback – June 27, 2002
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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As a Jew, I particularly enjoyed the discussion of the university and political climate in Wilno of the 1930s. It sounded to me so much like its modern North American counterpart in numerous cities, and I could really feel how much was lost when this world ended, its natural evolution stopped dead in its tracks. Milosz is such an astute, balanced observer, bringing to light a more optimistic picture of a past that became understandably buried by the tragedies that soon followed.
His other gift is to humanize the historical currents that were driving eastern Europe towards Communism. He explains the political and social pressures that influenced the period's intellectuals, without ever becoming pedantic. The prose exudes such a beautiful sense of warmth and humanity.
Near the end he becomes rather Hamlet-esque. He admits that he fears readers will see him as such, and I have to say, it rang a bell for me because he goes on and on into eloquent contradictions. But perhaps this is an allegory for his state of mind at the time, when he was contemplating whether to defect to the West and leave his native country for good?
The conclusion seems to just trail off......I was disappointed with it, because he starts into themes that he had not explored in depth beforehand. Weak. I fear I may have missed something. But otherwise, a fabulous book and I'm so glad that I read it.
His knowledge of the European history of the 20th century is nor from the books, but something he lived through himself. Milosz traveled to Siberia with his father. He survived both World wars. He studied in France before WW2 and spent the war in Warsaw, where he witnessed destruction of Warsaw after the upraising. Milosz seems very observant, honest, and has a tendency to self-reflection, which makes the narrative even more interesting.
He had many dangerous adventures during the war years and he remembers and describes them in great detail. Many of his remarks about Russia are right on target (as Russian I can confirm that). This is great and unique book of the ultimate Eastern European. Definitely worth reading if you are interested in the history of this part of the world.