The Nobel Prize in Literature 1980
Born: 30 June 1911, Śeteniai, Russian Empire (now Lithuania)
Died: 14 August 2004, Kraków, Poland
Residence at the time of the award: Poland; USA
Prize motivation: “who with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts”
Prize share: 1/1
Czeslaw Milosz was born in Lithuania, where his Polish parents fled to escape the turmoil in their native country. After the end of World War I, the family returned to Poland. When World War II broke out in 1939, Milosz became involved in the resistance movement in Warsaw. After the war Milosz joined the newly formed Communist Party and was stationed as a cultural attaché in Paris. Disappointed with the Communist regime, he sought political asylum in France in 1951. He took up residence in the United States in 1960 and lived there until the 1990s. Milosz spent his last years in Krakow, Poland.
Czeslaw Milosz primarily worked as a poet. His first poetry collection, Poemat o czasie zastyglym (Poem of the Frozen Time) was published in 1934. Several of his early works are characterized by a sense of doom, but as time passed, he softened the picture he drew of the world. His best-known work, the novel Zniewolony umysł (1953) (The Captive Mind), examines a repressive regime’s influence on four authors. Milosz resisted being labeled a political author and maintained that his work dealt with eternal questions: life and death, faith and doubt, good and evil.