Postsecular Instruments of Acculturation. Czesław Miłosz’s Works from the Second American Stay

Karina Jarzyńska

Published Online: 2017-09-20 | DOI:


The article raises the question about the ways in which religious tradition can become an ally in the process of acculturation while serving the modern subject both as a springboard for innovative, creative work and as a tool of self-improvement. Czesław Miłosz’s selected works from his second stay in the United States (1961-1980) are analysed from the postsecular perspective which recognises religion as a full-fledged actor in the process of modern transformations that may broaden the field of artistic choice but remains vulnerable to artistic resemantizations or even profanations (Agamben). Such an analysis allows us to interpret the poem From the Rising of the Sun as a form of reconciliation of Miłosz’s American and Lithuanian experience (as well as of maturity and childhood, centre and periphery, modern and pre-modern cultural formation) through textual practices inspired by his private Liturgy of the Hours. In this light, the translations of the Books of the Bible on which Miłosz worked, his novel The Mountains of Parnassus, as well as his essays from Visions from San Francisco Bay emerge as instruments of shaping the communal identity with the use of pre-existing rituals, which are, nonetheless, also negotiated in the act of writing.

KeywordsmodernitypostsecularismPolish literaturemigrationtranslationCzesław MiłoszFeatured Image.


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