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Czesław Miłosz papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 661
Scope and Contents
The Czesław Miłosz Papers document the life and work of the poet, essayist and Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz. The papers consist of writings, correspondence, photographs, personal papers, audio material, and printed material (including newspaper clippings, printed ephemera and clandestine samizdat publications), spanning the years 1880-2000, with the bulk of the material dating from 1940 to 1989. While some writings, photographs and personal documents pre-date the Second World War, the earliest correspondence dates from 1946.

The papers document all aspects of Miłosz's professional life and include original holograph and typescript drafts of his major works of poetry and prose from 1945 to 1992, drafts or transcripts of hundreds of essays, speeches and lectures, transcripts of radio broadcasts, teaching material, and documentation of his collaboration with Aleksander Wat.

The papers document the domains of Miłosz's eminent career as a poet, writer and scholar of Slavic literature, his creative writing process, the relation of literary figures to historical events and movements of the twentieth century (including the Second World War, the rise of Soviet-influenced Communist rule in Poland, and upheavals in the Polish government in the 1980s), and themes of exile and emigration, particularly as they relate to Polish émigrés in France and the United States. Correspondence and writings directly address the intellectual and political themes that are prevalent in Miłosz's work, such as the incompatibility of totalitarian government and creative expression, the nature of religious faith, and the pain of exile.

Miłosz maintained long-standing association with the Polish émigré community of Paris after he moved to the United States. He frequently corresponded with the affiliates of Institut Literacki. This relationship is also evident in his regular contributions to the monthly serial Kultura. Major correspondents in the papers include Józef Czapski, Jerzy Giedroyc, Jan Goślicki, Zbigniew Herbert, Zygmunt Hertz, Zofia Hertz, Konstanty Jeleński, Aleksander Wat and Paulina Wat.

In addition to Miłosz's writings, lectures and teaching, the papers include sporadic documentation of personal and financial matters. This documentation includes financial records, legal records (especially relating to immigration) and family photographs. Among the printed material that Miłosz collected are many clandestine (samizdat) publications that were produced in Poland despite prohibitive censorship. This collection, while fragmentary, is representative of clandestine publication activity during the 1980s.
Language of Materials
The bulk of the material is in Polish and English. Includes material in French and other languages.
Conditions Governing Access
Correspondence with Jeanne Hersch, Jadwiga Tomaszewicz and Lillian Valee was formerly restricted until 2010. Five notebooks were formerly restricted until 2010. Correspondence with Józef Sadzik is restricted during the lifetime of John Peter Miłosz.

Boxes 254, 256-261: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. Consult Access Services for further information.

Box 255 (computer disk): Restricted Fragile Material. Reference copies of electronic files may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Box 162 (sound recordings): Restricted Fragile Material. Consult Access Services for further information.
Conditions Governing Use
The Czesław Miłosz Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The bulk of the papers were purchased from George Minkoff, 1987 and 1990 and Serendipity Books, 2001. Additional material was acquired by gift from Czesław Miłosz, 1966 and from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1995-1997.
Organized into nine series: I. Correspondence, 1946-2000. II. Writings. 1934-2000. III. Interviews, Lectures, Broadcasts and Readings, 1946-1990. IV. Aleksander Wat Memoir and Translations, 1963-1991. V. Professional Papers, 1960-1993. VI. Personal Papers, 1937-1995. VII. Photographs, circa 1880-1989. VIII. Writings of Others, 1928-1998. IX. Printed Material, 1929-1999.
Associated Materials
Printed material received with the collection was removed for separate cataloging and can be accessed by searching the library's online catalog.
1880 - 2000
Majority of material found within 1940 - 1989
102.42 Linear Feet ((261 boxes) + 2 broadside folders)
Related Names
Miłosz, Czesław, 1911-2004
Language of Materials
Language of Materials
Language of Materials
Language of Materials