Piesn Niepodlegla; Poezja Polska Czasu Wojny [Invincible Song: Polish Poetry of Wartime]. Czeslaw Milosz.

Piesn Niepodlegla; Poezja Polska Czasu Wojny [Invincible Song: Polish Poetry of Wartime]

Warsaw: Oficyna Polska, (1942). First edition. Small 8vo, 127pp; original pictorial wrappers. Small printing defect where the corner of a page was folded as it went through the press, affecting only the page number at the lower margin; covers lightly marked and age toned, very good indeed. Item #205447

Milosz's landmark anthology of war poetry, published in the very middle of the Nazi occupation in a stated edition of 1600 copies. The editor is named as "J. Robak". According to Milosz' s bibliographers, that pseudonym was previously believed to refer to a collective editorship comprised of Milosz, Jerzy Andrzejewski and Jerzy Zagorski but it was later confirmed to refer to Milosz alone. The book was a bold, ambitious production in the face of danger and deprivation in Warsaw. "It was later regarded as one of the greatest achievements of wartime typography and had a colorful cover which depicted a lyre, a scroll, a symbolic dried up branch and a sword, although Milosz had not been keen on this imagery. . . . Invincible Song was not merely a collection of poems about the war, but an anthology realised with a conscious intention. Milosz estimated that the book ranked among the best of underground publications, and at the same time that was the least 'useful', because poems had been selected on the basis of their artistic merit, and not for their rhetorical quality." (Andrzej Franaszek, Milosz: A Biography, pp 203-204). For their own safety, no authors were named in the book. Milosz included five of his own poems (one being a translation from a French poem) along with works by a range of prominent and lesser-known Polish poets including Julian Tuwim, Antoni Slonimski, Wladislaw Broniewski, Anna Swierszczynska, Jerzy Zagorski, and Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski. This copy may have belonged to one of the contributors, Anna Swierszczynska, and has a small slip apparently inscribed and signed by her in 1942 stating her permission to perform her play "Orpheus". As with all of Milosz's works during and prior to World War II, this is exceedingly scarce. Despite a relatively generous stated press-run, this book is remarkably scarce. In over thirty years of seeking Milosz first editions this is the first copy we have encountered. OCLC locates only two: one in a Warsaw library and one that was Milosz's own copy, with his papers at Yale University. Milosz received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. Volynska-Bogert & Zalewski p. 6.

Price: $5,000.00

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