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Gabriel Insausti, Professor of Literature at the University of Navarre

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Tue, 13 Jun 2017 13:47:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

Adam Zagajewsky (Lvov, 1945) is one of the last literary figures summary the report of the 20th century. Poet first and foremost, his work also includes collections of essays such as In Defense of Fervor and Solitude and Solidarity. His autobiography In the beauty of others is, in addition to a story about his initiation and maturity in the literary vocation, the mosaic of the Polish intellectual world during the second half of the twentieth century, the history of academics and writers of communist Krakow and the chronicle of the struggle of a handful of men of several generations for a freedom that started from the individual conscience. Adam Zagajewsky's literary work makes good Baudelaire's phrase that attention to the present, to the modern face of the world, constitutes "half of art" (and the idea that, consequently, it is necessary to pay attention to that image but not to let oneself be completely captured by it).

Persecuted by the communist regime of his country and exiled, Zagajewsky has nevertheless rejected any spokesmanship, has resisted the temptation to let his voice become entrenched in what Mandelstam called the "prefabricated senses", in order to seek authenticity in a contemplative attitude. Knowing, like his compatriot and friend Milosz, that the tyrant is not important enough to write about, despite his resolute ethical and political firmness, he has preferred to resolve the conflict by force of transcending it, allowing a fuller and richer image of man to appear in his poetry, free of the mutilations imposed by political regimes. This ambivalence "between the local and the universal, between militancy and intimacy, between the center and the periphery" makes Adam Zagajewsky a particularly interesting author today. His work sample, among other things, shows us that Polish literature is a branch of the central trunk of the West.

A dissident of dissidence, Adam Zagajewsky has been able to remain attentive to historical events and adopt an attitude manager before them and at the same time prevent his literary work from being reduced to any slogan or history from stifling his aesthetic and spiritual aspirations. His friend and fellow exile Joseph Brodsky once declared that the most beautiful poetry of the 20th century has been written in Polish since Herbert, and Zagajewsky's poetic work makes this statement still valid.