marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

The Captive Mind

The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz

The Mind of Man Under Communism. . .   That it was written prior to the fall of Communism is visible on internal evidence alone.

It also has some stuff about World War II in Poland, and somewhat more about life in the annexed or theorertically indepent Eastern European countries, but its focus is on the thinking of people.  Somewhat fancifully on occasion -- it opens with describing a novel's account of the "Pill of Murti-Bing" as an allegory of it.  It talks about ketman, the various excuses that people made for themselves to explain that they are not really going along when they do go along.

How socialist realism commits the writer to Communism.

How the West looked from Communism.

Four portraits of writers under Communism.  I found out, outside the book, that all four are identifiable writers, though they are treated as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta:  Alpha finds Communism a vent for his noble, tragic writings, which hits problems with the tragedy; Beta, whose human sympathies and truth-telling cause difficulties; Gamma, who takes to his position like a duck to water but can't write much; and the rather lunatic Delta who was willing to praise Communism in his lyrical, maverick style but got caught with "socialist realism" in style.

A chapter on human thinking in general and the terrible tendency of people to run wild.

And a reflection on the annexed Baltic countries.

Fascinating information.
Tags: ethos, history reviews: communism, history reviews: world war ii era, primary source review, thinking, writing

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