The Nobel Laureate’s legendary scrutiny of Polish intellectuals’ fascination with the communist regime has been released by the Guangxi Normal University Press 60 years after its Parisian premiere
Czesław Miłosz published his book in 1953 in Paris. He was already an emmigrant in exhile from communist Poland, and he attempted to analyse the ways in which Stalinism attracted various intellectuals and got them to collaborate. It is in The Captive Mind that he coined terms later to become famous, such as the ketman, portraying a state of inner bifurcation, wherein one proclaims something contrary to one’s true beliefs; or an idea borrowed from Witkacy - the Murti-Binga pill, which would induce a loss of identity and promise happiness with the newly taken on world view. In The Captive Mind, Miłosz employed the cryptonyms Alfa, Beta, Gamma, Delta to describe the cases of Poland’s major post-war writers - Jerzy Andrzejewski, Tadeusz Borowski, Jerzy Putrament, and Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, respectively.
Miłosz wrote mainly for his writer colleagues back in Poland, but also bore in mind literary critics and public opinion in the West, as his book came out simultaneously in Polish and English. The French transcription soon followed, and the book has been translated into languages to date.
The Chinese edition of The Captive Mind was released in mid March 2013, after three years of accumulated efforts. It is translated by professor Yi Lijun and professor Wu Lan, and it is published by the Guangxi Normal University Press.
Yi Lijun is one of the most accomplished translators of Polish literature in China, and a recipient of the 2012 Transatlantyk literary award. The major works by Polish authors which Yi Lijun has transcribed into Chinese include the Trylogy by Henryk Sienkiewicz, Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewcz, Witold Gombrowicz’s Ferdydurke and Prawiek i inne czasy by Olga Tokarczuk. She has also translated poetry by Tuwim, Szymborska and Miłosz.
Professor Wu-Lan is best known in China for her merits in the promulgation of writings by Stefan Żeromski. She translated his Dzieje grzechu / Story of a Sin and Ludzie bezdomni / Homeless People. Wu-Lan has also translated Podróże z Herodotem / Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuściński.
On the 27th of March, 2013, a special press conference presenting the publication was hosted by the Polish Embassy in Beijing, with the participation of the two translators and Guangxi Normal University Press representatives. More than 40 representatives of various media attended, and the Polish Ambassador to China, Tadeusz Chomicki, gave a welcoming speech introducing the historic significance of the book for Polish readership of the communist era. Both translators presented the figure of Czesław Miłosz to the audience and talked about the meaning of his book and the circumstances of its publishing. Professor Yi Lijun described Czesław Miłosz as a poet, writer and also Literary Nobel Prize winner (1980), but also as a literary critic, lecturer and diplomat. She also talked about the circumstances of publishing The Captive Mind and its message. The book has a special meaning for Poles as it is the most important polemic against Stalinism and also an attempt at a scholarly analysis of the Stalinism-era propaganda. The analysis is a strictly intellectual and not a political one, since Miłosz never intended to be a political writer. He himself used to claim that first of all he is a poet.
Translated with edits by Paulina Schlosser 03.04.2013
Source: http://beijing.mfa.gov.pl, press release