cover image Solidarity, Solitude: Essays

Solidarity, Solitude: Essays

Adam Zagajewski. Ecco Press, $19.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-88001-186-0

Unless Poland's political reform is accompanied by a spiritual transformation, Poles could revert to the dullness of mind that made possible Communist totalitarianism. That cautionary message is suggested by these impassioned, conversational, eloquent essays from Zagajewski, a Polish emigre poet who has lived in Paris since 1982. He views as twin dangers communist slavery and ``negative spirituality,'' which has roots in Nietzschean nihilism. Writing as one suspended between two cultures, Zagajewski views each sphere with an outsider's independence, balancing acute commentary on Mann, Orwell, Rilke and Keats against a running dialogue with Kundera, Milosz and Gombrowicz. Although he touches on specific events like a trial of Solidarity activists, his primary concern is the spiritual freedom that revolutions are supposed to nourish--and artists and prophets extend. (June)