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"But this language of yours,” said one of the instructors, himself an obvious Britisher, “where does it come from?” …
“From the mouth of Polish mothers,” I replied.
-- William Carlos Williams, The Autobiography, p. 311
The notion of Polishness can be very broad, capturing such features as country of birth, parenthood, other aspects of heritage or provenance. Here are four prominent authors whose connections with Polish American writing may be not that straightworward but nevertheless undeniable.
Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany, on 16 August 1920, to a German mother and a Polish American father. He moved to the U.S. at the age of 2, and died in San Pedro, California, in 1994. He wrote in English and during his life published poems and stories primarily in small press magazines. One of his most famous novels is "Women."
Joseph Conrad was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, in 1857, in Berdychiv, Ukraine, and died in 1924, in England. His most famous novels include: Heart of Darkness (1899), Lord Jim (1900) and The Shadow Line (1917). Conrad visited the United States in 1923, upon an invitation of his publisher, and appeared on the cover of sixth issue of the Time Magazine, on April 7, 1923."
Czeslaw Milosz was born near Kaunas, Lithuania, on 30 June 1911, and died in Krakow, Poland, in 2004. Between 1960-1978 he taught at the University of California at Berkeley and in 1980 was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. He wrote in Polish. His most famous novels include "The Captive Mind" and "The Land of Ulro."
Isaac Bashevis Singer was born near Warsaw, Poland, on 21 November 1902. He emigrated to the United States in 1935. He wrote eighteen novels and multiple story collections. He died on 24 July 1991. In 1978 he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. He wrote in Yiddish. One of his most famous novels is "The Magician of Lublin."
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