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Czeslaw Milosz, Norton Professor of Poetry and a Nobel Prize-winning Polish dissident, is "a poet tormented by the shortcomings of language," a Faculty colleague of Milosz's told an audience of about 150 in Boylston Hall yesterday.
Stanislaw Baranczak, associate professor of Slavic Studies, called Milosz an activist in the struggle against the "tyranny" of language and added that the poet--who joined the Faculty as a visiting professor this year--believes that "We don't use language--language uses us."
Baranczak--a Polish scholar and dissident who has written three works of literary criticism--said his colleague seeks clarity in language and authenticity of detail.
Milosz's poetry contrasts favorably with the contemporary language of mass culture. Baranczak said, concluding his half-hour discussion by quoting Milosz: "We are endowed with language; we should make the best use of what we have got."
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