God of Hunger HTML version

Marisha’s next public function was to cover the visit to London by Czeslaw
Milosz. He had won new acclaim with the Nobel Prize in Literature. She hoped
to ask the great man about aspects of Polish culture which had interested her in
earnest ever since her visit to Penrhos.
Before meeting Milosz she read several essays by T.S. Eliot.
In 1948, the year when the King of Sweden gave him the Nobel Prize and the
King of England the Order of Merit and two years after the publication of The
Dark Side of the Moon, a book to which he supplied the preface, he published
his Notes towards the Definition of Culture. Here, as in his preface, he insisted
that „culture is the creation of society as a whole; it is that which makes it a
society ; it is important to remember that we should not consider the upper
levels as possessing more culture than the lower but representing a more
conscious culture and a greater specialization of culture. The higher level of
culture must be thought of both valuable in itself and as enriching the lower
levels: thus the movement of culture would proceed in a kind of cycle, each
class nourishing the others.”
The next problem T.S. Eliot tackled in this slim volume was the transmission of
culture from one generation to the next and he stated, simply, that this was the
function of the family. Less simply „it is the function of the superior members
and superior families to preserve the group culture, as it is the function of the
producers to alter it.’
Marisha was unimpressed. Of family she had little knowledge or experience.
As for the aristocracy, how national culture fared in their absence was a
question she had already given some consideration and about which she kept an
open mind. But of one thing she was certain when assessing genocide, namely,
that Soviet policies in Poland were incomparably milder than Nazi policies. The
Germans were out to annihilate the nation; Jew and Gentile. Of the ultimate fate
of the untermensch there could be little doubt. The Kremlin, on the other hand,
sought the elimination of any opposition to Sovietization. Stalin and his
henchman Hrustczov had no doubts that it was the intelligentsia, which
included all intellectuals, property owners, churchmen, and all state officials
and their families, which had to be destroyed in order to remodel Polish society.
As to the consequences of such destruction? Marisha allowed T.S. Eliot the last
Commenting on revolutionary France he wrote:
“And here we may remark that when a dominant class, however badly it has
performed its function, is forcibly removed, its function is not wholly taken