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Józef Wittlin, born in 1896, was a major Polish poet, novelist, essayist and translator. He studied in Vienna and served in the Austro-Hungarian army in the First World War. His experiences during that war inspired him to write The Salt of the Earth, which was first published in 1935. It was awarded the Polish National Academy Prize, won Wittlin a nomination for the Nobel Prize, and has since been translated into 14 languages. With the outbreak of the Second World War he fled to France and then to New York, where he died in 1976.