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Lavish Absence: Recalling and Rereading Edmond Jabès [Paperback]

Rosmarie Waldrop , Richard Stamelman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 2 2003
Edmond Jabès (1912-1991) is widely regarded as one of France’s most important writers of the 20th century. Born in Cairo, he settled in France after being expelled from Egypt with other Jews during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Rosmarie Waldrop is Jabès’s primary English translator. Over the course of her long association and friendship with Jabès, Waldrop developed a very nuanced understanding of his work that in turn influenced her development as both writer and translator. Lavish Absence is a book-length essay with a triple focus: it is a memoir of Jabès as Waldrop knew him, it is both an homage to and an explication of Jabès’s work, and it is a meditation on the process of translation. The writing interweaves these topics, evoking Jabès’s own interest in the themes of exile and nomadism.

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“…a moving and often brilliantly insightful act of homage…Throughout this important and original book, she brings her critical acumen – as well as respect and affection – to bear on the achievement of her friend and mentor. Any reader who has not yet entered Jabès’ unique oeuvre – too often reputed to be abstruse – now has the key.”—John Taylor, Paths to Contemporary French Literature

Review

"Lavish Absence is a comprehensive yet intimate introduction to the writing and thought of Edmond Jabès, a critical figure for 20th-century poetry and philosophy. It is also a welcome articulation of Rosmarie Waldrop's own poetics, which are among the most influential in contemporary American poetry." (Charles Bernstein, Director of the Poetics Program, State University of New York at Buffalo)

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5.0 out of 5 stars awash in a gift Jan. 13 2003
Format:Paperback
Rosmarie Waldrop presents small, various accounts of the relationship she has had with the French poet Edmond Jabes. The relationship is manifold for her as she recounts, first as a poet and reader, then as a translator and friend to Jabes. These sparks of recollection accumulate unpredictably and gently.
Waldrop generously shares her intelligent courses of reading Jabes, her nearly vertiginous trials, translating the rhythms and puns of his books, as well as some amusing events and anecdotes about the life of the poet. Of course, Jabes is not present on account of such a mixture of sharings, but Waldrop's book enriches one's idea of Jabes. It is most difficult to find an assemblage as rich about Jabes' life and work in English, let alone one as touching and pleasant. I read this book in an evening and found myself popping all about, in the notes seeking the French versions of the poetry translated in the text, the bibliography out back, and front again to review a joke or echo of sentence at hand.
In addition to the pleasure one might have reading about the Jabeses and their milieu, this book may be welcomed for its candid discussion of translation, its goals and methods. Some of Waldrop's solutions to vexing passages are ingenious and exciting.
There are very few books of this nature. Illuminating translator's tales are rare and rarer still are the anecdotal sharings of the translator's interactions and impressions of her source. I recommend this book highly to those with an interest in Edmond Jabes, poetry after WWII, translation or writers in exile. It also allows part of the author's own life to develop in front of the poetry on view.
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Format:Paperback
Lavish Absence: Recalling And Rereading Edmond Jabes is a blend of Rosmarie Waldrop's thoughtful and personal biography (combined with her personal meditations) of Edmond Jabes (1912-1991), a French poet and writer of cherished and insightful works. Written by his close friend and primary English translator Rosmarie Waldrop, Lavish Absence recalls Jabes' life and work with special consideration for Jabes' themes of exile and nomadism. Lavish Absence is a "must-read" combination of memoir and literary criticism which is especially recommended for poetry enthusiasts who enjoy Edmond Jabes' writings.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awash in a gift Jan. 13 2003
By Alvaro Lewis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Rosmarie Waldrop presents small, various accounts of the relationship she has had with the French poet Edmond Jabes. The relationship is manifold for her as she recounts, first as a poet and reader, then as a translator and friend to Jabes. These sparks of recollection accumulate unpredictably and gently.
Waldrop generously shares her intelligent courses of reading Jabes, her nearly vertiginous trials, translating the rhythms and puns of his books, as well as some amusing events and anecdotes about the life of the poet. Of course, Jabes is not present on account of such a mixture of sharings, but Waldrop's book enriches one's idea of Jabes. It is most difficult to find an assemblage as rich about Jabes' life and work in English, let alone one as touching and pleasant. I read this book in an evening and found myself popping all about, in the notes seeking the French versions of the poetry translated in the text, the bibliography out back, and front again to review a joke or echo of sentence at hand.
In addition to the pleasure one might have reading about the Jabeses and their milieu, this book may be welcomed for its candid discussion of translation, its goals and methods. Some of Waldrop's solutions to vexing passages are ingenious and exciting.
There are very few books of this nature. Illuminating translator's tales are rare and rarer still are the anecdotal sharings of the translator's interactions and impressions of her source. I recommend this book highly to those with an interest in Edmond Jabes, poetry after WWII, translation or writers in exile. It also allows part of the author's own life to develop in front of the poetry on view.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable to translators, readers of contemporary literature... June 19 2006
By M. J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In Lavish Absence, Rosemarie Waldrop accomplishes three things. First she gives us a sense of Edmond Jabes the man and his relationships with various friends and family. As is often the case, familarity with his background enriches our appreciation for his work.

Second, she provides a framework for understanding Jabes' thought - the margins, erasure, exile, desert etc. She gives us his understanding without references to deconstructionism, semiotics or other theories floating around the rarified air of understanding the use of language that were contemporanious with Jabes. Rather, in plain and understandable prose she introduces us to his understanding.

Finally, she gives us insight into the choices and difficulties of translating - in general and in particular. In doing so, she not only expands our understanding of Jabes but influences how we read all translations.

Excellent book, enjoyable read, and worth multiple reads.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must-read" combination of memoir and literary criticism March 9 2003
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lavish Absence: Recalling And Rereading Edmond Jabes is a blend of Rosmarie Waldrop's thoughtful and personal biography (combined with her personal meditations) of Edmond Jabes (1912-1991), a French poet and writer of cherished and insightful works. Written by his close friend and primary English translator Rosmarie Waldrop, Lavish Absence recalls Jabes' life and work with special consideration for Jabes' themes of exile and nomadism. Lavish Absence is a "must-read" combination of memoir and literary criticism which is especially recommended for poetry enthusiasts who enjoy Edmond Jabes' writings.
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