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Some Thing Black Paperback – Apr 1 1999
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From Library Journal
While all translation is re-creation, the translation of poetry must convey image, mood, cadence, and concentrated subtlety. In this regard, Waldrop's fine translation is a tribute to Roubaud's rich and often lyrical meditation on death. On the surface these prose poems are an expression of the poet's grief at his wife's premature demise. They are, however, more a bold self-portrait in which the poet exposes his psyche and the struggle he endures to make the language he uses in his craft transcend its inherent limitations. Fine reading for both generalists and scholars of French literature.
- Anthony Caprio, Oglethorpe Univ., Atlanta, Ga.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"It is an elegy for our time, in that it rejects the heaven which opens for Beatrice and the ghosts which survive in the atheism of Hardy, and in that it explores overtly the relation between poetry and death. Roubaud asks in effect how one can write about a dead lover, how one can 'say' her--how one can get from the silence or groanings, which alone seem proper, to a work of poetry. By pursuing his hostility to poetry he discovers a language which is usable, and by continuously facing death he descends progressively further into the meaning of poetry. He has written a thoroughly modern 'love poem.'" -- Michael Edwards, Times Literary Supplement
"No work of recent French poetry, indeed of recent French literature, is more moving than Some Thing Black.... [O]ne reads Some Thing Black from the first sentence on with breath withheld, as if one had forgotten (and perhaps one had) that the richest poetry communicates, not only sounds and ideas and images, but also emotions.... So emotionally powerful and technically original are these poems that they should be situated not only within the context of recent French poetry, but also within the long history of the poem of mourning in European literature.... In nearly every poem of Some Thing Black particulars haunt one as universals. Which is the hallmark of a lasting work of art.... Roubaud succeeds in creating an original, unforgettable poetic equivalent for that complex state of mind and feeling which arises in the presence of death. The most complex intellectual and emotional state that man can know." -- AsylumSee all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Some of these poems are quite raw but they transcend being simply confession by the sheer artistry. Much experimental poetry tends to be cold or dry; here we have someone experimenting with meaning and words because of the difficulty of words to hold grief, to express loss, to give oneself a will to live. Knowing that words can't quite accomplish these tasks gives the poems a haunted feeling, as if they were reminders of what can only be lived.
There is a great diversity of techniques and approaches in this book, including a lot of halts and silences that move in unexpected directions and surprising phrases.
The title phrase occurs multiple times throughout the collection, like an echoing voice, one such instance:
"Some thing black which closes in locks shut pure, unaccomplished"
The book also includes a collection of photographs by his wife, Alex Cleo, called some thing black and they clearly influenced some of what he wrote.
"I can not write about you with more truth then you have done"
I recommend this book wholeheartedly; one of the unique qualities it contains is its persistence in grief and its concrete emotionality:
"The phone will ring. The voice which the man who is alone because of a death will hear is not that of the woman he loves. It's some other voice, any voice. He will hear it. This does not prove he is alive."