Captain of the Butterflies by Cees Nooteboom, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Captain of the Butterflies

Captain of the Butterflies

by Cees Nooteboom
     
 
In this, his first collection of poetry published in English, acclaimed Dutch novelist and poet Cees Nooteboom reveals a wry mix of surrealist-like language in dialogue with precise, realistic images. The result is a wonderful poetry of energy and wit. "The page lies on the lily, / and on the leaves of the lily. / The poem is all mirrors".

Overview

In this, his first collection of poetry published in English, acclaimed Dutch novelist and poet Cees Nooteboom reveals a wry mix of surrealist-like language in dialogue with precise, realistic images. The result is a wonderful poetry of energy and wit. "The page lies on the lily, / and on the leaves of the lily. / The poem is all mirrors".

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At first reading, the poems in this first collection of translated poetry by acclaimed Dutch novelist and poet whose The Following Story won the European Literary Prize for the best novel in 1993 seem strangely affectless. Their overall tone is uninflected; the speakers are often disembodied; the imagery is an odd, sometimes off-putting mixture of intense realism and difficult abstraction. Culled from Nooteboom's voluminous work published in Holland between 1955 and 1996, the poems in this selection are much concerned with time and the pain of the inexpressible: "Three o'clock at night./ Stuffed and shut, square boxes/ of silence surround my bed./ But that silence stings/ a pain that cannot pass." For the most part, though, the poems present litanies of "forms without weight" (vacant lots, faded photographs, words lost in translation) that are thematically arranged (with no dates given) in sections with such titles as "Self and Others" and "Travels and Visions," rather than chronologically. In one especially beautiful and uncharacteristically expressive love poem, a speaker openly laments making "a disaster out of the ordinary"- in some ways, an apt description of the subtle alchemy at work throughout this volume. Nooteboom's transformation of the ordinary into an art of loss lingers in the mind with the obliqueness of an Edward Hopper painting. (July)
Library Journal - Library Journal
This first collection of poetry in English by Dutch novelist, poet, and travel writer Nooteboom is a window on a surreal landscape in which "the sea is a mirror of rotting glass." Out of a quarry of private dreams, Nooteboom mines "locked-up images" that are "a gnosis of masked sayings/ in a script ever more obscure." He writes of "untamable chaos" where flesh and soul intersect and selfhood is subject to riddles ("a fetus in bed" and Leonardo "dissecting a womb") that are beyond language and recognition. Some poems resemble Waiting for Godot; others express Miranda-like wonder: "So many forms of existence! So many creatures/ to suffer and laugh in these stony hills!" Despite the transformative energy, however, Nooteboom fails in his attempt to create a cartography of the unconscious ("a map painted/ of soul"). With these depth-psychology "ciphers" offering neither identity nor personality, readers will conclude that Nooteboom's poetry, in English translation at least, doesn't compel attention.Frank Allen, North Hampton Community Coll., Tannersville, Pa.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781557133151
Publisher:
Sun & Moon Press
Publication date:
09/28/1997
Series:
Sun and Moon Classics Ser.
Pages:
116
Product dimensions:
5.01(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.39(d)

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