Mozart's Third Brain


Winner of the 2006 Nordic Council?s Literature Prize, Swedish writer G?ran Sonnevi is undoubtedly one of the most important poets working today. In Mozart?s Third Brain, his thirteenth book of verse, he attempts ?a commentary on everything? ? politics, current events, mathematics, love, ethics, music, philosophy, nature. Through the impeccable skill of award-winning translator Rika Lesser, Sonnevi?s long-form poem comes to life in English with the full force of its loose, ...

See more details below
$28.00 price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (14) from $1.99   
  • New (2) from $6.98   
  • Used (12) from $1.99   
Sending request ...


Winner of the 2006 Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, Swedish writer Göran Sonnevi is undoubtedly one of the most important poets working today. In Mozart’s Third Brain, his thirteenth book of verse, he attempts “a commentary on everything” – politics, current events, mathematics, love, ethics, music, philosophy, nature. Through the impeccable skill of award-winning translator Rika Lesser, Sonnevi’s long-form poem comes to life in English with the full force of its loose, fractured, and radiating intensity.

A poetic tour de force that darts about dynamically and imaginatively, Mozart’s Third Brain weaves an elaborate web of associations as the poet tries to integrate his private consciousness with the world around him. Through Lesser’s translation and preface, and an enlightening foreword by Rosanna Warren, readers of English will finally gain access to this masterpiece.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This ambitious, sprawling book-length poem from one of Sweden's leading lights aspires to consider almost everything: music in composition and performance, friends' illness and death, cosmology, sex, and metaphysics: “Within myself I hear the dichotomies, recurrent/ on many levels, ontologically, epistemologically Also/ emotionally.” Such abstract musings cut against Sonnevi's striking lyric interludes, as when he evokes “The whirlwind of ash at my feet, invisible/ Where shall I set them down.” Composed between 1992 and 1996, its 164 sections also react to European politics, including Sweden's vote on whether to enter the E.U. and the conflict and slaughter in Bosnia. Political economy makes an appearance, too (“The sea of finance capital, of over 7 trillion dollars,/ moving freely over the surface of the globe”). He wants, also, to see how social and artistic life and the sciences can merge and interact in his own mind, where “There's no end to analyses We stand at the beginning of everything.” Sonnevi's sentences sound admirably idiomatic in Lesser's rendering. Yet even Swedish readers (as Lesser notes) remain both fascinated and baffled by Sonnevi's informality and by his reach: for every American drawn to these long meditations, another may regard them as merely journals, a thoughtful poet's lengthy notes for an unwritten poem. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Sonnevi has been a major literary figure since the 1965 publication of On the War in Vietnam, a highly regarded poem that fueled the debate over U.S. involvement in the war. Considered the best poet to come of age in Sweden in the 1960s, Sonnevi has won nearly every significant Swedish poetry prize, including the 2005 Nordic Prize—known as the little Nobel. Sonnevi's 13th collection, published in Sweden in 1996, consists of two parts: "Disparates," a series of short, lyric poems, and the 200-page title poem. Primarily a meditation on family, death, and God, this lengthy work covers everything from music to history to politics to love. With its chiaroscuro imagery, it looks at the metaphysics of music as it poses existential considerations of loss, loneliness, and religious faith and is at times reminiscent of work by Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. VERDICT Sonnevi uses metaphors of light and shadow both to set a mood and to draw readers into what is primarily a stunning conversation between the narrator and his deceased father. Best for serious readers of contemporary poetry.—Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD
Richard Howard
“Just what we need, another poem that can never stop being read, only entered, continued, lived. . . Lesser (what a name for the translator of the latest “wisdom literature” to hit the fan!) had to hear Sonnevi’s voice before she could (or would) do the work. In other words, loved the poem. And that is why we may read it, not well but as well: to hear the voice, in English now: entered, continued, lived. . . Yes, just what we need.”—Richard Howard
Rosanna Warren
“A massive poem that breaks almost every poetic convention. . . .The poem lures us, step by step, to suffer, to care, to mourn, and to live in an enlarged state of awareness. So large, finally, that it brings microcosm together with macrocosm, and brokenness together with wholeness, in a visionary ending that does not really end. . . . In this majestic, original, and painful poem, Göran Sonnevi has released a new form of fertility into the world.”—Rosanna Warren, from the Foreword
C.K. Williams
“Göran Sonnevi is one of the most unique and most accomplished poets writing anywhere in the world. There is no one like him in terms of the scope, the magnificence of his ambition for his work, and few come close to what he can technically manage…Brilliantly translated, Rika Lesser’s verse in English is supple and capacious.”—C.K. Williams
Adam Zagajewski
“Göran Sonnevi tries in this book something that’s impossible and breathtaking: a poetic synthesis wherein our knowledge and emotions should merge. . . A synthesis is not possible but what we’re given here is a wonderful meditation on the world of pain and beauty, of politics and music, nature and human relationships. A fantastic poem and fantastically translated by Rika Lesser!”— Adam Zagajewski
PEN American Center - PEN Literary Awards in Poetry in Translation
Finalist for the 2010 PEN Literary Awards in the Poetry in Translation category given by the PEN American Center
Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

Winner of the 2006 Nordic Council's Literature Prize, Swedish writer Göran Sonnevi is one of the most important poets working today. Rika Lesser is the author of four books of poems and six books of poetry in translation. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)