Two Cities: On Exile, History, and the Imagination

Two Cities: On Exile, History, and the Imagination

by Adam Zagajewski
     
 

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In this varied collection of deeply personal, lyrical essays and short literary sketches, leading contemporary Polish poet Adam Zagajewski contends with the effects of coming of age, both artistically and intellectually, in a totalitarian regime. No matter their subject, Zagajewski's essays have the subtlety and resonance of poetry; his is one of the most intriguing

Overview

In this varied collection of deeply personal, lyrical essays and short literary sketches, leading contemporary Polish poet Adam Zagajewski contends with the effects of coming of age, both artistically and intellectually, in a totalitarian regime. No matter their subject, Zagajewski's essays have the subtlety and resonance of poetry; his is one of the most intriguing voices in today's Europe.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A compelling and thought-provoking group of essays . . . As the parts of [Zagajewski's] life story begin to fall into place, an ironic and sad tapestry unrolls itself. Yet he's not all gloom and doom: he's often funny, and his humility is a strong virtue.”--Booklist

"Zagajewski . . . infuses these haunting autobiographical sketches, lyrical reflections, fables, fantasies, and aphoristic brief essays with a sense of traumatic loss and uprootedness."--Publishers Weekly

"While the absence of apocalypse suggests that Zagajewski has moved beyond the avant-garde, the incredible variety and intricacy of his prose make clear that he is still in the midst of his own quiet revolution."--John Palattella, Dissent

Booklist

A compelling and thought-provoking group of essays . . . As the parts of [Zagajewski's] life story begin to fall into place, an ironic and sad tapestry unrolls itself. Yet he's not all gloom and doom: he's often funny, and his humility is a strong virtue.

Dissent - John Palattella

While the absence of apocalypse suggests that Zagajewski has moved beyond the avant-garde, the incredible variety and intricacy of his prose make clear that he is still in the midst of his own quiet revolution.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Polish essayist and poet Zagajewski, residing in Paris since 1982, infuses these haunting autobiographical sketches, lyrical reflections, fables, fantasies and aphoristic brief essays with a sense of traumatic loss and uprootedness. The title piece relates how, in October 1945, when he was four months old, his whole family was expelled from the formerly Polish city of Lvov, which had been incorporated into the U.S.S.R. as a direct result of Yalta Conference deal-making, and deported by cattle car to Gliwice, a Silesian industrial city acquired by Poland from Germany at war's end, where he spent his childhood and adolescence longing for his idealized birthplace. In ``Open Archives,'' through what purports to be a secret-police official's memo, Zagajewski exposes and mocks the brutality and cynicism of communist rule. Along with random thoughts on William Blake, the historical imagination, nihilism and poetry, this collection includes interesting profiles of poet Gottfried Benn, ``a German Mallarm''; obsessive French diarist Paul Lautaud; and Polish Jewish story writer Bruno Schulz, gunned down by a Nazi in 1942. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Zagajewski's title essay meanders through time, moving from 1945, when as an infant he was moved from his family's beloved home city of Lvov to Giwice (Poland), back farther to an idyllic past through his homesick relatives, and then to his present life in Paris. Zagajewski, who has written essays (Solidarity, Solitude, LJ 6/15/90) and poetry (Canvas, LJ 12/91), writes movingly of his divided loyalties-represented by the two cities-to a past he did not inhabit and a future he longs to claim for his own. Unfortunately, the rest of this collection is not so successful. While Zagajewski's observations of politics, literature, and the postwar cynicism that fostered his own creativity show a lively imagination, they simply are not very interesting. His staccato, image-laden sentences, though well crafted, border on hyperbole. Best suited to larger Eastern European collections.-Diane Gardner Premo, SILS, Buffalo Univ., N.Y.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820324098
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
03/28/2002
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.81(d)

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Meet the Author


Adam Zagajewski is the author of several books of poetry, including Tremor and Mysticism for Beginners. He divides his time between Paris and Houston, where he is on the faculty of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston.

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