The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation

The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation

by Fanny Howe
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Beautiful essays by Fanny Howe, a poet praised for her "private quest through the metaphysical universe . . . the results are startling and honest" (The New York Times Book Review)

Fanny Howe's richly contemplative The Winter Sun is a collection of essays on childhood, language, and meaning by one of America's most original contemporary poets.

Overview

Beautiful essays by Fanny Howe, a poet praised for her "private quest through the metaphysical universe . . . the results are startling and honest" (The New York Times Book Review)

Fanny Howe's richly contemplative The Winter Sun is a collection of essays on childhood, language, and meaning by one of America's most original contemporary poets.

Through a collage of reflections on people, places, and times that have been part of her life, Howe shows the origins and requirements of "a vocation that has no name." She finds proof of this in the lives of others—Jacques Lusseyran, who, though blind, wrote about his inner vision, surviving inside a concentration camp during World War II; the Scottish nun Sara Grant and Abbé Dubois, both of whom lived extensively in India where their vocation led them; the English novelists Antonia White and Emily Brontë; and the fifth-century philosopher and poet Bharthari. With interludes referring to her own place and situation, Howe makes this book into a Progress rather than a memoir.

The Winter Sun displays the same power as found in her highly praised collection of essays, The Wedding Dress, a book described by James Carroll as an "unflinching but exhilarating look at real religion, the American desolation, a woman's life, and, always, the redemption of literature."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Poet Howe's collection of autobiographical essays, interspersed with poetry and meditations, overcomes a haphazard construction and a measure of obscurity through the author's intuitive control of tone. Pinging from her Boston childhood to French philosopher Simone Weil to a poem by a 9th century Irish monk, in the course of one essay, Howe does not slow down to explain the relationships among her disparate elements, taking for granted her audience's literacy (historical and otherwise). Closer to poetry than memoir, Howe's dense pastiche of references and memories hides many intriguing connections-for instance, when reading Howe on the blind, imprisoned French Resistance member, Jaques Lusseyran, who recorded his experiences on a Braille typewriter while starving to death, it's worth knowing that the frequently-referenced Weil died is the same way. Suicide is itself a recurring theme, handled with great sympathy: "people commit suicide when they cannot recognize what it is to be a human being." Howe struggles to reconcile darkness with the hope offered by religion, mysticism, art and philosophy, but rather than reaching a validation of life, or of literature, Howe wonders at their messy relationship, encapsulated in part by a concluding thought on Hans Christian Anderson: "whatever he described as terrible was what he loved most about life."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555975203
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Publication date:
03/03/2009
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
1,012,917
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

FANNY HOWE is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose. She has won a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and an award from the Academy of Arts and Letters.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >