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Anabasis by St. John Perse

This internationally famous poem, considered to have exerted a wide influence on modern poetry, was first introduced to English-language readers in the translation by T.S. Eliot. In his Preface, Eliot describes it as "a series of images of migration" in the vast spaces of the ancient East and ranks it as "a piece of writing of the same importance as the later work of James Joyce."

This is the definitive edition, published with the French and English texts on facing pages. In addition to the Preface by Eliot it includes translations of prefaces to three European editions of the work, by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Valery Larbaud, and Giuseppe Ungaretti.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156074063
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/19/1970
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.27(d)

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Anabasis 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
anabase More than 1 year ago
Of all the poetry produced during the twentieth century two poems stand at the pinnacle, and this is one of them. "The Wasteland," by T. S. Eliot, is the other. "Anabasis" was written by St.-John Perse, the pen name of Alexis Leger, in 1924. It was translated from the French by T. S. Eliot with the help of Perse in 1930, a revised translation coming out in 1949. Perse was awarded the Nobel prize in Literature in 1960. The Greek word "anabasis" means a march up-country from the coast to the interior. Given the poem's setting one may be forgiven for thinking of Xenophon's "Anabasis." The word was also used by Plato in his allegory of the cave to depict the journey from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. From Eliot's introduction: "The poem is a series of images of migration, of conquest of vast spaces in Asiatic wastes, of destruction and foundation of cities and civilizations of any races or epochs of the ancient East." An excerpt from the poem: "Milch-camels, gentle beneath the shears, sewn with mauve scars, let the hills march forth under the facts of the harvest sky--let them march in silence over the pale incandescence of the plain; and kneeling at last, in the fantasy of dreams, there where the peoples annihilate themselves in the dead powder of earth." Whereas Eliot, in his poem, portrays the modern world as a wasteland, the result of a loss of faith, Perse, in his, gives us a picture of the ancient world, beautiful and barbaric. Note: I have on the shelf three versions of Anabasis. The first two are the ones done by Eliot with Perse's help: the initial translation of 1930, published by Faber & Faber Limited of London and the 1949 revision, published by Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York. The third rendition is Perse's 1959 emendation of the 1949 translation, done without Eliot's participation, published by Faber & Faber, London. The one to have is the revision of 1949. This is the version currently available in paperback from Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
paolo More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most beautiful poems ever written, both in the original french and in translation by the old possum. If it is not taught in at least one literature class at every university in the civilized world, it is because the department heads were never properly schooled in the art of poetry. If you are unable to understand the french, read it first in translation and then in its original just for the exercise. You will learn more about poetry by reading Anabasis again and again than you will by attending classes for a semester. If you aren't reading to learn, it is even better, it is a song of great beauty.