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Cartographies: Meditations on Travel
     

Cartographies: Meditations on Travel

by Marjorie Agosin, Nancy Hall (Translator), Isabel Allende (Preface by)
 

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On the impulse behind Cartographies, Marjorie Agosín writes, "I have always wanted to understand the meaning of displacement and the quest or longing for home." In these lyrical meditations in prose and poetry, Agosín evokes the many places on four continents she has visited or called home. Recording personal and spiritual voyages, the author opens

Overview

On the impulse behind Cartographies, Marjorie Agosín writes, "I have always wanted to understand the meaning of displacement and the quest or longing for home." In these lyrical meditations in prose and poetry, Agosín evokes the many places on four continents she has visited or called home. Recording personal and spiritual voyages, the author opens herself to follow the ambiguous, secret map of her memory, which "does not betray."

Agosín's journey begins in Chile, where she spent her childhood before her family left in the early days of the Pinochet dictatorship. Of Santiago Agosín writes, "Day and night I think about my city. I dream the dream of all exiles." Agosín also travels to Prague and Vienna, ancestral homes of her grandparents, and to Valparaíso in Chile, which received them as immigrants. Kneeling among the yellow mounds at the Terezin concentration camp, where twenty-two of her relatives died, Agosín places "small stones, shrubs, the stuff of life on graves I did not recognize."

And then on through the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Europe, and the Americas . . . Everywhere, she is drawn to women in whose devotion and creativity she sees a deep vein of hope—from Julia, keeper of the synagogue at Rhodes, to the women potters in the Chilean town of Pomaire.

Agosín writes of diaspora, exile, and oppression, yet only to highlight the dignity and valor of those who find refuge in their humanity and their art, in community and tradition. Cartographies shows us what can be found when we journey with openness, as approachable to strangers as we are to ourselves.

Editorial Reviews

author of Frida - Barbara Mujica

Cartographies is a book of profound inner explorations. Agosín captures the terrible beauty of exile and the exquisite ambivalence of homecoming. With her we journey to places she or her ancestors once inhabited and discover the sweet melancholy of belonging and yet not belonging. For Agosín, the poetry of travel is the poetry of life.

author of Cracking India - Bapsi Sidhwa

A divine poetic intelligence cascades a tumult of images and metaphors as Agosín sweeps us away to far-off places—Krakow, Cairo, her beloved Chile. Intertwined with memories, bending time to serve her unhurried recall of exile, she evokes the fragrances of 'cemeteries wrapped in mist,' and her cartography charts the secrets that lie at the heart of all cities. Mystical, mysterious, and at the same time steeped in sensual detail, Cartographies takes us also on a journey that illumines and expands unexpected spaces in our minds.

author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love - Oscar Hijuelos

One does not read as much as dreamily float through Marjorie Agosín's Cartographies, her tales of grand and shy cities, lovelorn landscapes. The world, in its many guises, is revealed inside out by the surprise and surety of her beautiful, fluid prose.

Booklist - Allen Weakland

Prague and Vienna, Budapest, Croatia, Rhodes, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Cairo, Rome, Assisi, Ireland, London, Amsterdam-these are just some of the places that the author provides glimpses of in her poetic descriptions. She has written a travel book that can also be enjoyed as short, isolated reflections in which individual scenes reverberate like private prayer.

Latina

The Chilean-born writer, poet, and human rights activist dreams 'the dream of exiles' in moving explorations of displacement and the longing for home.

Multicultural Review

Reading Agosín’s words takes you on an extraordinary voyage, hearing ‘the murmur of the road’ and feeling that her words are heavy, sensual messages of beauty.

Publishers Weekly
With lyrical prose and deep passion, writer and poet Agosin (Sargasso; Starry Night; etc.) maps out her past and the places that have given her life meaning. Written as a series of what Allende calls "prose poems," the book's short chapters are dreamy, meandering reflections on Agosin's travels through locations rich with personal meaning and sometimes claiming violent histories. Agosin was born in Chile, after her family fled Jewish persecution in Europe. When Pinochet seized power during Agosin's childhood, the family fled again. The author shows how she's embraced her wandering ways and grounded herself in foreign places, including Vienna, Prague, Sarajevo, Cairo, Tuscany, Ireland, Tijuana and, improbably, York, Maine. Her descriptions of these places are short, often dramatic, and vary from concrete to conceptual. Returning to Chile as an adult, she writes, "I wanted to dream about my country, draw near her as if for the first time, with the innocence of the little girl who asks where they put the dead people. My country was a sharp desert where women rested upon a silenced history and eight hundred active volcanoes." The author describes each location's history and meaning for her life, but she also includes a powerful sense of the present. Of course, in covering so many settings, Agosin doesn't address any in much depth. Rather, she intends each chapter to feel like a first impression, and an intimate one at that. Although the Holocaust looms large, Agosin's palpable love of humanity and unique prose style keep this work uplifting. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820329529
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
04/15/2007
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
1,311,328
Product dimensions:
5.37(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)

What People are Saying About This

Barbara Mujica
Cartographies is a book of profound inner explorations. Agosín captures the terrible beauty of exile and the exquisite ambivalence of homecoming. (author of Frida)
Oscar Hijuelos
One does not read as much as dreamily float through Marjorie Agosín's Cartographies, her tales of grand and shy cities, lovelorn landscapes. The world, in its many guises, is revealed inside out by the surprise and surety of her beautiful, fluid prose. (author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love)

Meet the Author

Marjorie Agosín, a human rights activist and writer, is a professor of Spanish at Wellesley College. Her many books include Dear Anne Frank, A Cross and a Star, and The Alphabet in My Hands. Agosín's honors include the Gabriela Mistral Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement, given by the Chilean government; the Letras de Oro prize; and the Latino Literature Prize.

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