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.
The life of Eastern European communist dissidents, workers and intellectuals may already seem like ancient history to a younger generation speeding into the 21st century. But there's still a lot to be learned by listening to the voices of those who grew to maturity in communist Europe. One of the most eloquent among those voices is Zagajewski (Canvas, etc.), a major contemporary Polish poet. He offers a memoir suffused with the atmosphere of Poland in the 1960s and '70s, when he was a student and fledgling writer in Krakow. More like a series of poetic fragments than a continuous prose narrative, the various sections of the memoir include melancholy and tender tributes to the city of Krakow ("It was a matter of pride," he writes "to belong to such a city"); memories of the pre-communist world the city harkened back to; his study of philosophy and psychology, stunted by ideological restrictions at a communist-run university; and his membership in the emerging opposition movement. These stories are mixed with philosophical ruminations on various pieces of classical music, life's "wholeness," the nature of poetry, and literary and cultural figures of the period. Given that few readers will be familiar with these figures, however, this edition would have benefited from footnotes and biographical information. Subtle and intellectual (perhaps a bit too much so at times), Zagajewski's memoir will find its largest audience among readers who are already familiar with his Polish setting. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Another Beauty, a wise, iridescent book . . . dips in and out of
many genres: coming-of-age-memoir, commonplace book, aphoristic
musings, vignettes and portraits, and defense of poetry--that is, a
defense of the idea of literary greatness.--Susan Sontag "from the
A remarkable document, notable for both its literary acuity and its ability to evoke the experience of growing up in a police state, in a culture that is dreary and surreal by turns, where, as [Zagajewski] puts it, 'the Zeitgeist chisels our thoughts and mocks our dreams.'--Chicago Tribune
Full of pithy and compelling observations on art and society, of luminous descriptions of Krakow and Paris . . . this is a book to be read once through and returned to often.--Booklist
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 "