Metaphysician in the Dark

ISBN-10: 047206830X
ISBN-13: 9780472068302
Edition: 2003
Authors: Charles Simic
List price: $19.95
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Description: Charles Simic's quicksilver imagination, his masterly way with words, and his unalloyed love of life and language alike inform every page of this wonderfully wide-ranging collection. Again and again, Simic takes up a subject and turns it this way  More...

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Book details

List price: $19.95
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication date: 5/12/2003
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 192
Size: 5.25" wide x 7.75" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.484
Language: English

Charles Simic's quicksilver imagination, his masterly way with words, and his unalloyed love of life and language alike inform every page of this wonderfully wide-ranging collection. Again and again, Simic takes up a subject and turns it this way and that, showing us what we haven't noticed before, inviting us to share an infectious delight that turns everything, in the end, into poetry. It's a gift that has won him a coveted MacArthur Fellowship, among many honors, but he wears his magic lightly. Often, he addresses poetry itself. Among the pieces here are appreciations of Mark Strand, James Merrill, John Ashbery, and James Tate, each evaluated with a keen eye tempered by a generous spirit. Other essays discuss Joseph Brodsky, Czeslaw Milosz, and Vasko Popa; to these writers he brings the understanding available only to those who can read them in the original. In considering Brodsky's translations, for instance, he offers insights regarding not only the poet himself but the very nature of language. Elsewhere, he peers into poetry's past and its future: as a vessel of memory, a witness to history, and a mirror of human experience. But perhaps the greatest pleasures afforded by The Metaphysician in the Dark, as he styles himself with a beguiling mix of modesty and irony, appear when Simic goes further afield. His look at the deadpan comedy of Buster Keaton is as revealing of the author as of the actor and his craft; his perusal of a Heironymous Bosch altarpiece captures both the painter's sense of apocalypse and a riotous joy in the piling of detail upon detail; his review of a book on Joseph Cornell examines how obsession becomes art. He is fluently familiar with subjects as diverse as Saul Bellow's novels and Aberlardo Morell's extraordinary camera obscura photographs. Yet when he takes the gloves off, as in two essays on the Serbia of Slobodan Milosevic, his outrage is as forceful as his pride is strong in his own Serbian heritage. Each of the two dozen essays here reflects a sophistication irresistible in its simplicity; taken together, they display a questing intelligence and a panorama of life and art. Charles Simic is an acclaimed poet, novelist, essayist and teacher. Winner of a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize, he is the author of more than twenty volumes of poetry and six books of prose, as well as numerous translations. He is Distinguished University Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, where he has taught since 1973.

Charles Simic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, immigrated with his family to Chicago in 1954, and was educated at New York University. Although his native language was Serbian, he began writing in English. Some of his work reflects the years he served in the U.S. Army (1961--63). He has been awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, a Guggenheim Foundation grant, and a National Endowment for the Arts award. "My poetry always had surrealistic tendencies, which were discouraged a great deal in the '50's," the poet said, but such tendencies were applauded in the 1970s and his reputation consequently flourished. His poems are about obsessive fears and often depict a world that resembles the animism of primitive thought. His work has affinities with that of Mark Strand and has in its turn produced several imitators. Simic was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007

In Praise of Folly
The Devil Is a Poet
The Power of Ambiguity
Aberlardo Morell's Poetry of Appearances
Verbal Image
Buster Keaton
Poetry and History
On the Night Train: On Mark Strand
Servant of the Dictionary: On Joseph Brodsky
James Merrill and the Spirits
The Thinking Man's Comedy: On Saul Bellow
Tragi-Comic Soup: On John Ashbery
Stargazing in the Cinema: On Joseph Cornell
Literature and the Gods: Roberto Calasso
The Strength of Poetry: On James Fenton
A World Gone Up in Smoke: Czeslaw Milosz
The Mystery of Happiness
The Romance of Sausages
Poetry: The Art of Memory
Evil: Menus and Recipes
Morality Made Easy
Metaphysician of the Little Box
Self-Portrait with a Bowl of Spaghetti
Poets Wary of Poetry: Billy Collins and James Tate

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