Benjamin Fondane was that rarest of poets: an experimental formalist with a powerfully lyric poetic style; a near-surrealist who embraced and produced his own version of existential philosophy; a Romanian poet who wrote in French; a self-consciously Jewish poet of diaspora and loss, whose last manuscripts made it out of Drancy just before his deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, where he was murdered, yet whose poetry speaks of a plenitude, an overflowing. After Fondane’s death, the poetry might have been forgotten had not writers like E. M. Cioran kept the memory of the work alive, and in France today, Fondane’s poetry is again widely available. This first American collection of Fondane’s poetry includes his surrealist“Cine-poems,” philosophical meditations, and poems that, in their secular/mystical Judaism, confront the calamity—and imaginative triumph—of European Jewry.
“The worst that Death can do to me is to deliver me up for ever to unsatisfied longings for you. Well, that is all that Life has done, that is all that Life can do, for me.” After gambling with, and losing, money from his employer’s estate and fearing that discovery and a prison sentence is around the corner, the narrator…
Poems included in this collection are translated by Mitchell Abidor, Marianne Bailey, E.M. Cioran, Joseph Donahue, Eric Freedman, Henry King, Andrew Rubens, Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody, and Leonard Schwartz
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