CInepoems and Others, by Benjamin Fondane
New York Review Books9781590179000
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Benjamin Fondane was that rarest of poets: an experimental formalist with a powerful lyric poetic voice; a renegade surrealist who was also a highly original existential philosopher; a self-consciously Jewish poet of diaspora and loss, whose last manuscripts made it out of Drancy in 1944 just before his deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he was murdered, yet whose poetry speaks of an overflowing plenitude. This bilingual selection is the first volume of Fondane’s poetry to appear in English, and it includes a broad sample of his work, from the coruscating and comic cinepoems of his surrealist years, to philosophical meditations, to poems that in their secular and mystical Judaism confront the historical calamity—and imaginative triumph—of European Jewry.