Title: VIEW WITH A GRAIN OF SAND: SELECTED POEMS - ...
Publisher: New York City, NY: Harcourt Brace, 1995
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author
Edition: 1st Edition.
1st Printing. Signed. 159 pages. Published in 1995. Retrospective collection of poems. One of the greatest poetry books of our time. The first appearance of the title in English and in the United States. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only that sold out shortly after publication. The First Edition is now rare. Presents Wislawa Szymborska's "View With A Grain of Sand" in a felicitous English translation. The single most beloved collection of Szymborska's poems in English, meticulously culled from seven collections first published in the Polish original. This book established Szymborska's reputation globally, particularly among English-language readers, and single-handedly created a loyal following for her work. Part of the reason is its prescient timing: The first full-fledged selection of her work, it was published the year before she won the Nobel Prize. As such, the book remains available in innumerable printings even though it was subsequently reproduced in its entirety as "Poems New And Collected 1957-1997". Apart from the fact that precedence matters, "View With A Grain of Sand" is thrilling discovery whereas "Poems New And Collected" is sweet confirmation. They are two very different experiences: The initial encounter with Szymborska makes the reader almost immediately realize that in order to understand and enjoy her poems, they must be read ALOUD, as articulated by Richard Howard, himself a great American poet, upon the book's release: "As with Cavafy, as with Alberti, those saints of metaphorical intonation, everything depends on an envisioned vocalise". Every subsequent encounter thereby becomes a series of readings-aloud. The title poem is pure Szymborskian irony: Devoid of Blakean/High Romantic rhetoric and deeply skeptical about "mysticism", it re-imagines and appreciates William Blake anew for our difficult time: "We call it a grain of sand, / but it calls itself neither grain nor sand. / It does just fine without a name, / whether general, particular, / permanent, passing, / incorrect, or apt". The acutely subtle climax: "A second passes. / A second second. / A third. / But they're three seconds only for us" (Wislawa Szymborska). An hour becomes, for us, a mere accumulation of seconds, neither a glimpse much less a view of Eternity that Blake asks us to see. Still: Every second counts, every second is momentous, even though we dismiss and even repudiate it in our fast-paced, frenetic time, when modern life = speed. Wislawa Szymborska died on February 1, 2012, one of the most beloved literary figures of our time. An absolute "must-have" title for Wislawa Szymborska collectors. This title is a great book. This copy comes with a 6 X 4 inch cream stock paper that is very prominently, neatly, and beautifully signed and dated in black pen by the author: "Wislawa Szymborska 1997". The paper is laid into the book, NOT pasted or affixed to it. This is the only copy with signed Souvenir/Memento of the First American Edition/First Printing available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a beauty. Please note: Most copies available online are subsequent printings, have major flaws, or the Softcover Edition. A rare copy thus. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. One of the greatest writers of the 20th century. A fine collectible copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER WISLAWA SZYMBORSKA, CZESLAW MILOSZ, ADAM ZAGAJEWSKI, AND THOMASZ ROZYCKI TITLES IN OUR CATALOG) ISBN 0151001537. Bookseller Inventory # 17178
Synopsis: From one of Europe?s most prominent and celebrated poets, a collection remarkable for its graceful lyricism. With acute irony tempered by a generous curiosity, Szymborska documents life?s improbability as well as its transient beauty to capture the wonder of existence. Preface by Mark Strand. Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh, winners of the PEN Translation Prize.
Review: True, the gentlemen of the Swedish Academy have made more than their share of bloopers. But when they bestowed the Nobel Prize upon Wislawa Szymborska in 1996, they got it right, rescuing a major poet from minor obscurity. Two previous collections of her work had appeared in English, of course. Yet View with a Grain of Sand is by far the best introduction to the Polish writer, conveying not only the fantastic lightness of her touch but the entire worlds she manages to pack into, as it were, a grain of sand. Miniscule wonders are her specialty, such as the tableau she records in "Miracle Fair": "The usual miracle: / invisible dogs barking / in the dead of night. / One of many miracles: / a small and airy cloud / is able to upstage the massive moon." Yet Szymborska is also a love poet of peculiar tartness:
True love. Is it really necessary?
Tact and common sense tell us to pass over it in silence,
like a scandal in Life's highest circles.
Perfectly good children are born without its help.
It couldn't populate the planet in a million years,
it comes along so rarely.
What comes along so rarely, in fact, is a writer of this quality--and a translation that does her justice. Szymborska's brilliance would probably overpower even a second-rate rendering into English. But thanks to the efforts of Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh, she is not only brilliant but supremely readable--an intellectual comedian for whom "there's nothing more debauched than thinking."
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