The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer - Book Review

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By Geoffrey Chaucer, Nevill Coghill (Translated by), Nevill Coghill (Introduction by), Nevill Coghill (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780140424386
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Published: Penguin Classics - February 4th, 2003

Playful and tragic, rude and pious...and sometimes both at once. There is no more scintillating portrait of the Middle Ages and its people - who turn out to be a cut more similar to us than you would think. ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley

The Book of Fables

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ISBN: 9781556592560
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Published: Copper Canyon Press - July 1st, 2007

One of the finest poets this side of the Atlantic, W S Merwin is also a crafter of richly-textured prose. His earlier books of prose pieces, The Miner's Pale Children and Houses And Travellers, are here collected in a single volume. Varying in scope between single sentences and story-length narratives, these-- what are they? prose poems? character sketches? short stories? fragments of a memoir? landscape studies?-- whatever their genre, these pieces are by turns joyously buoyant, slyly humorous, eerily solemn, and sometimes downright horrific. Some capture the most mundane aspects of daily life-- the sound of wind in a tree, the slant of light through a window, the smell and taste of food-- in prehensile detail, while others posit fantastic societies or even religious practices adhered to in no world we've ever heard of. Merwin here is writing in the vein of Baudelaire and Borges, with occasional passages reminiscent of Olaf Stapleton and even William Gibson. Whatever the mood or subject, the overwhelming impression here is of rapt silence, of attention keenly paid, and none of these small works suffers the curse of what is sometimes disparaged as "poet's prose."

The Divine Comedy: Volume 3: Paradiso

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The Divine Comedy: Volume 3: Paradiso (Galaxy Books) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780195004144
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Published: Oxford University Press, USA -

Absent major dislocations in sense and syntax, Dante's terza rima is impossible to render into English; John Sinclair avoids the hazards of verse in favor of a plain, vigorous prose (Italian with facing English) and excellent notes. Sinclair's complete translation is available in three volumes, one each for the Inferno, the Purtagorio, and the Paradiso. Readers who have not assayed the Commedia should make Dante's acquaintance: this is the indispensable literary work of the medieval era, and it was not until the seventeenth century-- the time of King Lear, the King James Bible, and Paradise Lost-- that the European mind again expressed itself with such ferocity and such music.

Quiver Of Arrows

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Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems, 1986-2006 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374530785
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 1st, 2007

Imagine Emily Dickinson as a gay male poet in late 20th/early 21st century America and you'll have some sense of Carl Phillips' poems. Add to this image Dante's dictum (from the Vita Nuova) that the poet should make manifest the "intelligence of love", and the picture sharpens. At every carefully negotiated turn Phillips matches (and modulates) emotional with intellectual passion, giving the impression of mind and heart together picking their way across a perilous erotic landscape. That this constitutes a map of sexual desire upon which the possibility of reproduction does not appear futher complicates and enriches the terrain. In Carl Phillips' poems the great twin strands of the American poetic tradition meet: the afore-mentioned Muse of Amherst and the great grey father Whitman.

The Oxford Book of American Poetry

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By David Lehman (Editor), John Brehm (Editor)
ISBN: 9780195162516
Availability: Backordered
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - April 1st, 2006

A new standard for anthologies of American verse. The selection is both expansive and meticulous: all the great poems are here; the choice among living/recent poets is pertinent and judicious; "schools" and "groups" of all sorts are included; each poet is introduced with a brief biographical sketch and an assessment of reputation (also judiciously weighed); and strands of influence among poets are traced and explicated. At more than a thousand pages, here is a lifetime of reading, handsomely done-- a fine gift for oneself or another, in any season.

The Wild Braid

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The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393329971
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 17th, 2007

"The universe is a continuous web. Touch it at any point and the whole web quivers." Mr. Kunitz seems more vividly alive at the age of 100 than the rest of us in the prime of our lives. This is a lovely and inspiring volume of treasures. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker


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