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Alphabet

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Alphabet Cover

ISBN13: 9780811214773
ISBN10: 081121477x
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Staff Pick

My engagement with Danish poet Inger Christensen's work was pretty limited prior to her death last year — I liked the few poems I'd read and had the recurrent recognition that I'd do well to read more. Then I encountered her 1981 work Alphabet, comprised of 14 sections, each one corresponding to the first 14 letters of the alphabet and ending pointedly on n (as in number n). Christensen structured it further by determining the length of each section according to the Fibonacci sequence, a pattern in which the next number is equal to the sum of the previous two numbers (this occurs widely in nature, such as the arrangement of pine cones and sunflower heads). Under such constraints, Alphabet risks losing its lyricism, but it never does. Instead, what unfolds is an exquisite symmetry of idea and content, by way of its surprising, tactile, and ranging language and a luminously specific imagery ("cicadas exist; chicory, chromium, / citrus trees; cicadas exist; / cicadas, cedars, cypresses, the cerebellum"). Beautifully realized in Susanna Nied's award-winning translation, Alphabet is an expansive but precise vision of the accreting, refracting world.
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Awarded the American-Scandinavian Pen Translation Prize by Michael Hamburger, Susanna Nied's translation of alphabet introduces Inger Christensen's poetry to U.S. readers for the first time. Born in 1935, Inger Christensen is Denmark's best known poet. Her award-winning alphabet is based structurally on Fibonacci's sequence (a mathematical sequence in which each number is the sum of the two previous numbers), in combination with the alphabet. The gorgeous poetry herein reflects a complex philosophical background, yet has a visionary quality, discovering the metaphysical in the simple stuff of everyday life. In alphabet, Christensen creates a framework of psalm-like forms that unfold like expanding universes, while crystallizing both the beauty and the potential for destruction that permeate our times.

Synopsis:

A startling and gorgeous work by Denmark's most admired poet finally available in English translation.

About the Author

Inger Christensen(b. 1935, Denmark) is such an important Danish writer that she is often cited as a possible winner of the Nobel Prize. Her works have been translated worldwide. She has written poetry, novels, plays, children's books and essays. In addition to the American-Scandinavian PEN Translation Prize, she has won the prestigious Nordic Prize of the Swedish Academy, Der sterreichische Staatspreis für Literature, and the Grand Prix des Biimp;quest;nnales Internationales de Posie.Susanna Nied's brilliant translation of alphabetwon the American-Scandinavian PEN Translation Prize.

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read2write, January 14, 2013 (view all comments by read2write)
This book is a beautiful work of art, mathematics, philosophy, light and music. These poems built with systematic and predictable structures are exactly right to contain such subject matter: chaotic, difficult and potentially devastating. The work of these poems is difficult: grappling with the mysteries of existence and the presence of potential annihilation in the form of nuclear warfare. Having the construct and familiarity of the alphabet coupled with a formulaic sequence of lines keeps the poems from becoming uncontainable and too impossible for the reader to bear. This book not only asks a reader to ponder great questions and sit with great mystery, it also provides historic reminders, images that act as signpost and warnings. This specificity and historic reference helps these poems to achieve a greater significance. They allow the reader to connect with that horror, to understand the dangerous potential, and to connect in a way that is accessible, even if one cannot walk away completely unchanged.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780811214773
Author:
Christensen, Inger
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Translator:
Nied, Susanna
Author:
Nied, Susanna
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Poetry
Subject:
Translations into english
Subject:
European - Scandinavian
Subject:
Single Author - Continental European
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Series Volume:
no. 38
Publication Date:
20010517
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
64
Dimensions:
8 x 5.2 x 0.3 in 0.21 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

Alphabet New Trade Paper
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Product details 64 pages New Directions Publishing Corporation - English 9780811214773 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

My engagement with Danish poet Inger Christensen's work was pretty limited prior to her death last year — I liked the few poems I'd read and had the recurrent recognition that I'd do well to read more. Then I encountered her 1981 work Alphabet, comprised of 14 sections, each one corresponding to the first 14 letters of the alphabet and ending pointedly on n (as in number n). Christensen structured it further by determining the length of each section according to the Fibonacci sequence, a pattern in which the next number is equal to the sum of the previous two numbers (this occurs widely in nature, such as the arrangement of pine cones and sunflower heads). Under such constraints, Alphabet risks losing its lyricism, but it never does. Instead, what unfolds is an exquisite symmetry of idea and content, by way of its surprising, tactile, and ranging language and a luminously specific imagery ("cicadas exist; chicory, chromium, / citrus trees; cicadas exist; / cicadas, cedars, cypresses, the cerebellum"). Beautifully realized in Susanna Nied's award-winning translation, Alphabet is an expansive but precise vision of the accreting, refracting world.

"Synopsis" by , A startling and gorgeous work by Denmark's most admired poet finally available in English translation.
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