"We are still meeting in the book." So writes Rosmarie Waldrop of her friend, the late Edmond Jabés. Rosmarie Waldrop is a predominant poet, translator, editor of contemporary poetry and poetics. Arguably she is one of my favorite writers; personally, she has been one of the most influential people in my life. Among her own works of poetry, most notably Blindsight
, The Reproduction of Profiles
, Reluctant Gravities
and Split Infinites
, and also the novel The Hanky of Pippin's Daughter
, her keen intelligence, philosophical investigations, and language play intellectually delights. Edmond Jabés, born in Egypt but exiled to France, was once of the most prominent French poets of the 20th century. One of his major works is the three volume Book of Questions
. Waldrop, who has been his primary translator for several decades, provides us with a touching account of her experience as translator and friend. Lavish Absence
is at once an account of their friendship, an explication of Jabés' work, an exploration of the act of translation — where the writer [or the text] and the translator produce a third thing: the translated text. Additionally, we are offered a lucid glance at Waldrop's poetics. What makes this book particularly engaging is the anecdotal style and intellectual punch that I find personally affecting.