Cinepoems and Others
by Benjamin Fondane, edited and with an introduction by Leonard Schwartz
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.
Poemby Benjamin Fondane, edited and with an introduction by Leonard Schwartz
Of all his contemporaries, not one, not even those who were in the Resistance, wrote in revolt, mingling the flavor of life with death, like Fondant.
Benjamin Fondane, Romanian Jewish immigrant writing in his second language, brought a narrative vigor and a lyrical, global, tragicomic imagination to French poetry that it has rarely seen since.
Cinepoems and Others...arrives with the force of a major literary event…throughout the collection, there is a genuine sense of commitment and love to the work of Fondane. It’s a fitting testament to the work of a complex and enduring poetic voice.
—Joseph Houlihan, Entropy Magazine
Fondane… deserves to be celebrated outside France… as his far-ranging gifts and accomplishments are at the heart of 20th-century Jewish artistic and philosophical modernism.
—Benjamin Ivry, The Jewish Daily Forward
Fondane’s polemical approach confronts the reader with some explosive turns of thought which may lead us to reconsider everything we took for granted about life and art.
—Andrew Rubens, Glasgow Review of Books
I am proud to have known Fondane, learnt the elements of philosophy from particularly Shestov’s and his own, special kind of existential philosophy, and to have been, at a crucial moment in my youth, greatly influenced by him.
I was seized by the force of his images anchored in carnality, and I had the feeling of listening to a voice that was both unique and powerful, the voice of a man who, unworried by literary effect, shouted out his human condition.