Literary roundup: War, fresh flesh and otherworldly poppy-blossoms

It isn’t only our own time filled with war and conflict. As the anniversary of the joyful and welcomed (by many) beginning of World War I is upon us, The New York Review of Books is republishing a recently discovered memoir of the war by Béla Zombory-Moldován entitled The Burning of the World in a translation from the Hungarian by Peter Zombory-Moldován. On their blog they have published an excerpt. Hardly the kind of thing that will send anyone rushing to join the army, except in a couple places I can think of (for example, see below).

Sorokin on an ugly pregnancy

The New York Review blog has an essay by Russian writer Vladimir Sorokin in which he compares the current Russo-Ukraine conflict to a pregnancy (of Russia with Ukraine), and carries the analogy off very well:

“It’s well known that pregnant women often crave raw meat. And there it was, a quickly bitten-off chunk of fresh flesh: the Crimea. Russia’s worn-down, post-imperial teeth managed to tear it off, but there was little energy left to swallow.”

As to how it will end, he isn’t sure, but labor pains await.

Yiddish surrealism

In Jacket 2, poet Jerome Rothenberg posts and introduces “Green Aquarium,” by Avrom Sutzkever, a poem newly translated from the Yiddish by Zackary Sholem Berger. Rothenberg places Avrom Sutzkever (1913-2010) “among our predecessors in one of the core projects of what remains to us of international twentieth-century modernism.” And Sutzkever was a partisan, so all these posts have a connection to war.

From the poem:

“But no one warned me to be careful of words drunk from otherworldly poppy-blossoms. Thus I became the servant of their will. And I can’t understand their will. Certainly not the secret, whether they love or hate me.”

Read an interview I did with Jerome Rothenberg when he was in Prague at the Writers’ Festival

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Categories: Magazines


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