Friday, October 26, 2007

The Complete Poetry - César Vallejo

John Timpane reviews César Vallejo's Complete Poetry.
What a year was 1922. That year, T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land” was published. So was James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” So was Jean Toomer’s “Cane.” Whatever “modernism” means, 1922 was one of its peaks.

Also that year, a poet from Peru published a book called “Trilce”—to complete silence at home and abroad. Too different, a departure too far.

The intervening 85 years have made clear that “Trilce” deserves to stand among the most original and startling productions of 20th century literature. Its author, César Vallejo (1892-1938), stood out even among Peruvian poets—he was of indigenous blood, with two grandmothers from the Chimu people of the Andes. Today he has a place among the finest of his century’s poets. And now we have this spectacular edition of his complete poetry, edited and translated, also spectacularly, by poet Clayton Eshleman. A priceless window opens on a poet who is by turns invigorating, incomprehensible, and inimitable.

There are four Vallejos, four poetries.
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