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The Condition of Secrecy: Selected Essays Translation Edition
Contributor(s): Christensen, Inger, Nied, Susanna (Translator)

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ISBN: 0811228118     ISBN-13: 9780811228114
Publisher: New Directions
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Binding Type: Paperback
Published: November 2018
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Annotation: The Condition of Secrecy is a poignant collection of essays by Inger Christensen, widely regarded as one of the most influential Scandinavian writers of the twentieth century. As The New York Times proclaimed, “Despite the rigorous structure that undergirds her work—or more likely, because of it—Ms. Christensen’s style is lyrical, even playful.” The same could be said of Christensen’s essays. Here, she formulates with increasing clarity the basis of her approach to writing, and provides insights into how she composed specific poetry volumes. Some essays are autobiographical (with memories of Christensen’s school years during the Nazi occupation of Denmark), and others are political, touching on the Cold War and Chernobyl. The Condition of Secrecy also covers the Ars Poetica of Lu Chi (261-303 CE); William Blake and Isaac Newton; and such topics as randomness as a universal force and the role of the writer as an agent of social change. The Condition of Secrecy confirms that Inger Christensen is “a true singer of the syllables” (C. D. Wright), and “a formalist who makes her own rules, then turns the game around with another rule” (Eliot Weinberger).
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Literary Collections | Essays
Dewey: 839.814/74
LCCN: 2018021516
Academic/Grade Level: General Adult
Book type: Fiction
Physical Information: 8.25" H x 5.25" W x 0.50" (0.35 lbs) 137 pages
 
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2018 August #2)

English readers are treated to a quality translation of essays from Christensen (1935–2009), featuring literary criticism, meditations, and autobiography, all in the Danish poet and novelist's whimsical style. In the first essay, "Freedom, Equality, and Fraternity in the Summerhouse," Christensen beautifully recalls her "first aesthetic experiences"—the sights and sounds of summer in Denmark—which serves to introduce one of the book's central themes: the relationship of the individual to experience and nature. In "Interplay," she ponders what it means to see the world from a child's eyes, recalling, "When I was nine years old, the world too was 9 years old... earth and body as like as two pennies," and concludes that "the physical world and the inner world are one, indivisible." In "The Dream of the City," she considers this thematic preoccupation, asking, "Why write about nature at all, when most people live in cities?" Christensen is at her most intriguing when posing questions, as when she wonders, "Does art originate from the same necessity that gives rise to beehives, the songs of larks, and the dances of cranes?" and asking whether it is possible to write poetry that is compelling if read "out loud to a cockroach?" These borderline silly yet profoundly imaginative questions make for a thought-provoking reading experience. (Nov.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.
 
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