Edmond Jabes

From the Desert to the Book

Edmond Jabes Pierre Joris (trans.)

The fate of the individual among disintegrating tradition is a major theme of Edmund Jabes. In this book of literary and philosophical conversations, France’s leading Jewish writer adds an intimate, personal dimension to his formidable 40-year career.

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Edmond Jabes,
Pierre Joris (trans.)

The fate of the individual among disintegrating tradition is a major theme of Edmund Jabes. In this book of literary and philosophical conversations, France’s leading Jewish writer adds an intimate, personal dimension to his formidable 40-year career. Compelling in its inquiry into the fate of reading and writing in our time, it is also profoundly ambiguous, open to a multiplicity of possible readings. This work offers insight of a new kind into this major writer’s growing canon in English—thoughts on his own works combine with stories of his youth in Egypt, his exile in 1956, other writers and artists, the Kabbalah, and projections for a postmodern world.


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If There Were Anywhere But Desert

Edmond Jabes and Keith Waldrop, Transl.

This book is the first bilingual selection from the poetic works of Edmund Jabes, long acknowledged for the mastery of his work in the unique prose genre invented by him…

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Edmond Jabes and
Keith Waldrop, Transl.

This book is the first bilingual selection from the poetic works of Edmund Jabes, long acknowledged for the mastery of his work in the unique prose genre invented by him. “Jabes lives in the French language as if it were the Sea,” writes Robert Duncan in the afterword, a truth accessible here both in the French originals and Keith Waldrop’s extraordinary translations, drawn from Jabes’ earliest and most recent poems. “Poetry was Jabes’ proving ground,” writes Paul Auster in the Introduction, “and as a careful reader of Keith Waldrop’s translations will observe, the styles and themes that characterize The Book of Questions and The Book of Resemblances were already being explored by Jabes in the poems he wrote as a young man. One finds the same economy of reference, the same passionate lyricism, the same tendency toward aphorism, and the same preoccupation with the act of writing itself. Even the theme of exile, which plays such a vital part in the later prose books, is already present in these early poems: ‘Always in a foreign country, the poet uses poetry as an interpreter.’” It is impressive to see how much the whole oeuvre of Jabes stands as a continuity and a completion from its first moments to these very recent poems, an inquiry into the nature of writing and being.



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