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Something Black [Paperback]

Jacques Roubaud , Rosmarie Waldrop , Alix Cleo Roubaud
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Price: 7.97 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 Oct 2002
Written in the years following the sudden death of Roubaud's wife, Some Thing Black is a profound and moving transcription of loss, mourning, grief, and the attempts to face honestly and live with the consequences of death, the ever-present "not-there-ness" of the person who was/is loved.

Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (1 Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564782069
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564782069
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 13.7 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,129,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"It is an elegy for our time, in that it rejects the heaven which opens for Beatrice and the ghosts which survive in the atheism of Hardy, and in that it explores overtly the relation between poetry and death. Roubaud asks in effect how one can write about a dead lover, how one can 'say' her--how one can get from the silence or groanings, which alone seem proper, to a work of poetry. By pursuing his hostility to poetry he discovers a language which is usable, and by continuously facing death he descends progressively further into the meaning of poetry. He has written a thoroughly modern 'love poem.'" -- Michael Edwards, Times Literary Supplement "No work of recent French poetry, indeed of recent French literature, is more moving than Some Thing Black... [O]ne reads Some Thing Black from the first sentence on with breath withheld, as if one had forgotten (and perhaps one had) that the richest poetry communicates, not only sounds and ideas and images, but also emotions... So emotionally powerful and technically original are these poems that they should be situated not only within the context of recent French poetry, but also within the long history of the poem of mourning in European literature... In nearly every poem of Some Thing Black particulars haunt one as universals. Which is the hallmark of a lasting work of art... Roubaud succeeds in creating an original, unforgettable poetic equivalent for that complex state of mind and feeling which arises in the presence of death. The most complex intellectual and emotional state that man can know." -- Asylum

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars from despair (through numbers) to creation 21 Nov 2002
This is one of the most unusual book of poetry you are likely to read. The poems track the author's state of mind through the period of his wife's death at a young age. The poems are at points self-declared as anti-poems. With Roubaud being a Professor of mathematics, it is both the failure of the logic of maths to make sense of his experience and the failure of poetry to do anything but clarify his pain that gives the poetry its edge. It is as if he attempts to apply the logic of mathematics to language to see what happens. The result is distinct, exciting, unusual - if incredibly dark.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This morning it's unthinkable to go out into the sun" 14 Jun 2010
By Shashank Singh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the collection, the poet, Roubauld paints a view of grief, reflecting and being haunted by the death of his wife, Alec Cleo, who died at the young age of 31.

Some of these poems are quite raw but they transcend being simply confession by the sheer artistry. Much experimental poetry tends to be cold or dry; here we have someone experimenting with meaning and words because of the difficulty of words to hold grief, to express loss, to give oneself a will to live. Knowing that words can't quite accomplish these tasks gives the poems a haunted feeling, as if they were reminders of what can only be lived.

There is a great diversity of techniques and approaches in this book, including a lot of halts and silences that move in unexpected directions and surprising phrases.

The title phrase occurs multiple times throughout the collection, like an echoing voice, one such instance:

"Some thing black which closes in locks shut pure, unaccomplished"

The book also includes a collection of photographs by his wife, Alex Cleo, called some thing black and they clearly influenced some of what he wrote.

"I can not write about you with more truth then you have done"

I recommend this book wholeheartedly; one of the unique qualities it contains is its persistence in grief and its concrete emotionality:

"The phone will ring. The voice which the man who is alone because of a death will hear is not that of the woman he loves. It's some other voice, any voice. He will hear it. This does not prove he is alive."
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