- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Picador (4 Mar. 2011)
- Language: English, Spanish
- ISBN-10: 0330510673
- ISBN-13: 978-0330510677
- Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 1.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 600,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Romantic Dogs Paperback – 4 Mar 2011
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'[there is] a defiant, seductive confidence to his poetic voice.' --Financial Times
'Bolaño, the phantom mega-star of global fiction since his death in 2003, thought of himself as a poet first and a novelist second. Yet his bilingual edition of 44 poems from the Eighties will lead fans to some familiar terrain. In verse, as in prose, Bolaño leads us on journeys through a surreal landscape of exile, longing and nostalgia.' --Independent
‘Wonderfully unreserved’ New York Review of BooksSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
A reviewer on the back cover states their attraction appears in an 'unfinished' state - not so. You should buy this brilliant slim bi-lingual edition for the pure vagabond nature of their composition. This is not European poetry re-formatted for exam success, it's an articulation of a voice who believes in shifting and can convert this essential kinetic energy into something both shudderingly knowable and, at the same time, transient.
I'm a middle aged bloke who, rather sadly, boasts a poetry collection of maybe some 200 volumes but this is the ONE. Get it for so many reasons; a truly South (not North) American perspective; a real excuse not to buy the many biographies that shall surely follow ([[ASIN:0330509527 The Savage Detectives]does this admirably} but also, maybe just maybe, you know a dislocated potential reader of poetry, someone who wants to kick against the pricks of establishment literature, someone who wants to savour the salacious underbelly of an unsettled lifestyle. Maybe it's you?
The good news is there's more to come. Savour an unheralded masterpiece.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
It is common knowledge that Bolano considered himself first and foremost a poet and I believe he is right, although his fame here in America will derive from his fiction.
Many reviewers have spent all their time talking about Bolano and Chile, as if "The Romantic Dogs" is only a political book. However, I wonder if the reviewers made it past the first poem. Yes, there are poems that make reference to political events but how can a Latin American not be political. However, politics are only a part of the soup of existence. Bolano writes about being in the sense that a philosopher writes about being.
"The Romantic Dogs" is an amazingly cohesive work. This is not a collection of poems written as one-offs. Instead, the poems hold together through various rhetorical devices: repetition of images, symbols, and themes.
The overall theme of the work is the shortness of life, the cruelty of illness, the fragility of existence, and the the beauty of poetry.
Unifying images are dreams, blackness, white worms, snow, cars, motorcycles, burros, films, detectives.
Bolano announces in the first poem of the collection that the dream of poetry opened up the void of his spirit and accompanied him through his life.
The first poem of the collection, "The Romantic Dogs," announces this theme. "I'd lost a country/but won a dream." He adumbrates the importance of poetry in the penultimate poem of the collection "Muse:" "she's the guardian angel/ of our prayers./ She's the dream that recurs."
"The Romantic Dogs" presents a brave story--because ultimately Bolano is a dramatic poet--of a dying poet fighting to remain here in being "with the romantic dogs."
This is a bi-lingual edition, by the way. If you are able to read Spanish, you'll find that "much is lost" in the translations of his complex prose to English. Hardly anything is lost in the translation of these poems. For sure, there are lines that sound better in Spanish, but curiously there are also lines that sound better in English. Bolaño eschews any and all forms of beautification of language in his verse. His style is remarkably close to that of the Beat poets of the American '50s, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, Peter Orlovsky, and others, though Bolaño is even grimmer and deliberately coarser and never approaches the 'fireworks' of language that Allen Ginsburg achieved in 'Howl' and other poems. I'd say he's a second-tier Beat poet at best. Of course he had "other fish to fry" and other traditions to defy. Whereas Kerouac as a poet had Robert Lowell to try to dethrone, Bolaño had Pablo Neruda as his poetic antithesis, and it's clear that a love/hate obsession drove Bolaño to attempt above all to besmirch and scarify the Apollonian beauty of Neruda's lyricism.
Obviously I don't much favor Bolaño's poetic intentions, but I could overcome that prejudice and admire his craft, as I admire the craft of Cavafy, for instance, without much enjoying the poems, but for one large problem: I don't find much craft in these 'canine' yelps. Bolaño's defiantly 'rough' poetry seems pathetically juvenile and petty to me.
Bolano took to writing to writing fiction as a means to support his family, but his greatest love was always poetry. He died considering himself a poet. In one interview he said, "I blush less when I reread my poetry."
After reading this collection, I understand why he always preferred poetry as an art form. Bolano as novelist is good, but Bolano as poet is everything good about his fiction plus his raw, emotive poet voice.
In short, this is some of the best poetry I've ever read. Get this. Although short, only 77+ pages (the side of the page is in Spanish, for the bilingual people), each poem in this volume stands up to repeated readings.
I don't know how much I like this translation, though. One, I'm a poet. Two, I've studied Spanish. I'm no expert, but I know the basic grammar rules. I just don't agree with a lot of the translator's line breaks. And I think some of the words are too...on the nose? But you get the essence of Bolano, which is enough. This makes me want to study Spanish more and release my own translation.