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(11/15/2008) The King Of The Ants: Mythological Essays by Zbigniew Herbert. New York. 1999. Ecco Press. Translated From The Polish By John & Bogdana Carpenter. keywords: Poetry Poland Treanslated Literature. 86 pages. Jacket design by Michaela Sullivan. 0880016183. February 1999.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This new prose collection from the late Zbigniew Herbert, available for the first time in English, is a witty, sage retelling of myths and tales 'simple and as old as the world' 'Herbert never simply retells a myth; instead, he presents a re-creation of it and emphasizes a narrative,' explain translators John and Bogdana Carpenter in their foreword. 'The old story or fragmentary text serves as a canvas for a new story that he carries quite far from its original point of departure. It is a springboard for a broader exploration of human behavior. The `mythological essay' becomes a twentieth-century philosophical parable. ' Hybrids of the short story and the essay, the eleven pieces in The King of the Ants present Herbert's very different 'apocryphal' views of the mythological past. The volume's title story considers the tension between humankind's 'solemn idleness' and 'progress--that treacherous force. ' Other essays include a short tragic tale, an ode to the mythic suffering of 'the catatonic of mythology', and a droll look at the violent struggle between Heracles and the multiheaded beast Cerberus The renowned poet/essayist Zbigniew Herbert interprets, with characteristic irony and sanity, the contemporary experience through the perspective of myth in this final prose collection.

ZBIGNIEW HERBERT was a spiritual leader of the anticommunist movement in Poland. His work has been translated into almost every European language; he has won numerous prizes, most recently the Jerusalem Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize. His books include the poetry volumes SELECTED POEMS, REPORT FROM THE BESIEGED CITY AND OTHER POEMS, and MR. COGITO, and the prose collections BARBARIAN IN THE GARDEN and STILL LIFE WITH A BRIDLE. Herbert's most recent book of poetry is ELEGY FOR THE DEPARTURE AND OTHER POEMS.

JOHN and BOGDANA CARPENTER won the PEN Translation Award for Herbert's Selected Poems. John Carpenter is a poet and a critic; Bogdana Carpenter is a professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Michigan.

 

 

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