Slight Exaggeration by Adam Zagajewski
An Essay

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Among visual artists, the author admires the old masters; in music, he is transported by Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Billie Holiday, whose voice rendered him “spellbound.” An illuminating prose album of candid musings on the “melancholy and joyful” gifts of art.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A new essay collection by the noted Polish poet

For Adam Zagajewski—one of Poland’s great poets—the project of writing, whether it be poetry or prose, is an occasion to advance what David Wojahn has characterized as his “restless and quizzical quest for self-knowledge.” Slight Exaggeration is an autobiographical portrait of the poet, arranged not chronologically but with that same luminous quality that distinguishes Zagajewski’s spellbinding poetry—an affinity for the invisible.

In a mosaic-like blend of criticism, reflections, European history, and aphoristic musings, Zagajewski tells the stories of his life in glimpses and reveries—from the Second World War and the occupation of Poland that left his family dispossessed to Joseph Brodsky’s funeral on the Venetian island of San Michele—interspersed with intellectual interrogations of the writers and poets (D. H. Lawrence, Giorgos Seferis, Zbigniew Herbert, Paul Valéry), composers and painters (Brahms, Rembrandt), and modern heroes (Helmuth James Graf von Moltke) who have influenced his work.

A wry and philosophical defense of mystery, Slight Exaggeration recalls Zagajewski’s poetry in its delicate negotiation between the earthbound and the ethereal, “between brief explosions of meaning and patient wandering through the plains of ordinary days.” With an enduring inclination to marvel, Zagajewski restores the world to us—necessarily incomplete and utterly astonishing.

 

About Adam Zagajewski

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Adam Zagajewski was born in Lvov in 1945. His previous books include Tremor; Canvas; Mysticism for Beginners; Without End; Solidarity, Solitude; Two Cities; Another Beauty; A Defense of Ardor; Eternal Enemies; and Unseen Hand—all published by FSG. He lives in Chicago and Kraków.Clare Cavanagh is a professor of Slavic languages and literatures at Northwestern University. Her most recent book, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. She is currently working on an authorized biography of Czeslaw Milosz. She has also translated the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska.
 
Published April 4, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 288 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Slight Exaggeration
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Kirkus

Good
on Jan 10 2017

Among visual artists, the author admires the old masters; in music, he is transported by Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Billie Holiday, whose voice rendered him “spellbound.” An illuminating prose album of candid musings on the “melancholy and joyful” gifts of art.

Read Full Review of Slight Exaggeration: An Essay | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Daisy Fried on Jul 19 2017

...it’s worth noting that to be discerning, to be intellectual, in the Eastern bloc during the Cold War, was to create space for independent mind and spirit — that is, to resist, survive and remain human. That’s Zagajewski’s heritage, and something we in America might give thought to just now.

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