Hybrids of the short story and the essay, these prose pieces contest traditional interpretations of history and present Herbert's very different ("apocryphal") views. This new work of prose from the much celebrated Zbigniew Herbert--available for the first time in English--is a fascinating rewriting of myths and tales "as old and as simple as the world." In the title story, "The King of the Ants," Herbert considers the tension between humankind's "solemn idleness" and "progress-that treacherous force." Other pieces include a new reading of the old story about Alexander the Great hacking the great knot to bits ("The Gordian Knot"), an ode to the mythic suffering of "the catatonic of mythology" ("Atlas"), and a Chinese tale about the dangers of vanity and authority ("Mirror"). All of the pieces on "The King of the Ants" have been translated by John and Bogdana Carpenter, who have been praised for their "linguistic precision and poetic mastery" by "Choice."
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Published November 29, 1999
Literature & Fiction.