The Savantasse of Montparnasse: With Ten Drawings from The Savantasse Scrolls Marialuisa de Romans by Allen Mandelbaum

ISBN: 9780935296716

Published: December 1st 1987

Paperback

203 pages


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The Savantasse of Montparnasse: With Ten Drawings from The Savantasse Scrolls  by  Marialuisa de Romans by Allen Mandelbaum

The Savantasse of Montparnasse: With Ten Drawings from The Savantasse Scrolls by Marialuisa de Romans by Allen Mandelbaum
December 1st 1987 | Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, talking book, mp3, RTF | 203 pages | ISBN: 9780935296716 | 5.28 Mb

This was a very difficult book. Overall, the poetry was pretty good, with a few moments of brilliance and a large number of very confusing sections. I found this because I had read Mandelbaums translation of Ovids Metamorphoses and absolutely loved it--he mentioned this book in the afterword because he invokes Ovid as his guide (like Dante invokes Virgil) at the beginning of this long poem.

Unfortunately, his brilliance in translation is far too readily apparent in The Savantasse of Montparnasse- there are unexplained, unglossed passages and words in at least all of the following languages: Latin, French, and German (with possibly other languages as well). I do not speak any of these languages, and the passages in languages other than English--in this English-language work--often seem to appear for little to no reason and give the impression of a man trying to display his brilliance, rather than one trying to write a beautiful and moving account of a pseudo-intellectual (the best approximation for savantasse I could find) Frenchman.

The actual poetry is, for the most part, enjoyable and rhythmic. In Boatsongs, Mandelbaum writes, the river will erode (as talk/erodes--in time--a text) their rock and in The Lied of Legal Tender, we get, Too many hands had passed it onto him.It had become a coinadulterated and defaced:the force--inherited from Shem--to fornicate and propagate,accumulate,propitiatethe gods of grove and hearth and place--the Lesser gods--and then the Great.There were some truly fabulous bits.

One such was the repetitious, numerical obsession of Precepts of Frau Perforce, which begins, i.My maiden name was Claritas.ii.I married Herr Perforce becauseI had to. and later comes to xiv.A beaten rug sheds slow gold in the sun.xv.A beaten man sheds blood and then liv.

My maiden name was Claritas. Another fantastic section is Before the Brush, which cautions, forget the jacarandas/hectic- draw a/possumhaw. or The Branch That Bears Two Ayres: againstthe greenlinoleum, its lifeis whiteoffering.The poem follows the life of the savantasse in a Paris co-op, or apartment, or something, known as Montparnasse and fights with the philosophical difficulties of him and his friends. This savantasse is was a real man that Mandelbaums son knew, and that is apparent in the highly specific descriptions and the level of understanding Mandelbaum assumes of his readers.

We are expected to know these folks almost before we begin reading, but Mandelbaum gives us all sorts of details--like filling someone in on all the details of the life of a casual acquaintance prior to being thrown into a more intimate situation. Perhaps in twenty years, after I have obtained a PhD and perhaps speak one or more of these languages, I will reread this poem and find it to be fabulously enlightening, or humorous, or wise, whatever was Mandelbaums goal, but for now, the self-conscious displays of intelligence, the strangeness of the tone, and my lack of understanding of the protagonist prevented me from having as much enjoyment from this volume of generally decent poetry as much as its smattering of brilliance may brilliance might otherwise create.



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