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This review is taken from PN Review 10, Volume 6 Number 2, November - December 1979.

EAST AND WEST Tadeusz Rózewicz, The Survivor, parallel text, translated by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire (Princeton University Press) £10.50, paperback £3
Zbigniew Herbert, Selected Poems, translated by John and Bogdana Carpenter (O.U.P.) £2.75
Max Jacob, Advice to a Young Poet (Menard Press) 75p.
Miklos Radnoti, The Witness, translated by Thomas Orszag Land, (Tern Press) 75p.

Rózewicz is the leading poet of the Polish "war generation" for whom the experience of the Pogroms and the Warsaw Uprising shattered any belief in humanity. To Rózewicz, what we understand to be the positive cultural tradition is diseased and its art an indulgence and an insult to his experience. For him the only justifiable artistic activity is anti-art. Yet it is a mistake to look for a consistent approach in his work. While he rejects "Culture" he is capable of writing poems full of cultural references. He despairs of mankind yet he would like to write a poetry which is functional, which leaves behind the absurd of Camus and is at the same time nostalgic for the old moral order. And so on. Some of his work is unpalatably didactic and has an unconvincingly hectoring tone. The same thoughts and attitudes are transformed in poems which deal with his own particular experience; here the inconsistency becomes a virtue, an openness of mind which does not allow itself to be limited by polemic. And so, paradoxically, although he believes the old artistic order to be chasing a chimera, and to be solipsistic in its approach, he is most convincing when he works within this very tradition.

This selection, since it also prints the Polish, necessarily gives us fewer poems than the Penguin published in 1976 and is not exactly cheap, but it does include two examples-"Falling" and "Continuous Performances"-of the longer collage poems which Rózewicz wrote in ...


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