Though Forche's ( The Country Between Us ) previous books have been groundbreaking works of political and moral depth, this new volume may be the most remarkable. Ambitious and authentic, The Angel of History is an overarching book-length poem, composed in numbered sections, that invokes the horror of contemporary times in a mode reminiscent of Eliot's "The Waste Land." Much as Eliot's poem refracted WW I, the vacuity of culture and the fragmentation of modern life, Forche considers the Holocaust, Hiroshima and genocide in Latin America--the dismal past that predicates the chaotic present. Her vehicle is the Angel of History, who confronts human cruelty and misery but can do no more than record them, as explained by Walter Benjamin in an epigraph: "The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But . . . the storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward." Though the poetry is powerful, it is not always easily understandable; one must follow the Angel through serpentine lines, a disjointed and oblique nightmare whispered by an indeterminate narrator, and a splintered pastiche that borrows apocalyptic phrases from Elie Wiesel, Kafka, Canetti, Trakl, Char and Valery. But the journey ventured is well worth the occasional wrong turn: Forche has not only created poetry of consummate beauty, but has borne witness to the wounds of our collective history, fulfilling the conviction that "surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end."
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A dark, richly textured, complicated work...[The Angel of History] is that great rarity, an altogether new thing." -- Liz Rosenberg, Boston Globe
"I don't think I have ever come across a poem of such length that is nevertheless so beautifully transparent and haunting." -- James Merrill
"Poetry of consummate beauty...reminiscent of Eliot's "The Waste Land." -- Publishers Weekly
"Poetry of consummate beauty...reminiscent of Eliot's 'The Waste Land.'" -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The Angel of History is instantly recognizable as a great book, the most humanitarian and aesthetically 'inevitable' response to a half century of atrocities that has yet been written in English." -- Calvin Bedient, The Threepenny Review
"The poignant cri de couer of this singular work most affect all who have an integrity still possible in this painfully despairing time." -- Robert CreeleySee all Editorial Reviews
This book is full of symbolism, and while the syntax and rhythm are just a bit hard to follow, I love the meaning behind the words. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rose Schemmel
Rereading Forche's Angel of History years later it still sings as it did when it first came out. Maybe a tiny bit out of tune in some ways. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mark Statman
Perhaps the Angel of History - witness to cruelty and misery, will join forces with the Angels of Poetry and, through a haunting mosaic of poetic beauty, will somehow discover an... Read morePublished on June 4, 2006 by Hortensia Anderson