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The History of Forgetting (Poets, Penguin) Paperback – May 26, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: Poets, Penguin
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Original edition (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143115820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143115823
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,231,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Raab's seventh outing pursues the same theme throughout, in tones as subdued as the subject is harrowing: the poems concern the end of everything—human life, humanity as a species, all that we can be or know or do. A child dies, love fades, then friendship,/ and soon enough almost everything is gone, says Nothing There; The God of Snow concludes, regretfully, that it had all started out so well. Environmental destruction plays a role, too, in these pessimistic tableaux, which at their best recall Thomas Hardy: like Hardy's, though, Raab's sadness is finally personal and has something to do with advancing age. The sea encourages me/ to think about the past, he writes, as if I could leave it where it is. His free verse and restrained diction complement his conversational phrasing. There are glimmers of humor as well: The life of the Japanese beetle/ is pointless and ugly. Raab was a poet to watch in the 1970s, when his early, mildly surrealist collections drew extravagant praise: he has since settled down into quieter modes, the poems' lack of sparkle offset—and then some—by the quality of pathos within their lines. (June)
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About the Author

Lawrence Raab is Professor of English at Williams College, where he has taught since 1976. He is the author of four previous collections of poems, most recently What We Don't Know About Each Other, winner of the National Poetry Series and finalist for the National Book Award.

Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Martina Newberry on December 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh yes, I'm a Lawrence Raab fan. This book, The History of Forgetting is a most stunning read. Once again, Raab has made the ordinary extraordinary, the benign somewhat unsettling, the everyday-ness of every day haunting.

In the poem,AFLOAT, Raab says, "So, for a time, yours is a life of important surprises." This is the ultimate pleasure of Lawrence Raab's poems--they are important and marvelous surprises.

Buy this book. It's worth reading and re-reading.
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By J Singh on September 15, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Exquisite poetry!

Collections like this are to be savored, like a box of expensive chocolates, one poem at a time. Sometimes just a few lines in a day are enough to make the poems last and to take in their full meaning.

Of course, the meaning is often what you yourself bring to a poem but these are perfect vessels for realizing that.
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By James Scruton on May 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another superb collection from one of our strongest contemporary poets. Readers will commit to memory, to their personal history, many of the lines and images--indeed, whole poems--here: "What God Must Have Known," "Taking Out the Moon," "Ecstatic," and others. At a time when so many poets declare a distrust of language, Raab shows again why we turn to words. "So the past isn't over until we understand it," he writes in "The Uninvited." Raab's poems invite us to understand our present as well.
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Format: Paperback
Raab seems to have crystallized a fragile and evanescent sense of where we stand in relation to the world, and to our own lives past present and future; and each poem is
a facet of that crystal. with its own particular reflections, surfaces, depths. In 'Flowering Pear,' the transparence of the possibility of being 'a man/at his desk in the morning' superimposed with those other possible selves (pear, hawk) is almost unbearably beautiful, and so delicately and perfectly achieved - and it reflects on all those other precariously situated selves in the other poems, Captain Emerson waiting for the wind to rise, people posing for a picture (but someone is always missing), and 'Even Clearer,' with the life that happened 'enclosed/by the shadows of others' - The poems in this book all shed a flickering light on each other.

Of all Raab's splendid books, I think it's the one that has the most coherence, and that gains the most being read from beginning to end, in order. (As well as the other way, relying on the inspired chance opening at a page) ...not to mention the glorious little flickers of fun that slip in from time to time. Comic timing is also one of his great gifts; here more subtle, and sometimes more breathtaking, than ever. The progress to the tornado and the apocalypse in 'Invisible Music,' the crotchety old maître of 'Domaine de la Solitude', the door-to- door evangelist.. and of course Proust in the classroom. Of course it's never just funny, it's always heartbreaking too, and full of wisdom.
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