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Poem Strip (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – October 6, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Italian artist and author Dino Buzzati imagines a modern graphic novel version of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. In Buzzati's version, set in Milan, a singer called Orfi mourns his lover, Eura, and tracks her to the afterlife. Through a dreamscape made up of bordellos, train stations and a soulless Soviet-like bureaucracy, the singer searches for his lover while being schooled in the ways of the dead. The heartbreaking ending opens as many questions as it answers. Throughout, Buzzati, who died in 1972, offers a sumptuous meditation on the ways in which death gives life meaning, focusing on the sensations of music, sex and, paradoxically, mourning. Poem Strip was originally published in Italy in 1969. The text might have lost some of its lyricism in the translation from the Italian, as it occasionally seems stiff. The artwork retains its bold, sensual power, however. Although its psychedelic palette points to its '60s creation, the images are still strikingly modern and erotic. (Oct.)
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Review

"This is weird, wild, wonderful.... The images are surreal, sexy and frightening, and the text is both compelling and poetic. There are shades of Fellini, shades of Dickens, shades of the great Italian horror director Mario Bava. A beautiful book."  — Los Angeles Times

"I think I stumbled upon this on late-night TV when I was a kid: Donovan, playing himself, wandering through a neo-Caligari lava-lamp world of writhing Barbara Steeles and Sophia Lorens in search of love and justice and groove.  I’m happy to see it’s on again." --Daniel Handler

“Images of spectres, harpies and symbols of death—out of a Gothic tale—alternate with the luscious nudity of witches and temptresses; Buzzati’s mythological comic strip constantly plays with horror and sex. It is frightening, lyrical and provocative.”
The New York Times

"One of Italy's best-known contemporary writers." --The New York Times

"Buzzati was a master at transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, fusing the world of nightmare with that of objective reality, and thus creating an ominous universe of ambiguous, allegorical dimensions." --Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature

"Returning to a more experimental narrative style with Poema a fumetti, Buzzati presents a pop version of the ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice through the contemporary medium of the comic strip. He transforms the classical singer into Orfi, a rock-and-roll artist, and gives a new twist to the ancient myth." --Cassell Dictionary of Italian Literature

"It is surprising how many forgotten authors have managed to survive in their short fiction rather than their novels, even though their full-length works received critical adulation upon publication. Dino Buzzati is obscure even by bibliophiles' standards, but it's important to include him here because he was an extraordinary writer...Buzzati's greatest strength lay here, in a kind of Italian magical realism that heightened the simple and practical with seemingly fantastic elements...his writing feels timeless...  Indeed, finding his work without paying a fortune for it is a labour of patience." --The Independent (UK)
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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; Main edition (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590173236
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590173237
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,192,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By William Timothy Lukeman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From the heady, voluptuous days of the 1960s comes this haunting reinterpretation of the myth of Orpheus & Eurydice. Somewhere between illustrated text & graphic novel, it filters the Timeless through the then-contemporary, making the myth new & alive once more, utilizing spare but lyrical poetry & simple but evocative art. The result is a rich & hallucinatory descent into the underworld of both society & psyche, with the intertwining of Sex & Death never so vivid & undeniable. In a dazzling mixture of the Surreal & ultra-modern Pop, writer/artist Dino Buzzati takes us to the dark, primal place we know exists, but hesitate to acknowledge for fear of what we'll find there ... ourselves as we least wish to see ourselves, stripped of protective illusions & all social veneer. Yet there's a desolate purity in that state, one that offers the opportunity to discover something real & vital to take back with us to the land of the living, the everyday world. This is the function of both art & myth, reaching its very ripe fruition in these pages -- highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
Originally written in 1969, this is a bizarre but attractive graphic novel-style modern retelling of the Orpheus and Euridice myth. In Milan, during the late 1960s, a brooding rock star descends to the underworld to bring back his beloved girlfriend to the world of the living. The bizarre drawings (by the author himself, and clearly influenced by the pop art of the era) seeps horror and sex in every page. Italian writer Dino Buzzati (1906-1972) is to me one of the most underrated authors of the 20th century. He is not very well known, but every book I have read from him is extremely commendable, from the classic philosophical novel The Tatar Steppe to the mythical The Secret of the Old Forest to the children book The Bears Famous Invasion of Sicily and to the terrific tale of crazy love Un Amore.
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Format: Paperback
Although my appreciation of Buzzati has included 5 full readings of his masterpiece The Tartare Steppe, it took me a while to crack open Poem Strip after buying it. I did not want to be disappointed, I guess. The thing is, once the timing was right, and I had come to enjoy graphic novels more in my life, I discovered that Dino offers an absolutely great one, unique for its genuine literary qualities, its chilling profundity, and its stirring artwork, which typically expands the reading experience by offering images that open the imagination rather than simply serve as its crutch. In short, if you think you might enjoy a poetic approach to meditating on the nature of life and death through stylized myth and otherworldly cartooning, this book will offer a few very pleasing sittings, and in my case a wish to read it again almost immediately (see first sentence above...). If nothing else, it's also really cool to acquaint with this daring precursor to our golden age of the graphic novel.
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Format: Paperback
Throughout my reading, this book never ceased to surprise me. Every few pages I felt drawn into yet another bizarre atmosphere and situation. The translation is faithful to the lyricism of the original, I feel, and Buzzati's retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of the most provocative modern ones I've come across.
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"Death, oh death
Gift of a wise god
All the charms of this world
Come from you
Even love."

A poem, a song, a story, a tale, of love and death and despair and hope, and worldly nymphs and otherworldly things. Beautifully illustrated.
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