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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
A Defense of Ardor

A Defense of Ardor


Adam Zagajewski; Translated by Clare Cavanagh

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Ardor, inspiration, the soul, the sublime: Such terms have long since fallen from favor among critics and artists alike. In his new collection of essays, Adam Zagajewski continues his efforts to reclaim for art not just the terms but the scanted spiritual dimension of modern human existence that they stake out.

Bringing gravity and grace to his meditations on art, society, and history, Zagajewski wears his erudition lightly, with a disarming blend of modesty and humor. His topics range from autobiography (his first visit to a post-Soviet Lvov after childhood exile; his illicit readings of Nietzsche in Communist Poland); to considerations of artist friends past and present (Zbigniew Herbert, Czeslaw Milosz); to intellectual and psychological portraits of cities he has known, east and west; to a dazzling thumbnail sketch of postwar Polish poetry.

Zagajewski gives an account of the place of art in the modern age that distinguishes his self-proclaimed liberal vision from the "right-wing radicalism" of such modernist precursors as Eliot or Yeats. The same mixture of ardor and compassion that marks Zagajewski's distinctive contribution to modern poetry runs throughout this eloquent, engaging collection.

Praise for A Defense of Ardor

“Seldom has the muse of poetry spoken to anyone with such clarity as in Zagajewski's case.” —Joseph Brodsky

“His mixture of skepticism and passion . . . makes him one of the most interesting poets of his generation writing in any language.” —Jaroslaw Anders, Los Angeles Times Book Review


Reviews from Goodreads

Adam Zagajewski; Translated by Clare Cavanagh

Adam Zagajewski was born in Lvov, Poland, in 1945. He lives in Krakow and spends part of the year teaching at the University of Houston. He was awarded the 2004 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

image of Adam Zagajewskio
Jerry Bauer

Adam Zagajewski

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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