Selected Poetry of Delmira Agustini: Poetics of Eros

Selected Poetry of Delmira Agustini: Poetics of Eros

Hardback Language: English / Spanish

By (author) Delmira Agustini, Translated by Alejandro Caceres, Edited by Alejandro Caceres, Foreword by Willis Barnstone

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  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 224 pages
  • Language: English / Spanish
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 226mm x 19mm | 372g
  • Publication date: 30 November 2003
  • Publication City/Country: Carbondale
  • ISBN 10: 0809325373
  • ISBN 13: 9780809325375
  • Edition statement: Bilingual.

Product description

This graceful translation and bilingual edition is the first to bring English readers a representative sampling of the poetry Delmira Agustini published before her untimely death in 1914 at the age of twenty-seven. Translated by native Uruguayan Alejandro Caceres and including work from each of Agustini's four published books, "Selected Poetry of Delmira Agustini: Poetics of Eros" is a response to a resurgent interest not just in the poems but in the passionate and daring woman behind them and the social and political world she inhabited. Delmira Agustini was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1886 to wealthy parents of German and Italian descent. She published her first volume of poetry when she was twenty-one and followed with two more in the next six years. But her life was cut short in 1914, when Enrique Job Reyes, her ex-husband of less than two months, shot her to death and then turned the gun on himself. Too sensual and explicit for a literate, but Catholic, Uruguay, Agustini's work was neither accepted nor easily understood during her lifetime--but it is now being discovered and studied. Caceres is at the forefront of a new critical approach to Agustini's work. In synthesizing and reviewing both Spanish-language and English-language work on Agustini, he provides the definitive resource for future inquiry and research. Noted translator and poet Willis Barnstone provides the foreword to the volume. Agustini's poetry reflects the emotional world of a young woman in the early twentieth century. Rich with exotic and erotic imagery, the poems populate an intangible atmosphere vibrant with color and mythological symbols. Agustini celebrated sexuality in her work as part of the struggle to empower women and served as a forerunner of other feminist poets. Carefully selected for this bilingual, "en face" edition, the poems collected here track and highlight Agustini's development and strengths as an artist--including her methods of experimentation, first relying on "modernista "forms and later abandoning them--and her focus on the figure of the male, which she portrays as the crux of devotion and attention but deems ultimately unreachable. Caceres's introduction presents biographical information and situates Agustini's work and life in a larger political, historical, and literary context, particularly the "modernismo "movement, whose followers broke linguistic and political ties with the pathos and excesses of romanticism.

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Author information

Alejandro Caceres, an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and has lived in the United States since 1977. He is the editor of the definitive critical edition of the complete poems of Delmira Agustini, published in Uruguay by Ediciones de la Plaza.

Review quote

This is the first book-length anthology in English by the most important modernista female poet from Latin America. Delmira Agustini was a pioneer in expressing female eroticism, and the precursor of other respected women in the field, such as Juana de Ibarbourou and Alfonsina Storni. The book's arrival is therefore to be welcomed by scholars in poetics and women's studies. The editor has made a good selection of Agustini's production from the three collections published in her lifetime, and from the work which came out posthumously, after the poet's tragic death at the hands of her estranged husband (whom she visited clandestinely whilst their divorce was in process). There are about half of Agustini's total output of around 130 poems, and they appear in facing bilingual versions. The quality of the translations is good, and the intention is to remain as literal as possible, which is a good strategy when confronted with the richness and evasiveness of this poet's language and imagery. In the Introduction, Ca'ceres recycles some of the material in his Spanish edition of Agustini's complete works (Montevideo, 1999), and generally does a good job of introducing the poet to the English-speaking reader. The book, in hardback, is very attractive and a pleasure to hold; the only criticism is that the font could have been slightly larger.