new and recent

cover of book

ISBN 80 86264 08 4
156 pp., 145 x 205mm
$13.50 / £8.00 / €13.50
poetry & prose (the poetry bilingual)
available December 2003

Second-Hand Souls: Selected Writing

by Nichita Danilov

translated from the Romanian by
Sean Cotter

Nichita Danilov's people, the Lippovan, were driven from Russia as Orthodox Church dissenters over two hundred years ago. Settling in Romania along the Prut River and in the Danube Delta, they have maintained strong religious traditions. Danilov's contribution to contemporary Romanian poetry is to combine a historically rooted spirituality with a surrealist poetics. The result has made Danilov an important voice in Romanian literature. He is part of the 80s generation, which represented a revolution in poetics that immediately preceded the overthrow of the communist dictatorship. This generation writes in a playful, ironic, and language-centered style. Danilov's spiritual heritage gives these games a metaphysical depth. He places himself in the tradition of mystics such as Meister Eckhart, St. John of the Cross, and Pseudo-Dionysius. This tradition describes the divine in negative terms: it is "not a part of non-existence nor is it a part of being "- Danilov quotes the Areopagite. This world is unknowable and made essentially other by its ineffability, a void "beyond the world we perceive." And because the divine is ineffable, no poem Danilov writes will be an adequate expression of its nature. His poetry and essays describe a world, not a writer, full of irony and caprice. His voice comes from the darkness of a purgatory where the divine appears in bizarre images and disappears suddenly, without the solace of spiritual companionship.

Second-Hand Souls represents Danilov's attempts at capturing the mystical relationship between Man and the Deity. It includes a selection of his poetry, along with the original Romanian, and a selection of his prose, offering us insight into a particularly Balkan combination of history, spirituality, and innovative writing.

Sean Cotter has translated several books of Romanian poetry and appeared in journals both in the United States and in Romania, including Beacons, New Currents, Translation Review, Romania literari and Observator cultural. He is currently finishing his dissertation on Romanian and American Modernist Translation.

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