Angel of History

by Carolyn Forche


Angel of History | 9781852243074 | Carolyn Forche

Out of stock


Format:Paperback / softback

Published:27/10/1994 by Bloodaxe Books Ltd


The Angel of History bears witness to the moral disasters of our times: war, genocide, the Holocaust, the atomic bomb. The book is a meditation on memory – how memory survives the unimaginable. The poems are fragmented, discordant, reflecting the effects of such experience, but forming a haunting mosaic of grief, evoking the necessary accommodations we make to survive what is unsurvivable.

It is divided into five sections dealing with the atrocities of war in France, Japan and Germany as well as Carolyn Forche’s own experiences in Beirut and El Salvador. The title figure, the Angel of History – a figure imagined by Walter Benjamin – can record the miseries of humanity yet is unable either to prevent these miseries from happening or from suffering from the pain associated with them. Kevin Walker, in the Detroit Free Press, called the book ‘a meditation on destruction, survival and memory’.

Don Bogen, in The Nation, saw this as a logical development, since Forche’s work with her poetry of witness anthology Against Forgetting was ‘instrumental in moving her poetry beyond the politics of personal encounter. The Angel of History is rather an extended poetic mediation on the broader contexts – historical, aesthetic, philosophical – which include [the 20th]…century’s atrocities,’ wrote Bogen. And Steven Ratiner, reviewing the work for the Christian Science Monitor, called it one that ‘addresses the terror and inhumanity that have become standard elements in the twentieth-century political landscape – and yet affirms as well the even greater reservoir of the human spirit’.

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