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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry

Report from the Besieged City

Zbigniew Herbert

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Title: Report from the Besieged City
Author: Zbigniew Herbert
Genre: Poetry
Written: 1982 (Eng. 1985)
Length: 82 pages
Original in: Polish
Availability: Report from the Besieged City - US
Report from the Besieged City - UK
Report from the Besieged City - Canada
Bericht aus einer belagerten Stadt - Deutschland
  • Translated by John and Bogdana Carpenter

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Our Assessment:

A : very strong poetry, well-conveyed.

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Rev. of Books . 18/7/1985 A. Alvarez
The NY Times Book Rev. A 16/2/1986 Eva Hoffman

  From the Reviews:
  • "In his poetry, with its disciplined outrage and its equilibrium between too much hopelessness and too much hope, Mr. Herbert achieves that dignity and a balance worthy of his own classical ideals." - Eva Hoffman, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Report from the Besieged City is another tour de force by eminent Polish poet, Zbigniew Herbert. His familiar alter ego, Mr. Cogito, is the subject of a third of the poems in this collection, and these easily stand up as well as the Cogito poems we are familiar with from the earlier eponymous collection. The rest, often on classical subjects (Damastes, the Anabasis, Babylon, Beethoven), are an excellent contrast and complement.
       Herbert is on the top of his form in these poems largely written after Poland was again put under martial law. His concerns are always broad, though they are more politically oriented here. Herbert's precise moral vision is well conveyed in his verses, and it is certainly a voice worth paying attention to.
       The collection is highly recommended. Unfortunately, it is currently out of print. Hunt it down in your local library or used bookstores -- it is well worth the effort.

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Report from the Besieged City: Zbigniew Herbert: Other books by Herbert under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Poetry under review

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About the Author:

       Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998) was born in Lwow. He earned degrees from the University of Krakow, the University of Warsaw, and the Nicholas Copernicus University of Torun. He began publishing his poetry in 1956, though he continued to have difficulties getting much of it published in his native Poland. One of the foremost modern European poets, he has been extensively translated.

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