Save Twilight: Selected Poems


Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
City Lights Books
Publish Date
4.8 X 6.3 X 0.9 inches | 0.55 pounds

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About the Author

Julio Cortázar was born in Brussels in 1914 to Argentinian parents and raised in Argentina, where as a young man he worked as a secondary-school teacher, university professor, and professional translator. In 1951 he moved to Paris, where he earned his primary living as a translator for UNESCO. He is regarded internationally as a modern master of the short story and his novel Hopscotch is considered a seminal work of the Latin American fiction boom of the 1960s. Cortázar's other books in English include Blow-Up and Other Stories, 62: A Model Kit, The Winners, All Fires the Fire, A Manual for Manuel, Cronopios and Famas, A Change of Light, We Love Glenda So Much, A Certain Lucas, Unreasonable Hours, and Around the Day in Eighty Worlds. He died in Paris in 1984. Stephen Kessler is a poet, prose writer, translator, and editor. He is the author of ten books and chapbooks of original poetry, sixteen books of literary translation, and three collections of essays. His most recent books are Where Was I? (prose poems/memoirs), Need I Say More? (essays) and Forbidden Pleasures (new selected poems of Luis Cernuda, translation). He is also the author of a novel, The Mental Traveler, the editor and principal translator of The Sonnets by Jorge Luis Borges, and from 1999 through 2014 was the founder and editor of The Redwood Coast Review, four-time winner of the California Library Association's PR Excellence Award. His other awards include a Lambda Literary Award and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets for his previous translations of Luis Cernuda, Written in Water and Desolation of the Chimera.


"Argentine writer and translator Cortázar (1914-1984), best known for his inventive fiction, beguiles in this expanded bilingual second edition of his poems. Cortázar, espousing the notion that 'poetry and prose reciprocally empower each other, ' constructs hybrid 'prosems' or 'peoms' that contend with love and loss, nationalistic ambivalence, literary theory, and memory. Something of a lovable crank, he declares listening to headphones 'stupid and alienating' and a 'psychological prison' in a lyrical essay ostensibly in favor of them, and heaps inexplicable scorn on knitters and Notre Dame Cathedral. Cortázar pithily laments his own squareness--'I accept this destiny of ironed shirts'--and the aging process, during which time is 'a truckload of rocks/ dumped on your back, puking/ its insufferable weight.' A political expatriate to Paris, Cortázar footnotes one poem praising Argentina with an ominous implication of state-sanctioned murder, while elsewhere he fondly recalls 'wisps of smoke/ gracefully streaming from the peanut vendors' carts' in the Plaza de Mayo. Cortázar's verse is more traditional than his fiction, but his style and themes are in harmony across genres: eccentric, mystical, full of animals but deeply human. Cortázar is a people's poet, accessible from every angle, and his position as a titan of the Latin American boom is indisputable."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"When City Lights was preparing to publish the first edition of Julio Cortázar's poetry in English in 1997 (it's number fifty-three in the Pocket Poets series), [Lawrence] Ferlinghetti wanted to produce a lean volume. In doing so, he cut the essay 'For Listening Through Headphones, ' which Cortázar begins by mourning the 'pre-echo' on some records that mars 'the brief night of the ears as they get ready for the fresh irruption of sound.' It's funny that an essay that more than once uses the play of light and darkness to illuminate sound would be omitted from a book titled Save Twilight. But this month, City Lights is reissuing the volume, now heftier, thanks in part to the restoration of 'For Listening' (and other poems that were left out from the original). In addition to being mesmerizing and utterly gorgeous ('now the needle / runs through the former silence and focuses it / in a black plush ... a phosphene silence'), the essay links the experience of hearing music through headphones to poetry's innate intimacy: 'How not to think, then, that somehow poetry is a word heard through invisible headphones as soon as the poem begins to work its spell.'"--Nicole Rudick, The Paris Review

"Originally published in 1997, this new, plump little volume (which would only fit in the largest pocket of your cargo pants) is an excellent introduction to [Julio Cortázar's] poetry, which is as fascinating and compelling as anything he wrote. . . . Stephen Kessler's expanded edition of Save Twilight is a real gift; his translations are eminently readable and repay repeated readings: the poems will seem different each time. Cortázar is a poet of many styles and voices, and this selection has spurred me to revisit his poetry, and re-read some of his great novels, an experience that is greatly enriching. What more could one ask of poetry, pocket or otherwise?"--Rain Taxi

"[A] timely showcase for a less widely appreciated facet of this important writer's work."--Ben Bollig, The Times Literary Supplement

"These faithful old (and new) translations bring the poetic playfulness of this vitally important writer into engaging English life, and they promise to keep us looking into the vitrines of his poems so intently that we might well find ourselves looking back out from them, at blank faces, once familiarly our own and now estranged, looking quizzically back at us."--The Massachusetts Review

"Many poems and writings in this collection make it essential for any fans of Cortázar's fiction, and a few, such as 'To Be Read in the Interrogative, ' the most instantly arresting poem here, make it equally accessible to first-time Cortázar readers."--Literal Magazine

"City Lights Books keeps current for reasons that could fill a book, including the fact that its editors have always had a special instinct for what needs to stay in print, what needs a hiatus, what should be reissued and when, and what should be acquired because it is irresistible and as good as its elders. Save Twilight: Selected Poems by Julio Cortázar is a collection of old and new translations by Stephen Kessler, and it fits right into the City Lights ethos. Kessler is a distinguished translator, and this bi-lingual edition does justice to the masterful Cortázar ... In praising Save Twilight, qualifiers like 'seem' are unnecessary, because what the book provides is enriching in the way it faces the past and illuminates the human interior."--The Rumpus

"For me, a particular essay was the highlight of Julio Cortázar's Save Twilight. It's observant; intelligent; for the receptive reader, educational; and for the receptive poet-reader a guide for how one might live and write as a poet. ... Still, pleasure can be found in the verse."--Galatea Resurrects