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The Absolute Gravedigger

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  61 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
The Absolute Gravedigger, published in 1937, is in many ways the culmination of Vítězslav Nezval’s work as an avant-garde poet, combining the Poetism of his earlier work and his turn to Surrealism in the 1930s with his political concerns in the years leading up to World War II. It is above all a collection of startling verbal and visual inventiveness. And while a number of ...more
Hardcover, 214 pages
Published September 26th 2016 by Twisted Spoon Press (first published 1937)
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My rating of this book should be considered to be more to be my inability to come to these poems, rather than a critique of a writer that I do greatly admire. Maybe in another time in my life they will reflect differently for me.
Kai Weber
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This volume of Nezval's poetry stems from the four year period where he was running the Czech group of surrealists, yet the surrealism of the poems in the book doesn't come full-blown, but is prepared step by step.

In the beginning there are lots of verbal still-life pictures, idyllic with a good dosage of humour and lightness. Timeless beauty, I would say, though I probably only feel so because this kind of countryside beauty is just a memory from the past and long-gone. Those poems and their mo
Vilém Zouhar
Surreal poetry is much harder to accustom to than other surreal arts. Nezval is a genius and thus interpreting his poetry can be done on many levels. You can even get away with not thinking about it - his poetry can put you on an amazing though train. Whatever you do, just don't be lazy. It's weird and obscure. Enjoy it.
Nov 26, 2016 added it
A beautiful book to hold and to read. Nezval's writing is beautiful (or rather, the English translation of Nezval's original Czech is beautiful). There are several earlier collections of Nezval that are wooden and rough.
Though Nezval wrote at times with political intent, oftentimes I missed his point. I enjoyed reading the poems for the surreal assembly of words which provided a fresh perspective.
The translators' afterword provides a history of Nezval, the surrealist movement in Czechoslovakia,
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the third volume of a Surrealist poetry (mostly) trilogy, each employing a different guiding principle to its creation, as Nezval explains in his "Decalcomania" text. For The Absolute Gravedigger, it was the paranoiac-critical method (as opposed to the objective chance and automatic association of the first two volumes). It is interpretive delirium at its finest.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best known collections of poetry published by Vitezslav Nezval, Czechoslovakia's foremost surrealist. A tour de force would be a mild way of describing what is truly one of the best volumes of poetry ever published in the 20th century.

How faithful the translations are I can't fully say; but the poems here are clear, crisp, vivid and profound in a way that suggests the information transfer was a stunning success. These poems may as well have been written in English.

The Absolu
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hezká sbírka velmi dobrých básní, kdy básník spoustou netypických a překvapivých (ale většinou pro čtenáře pochopitelných) přirovnání popisuje místa, osoby, události... nevidím v tom nějakou velkou intelektuální hodnotu ale bylo to esteticky velmi příjemné, zastavilo to člověka v okamžiku a s některými přirovnání/metafory si básník opravdu mistrně pohrál (zvlášť když do zdánlivě nesouvisejících kontextů tahal erotiku... holt Nezval :D )

Mnohdy mi ale sbírka přišla příliš natahovaná.
Některá přiro
Joseph Schreiber
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As one of the leading figures of the Czech Surrealist movement, Nezval was a prolific, diverse writer. The poems in this book range from formal bucolic verse to freewheeling scenes straight out of a painting by Bruegel or Bosch. Most terrifying is the final poem, The Iberian Fly, which, when it was composed in the mid-1930s clearly warns against the racist sentiment spreading through Europe. Sadly t feels as if it could have been written today. For my full review see: ...more
Kyle Hayes
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous volume of impressively visionary and astounding poetry.
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Nov 08, 2016
Stephan Delbos
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Daniel Thorley
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Daniel Thorley
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Jan Zikmund
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Nov 08, 2016
Daniel Thorley
A handsome edition of vibrant, evocative poems. Nezval is as significant for surrealism as Breton and Eluard. With the publication of this volume Nezval's work will be more widely available, which is a good thing.
Elena  M.
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Dominika Jozová
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David Reynolds
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David Reynolds
A truly essential collection. This is a prophetic, powerful and awe-inspiring book. A must-read for anyone interested in surrealism and Central European literature.
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Martin Malý
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One of the most prolific avant-garde Czech writers in the first half of the twentieth century and a co-founder of the Surrealist movement in Czechoslovakia.
More about Vítězslav Nezval