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Steerforth Press, Fall 2017

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Greetings From Angelus
Poems
By (author): Gershom Scholem Translated by: Richard Sieburth Introduction by: Steven Wasserstrom
9780914671978 Paperback, Trade English General Trade POETRY / European / German Feb 27, 2018
$16.00 CAD
Active 5.6 x 7.2 x 0.6 in 150 pages BILLINGUAL EDITION GERMAN/ENGLISH Steerforth Press Archipelago
A bilingual collection of poetry from pioneering scholar in Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism, Gershom Scholem.

With this volume, Scholem’s work reaches beyond the confines of the academy and enters a literary dialogue with writers and philosophers like Walter Benjamin and Hans Jonas.

Gershom Scholem’s Greetings From Angelus contains dark, lucid political poems about Zionism and assimilation, parodies of German and Jewish philosophers, and poems to writers and friends such as Walter Benjamin, Hans Jonas, Ingeborg Bachmann, S. Y. Agnon, among others. The earliest poems in this volume begin in 1915 and extend to 1967, revealing how poetry played a formative role in Scholem’s early life and career. This collection is translated by Richard Sieburth, who comments, “Scholem’s acts of poetry still speak to us (and against us) to this very day, simultaneously grounded as they are in the impossibly eternal and profoundly occasional.” The volume is edited and introduced by Steven M. Wasserstrom, who carefully situates the poems in Scholem’s historical, biographical, and theological landscape.

One of the greatest scholars of the twentieth century, Gershom Scholem virtually created the subject of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism. Literature played a crucial role in his life, especially in his formative years. This bilingual volume contains his dark, shockingly prescient poems about Zionism, his parodies of German and Jewish philosophers, and poems to other writers, notably a series of powerful lyrics addressed over the course of years to his closest and oldest friend, Walter Benjamin.
 
Translator Richard Sieburth comments, “Scholem’s acts of poetry still speak to us (and against us) to this very day, grounded as they are in the impossibly eternal and profoundly occasional.”

A collection of poetry, in both German and English, exploring Zionism, German and Jewish philosophers, and the work of writers such as Walter Benjamin and Hans Jonas.

Written by Gershom Scholem, the founder of the modern study of Kabbalah and a former Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University.

Translated by and afterword written by Richard Sieburth, a preeminent translator of German poetry.

Edited and introduced by Steven M. Wasserstrom, author of Religion after Religion and the Moe and Izetta Tonkon Professor of Judaic Studies and the Humanities at Reed College.

Gershom Scholem, philosopher, writer, historian, and poet, was born in Berlin in 1897 and settled in Jerusalem in 1923. For years he was Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University. His many books include Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah, and Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship. He died in 1982.
 
Richard Sieburth is a Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at New York University. His translations include Hölderlin’s Hymns and Fragments and Benjamin’s Moscow Diary—and for Archipelago, Büchner’s Lenz, The Salt Smugglers by Gérard de Nerval, Maurice Scève’s Delie, and Stroke by Stroke by Henri Michaux. His English edition of Nerval’s Selected Writings won the 2000 PEN Book-of-the-Month-Club Translation Prize.
 
Steven M. Wasserstrom is the Moe and Izetta Tonkon Professor of Judaic Studies and the Humanities at Reed College. He is the author of Between Muslim and Jew: The Problem of Symbiosis under Early Islam, which received the Award for Excellence in Historical Studies from the American Academy of Religion, and Religion after Religion: Gershom Scholem, Mircea Eliade, and Henry Corbin at Eranos.

Author Residence: Jerusalem, Israel (deceased)

Author Hometown: Berlin, Germany

“Gershom Scholem’s scholarship was of [the] rare, life-giving kind. Not only have his studies of the Kabbalah altered…the image of Judaism—but his explorations, translations, and presentations of Kabbalistic writings exercise a formidable influence on literary theory at large, on the ways in which non-Jewish and wholly agnostic critics and scholars read poetry.” —George Steiner, New Yorker

“Gershom Scholem’s achievement has already put a generation of readers in his debt. He has intrepidly, singlehandedly, almost monomaniacally pursued the task of saving the literature of Jewish mysticism…restoring it to an estate of respect, honor, and importance.” —Arthur A. Cohen, New York Times Book Review

“We see a great analytical mind at work…Richard Sieburth’s deep understanding of Scholem’s thought, and his masterful re-creation of Scholem’s rhythms and rhymes, reflect the inner workings of these original German poems. Sieburth’s translations offer a fascinating insight into the thoughts and literary sensibility of one of the great minds of the twentieth century.” —Peter Constantine, World Literature Today


"“…Scholem’s most private writing…The poems collected in Greetings from Angelus were never intended to be published; at most they were written for an audience of one. Often this was Walter Benjamin…[I]n this crucial period of Scholem’s intellectual development, Benjamin was a key stimulus to his thinking about language, myth, and Judaism… [T]he most serious poems Scholem wrote concerned his spiritual disappointment in Zion.” — Adam Kirsch, New York Review of Books

The Fullness of Time offers an aspect of Scholem’s own communing with the spirit of language that will be new even to those quite familiar with his works in philology and history of religion…the verses collected here were acts of private devotion.” — Erica X Eisen, Threepenny Review 

“Abrupt, magisterial, quizzical, sometimes acidulous, and at moments poignantly wistful…. Scholem’s verses return to an authentic Hasidic tradition of indicting God.” —Harold Bloom

“An excellent bilingual selection. Richard Sieburth’s versions are lucid, sensitive, forceful, and always attentive to the originals. Steven Wasserstrom’s incisive commentary provides the ideal context…. Given the complexities that it resolves-historical, biographical, theological, literary-this edition is a model of its kind.” —Jeremy Adler, The Times Literary Supplement

“Gershom Scholem wrestled with the great questions of his time: the fate of utopian dreams in the pincers of 20th century history and the lingering, transcendent value of friendship. Richard Sieburth’s luminous translations capture Scholem’s voice as he dances back and forth across the border line between punditry and prophecy, while always projection sheer passion for the Word.” — George Prochnik

“Scholem has rare gifts for synthesis and generalization, as several of his more recent essays on Jewish messianism and tradition demonstrate, but his mind is equally remarkable for the way it adheres to the smallest particles of particular historical experience” - Robert Alter

“Gershom Scholem is first and foremost a poet of friendship: you can read this book as a loving, if at times jousting, life-long conversation with Walter Benjamin on topics ranging from Zion to Kafka to Klee. This makes the book a valuable historical document as much as a moving life-sequence of poems. Richard Sieburth’s superb translation not only ferries over the meanings of the originals, but revitalizes them, causing Scholem’s fairly traditional German rhymed verse to positively sparkle in English.” — Pierre Joris

“Richard Sieburth has performed a magnificent service…he has found a contemporary equivalent for Scève’s extremely compact music and enabled it to breathe in English, while still retaining the tension of the original.” — John Ashbery (on Maurice Scève’s Emblems of Desire)
 
“Like a jewelry chest, the covers of this book open on a gem of German prose, brought to its full radiance by Richard Sieburth’s splendid translation.” — William H. Gass (on Georg Büchner’s Lenz)

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