Newly expanded edition of a classic: the first and only collection of Cortázar's poetry to appear in English.
"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
"[This new] edition—small and irresistible, the kind you want to pocket and read out on the grass somewhere—is bilingual, with Spanish on the left page and English on the right, and [Stephen] Kessler does us the favor of retaining some of Cortázar's weird, wandering little essays, including "For Listening Through Headphones," his oblique study of poetic intimacy."—The New Yorker
World renowned as one of the masters of modern fiction, Julio Cortázar was also a prolific poet. While living in Paris during the last months of his life, Cortázar assembled his life's work in verse for publication, and Save Twilight selects the best of that volume, making his poems available in English for the very first time.
This expanded edition, with nearly one hundred new pages of poems, prose and illustrations, is a book to be savored by both the familiar reader and the newcomer to Cortázar work. Ranging from the intimate to the political, tenderness to anger, heartbreak to awe, in styles both traditionally formal and free, Cortázar the poet and subverter of genres is revealed as a versatile and passionate virtuoso. More than a collection of poems, this book is a playful and revealing self-portrait of a writer in love with language in all its forms.
Praise for Save Twilight:
"With this expanded edition of Save Twilight, Stephen Kessler continues his project, begun in the 1980s, of translating poetry by Julio Cortázar. Widely known for his fiction, especially Hopscotch, a seminal work of the Latin American Boom, Cortázar was also a compelling poet. Kessler has found just the right turns of phrase in English to capture the Argentine's deeply moving writing and exceptionally emotive language. What a gift this collection is for English-speaking readers."—Edith Grossman, winner of the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation
"Some people run the world, others are the world. Cortázar's poems are the world; they have a special consideration for the unknown."—Enrique Vila-Matas, author of The Illogic of Kassel
"What a pleasure, this walk in a well-orchestrated park with shades as complex, as light & as dark, as multifoliate as the actual world! This book—the 'poetic ecology' Cortázar had envisioned—is an open invitation to make yourselves at home twixt sea and loss, wine & sorrow, birth & riptide, tobacco & talk, laughter & death. Nothing human is foreign to the poet—& he brings it home with great clarity & grace. The writing & the book embody a tradition of hospitality, or as Cortázar puts it: 'Hello little black book for the late hours, cats on the prowl under a paper moon.' The injunction to save twilight stands as title—it is also exactly what the writing accomplishes. Stephen Kessler's elegant, accurate, and sometimes felicitously osé translations do these poems more than justice."—Pierre Joris, author of Barzakh (Poems 2000-2012)
"For those who have enjoyed Cortázar's fiction, among the most seminal and compelling of our time, here now are his wonderful poems. And for those who don't know Cortázar from a cat, it's a chance to visit his crepuscular world in all its multiple layers. A tender, experimental, humorous, meditative, jazzy, heart-breaking collection to be relished and savored slowly."—Ariel Dorfman, author of Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile
Julio Cortázar was born in Brussels in 1914 of Argentinian parents, raised in Argentina, and spent his most productive years in Paris, where he died in 1984.
"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
"Cortázar, an Argentine writer who worked mostly across the postwar years, is best known as a novelist. But his mind was, in certain ways, most purely a poet's, and this collection, beautifully translated by Stephen Kessler, shows the range of his talent. The edition—small and irresistible, the kind you want to pocket and read out on the grass somewhere—is bilingual, with Spanish on the left page and English on the right, and Kessler does us the favor of retaining some of Cortázar’s weird, wandering little essays, including 'For Listening Through Headphones,' his oblique study of poetic intimacy. In lyric, Cortázar works best in the second person; some of my favorite pieces are love poems. 'Everything I’d want from you / is finally so little / because finally it’s everything,' he writes. 'Let the pleasure we invent together / be one more sign of freedom.'"—Nathan Heller, The New Yorker
"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