Friday, May 27

Annie Freud’s Hiddensee: A Pictorial Imagination | books


PAinter, a retired civil servant and Lucian’s eldest daughter, Annie Freud began her poetic career with funny light verses, often highly sexualized. Now at age 72 he has published his fourth collection, Hiddensee – a book that places her very differently, as a comparative literature alumnus whose imagination is endowed with European high culture and who turns out to be a highly successful literary translator.

Hiddensee It is named after the sandy Baltic island that has been a traditional place of German artists and writers. In English it is also, of course, a richly suggestive compound: poetry, after all, tries to perform acts of divination in the invisible. There is also a hideout suggestion, the fort-da game that his great-grandfather analyzed. But the book ensures that you know everything about the real island and what it represents to the author, because Freud has provided us with a note at the end. In fact, this book has a total of 18 endnotes, and the superscript numbers are scattered throughout the poems in an irritating or refreshing and unexpected way, depending on your taste.

Personally, I would have preferred them more concise and without numbering. But they play an important poetic role, adding more texture to a work that is fundamentally multi-texture, and the richest and most unconventional for it. After a frontispiece oil painting by the poet herself, Hiddensee It is divided into three sections: New Poems, Poems About Cancer, and 13 French Poems by Jacques Tornay, with Freud’s English translations, and its epilogue features the distinguished Swiss poet and his work. Even more unusual, the first two sections of the book are also bilingual. Two of the three poems about cancer, for example, are written twice, in French and in English. This section also includes a poem found from excerpts from Sigmund Freud’s diary from the last months of his life. Or are they compiled? Rebuilt, even? Here’s a place where a note from Annie Freud would really help the reader: the cause and date of her great-grandfather’s death are well known, so what does it show us here? Genius at bay? Funny understatement? The speed of the tragedy?

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It would also help, because the poet also displays a graceful understatement in her own poems about cancer, and in all the darker shadow pieces in this collection. “On the brevity of life” closes: “In the days to come, be there, be there, / put on your sweater to protect yourself from the cold. / We will arrive step by step ”. This is modest, gentle and, although aimed primarily at a partner, universal in their embrace. We will all “get there step by step” together, as the pandemic has shown. The triplet is also, in its ability to tell us something going in various apparent directions, a small master class in the art of synthesis. Also, “The Lions of Chemo”, which ends: “In a moment, the field of my entire vision was filled with the yellow skin of a lion.”

Synthesis and transformation: poems about difficult experiences that turn them into art. Other poems in this collection transform family members – “Uncle Marcel”, his mother-in-law – and even the poet’s self into characters; and memories in stories. In the midst of all this order, one poem in particular stands out. “Why am I a painter” is a profession of vocation that could also speak to poetry: “I would be unfaithful / to everything that is loved / by [its] reason […] I love the infinite pains / the almost madness that it takes […] the sensation / of intoxication. “This sophisticated book speaks of the“ infinite pains ”of its creator and, I hope, of her intoxication as well.

Fiona sampson Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Profile) It will be published in February. Hiddensee by Annie Freud is published by Picador (£ 10.99).


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