Tiepolo's Hound

Derek Walcott, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $30 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-10587-7
After writing the Odyssey of his native St. Lucia with Omeros (1990), the epic poem that helped earn him the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature, Walcott has increasingly sought to sensualize the Caribbean landscape within the competing contexts of colonialism, history and Western artistc traditions. The dual narrative of his latest book-length poem looks at these inheritances by intertwining the career of impressionist Camille Pissarro, who was a Sephardic Jew from St. Thomas, with the poet's own quest to revisit a Venetian painting, of a hound, he once saw in New York. As a painter himself, Walcott associates his narrator's artistic island origins with Pissarro's in smooth, masterful couplets: ""I still smell linseed oil in the wild views/ Of villages and the tang of turpentine... Salt wind encouraged us, and the surf's white noise."" As the poet makes his way toward Venice and ""Tiepolo's Hound,"" his journey mirrors Pissarro's transition from St. Thomas to Europe. Place names serve as the poem's focal points, forming an extended near-sestina: the names Pontoise; Paris; the Seine; St Thomas's Dronningens Street and Charlotte Amalie; and the ubiquitous ""Tiepolo's ceiling"" appear again and again. While the repetitions give a powerful sense of cultural geography, Walcott is not committed to giving us his characters's whole story, but rather a sort of embellished art-history-in-verse, as he imagines Pissarro in Paris, or how Pissarro would have painted slaves, ""the umber and ebony of their skin."" The narrator's eventual reunion with the painting thus proves something of an anti-climax, as he hasn't generated enough psychological tension to sustain an epic. Still, Walcott's majestic linguistic vistas will be more than enough to carry readers through gorgeously imagined encounters with painters, painting and the visual nostalgia of the exile. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Show other formats
FORMATS
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-374-52779-2
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-4668-8048-1
Hardcover - 164 pages - 978-0-571-20912-5
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.