Imperial Messages

Howard Schwartz, Editor
Howard Schwartz, Editor Overlook Press $23.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-87951-396-2
Hardcover - 348 pages - 978-0-380-00682-3
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Originally published as a paperback in 1976, this classic anthology of 19th- and 20th-century parables from around the world has been expanded with additional stories and a new preface and introduction. Schwartz ( Vessels ; Rooms of the Soul ) advises the reader to ``open this book at random'' and dip into the eclectic sampling of works by famous and lesser-known authorssince this point is made in final sentence? --a mix in which surrealistic prose fragments and narratives that weave in elements of magical realism and myth appear alongside traditional fairy tales and fables. Some of the most satisfying tales are the most religious ones: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav's ok? Bratislava in Web it's ok per book /ss ``The Spider and the Fly'' and Isaac Bashevis Singer's superb ``Jachid and Jechidah.'' One of the most imitated stories of Russian literature, Gogol's ``The Nose,'' appears, as do excerpts from Kafka's The Penal Colony , Calvino's Invisible Cities and Borges's Dreamtigers. Places have been found for Isak Dinesen's poignant ``The Blue Jar'' and Dostoyevski's per Web ``The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.'' Authors from Kobo Abe and Daniil Kharms to Bob Dylan and Paul Bowles are also represented. Schwartz's thoughtful organization, diverse selection of authors, and wide-ranging choice of tales make his book a valuable reference as well as a delight. (May)
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