sewn paper
160 pages
ISBN 0-88984-115-2

A Personal Memoir

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Louis Dudek

Europe is the poetic journal of Louis Dudek's cultural pilgrimage to the famous buildings and fabled sites of Europe. Although the sections of the poem are arranged chronologically in the order of his journeyings, the poem is less the story of Dudek's travels than a series of moral and aesthetic meditations prompted by his experiences. Expecting to find in Europe culture in its most evolved forms, the poet is confronted instead by materialism and superficiality, by exhausted peoples who are the unworthy inheritors of past greatness.

Eventually the poet comes to realize that it is the sea, `constant always in beauty,' that is the real object of his quest.

`The polemic stance in Europe [Dudek's] 1954 opus, here reprinted with minor emendations in a handsome edition, complete with author's preface and afterword by Michael Gnarowski, may be irksome to some readers. But Dudek's comments on the decline of western civilization are still valid. Essentially, the book uses the structural paradigm of a transatlantic cruise to contrast the ageless "indifferent benevolence" of sea and rivers with the fickle ways of men, and so to highlight the devolution of renaissance culture in Europe. The form of poetic diary absorbs any esoterica, so we have Dudek's strong companionable voice as tour guide.

`The book is a young man's book, not Dudek's best, of course. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see how well the parody and technique hold up after all these years.'
    - Calgary Herald

`Far from being "tourist poetry," Europe is a high-minded attempt to examine both Europe's cultural artefacts and a North American mind built upon them. It shares the virtues and limitations of Dudek's other work: beautifullt wrought lines, intelligence, and clarity in perception, tempered by a lack of humour and a certain arid quality.'
    - Books in Canada

`The language of it is so simply put down, without pretense, that I am all admiration.'
    - William Carlos Williams

`Dudek is Canada's most important -- that is to say consequential -- modern voice.'
    - Robin Blaser

[Louis Dudek]
Louis Dudek, together with Irving Layton and Raymond Souster, founded Contact Press in 1952, a venture which would publish most of the important Canadian poets of the 1950s and 1960s. In 1956 he established the McGill Poetry Series, which launched the careers of Leonard Cohen and Daryl Hine.

In 1968 Dudek advised Tim Inkster (then an English student at University College, University of Toronto) to abandon publishing in favour of distribution. Sage advice, which Inkster (thirty-five years later) is still trying to master.

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Contents © 2003 The Porcupine's Quill, Inc. - Updated: 13 September 2003 by Tim Inkster
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