On Benjamin Fondane

Poet, critic, man of the theater, movie director, Benjamin Fondane was the most daring of the existentialists, a metaphysical anarchist, affirming the individual against those great abstractions that limit human freedom—the State, History, the Law, the Idea. Join us as we explore his work with author Andrei Codrescu, Professor Bruce Baughand translator Mitchell Abidor.

Benjamin Fondane was that rarest of poets: an experimental formalist with a powerful lyric poetic voice; a renegade surrealist who was also a highly original existential philosopher; a self-consciously Jewish poet of diaspora and loss, whose last manuscripts made it out of Drancy in 1944 just before his deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he was murdered, yet whose poetry speaks of an overflowing plenitude. Cinepoems and Others (New York Review of Books) is the first volume of Fondane’s poetry to appear in English, and it includes a broad sample of his work, from the coruscating and comic cinepoems of his surrealist years, to philosophical meditations, to poems that in their secular and mystical Judaism confront the historical calamity—and imaginative triumph—of European Jewry.

In English. Free and open to the public. No RSVP necessary.

Mitchell Abidor books include the Victor Serge anthology Anarchists Never Surrender, Jean Jaurès’ A Socialist History of the French Revolution, Selected Correspondence of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, and Emmanuel Bove’s A Raskolnikoff, as well as numerous anthologies of writings from French working-class history.

Bruce Baugh is a Professor of Philosophy at Thompson Rivers University, Canada. He is the author of French Hegel: From Surrealism to Postmodernism (2003) and of many articles on Benjamin Fondane, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, Gilles Deleuze and others for journals such as the Continental Philosophy Review, the Journal of Value Inquiry, the Journal for the British Society for Phenomenology. From 2005 to 2015, he was Executive Editor of Sartre Studies International. He is currently working on a book on walking and philosophy.

Andrei Codrescu is the author of several works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, most recently The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess (Princeton Univ Press, 2009), The Poetry Lesson (PUP, 2010), Whatever Gets You through the Night: a Story of Sheherezade and the 1001 Nights (PUP, 2011), Bibliodeath (with Life in Footnotes) (Antibookclub 2012), and So Recently Rent a World: New and Selected Poetry (Coffee House Press, 2012). He founded Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Books and Ideas and has been a regular commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered since 1983.