THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE DEAD by Danilo Kis

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE DEAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this elegant and inkhorny collection, Kis (A Tomb for Boris Davidovich) displays the great range of his literary melancholia; he is an Eastern European Sir Thomas Browne. He deals with gnostic schismatics and a Mandelstam-like Russian-Yiddish poet and the origins of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; and he writes in a variety of different rhetorical styles, the most striking of which here is that in "The Legend of the Sleepers"--about resurrection, written in prose-poetry of vigorous and unbending purity. Kis's felicity is to apply highly refined literary techniques to the historically horrifying; but here it soon begins to seem more a response of convenience. Most satisfying is the Borges-like title story--a woman finding a miraculous book that summarizes the entire lives of all the dead, and reading about her recently passed-on father. It is not the metaphysical imagination that so much impresses in this story as the economy and dignity of the "encyclopedia" 's digest. A bit too thin-aired and self-conscious, but a pleasure for any lover of style.

ISBN: 374-14826-0
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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