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In this companion volume to The Tree of Meaning (GP, 2006), Robert Bringhurst collects talks and meditations under the principle that “everything is related to everything else.” His studies of poetry, polyphonics, oral literature, storytelling, translation, mythology, homogeny, cultural ecology, literary criticism and typography all build upon this sense of basic connection. Across the collection emerges a sustained interest in poetry – the existence of a poetry to which poems are answers, an examination of philosophy in poetry, the relationship between poetry and music, and the concept of polyphonics. Bringhurst’s thinking involves the work of poets, musicians and philosophers as varied as Ezra Pound, John Thompson, Don McKay, Empedokles, Parmenides, Aristotle, Skaay, Plato, George Clutesi, Elizabeth Nyman, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Dennis Lee and Glenn Gould. The value Bringhurst places on translation – the process of, the dialogue between one language and another, and the sheer experience of witnessing translation by reading and hearing poems, stories and songs in their original languages – is another strong presence in this collection. Accompanying the English narrative are passages in Tlingit, Haida, Chinese, Greek, German, Cree and Russian, for readers who want to find the patterns and taste some of the vocabulary for themselves, for those interested in meeting the languages part way.
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