A gathering of artful essays by one of Poland’s most translated post-war writers is here brought to a new audience. Poet and essayist Zbigniew Herbert takes an intriguing look at the cultural, artistic, and aesthetic legacy of 17th-century Holland. These sixteen essays reveal Herbert’s discriminating artistic eye and poetic sensibility, one that revels in irony, humour, and a satirist’s appreciation of the absurd.
An inveterate museum-goer, he focuses on the art of the Dutch masters, using it as a stepping-off point for a thoroughly individual and entertaining examination of the foibles, genius, and character of the Dutch people as a whole, from Tulipmania to the devastating stirrings of early capitalism. Part travelogue, the result is an unorthodox and revealing glimpse into the past that gives us a keener understanding not only of a distant people, but of ourselves as well.