The career of Eli Mandel (1922–1992) was one of the most prolific and distinguished in all of Canadian literature, yet in recent years his work has gone unsung compared with that of such peers as Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Robert Kroetsch, Irving Layton, and P. K. Page. Though he was a critic, anthologist, and editor of national prominence, Mandel’s legacy resides most securely in his poetry, which earned many accolades.
From Room to Room: The Poetry of Eli Mandel presents thirty-five of Mandel’s best poems written over four decades, from the 1950s to the 1980s. The selection covers the most prominent themes in Mandel’s work, including his Russian-Jewish heritage, his Saskatchewan upbringing, his interest in classical and biblical archetypes, and his concern for the political and social issues of his time. The book also highlights the way in which Mandel’s work bridged the formal attributes of modernist poetry with contemporary, sometimes experimental, poetics.
Complete with a scholarly introduction by Peter Webb and a literary afterword by Andrew Stubbs, From Room to Room makes a worthy addition to the Laurier Poetry Series, which presents affordable editions of contemporary Canadian poetry for use in the classroom and the enjoyment of anyone wishing to read some of the finest poetry Canada has to offer.
``The book cover . .. The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli — brilliantly evokes Mandel's attraction to the macabre, the Gothic, the tantalizingly irrational and the subterranean. ... And the selection of poems, drawn judiciously from Mandel's earliest collection to his final unpublished verse, ably demonstrates Mandel's range of interests and his mastery of conventional as well as experimental forms. They also show his inexhaustible fascination with the suppleness of words, the wild interplay of madness and reason, the sage contortions of meaning in our subconscious and the need to speak politically. ''- Michael Higgins, Telegraph-Journal (St. John, NB), March 12, 2011