Too Late for Man: Essays
William Ospina, translated by Nathan Budoff
ISBN 1-57129-018-4 1995 paper $15.95
A provocative collection of essays, Too Late for Man is at once a scathing and poetic critique of the pitfalls of modern society. Ospina takes a broad view of the psychic and intellectual illnesses that plague modern man. Throughout the text, Ospina cleverly weaves his own uniquely Latin American experience with the broader world view. The result is a compilation that is certain to have an effect in all registers. Ospina has a remarkable talent for engaging, provoking, even enraging the reader. Too Late for Man is a political and philosophical inquiry of the first order.
Recognized as one of Latin America’s foremost writers, William Ospina was born in the Andes mountains of Colombia in 1954. He has published four volumes of poetry and four collections of essays. His 1992 collection of poems, El Pais del Viento, won the National Poetry Prize. Too Late for Man has been reviewed in Choice, El Pais, The Boston Book Review and other publications.
“Millennial fare, an eclectic jeremiad, nothing if not stirring, by the Colombian philosopher-poet, William Ospina…the language of his call for a resacralized world “beyond statistics” give off not merely pace and learning, but a poetry quite its own.” -American Book Review
“Ospina’s good prose submerges us, isolating us from our surroundings, and subdues us with its enchanting rhythm, its conceptual feints…the fits of humor or sparks of irony [are] strategically placed, like shields to palliate possible objections. There is no experience more suggestive and exalting than that of confronting a style that seems to unearth energies and attributes of the language that have until now remained undiscovered.” -Mario Vargas Llosa, in El Pais
“This new translation brings an important collection of Ospina’s work into the hands of the English speaking public . . . Ospina writes that ‘restored to its true proportions, European culture will let us hear the buzz of other cultures.” -Boston Book Review
“The prize-winning Colombian poet/essayist contends in this collection that modern Man, heir to the effects of positivism and utilitarian practicality, has lost touch with the magical, spiritual elements so central (and so essential) to human society from time immemorial. Rather than herald humanity’s triumph over nature, the twin mandates of Produce-Consume have reduced us to a frightful state devoid of all ethical constraints, where “the destiny of man is no more than a chain of constantly renewable appetites.” Although Ospina is clearly not a lone voice in sounding this call, he nonetheless does so forcefully, artfully, and poignantly. And despite the gloomy outlook, there may yet be hope for humankind, if we take steps to recapture a sense of awe and humility that has apparently been lost. Highly engaging, this work is recommended for general readership.” -Library Journal