Emilio Ambasz’s Book List
The books on my list have all influenced me profoundly. How can I extricate them from my memory? They are now substantially part of me. And I could go on and on.
In addition to individual titles on my list, I must mention the following:
The dramas of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The world had to wait thousands of years until equal dramatic greatness found their likes in Cervantes and Shakespeare. These are plays I read and reread; they are always illuminating and moving.
Aristophanes’s The Clouds, The Wasps, The Birds, Lysistrata, and The Frogs are those I cherish the most among his eleven surviving plays. His powers of ridicule were feared and acknowledged by influential contemporaries; a debunker extraordinaire.
Jorge Luis Borges: his essays and stories (not his poetry). J. M. Coetzee said of Borges: “He, more than anyone, renovated the language of fiction and thus opened the way to a remarkable generation of Spanish American novelists.” A stylist of great fabulist imagination, superb elegance, and economy of means.
The poetry of Jorge Guillen and Wallace Stevens: one Spanish, the other American. They are for me the poets of pure poetry; theirs are poems of a rarely surpassed lyrical elegance and exquisite imagery.