5 [actual symbol not reproducible] is a thirty-five-part sequence of interlocking poems that form a vast, brilliant allegory, combining themes of magic, spiritual transcendence and exploration. In luminously crafted verse, Christopher combines such seemingly disparate subjects as the lives of Harry Houdini and the English mystic and mathematician John Dee (who invented a language in which he communicated with angels); the brief, stormy collaboration between Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh; the Nazi occupation of an Aegean island; the descent of Persephone to the underworld; lunar cartography, and the twin motifs of space voyages and Arctic explorations; and the emblematic characters of Shakespeare's Tempest. All of these themes and characters emanate from a single night in an enormous city in which it is 5[actual symbol not reproducible]. 5[actual symbol not reproducible] is surely one of the most important long poems by an American poet in recent times. The volume also contains twenty-five new lyric and narrative poems, with subjects ranging from Vietnam and Bosnia to life on remote Pacific islands, from the elegiac to the surreal. Most of these poems first appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and The Paris Review. Anthony Hecht has written that "Christopher's poetry is not merely extraordinarily good, but seems altogether in a class by itself." And in this, his fifth volume of poetry in twelve years, Christopher has further established himself as one of America's most distinguished and original poets.
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Used availability for Nicholas Christopher's 5 Degrees
January 1995 : USA Hardback
January 1995 : UK Paperback
January 1986 : UK Paperback