By Dimitris Lyacos

Price: £8.95

ISBN: 978-1-910323-87-8

110x170mm, paperback, 58pp

Despite being first in the publication history of the Poena Damni trilogy, Dimitris Lyacos’s The First Death is the latest installment of the narrative sequence. A booklet found by the protagonist of Z213: EXIT during the course of his voyage, The First Death tells the story of a marooned man on a desert island – or has him tell it. In a sequence of fourteen sections the crippled protagonist struggles for his survival. Through an inexhaustible fecundity of imagery and a sense of unquenchable vitality in the midst of denial and despair a relentless fight develops between the character and the elements, as well as his physical and mental disintegration. Lyacos brings to bear a formidable culture in which fragments of ancient Greek are embedded in a supple modern idiom, and a variety of classical and biblical references are seamlessly integrated into the text. The violence and intensity of his vision combined with the headlong energy of his verse reveal a tragic inner landscape. The protagonist here could be a modern Philoctetes or an inverted version of Crusoe; but as the ordeal on the island comes to an end one is not finally sure whether one has encountered simply a wretched stump of humanity or, rather, a proudly self-mutilated god.