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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This item is taken from PN Review 93, Volume 20 Number 1, September - October 1993.

News & Notes
C.H SISSON was made a Companion of Honour for his services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in April, shortly after his 79th birthday.

Faber & Faber have issued DEREK WALCOTT'S Nobel Lecture: The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory. It is among the most lyrical Nobel lectures ever delivered, a high flight of metaphor, a celebration of the tenuousness of memory in lands and among peoples where history has been deliberately erased or lost in the tidesweeps of violent change. In tones perilously close to the sentimental,Walcott warns against the falsifications of nostalgia, advocating the solid 'occluded sanctities', real rocks and foliage, flesh and dialect: 'All of the Antilles, every island, is an effort of memory: every mind, every racial biography culminating in amnesia and fog. Pieces of sunlight through the fog and sudden rainbows, arcs-en-ciel. That is the effort, the labour of the Antillean imagination, rebuilding its gods from bamboo frames, phrase by phrase.'

On April Fool's Day the Swedish Academy took the unusual step of honouring a Finnish writer who writes in Finnish, PAAVO H AAVIKKO, with the Nordic Prize worth 250,000 Swedish crowns.This is the second-largest prize in Scandinavia, the largest being the Nobel. Haavikko is an enormously prolific poet, polemicist, novelist and apocalyptic historian, a man so insistently without illusions that he can at times make Jeremiah sound positively cheerful. His poems, the core of his work, are hugely diverse and accomplished. In 1991 a major Selected Poems, in Anselm Hollo's translation, appeared in Britain.

In May, literary awards dispensed by the Society of Authors put substantial sums into poets' pockets. The GREGORY AWARDS for the under-30s went to Eleanor Brown, Joel Lane, Deryn Rees-Jones, Sean Boustead,Tracey Herd and Angela McSeveney. Glyn Maxwell received a SOMERSET MAUGHAM AWARD for foreign travel. CHOLMONDELEY AWARDS for Poets went to Patricia Beer, George Mackay Brown, P. J. Kavanagh and Michael Longley. A TRAVELLING SCOLARSHIP went to Donald Davie.

The British Council's monthly British Book News, once a vital bibliographical and critical journal, latterly largely a bibliographical tool, is to perish in December, saving the Council a reported £200,000. It should have been possible to reduce the cost of producing this unique resource, popular in British Council offices and in libraries of every sort throughout the world.There are not enough paying subscribers, it is said: but a forward-looking publishing industry might have been asked to support BBN had it been more thriftily run. The Council will launch'a new product' at the 1994 Frankfurt Book Fair -something designed specifically for Eastern Europe.

The American magazine Parnassus has devoted a huge 476 page double-issue to 'the long poem', with reviews and specimens. In his preface editor Herb Leibowitz, who gives the impression of being one of the tenacious, big-hearted magazine impresarios of recent decades, recalls William Carlos Williams's phrase for long-poem writers: 'the Babe Ruth syndrome - lording it over the more humble practitioners of the lyric:This intriguing, inexhaustible issue - Poe would have hated it is available from 41 Union Square West, Room 804, New York, NY 10003, USA at $15 plus $2.00 for readers living outside the United States.

'…the belief that women's writing and issues could be the foundation of an inspirational, financially viable list…' the Virago Keepsake to Celebrate Twenty Years of Publishing was given away here in June to mark the survival of a publishing venture which has, in certain undeniable ways, changed the face of British publishing and reading. Its turbulent history - a clash of personalities and corporate options - should be written soon.

Ursula Owen, one of the founding team, who retired a couple of years ago to help formulate Labour Party cultural policy, is now to edit Index on Censorship. And the always controversial and generally much loved (especially by her authors) Carmen Callil, whose brain-child Virago was, has been liberated from Chatto & Windus and given a wider brief within the Random Century empire which she has served for a long time. The future of the Chatto poetry list is uncertain.

Selective quotation made The Satanic Verses look pretty nasty to millions of Muslim readers. But falsification of context and deliberate manipulation of opinion are not the prerogative of fundamentalist mullahs. In Scotland, on a small but alarmingly intense scale, the Campaign for Real Education, through its spokesman Nick Seaton, laid into EDWIN MORGAN because he wrote the poem 'Stobhill', available for 22 years and long a popular anthology piece in schools. Seaton found it 'pornographic and licentious, encouraging the wrong kinds of ideas in young minds.'ATory member of the Commons education select committee believed the poem 'glorified rape' Evidently neither gentleman read the entire poem, but that did not inhabit them mounting a virulent campaign. The first headline in the Scottish Sunday Express read 'Fury at Gang Rape Lessons.' Then, more shocking still, 'Head Backs Rape Poem', with selective quotations from one section of this long, vivid and harrowing piece. Professor Morgan was to give prizes for verse-speaking at a public ceremony. 'Row Over Rape Poem Professor Presenting Kids Prizes', 'Pupils Barred from"Porn" Poem Class '. Outrage mounted (within the Press and the reactionary pressure group): 'Council Backs Rape Poem Prof, '"Obscene" Poem Defended ' and then, 'Parent Power Fails to Block Poet ' Still, 'Parents Snub Poet Who Wrote About Gang Rape '. The rage spilled over into the English papers and the issue was hotly debated on radio.This politically motivated moral fatwa cannot but damage the author and affect the future reception of his work. Only the Scotsman considered, and refuted, the charge against him.

GRAAT sounds as if it ought by rights to hail from Holland. In fact the letters indicate a journal of the Groupes de Recherches Anglo-Américaines de l'Université François Rabelais de Tours.Their tenth issue, Traductions, passages: le domaine anglais, edited by poet and translator Stephen Romer, collects thirteen essays in French on subjects ranging from Chateaubriand and Milton (the author of Mémoires d'outre-tombe undertook a prose translation of Paradise Lost , and praised Milton for having told 'the story, of a God who, from the beginning of time, devotes… himself to death in order to ransom man from death') to Pound and Paris - the latter a typically illuminating essay by Jean-Michel Rabaté.

Beckett is present in GRAAT in a suggestive, if not always persuasive, psychoanalytical essay on his activities as self-translator, by Ciaran Ross; but it is less familiar figures, or once-famous ones like Valéry Larbaud, who fare best under these omnium gatherum conditions. Cecily Mackworth, long an apologist for Larbaud, properly reminds us that 'Ie domaine anglais' was a phrase of his.

The leading essay has Yves Bonnefoy explaining why he's been for once forced to abrogate the poetry for poetry' principle in translating Shakespeare's narrative verse into French.What would Bonnefoy make of Pound's remarkable claim (made in 1913 in 'The Road to Paris' and quoted here by Ginette Roy writing from Nanterre on D.H. Lawrence) that 'for the best part of a thousand years English poets have gone to school to the French'; in Venus and Adonis and TheRape of Lucrece, as FT. Prince emphasises in the edition from which Bonnefoy has been working, the crucial figure was Ovid. (J.P)

The remarkable German novelist and writer Gert Hofmann died just as this issue of PN Review was going to press. He was born in 1931. His novels, including The Spectacle at the Tower, Our Conquest and The Parable of the Blind made considerable impact in Britain and the United States, with their very different narratives using a kind of literalized allegory to explore crucial German - and European - themes of the war and post-war.

Hofmann received the Döblin Prize, the Prix Italia, and other awards. The Times described him as the most powerful writer to emerge from Germany after Böll.

The French poet ANDRÉ FRÉNAUD -Burgundian by birth - died in Paris in June. He was 86. He spent most of his working life with the French Railways, finding time for his taut, anti-rhetorical poetry. Ironic, tender, toughly laconic, he was like Camus troubled by the absence of God, with an urgent metaphysical thirst that remained unsatisfied. His tutelary spirits are LesRois Mages. His early poem'épitaphe'declares that, when he presents his honest, unfudged slate to Nothingness,

Viens mon fils, dira-t-il de ses dents froides,
dans le sein dont tu es digne.
 je m'étendrai dans sa douceur
.

J.K ANNAND, the editor, poet and teacher, died in Edinburgh in June at the age of 85. He was passionate in the cause of Scottish poetry from the moment he read MacDiarmid's Sangschaw as a schoolboy in 1925. He wrote poetry of his own and edited the journal Lallans for a decade from 1973. He devoted his literary life and energy to the cause of poetry in Scots.

The poet, radio producer and writer SASHA MOORSOM (Lady Young) died in June after a long illness. TIBOR CSERES, the Hungarian writer, died in June in Budapest at the age of 78. And the Cuban-born novelist (and onetime poet) SEVERO SARDUY, associated in Paris with Barthes and the Tel Quel group, died of Aids in Paris in June at the age of 56.

This item is taken from PN Review 93, Volume 20 Number 1, September - October 1993.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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