Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This item is taken from PN Review 74, Volume 16 Number 6, July - August 1990.

News & Notes
We apologise to readers for the abundance of misprints in PN Review 73. The move to a new method of generating type has produced serious teething troubles.

PN Review 75 (Volume 17, Number 1) will introduce a new layout and design. We are also introducing a new schedule of production so that the uneven pattern of delivery to readers should give way to a punctual bi-monthly periodicity.

On 8 January the Spanish poet Jaime Gil de Biedma died in Barcelona after a long illness. He was 60. He was one of the most intense and individual of contemporary Spanish poets, and also one of the least copious. He published his first book in 1959 and wrote his last poems in 1982. He was a man of business, working for a major tobacco company and spending many years in the Philippines. He will be remembered as a key figure in the '1950s generation'; but what is more, he will continue to be read. As a love poet, an ironist and lyricist, he is in a class of his own. His work is readily accessible to English readers in part at least because he learned crucial lessons from Eliot and Auden; and Cernuda was his Spanish model.

The poet and film-maker John Ormond died in Cardiff on 4 May at the age of 67. He was a Welsh writer who let his Welshness 'look after itself'. He was no less a Welshman for that. Apprenticing himself to Dylan Thomas and Vernon Watkins, two very different masters, he was slow to develop a distinctive style. His work as a journalist on Picture Post and the South Wales Evening Post were followed by years as a distinguished documentary producer for BBC Wales, where in the 1960s and 1970s he was responsible for a series of memorable films about Anglo-Welsh writers, including his old mentors Watkins and Thomas. It was in 1965 that he began to write the poems by which he will be remembered, and his Selected Poems (Poetry Wales Press, 1987) provides an excellent overview.

No writer has been better served by a scholar-advocate than Ford Madox Ford was by Sondra Stang, who died earlier this year after a long illness. As Professor of English at Washington University, St Louis, she used all her considerable resources in the promotion and re-publication of Ford's work. Her own monograph on Ford, and the critical anthology The Presence of Ford Madox Ford, advanced Ford's proper claims, and she strove to bring readers back to the books when Ford had become for many a footnote in the central Modernist movement. She edited The Ford Madox Ford Reader (Carcanet and Paladin) and at the time of her death was preparing a collection of his periodical criticism and an edition of his own French translation of The Good Soldier. Despite the painstaking nature of her scholarship, she was the most lively and animated of partisans. She was also an excellent writer on cookery: Ford may have been her mentor there as well.

The Spanish writer and publisher Carlos Barral (the Barral of the great publishing house Seix Barral) died in Spain earlier this year. Anthony Edkins's tribute to him will appear in PNR 75.

The Czech poet Ondra Lysohorsky, whom British readers will remember as one of the contributors to the Cape Editions series (in Ewald Osers's translations), and whose work has been widely published in the West, died on 19 December 1989 in Bratislava. He was 84. Lysohorsky suffered serious persecution in post-war Czechoslovakia partly at least because he insisted on writing in Lachian, a minority Slav dialect, to demonstrate his solidarity with the miners and the poor of the Ostrava region. From his first books, published in the 1930s, he aspired to be the regional poet of Lachia. His Lachian poems were banned for forty years. He wrote in German as well, however, and his work enjoyed considerable currency outside his native land. His motto was Pugno ergo sum.

Julian Symons has received the greatest accolade a crime writer can hope for, the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award, for his achievement in the field. He is honoured not only for his original work but for his critical writings on the crime novel, in particular Bloody Murder (Faber, 1972), which has gone some way towards raising the genre itself to the level of 'serious literature' - a status grudgingly - if at all - accorded to even the best crime novels.

The Cervantes Prize, Spain's highest literary distinction, has been presented by the King to the Venezuelan writer Augusto Roa Bastos, whose work over a long period has explored the problematical interface between European and native traditions. Several Latin American writers have now received this valuable award - causing some irritation among Spanish writers.

Paul Quarrington has won the 1989 Governor General's Literary Award for English-language fiction in Canada for Whale Music.

French literary sleuths are searching for the fifteen love letters written by Alain-Fournier to his mistress, the actress Simone, in the month preceding his death in the Great War (22 September 1914). A lifelong friend of the actress, Jacques Paget, is writing her biography and appeals for help: the famous letters, which he has handled many times in the past, have completely disappeared.

Stop Press: Fournier's literary executor Alain Rivière advises us that the letters were stolen from Simone during her lifetime (she died in 1985, having promised them to the Bibliothèque Nationale) and it would now cost a fortune to buy them back from the various collectors who shared the spoils. Bad news, too, from the hard-pressed Musée Alain-Fournier at La Chapelle d'Angillon (Cher) which is having to auction part of its unique collections. 'Is there a white knight in England,' cries M. Rivière, 'who will save for France its precious patrimony?' (D.A.)

Anyone researching the composition of works by W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, Robert Graves, or wanting to root about in the thirty-three manuscript volumes of Virginia Woolf's diaries, would have to face the formidable Lola Szladits at some stage. As Curator of the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library for twenty years, she lived for her work; even in the case of minor holdings, like the Louis MacNeice papers, she knew what was there. Unlike the librarians in larger institutions, she purchased with a discriminating eye for the shape of the collection and its strengths. In her charming selection of letters from the collection, Other People's Mail, she writes that 'they have been assembled by one who had a daily opportunity to read them, and it is with humble gratitude for the privilege that they are shared with a wider reading public'. This sense of privilege, and of gratitude discharged by scholarly publication, she expected from serious readers in the Collection, and in her practical, elegant way provided them with fundamental support. Born in Budapest in 1923, she died in New York City on 30 March 1990. (R.M.)

This item is taken from PN Review 74, Volume 16 Number 6, July - August 1990.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image