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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 69, Volume 16 Number 1, September - October 1989.

News & Notes
There were giants in those days, and some survive. One is Kenyon Review which celebrates its fiftieth year with an extended issue for Winter 1989. As well as its customary complement of fiction, poetry and criticism there is to be a supplement reprinting prose from 'the war years'. Edited by Philip D. Church, it includes pieces by such Kenyon contributors as Lionel Trilling, John Crowe Ransom, John Peale Bishop, Austin Warren, and Eliseo Vivas.

Readers have asked about Latife Tekin and 'Rubbish Road' published - in the first English translation - in PNR 67. This extract was from her second novel, Berci Kristin - Tales from the Garbage Hills - published in 1984. Latife Tekin was born in a village in central Anatolia in 1957 and came to Istanbul in 1966. She grew up in a poor quarter of the city, seeing at first hand something of the gecekondu, the shanty town areas described in that novel. Her first novel had appeared in 1983, Sevgili Arsiz Olum - Dear Cheeky Death - a story based on her own childhood and adolescence. Her controversial work Gece Dersleri - Night Lessons - was published in 1986, and her most recent novel, Buzdan Kiliclar - Swords of Ice - returns to the theme of the survival strategies of the poor and the marginalized. Her novels have been translated into Italian, German and Dutch.

The Ministry of Home Affairs in South Africa recently budgeted Rl,238,500 for a programme to promote its public relations profile, features of which have been the banning of 728 publications and 96 films, and characterizing journalists as accepting bribes "to do the work of Satan". A different approach to culture and politics may be read in Writers from South Africa (published by TriQuarterly Books), the report of an international symposium of poets, novelists and critics held at Northwestern University, Illinois. The dialogue ranges widely over the conditions and contradictions of South African literature today, of writers engaged in a critique of racialism and repression, proposing a set of alternative values to those of the increasingly totalitarian state culture. The transcript of the symposium is minimally edited but does offer a vivid, polemical sense of the event and the issues.

William Scammell writes to point out that the layout of the legend 'after Mandelstam' under his name in PNR 67 might have suggested that the poems 'Trains' and 'Accident' were translations, whereas they were his own poems and only 'Tristia' was a version of Mandelstam.

The 14th International Writers' Reunion was held this June in Lahti, a little north of Helsinki. Those who attended will know what it was they were 're-uniting' about and what 'the living values maintained by literature' are, though notions of literature as a reversal of dominant values (a Bakhtinian carnival?) were invoked in the publicity. At this international gathering - with a menu of 'Literature: Feast of Values' - scholars were to have addressed not well-wrought urns and autonomous artifacts but no less a question than: does literature stand for or against order? Even: does literature stand for or against evil?

Atlas Press must surely be one of the most enterprising and determined of the smaller British publishers. June saw the Atlas collection of short stories and prose pieces by Harry Mathews, with a memoir of George Perec (Mathews is the only English-writer of the Oulipo group, whose members included Perec, Queneau and Calvino) and a sort of autobiography. September will see the sixth Atlas Anthology, principally of modern German writers. In November Atlas publish the translation by Alexis Lykiard of Alfred Jarry's novel, Days & Nights, and the first English translation (by Jon Graham) of The Immaculate Conception - the collaborative 'automatic writing' sequence by Breton and Eluard. A catalogue may be obtained from 10 Park Street, London SE1 9AB.

Jose Lezama Lima's Paradiso, published in 1966, prompted the critical controversy that still pursues his work, disparaged by the Cuban authorities but praised by Paz, Cortazar, and Vargas Llosa. The publishers of a new critical monograph on Lima seem anxious to fuel the dispute, speaking of his 'mystical quest for illumination through obscurity, the calculated cultivation of naivete...and a modernist (even postmodernist) narrative style that conveys a mystical (essentially medieval) world view'. And nothing is but what is not...

September's international colloquium organized by the British Association for Valéry Studies at St Andrews University is entitled Musique, Mystique, Mathematique. Among the interdisciplinary programme of papers will be several on the theme of music in the poetry of T.S. Eliot, Verlaine, Claudel and Valéry. Full details of the programme are available from Professor Paul Gifford, Department of French, St Andrews University.

Finding the time, despite larger issues, those who manage these things in Hungary have been busy. The Cultural Minister has produced the calculation that Hungarian studies are being pursued by 260 teachers at 90 universities in 26 countries. The Ministry also announces that a Hungarian-Irish Society has been established in Budapest, under the chairmanship of the director of the publishing house Corvina. For Corvina, the Union of Hungarian Writers organized a panel of editors to help the poet Eva Toth produce an anthology of contemporary Hungarian literature, to be published simultaneously in Russian, German, French and English. One might imagine the Arts Council embracing Anvil, Bloodaxe and Carcanet on such a project. Less ambitiously but agreeably, with the advice of the Mallarmé society and speeches by the poets Eugene Guillevic and Jean Rousselot, a plaque has been placed on the house where the Hungarian poet Gyula Illyes lived from 1922 to 1926 during his exile in Paris.

There are more literary awards than one can keep pace with, except to note that many seem more notable for their prize-money than for their literary importance. One that does command respect and confer esteem (as well as £1400) is the Scott Moncrieff Prize for translation from French into English. This year it has been awarded to Derek Mahon for his translation of the poems of Philippe Jaccottet in the selection published by Viking Penguin, to be reviewed in the next issue of PNR.

An extract from Claudio Magris's extraordinary cultural travelogue of Central Europe, Danube (to be reviewed in PNR), appeared in the thirty seventh and - we are told - the last issue of END Journal, beside a long essay by E.P. Thompson and interviews with Neal Ascherson and the poet June Jordan. The journal went out in style, but the editors say they are fundraising to launch an even better magazine of radical European politics and culture. Copies of issue 37 are still available for £2 from 11 Goodwin Street, London N4 3HQ.

The Cheltenham festival of literature, October 1st to 15th, with the title Literature: Tradition and Revolution, announces that participants will include Doris Lessing, Dennis Potter, Fleur Adcock, Terry Eagleton, Michael Hofmann, John Fuller, Frederic Raphael and Ken Smith. Full programme details will be available at the end of August, from the Town Hall, Cheltenham GL50 1QA. Conveniently, a Reader of Doris Lessing's work is to be published by Jonathan Cape. It does contain a small number of fugitive pieces and a short albeit slight argument refuting the division of her work into 'imaginative' and 'realistic' categories, but most of the book consists of stories from the Collected Stories and extracts from the novels.

After a period of stagnation - to judge from official publications, that is - there is something of a resurgence of Russian poetry, particularly in the informal clubs. This poetic 'new wave' is briefly described in the current issue of Europe, then exemplified in fifty pages of Russian poems rendered into French principally by Christine Zeytounian-Belous, with notes about the poets. Most of this issue of the monthly magazine looks at literature and perestroika, at 'ce panorama bouleversé', in a series of analytic and impressionistic, euphoric and sceptical essays.

A 'Readability' computer program has appeared with 'nine separate routines for improving everything from newspaper articles through novels to technical manuals' (maybe encompassing the novel/manual La Vie mode d'emploi). One program claims its place in literary theory:

"Reality Integrated Systems management (REALISM) provides an excellent user environment across the entire system, with tailored security profiles for every user. Full on-screen help facilities at any input-prompt, together with comprehensive 'window' capabilities ... a batch scheduler, advanced English paragraph builder, office automation, system administration facilities and audit controls... a powerful, friendly and easily configured user interface to the Reality Operating System."

Nicolas Tredell proposes this post-structuralist gloss: "the program foregrounds classic realism's contribution to the imaginary resolution of real contradictions by interpellating the reader into an imaginary subject-position within ideology to provide narcissistic confirmation of his/her identity and scopophiliac gratification of transparent access to the supposedly coherent and controllable real world."

This item is taken from PN Review 69, Volume 16 Number 1, September - October 1989.



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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