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This item is taken from PN Review 66, Volume 15 Number 4, March - April 1989.

News & Notes
North African writers continue to make waves in the wake of Tahar Ben Jelloun's 1987 Prix Goncourt success. Francophone writers in North Africa now seem more prolific and more respected than ever before, and the Institut Français in London is marking their achievements with a series of monthly seminars. Jean Dejeux, doyen of Maghebin (North African) criticism, opened the series in December at North London Polytechnic. Other contributors, will include the Moroccan poet and essayist Abdellatif Laabi and the feminist writer Assia Djebar. Novelist Azouz Begag who was born in France of Algerian immigrant parents, will be visiting Loughborough University (details from Alec Hargreaves, Department of European Studies) and Tunisian writer Albert Memmi is contributing to a conference on Race, Discourse and Power in France, at Leeds University in March (details from Max Silverman, Department of French).

Just before Christmas I was asked by the Customs at Leningrad airport to open my rucksack. Among the items in which the official took a particular interest was a sheaf of leaflets about PNR, though it seemed the wrong moment to suggest he might like to take out a subscription. He set the leaflets aside, as though he might confiscate them: the possibility arose that PNR might be a crucial test for glasnost. But when he asked if the books in the bottom of the rucksack were Russian and I explained that they were works by Lenin - purchased at remarkably low prices in a hard currency shop - I appeared to have stumbled upon the password. The PNR leaflets and I were allowed through.

The Saltire Society aims to restore Scotland 'to its proper place as one of the great creative forces in European civilization'. It recently awarded the Scottish Books of the Year prize to Neal Ascherson's Games with Shadows and Tom Nairn's The Enchanted Glass (both published by Century Hutchinson) and the Scottish Best First Book of the Year to Raymond Vettese for his collection of poems in Scots, The Richt Noise (Lines Review Editions). The Society has also issued four 'Saltire Self-Portraits': excerpts from Hugh MacDiarmid's Lucky Poet; an autobiographical essay by Naomi Mitchison, concentrating on her involvement with the problems of the Highlands; a candid autobiographical letter by Sidney Goodsir Smith; and an essay 'on his present state and origins' by Alasdair Gray. The Society's address: 9 Fountain Close, High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TF.

Ezra Pound lived from 1909 to 1914 in a house in Church Walk, Kensington. The London Committee of English Heritage has turned down a proposal to put up a blue plaque to Pound on the house. English Heritage consider it is too soon to reach a decision about Pound's wartime broadcasts.

The Cumberland Poetry Review (Nashville, Volume VIII, Number 1) has a special issue about the work of Donald Davie. The issue marks his retirement from the editorial board of the magazine and his return to England. It includes two essays on Davie's poetry, ten new poems, and an extensive, engaging 'conversation' with Laurence Lerner and Vereen Bell.

Michael Hamburger was awarded the Schlegel-Tieck prize for his Paul Celan: Poems in 1981. Anvil Press is publishing a revised and enlarged edition of his bilingual selection of Celan's poetry, adding forty-three new translations to the earlier edition. Carcanet is to publish a new collection of Michael Hamburger's essays in autumn of this year.

Bei Dao, the pen-name of Zhao Zhenkai, was born in Peking in 1949 and was a member of the Red Guard movement during the Cultural revolution. Later he took part in the protest against the dictatorship of Mao Zedong, and his own underground writing was influential in the Democracy Movement. Last year he worked at Durham University, and this year has taken up a fellowship at Iowa University. His work is now becoming available to English readers. In Index (10/88) he is interviewed by Michael March. His collection of short stories Waves, written during the last phase of the Cultural Revolution, was published by Heinemann in a translation by Bonnie S. McDougall and Susan Tenent Cooke, and a collection of his poems, The August Sleepwalker has been published by Anvil in a translation also by McDougall.

Finnish literature is sometimes construed as a body of folklore and The Kalevala, with some assistance from Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books. English readers have the excuse that they are less well served than other Europeans when it comes to translations from Finnish literature, but matters are improving. Otava have published a new translation of The Kalevala by Eine Friberg. Bo Carpelan's novel Voices at the Late Hour has recently been translated by Irma Margareta Martin, published by the University of Georgia Press, and Carpelan's Axel is due from Carcanet in March in a new translation by David MacDuff.

"Is it really true that Attila Jozsef... was virtually unknown in his lifetime?... Can the time be held responsible for his death? These are some of the questions..." Or again "Was Miklos Zrinyi, the greatest Hungarian poet of the age, the outstanding commander of the battles against the Turks... killed by a wild boar or was he murdered? Two young scholars have undertaken to tackle the almost unresolvable question: how did Miklos Zrinyi die?" Literary scholarship in PNR is a poor, pallid thing compared with the pages of the Hungarian Book Review.

Most PNR readers will not be entirely familiar with the forms of 'awit' and 'corrido'. They have nothing to do with the agenbite of inwit or early Hemingway, but are metrical romances (of 12 and 8 syllable lines respectively) which constitute a major tradition on Philippine literature from the 18th century to the early 20th. Often deriving from Spanish ballads, chronicles and legends they treat of - for example - saints' lives, folktales, Carolingian, Arthurian, and Classical narratives. Damiana L. Eugenio's study (University of Philippines Press) taxonomizes, anatomizes and anthologizes them, and provides a new year's alternative from Salman Rushdie and magic realism.

A note to amend the recent News & Note concerning Ernesto Sabato. Contrary to what might have appeared in French, Sabato has given numerous interviews, including a book-length dialogue with Jorge Luis Borges, though this has not yet been translated into English. Last summer in La Nacion he gave an interview about the first exhibition of his painting. His work on the Argentine Commission investigating the 'disappeared' has now been completed and published as Nunca Mas (Faber). He would probably not call himself a Marxist, though like many of his generation he is thoroughly versed in Marxism.

Enrique Lihn, who was born in 1929 and died in 1988, was an important prolific poet who remained in Chile during the Pinochet regime but never sacrificed his critical independence as a poet. Perhaps more than any other Latin American poet Lihn was the voice of the politicised, colloquial, ironic 'anti-poetry', winning the once prestigious Casa de las Americas Cuban poetry prize in 1966 with Poesia de Paso. He published at least sixteen volumes of poems with editions in Spain, England and throughout Latin America. His work is in most anthologies and can be a relief to read after the post-Nerudian vogues for wordy surrealist and imagistic poems, as he deflates his poetic ambitions, writing a kind of self-critical poetry. New Directions published The Dark Room and Other Poems in a bilingual edition with translations by Jonathan Cohen, John Felstiner and David Unger.

Publishers' blurb-writers are maintaining their standards. The collection of essays The Arabian Nights in English Literature (edited by Peter L. Caracciolo) is an intriguing and wide-ranging account, affording neat collocations. A four line note that Empson's 'Aubade' links the Japanese invasion of China with match-making genies - "a bedshift flight to a Far Eastern sky" - allows the blurb to claim that Empson is one of the authors "covered" by the book.

Harry Chambers' Peterloo press has launched a new venture: the Peterloo Preview. The first of the projected series is a selection of the work of six new poets, represented by a dozen or so of their poems and a prose statement about their work. The writers are Donna Dickenson, Stephen Duncan, Tony Roberts, Raymond Tallis, Brian Waltham and Maureen Wilkinson. The book is available from 2 Kelly Gardens, Calstock, Cornwall PL18 9SA (£4.95).

The recent edition of T.S. Eliot's letters is prompting many a scholarly note and revision. David Arkell reports that it was previously thought the Ford book which Eliot sent to Alain-Fournier and which Alain-Fournier found "full of passion and tragic beauty" was one by John Ford the dramatist. Valerie Eliot suggests that it was one by Ford Madox Ford (though a Hueffer at the time) - Ladies Whose Bright Eyes, a new edition of which was published last year by Carcanet with an afterword by C.H. Sisson.

Orwell is coming up for air in Warsaw and Moscow, Index reports. 1984 has appeared in the 'Interesting Book Club' series of the Polish State Publishing House. Two chapters of Animal Farm have appeared in the USSR in the weekly supplement to Izvestiya - with the gloss that the novel is not the attack on socialism that some Western commentators have asserted.

We have learned to read 'inter-textually', and Manchester University Press's new catalogue provides a paradigm. Centrally situated amongst Comics: ideology and power, Visions & Blueprints, Imperialism & popular culture, and Imperialism and juvenile literature is advertised Conservative Party conference: the hidden system.

It's a pleasure to apprise PNR readers of the Mid Northumberland Arts Group's pamphlet Dutch Interiors, a series of poems by Sarah Lawson (Town Hall, Ashington, Northumberland, £1.95) and Littlewood Press's book of poems by Ann Bond, Stepping Westward (Nanholme Centre, Shaw Wood Road, Todmorden, Lancashire, £4.00).

This item is taken from PN Review 66, Volume 15 Number 4, March - April 1989.

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