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This item is taken from PN Review 59, Volume 14 Number 3, January - February 1988.

News & Notes
Aged 84, Carlos Drummond de Andrade died in Rio de Janeiro this August. His importance in Brazil, throughout South America, and generally in Portuguese-language writing was never matched by the availability of translations of his work into English. There is a handful of striking versions by Elizabeth Bishop, Dudley Fitt's translations in Contemporary Latin-American Poetry stand up well (published in 1942). Virginia de Araujo worked closely with Drummond de Andrade on a selection from the Antologia Poetica published by Carcanet as The Minus Sign in 1981. From the 'Poem with Seven Faces' she quotes: 'When I was born, a crooked angel / the kind that lives in shadow / said: Go Carlos, be gauche in life.' There is an irony and an accuracy in the instruction, an uneasiness of perspective that sharpened the imagination of a great modern poet.

F. Jacqmin writes to remind PNR of the death of Hubert Juin this summer in Paris at the age of sixty-one. He was born in Belgium and became an influential critic of contemporary French literature as well as a prolific poet and novelist whose works often evoke his native Ardennes. His recently published three-volume biography of Victor Hugo is widely regarded as a masterpiece.

With the death of Tewfiq al-Hakim this summer Egypt has lost its most cosmopolitan and experimental writer. Born in Alexandria, he went to Paris in the 'twenties and after legal training there he returned to Egypt to join the Civil Service. As playwright and novelist, his work of the next two decades was marked with a disgust for the corruption endemic in pre-revolutionary Egypt. Plays like Soft Hands (1954) looked optimistically to the development of democracy after the revolution of 1952, but he later became disenchanted and, as in The Anxiety Bank (1967), sharply critical of the state. Often his political critique was marshalled through innovative forms, such as those of the play Fate of a Cockroach (1966). N.G.

Freehold is a collection of John Hewitt's poems which serves as a brief but moving memorial of his death, at the age of eighty, earlier this summer. The poems are selected from half a century's writing by an Ulsterman whose sense of place and its urgencies was informed by a socialist and international sense of history. Freehold is published by Blackstaff Press.

If an association's conferences are any sort of benchmark, the British Comparative Literature Association thrives. At least one PNR reader recalls the strand, at last year's conference in Manchester, running from Christine Brooke-Rose's lecture on 'Ill Wit and Good Humour' via Stephen Bann on the comedy of high art to Laurie Taylor on Goffman's pathology of everyday comedies. The forthcoming conference (at Durham University in December) addresses 'Literature and Philosophy' and includes papers from Bernard Harrison on Forster and G. E. Moore, Jacques Berthoud on Richardson and Marxism, and Jay Bernstein on Beckett and Adorno. Details from Holger Klein, School of Modern Languages, University of East Anglia, Norwich.

California is perhaps more hospitable than Strathclyde to some of Ian Hamilton Finlay's work. Finlay's stone poem 'UNDA' has been installed on a site selected by Sue Finlay - on a lawn, surrounded by newly planted eucalyptus and Japanese black pines, overlooking the Pacific - as part of the Stuart Collection at the University of California, San Diego. The poem is a series of five large engraved stone blocks, quarried in England and carved by Nicholas Sloan. Rough-cut, the stones are carved with four versions of the word 'unda' and the fifth stone carries an editor's wave-like transposition symbol; this symbol moves through the spellings of the other stones: UNA/D, UD/NA, N/UDA, /UNDA. 'The wave sign rolls through the word for wave. . . the rotation of the letters refers to the advancing/rolling movement within the natural wave. The artist relates this movement to the velocity and flow of language.' (Mary Beebe, director of the collection.)

An inaccurate reference was given, in the last issue of PNR, to Michael Hamburger's recent collection of essays. The full title is After the Second Flood: essays on post-war German literature. His earlier collection A Proliferation of Prophets dealt with German authors from Nietzsche to the Second World War. The new book was published by Carcanet in 1986.

The new Literature Director of the Arts Council of Great Britain is Dr Alastair Niven. As well as a member of the Council's Ethnic Minority Arts Monitoring Committee and of the Advisory Panel on Literature, he chaired the Greater London Arts Literature Panel for three years. He edits the Journal of Commonwealth Literature and has edited an anthology of Commonwealth poetry Under Another Sky to be published by Carcanet this Autumn.

In late August Mexico City held its International Festival of Poetry, organized by the poet Homero Aridjis, for the third time after a gap of five years. As well as Octavio Paz and other Mexican poets - and each poet taking part was asked to 'sponsor' a young Mexican writer - the proamme included Yehuda Amichai, Miroslav Holub and Gunter Kunert among the forty poets there. Michael Hamburger attended with Paul Muldoon and Tom Pickard from the U.K. The Pinochet regime prevented Nicanor Parra, at the last moment, from taking up her invitation. Poets' readings in their own language were followed by translations written and read by Mexican poets, though the Japanese poet Kazuko Shiriashi sought a more 'direct' universality by speaking her poems to the accompaniment of a saxophone.

The UK Government is to introduce an Obscene Publications Bill which is likely to propose more restrictive guidelines for publications and broadcasting. The British Publishers' Association has made representations that breaches of good taste should not be deemed a criminal offence, and that criteria for obscenity 'should not be so restrictive as to prevent publication of materials which do not cause actual (sic) harm to readers.' That clarifies that.

Cues for deconstruction are built into the titles of recent Polish novels: A B-Plus in Whaling (not the Great American novel); Opium in Broth (fiction as religion-substitute); The Serpent's Navel (the sin of reflexivity); and, comprehensively, The Return, Or the Terrible Effects of Inappropriate Readings. Moreover, these are new books for children, listed - along with Cassandra's Head - in the Polish Authors' Agency selection. Other Polish publications include Problèmes de forme: destinateur-destinataire, on the 'correspondence games' in French Enlightenment novels characterized as 'epistolographomimetic', and Problemática de la confesión autobiográfica destinada al tribunal inquisitorial - a moment of very practical criticism. Apokryfy i Fragmenty by the well-known medical professor and poet K. Boczkowski offers 'a profound treatise on the nature of man, roads and crossroads, truths and lies of history. . . and a great intellectual history' - cast in collage-form too.

Atlas Press has produced, as a special issue (Number 4) of the Atlas Anthology, a remarkable compilation of texts concerning Raymond Roussel. There is a selection of critical notices about Roussel's theatrical work, mostly from the newspapers and theatrical magazines housed in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Fonds Rondel. Then follow Philippe Souppault's essay from the Surrealist review Littérature, Breton's original introduction to his selection of Roussel's work in Anthologie de l'humour noir, and pieces by Leiris, Butor, Robbe-Grillet, Ricardou and Jean Ferry ('his chief hagiographer'). There are two particularly striking pieces by John Ashbery - an essay on, and translation of, In Havana - and by Leonardo Sciascia, Acts Relative to the Death of Raymond Roussel.

Of interest to PNR readers might be the special issues of four other magazines. Europe (Paris) number 698-699 concentrates on Henri Michaux; Trimestrial Poetry Review (Leuven) 6.2, on Hugo Claus; The Review of Contemporary Fiction (Illinois) 7.2, on Beckett, and Chapman (Edinburgh) 9.6, on Edwin Muir. The Fall issue of The Review of Contemporary Fiction will be a special issue on Harry Mathews.

Perhaps not too many PNR readers will be able to judge whether Augusto Roa Bastos deserves his reputation as Paraguay's greatest writer. His novels, written in a mixture of Spanish and Guarani, and full of puns and neologisms, present the translator with formidable problems. Helen Lane's version of his I the Supreme (Faber) is a convincingly bizarre and luxuriant work. This story of a dictator so powerful that he even addresses himself in the third person is a work of history, but history as an ancient historian might have written it, with legend and fact accounted equally true: history as the handmaiden of morality. Like other South American fabulists, Roa Bastos sees his native country as still sufficiently undeveloped - unborn - to enable him to reinvent its past. In doing so he has come into conflict with politicians in Paraguay who, like the Supreme, have more sinister reasons for wanting to rewrite history, and for the past thiry years he has lived in exile in Brazil.

'In the early seventies. . . the poetry of ludism or poetic play developed into linguism or carnism which stressed the corporeality of words and delighted the erotic sensuality of the lyrical subject. . . (whereas poets of the eighties). . . seem little interested in historical memory and the moral imperatives to be derived from it. Instead they are trying to rediscover - rather like the poetry of the fifties - man's (i.e. the author's) intimate world.' Many of the poets appearing in Poetry Live: PNR 56, retreating from history and carnival, locked into the solipsisms of the autonomous subject? In fact an account of Slovenic writing in the Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (KNJIGA, Ljubljana, 1986).

The European Commission in Brussels is offering a prize of 4,000 ECUS in a competition for translations of poetry in any one of the nine official languages of the European Community. Professor Georges Thines presides over a jury of poets and translators whose judgment will be 'proclaimed' during the European Poetry Festival in Leuven, November 17 to 22. Five copies of each submission should be addressed to the European Poetry Library, Blijde Inkomstraat 9, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.

This item is taken from PN Review 59, Volume 14 Number 3, January - February 1988.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to
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