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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 47, Volume 12 Number 3, January - February 1986.

News & Notes
The critic G. WILSON KNIGHT died on 20 March. He was 87. He taught at the University of Toronto until 1940, and at Stowe School until 1946; he then became Reader and from 1956-62 Professor of English at the University of Leeds. Wilson Knight is best known for his studies of Shakespeare; his approach was set out in his Myth and Miracle (1929): 'to avoid the side-issues of Elizabethan and Jacobean manners, politics, patronage, audiences, revolutions and explorations; to fix attention solely on the poetic quality and human interest of the plays concerned'. The word 'Shakespeare' stood, not for an 'author', but 'for the dynamic life that persists in the plays'. Wilson Knight was a frankly 'transcendent' critic: 'we should centre our attention always not on the poetic forms alone, which are things of time and history, but on the spirit which burns through them and is eternal in its rhythms of pain, endurance, and joy'. Among his writings on Shakespeare, The Wheel of Fire (1930) discusses the tragedies, The Imperial Theme (1931) the tragedies and Roman plays, and The Crown of Life (1947) the last plays. He also produced and acted Shakespeare at Toronto and Leeds and his Principles of Shakespearean Production (1936), with its stress on motif, symbolism and colour, influenced postwar stagings of Shakespeare.

Wilson Knight also wrote widely on Byron, for example in Lord Byron: Christian Virtues (1952) and Lord Byron's Marriage (1957). But while his contribution to the development of criticism in the 1930s was acknowledged-F.R.Leavis observed 'we all know what we owe to things in his early work'-his later criticism would seem increasingly eccentric, with its interest in mysticism and unusual psychosexual experience. His essay 'Lawrence, Joyce and Powys' (1951), for example, suggested a link between anal eroticism and mystical ecstasy. He was a strong advocate of John Cowper Powys's novels, and of the poetry of Francis Berry and John Masefield. His collection Neglected Powers (1971) gives a good idea of the extent, and eccentricities, of his later interests. Wilson Knight also wrote plays, poetry and fiction himself. In his last years he caused some controversy by enlisting Shakespeare in support of the Falklands campaign. (NT)

ANDERS CLEVE, the Finland-Swedish writer, died in March at the age of 48. He wrote three books of poetry, novels and stories. He is for Helsinki what Robert Garioch was for Edinburgh: chronicler, celebrator and critic.

The Israeli poet DAVID ROKEAH died in May in Duisberg, West Germany. He was 69. Born in Poland, he went to live in Palestine in 1934, became an engineer and author. He travelled widely, finding among his European and American friends translators and advocates. Two books of his poetry in translation were published in England.

The Belgian poet and novelist CONRAD DETREZ has died in his 48th year. Detrez, a French-speaking Walloon from the Limburg province of Belgium, experienced sharp linguistic and cultural tensions during his education at the Catholic, conservative and Flemish-dominated Saint-Trond seminary: this crucial period in his life, which produced a radical aversion to Roman Catholicism and Flemish conservatism, forms the subject for his novel Les plumes du coq (1975) and of most of the poems in his first collection, Le mâle apôtre (1982). His imagination was fed, however, by Flemish painting-Breughel and Bosch-and by authors such as Charles de Coster and Michel de Ghelderode, who wrote in French, but had strong Flemish temperaments; he also admired the Flemish poet, novelist and dramatist Hugo Claus and the 'sumptuous anarchist' Jacques Brel, 'a pure Flemish nature clad in the French language'.

Eugène Van Itterbeek, in the Belgian Poetry Review (IV:1) observes that Detrez's poetry avoids imagery and lyric elevation, while his narrative prose contains passages of dazzling lyric intensity. He compares Detrez to Camus in his philosophical and moral aspects, and to Le Clezio in his desire to break with industrial civilization and regain the primal innocence of beings who are, at one and the same time, mythical, of the people and poor. Detrez's own days ended in South America, in the shantytown suburb of Braz-de-Pina, to which he had become attached 'as to my own village': in Les noms de la tribu (1981), he called it 'the place of a new birth . . . my Rome, my Timbuctoo, my Havana. It is there that I met Beatrice and dwelt with Ferdinand.' (NT)

GILBERT LELY, poet and biographer of de Sade, died in Paris in June at the age of 81. His work on de Sade-as editor, interpreter and biographer-overshadowed his own poetic achievement which has yet to be assessed. Le Monde characterised him as 'intense, demanding, shadowy, solitary, almost savage, independent to a degree that made it possible for him to engage de Sade as an equal'.

BERNARD GUTTERIDGE, poet and novelist, died in July at the age of 69. He was not a prolific writer: Traveller's Eye (1947) and Old Damson-Face (1974) contain most of the work he sought to preserve. He is widely represented in anthologies.

A new clampdown on dissident writers and poets is reported from Vietnam (Index LHT 36). The Vietnamese Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan (16 April) declares that state security police recently smashed 'a racket specialising in writing, reciting and circulating reactionary and degenerate poems' in different parts of the country. No names are mentioned, but this is clearly an extension of the policy outlined in these pages in the past. The culprits have 'confessed their crimes'. Two elements are singled out for special blame: 'ambiguous symbols and double entendres' and those which are more openly hostile, or are thought to be. Worst of all was the use of 'sophisticated methods of getting their message across by disseminating their work by word of mouth, such as reciting their poems during anniversaries, celebrations, festivals, wedding parties and funeral ceremonies'. The maximum sentence for conviction under current Vietnamese law is 12 years' imprisonment.

In Czechoslovakia, 'Smugglers' of poetry have been sentenced (Index KK 12). At a trial in the Moravian town of Hodonin on 2 July, two Czechs were given conditional sentences of ten months each for attempting to smuggle abroad the manuscripts of four unpublished books of poetry. The poems are by Iva Kotrla, none of whose work has appeared in print in her native country. Born in 1947, the mother of five children, she was expelled from Brno University in 1970. She has had two books published by the Christian Academy in Rome and one book by Rozmluvy in London.

West German poet ULLA HAHN has won the 1985 Friedrich Hölderlin Prize. The award, sponsored by Bad Homburg, has been given twice previously, to Hermann Burger and Sarah Kirsch

The French poet FRANCIS PONGE, at the age of 86, received the Grand Prix of the Société des Gens de Lettres on 21 May.

The New Zealand poet BILL MANHIRE has received the New Zealand Poetry Book Award for Zoetropes, his selected poems.

The British Comparative Literature Association has announced its fourth annual TRANSLATION PRIZE COMPETITION. It invites poetry, fiction, drama or literary prose translation submissions. Extracts from longer works are permissible. Full details are available from Professor Arthur Terry, Department of Literature, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ. The value of the prize is £100, with a second prize of £50. Both winning entries may be published in the BCLA yearbook, Comparative Criticism (Cambridge University Press). 'We are particularly interested in non-European material at the moment', writes Professor Terry.

The magazine EUROPE (rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, 75010 Paris) has published a special number devoted to the work of Jules Laforgue. 'Eliot, Pessoa and Pound have traced the importance of this "comet" who, from Montevideo (where he was born) to Paris, has opened up the heavens of modern poetry.'

A plan to form an International Association of LITERARY SEMANTICS has been launched by Trevor Eaton. Literary semantics, a linguistically-based approach to literature, aims, according to Eaton, to tackle the philosophical problems of literary study, trying to relate it to other disciplines, especially mathematics and logic, psychology, neurophysiology, history, sociology and anthropology, and education; to attempt rigorous definition of terms; to formulate principles that can be operated with a high degree of reliability; and to stress the need for 'modality' in literary study-the need, that is, to avoid presenting insecure propositions as though they were established certainties, a sin of which Eaton finds Leavis, Helen Vendler, Blackmur, Hough and 'even I.A.Richards' guilty. Those wishing to join the proposed Association should be committed to the 'empirical spirit'. It is interesting to note that the attempt to establish a 'science' of literary study persists: it has never been very welcome in England, and has been overshadowed on the international scene recently by post-structuralism, deconstruction and politicization, which might also be charged with neglecting 'modality'. For details of the proposed Association, send a self-addressed envelope to Trevor Eaton, Editor, Journal of Literary Semantics, Honeywood Cottage, 35 Seaton Avenue, Hythe, Kent CT21 5HH.

The EUROPEAN POETRY FESTIVAL-the seventh-will take place at Leuven from 23 to 27 October. It has a theme: 'In accordance with the European Music Year' the festival is 'dedicated to' Poetry and Music. The relation between the two arts will be stidued. There are perhaps rather more critics on the rostrum than there have been in earlier years. There will be a 'British programme' which will include three readers: Charles Tomlinson, Michael Hamburger and Richard Murphy (who would appear not to have signed the 'I am not a British poet' pledge). Among other participants will be H.C.ten Berge from the Netherlands, Edward Kamau Brathwaite from Jamaica, Edouard Glissant from Martinique, Osten Sjostrand from Sweden, Roberto Sanesi from Italy. . . . Further information is available from the European Poetry Library, Blijde Inkomststraat 9, B-3000 Leuven.

The ICA has added a new venture to its activities: ICA VIDEO. With help from the Greater London Enterprise Board, a pilot scheme was set up last year to introduce a series of videos into libraries. The lunchtime 'In Conversation' events (hour-long discussions between writers and critics) was chosen for the first series. The writers who participated include Angela Carter, Gore Vidal, Joseph Heller and John Berger. Subscribing libraries pay £650 for 24 tapes and receive two per month. So far, poets have not been featured, but we are assured that there is no bias against them.

Users of the POETRY LIBRARY at the Arts Council (105 Piccadilly) can now listen to cassettes of poets reading from their works. The Poetry Library has the largest collection of contemporary English poetry in Britain, with more than 30,000 books and periodicals, and it has begun to collect photographs and other 'images' of poets as an annex to its main collection.

ORIEL, the Welsh Arts Council bookshop, has launched a postal critical service for writers. For a small fee, new writers can receive a detailed appraisal by what are described as 'professional authors/poets' of their prose or poetry. Other services provided for apprentice writers are Books for Writers and Books about Writing, a list of small presses and magazines, and a list of writers' groups in Wales. (Enquiries to Oriel, 53 Charles Street, Cardiff CF1 4ED.

EASTERN ARTS ASSOCIATION has established two new schemes for schools. The first, 'Writers at Home', takes parties of children and teachers out of the classroom and into the intimacy of the creative home. Eastern Arts is fortunate since many of its authors live in pleasant environments, and writers are chosen 'whose work demonstrates a direct relationship with their . . . home setting'. It is an odd but inspired idea, from the same Regional Association which set up the Poets in Supermarkets scheme. Also in operation now is 'The Literary Magazines and Schools Project'. Schools receive free subscriptions to literary magazines and are visited by editors and contributors. Further information is available from Laurence Staig (0223-357596).

EAST MIDLANDS ARTS has launched a new monthly magazine called Steppin' (sic) Out. The annual subscription is £3.95 from EMA, Mountfields House, Forest Road, Loughborough LE11 3HU.

GREATER LONDON ARTS has also launched a new magazine: GLA Quarterly (details from Fay Ballard, GLA, 25/31 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SF).

Now available from Peter Marcan Publications (31 Rowliff Road, High Wycombe, Bucks) is the third edition of the valuable DIRECTORY OF SPECIALIST BOOK-DEALERS IN THE UK HANDLING MAINLY NEW BOOKS. The title will warm the heart of bibliophiles. At £8.50 (plus 50p p+p) this A4 directory, a formidable work of research, will be of special value for its arts section and for the concluding section with details of foreign and 'ethnic' dealers who stock literature.

The University of Keele, thanks to the advocacy of Richard Swigg, will record the complete poetry of CHARLES TOMLINSON. The vice-chancellor will launch the project with a small exhibition of manuscripts, miniatures and books. This will coincide with the publication of Tomlinson's Collected Poems and a book of graphics, Eden, to be published by the Redcliffe Press.

ANOTHER CHICAGO MAGAZINE,alias ACM, has declared an interest in British poetry. John Mathias will be writing a regular feature-the first (in ACM 12) about recent anthologies. (Copies @ $5.00 from Thunder's Mouth Press, Box 11223, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA)

This item is taken from PN Review 47, Volume 12 Number 3, January - February 1986.



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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