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This item is taken from PN Review 44, Volume 11 Number 6, July - August 1985.

News & Notes
VICENTE ALEIXANDRE, the Spanish poet of the great Generation of '27 and, with Alberti, its last survivor, recipient of the 1977 Nobel Prize for Literature, has died at the age of 80. Bill Affleck's appreciation of the poet and his work appears in the Reports pages.

The poet, critic, teacher and translator ROBERT FITZGERALD died on 17 January. He was 74 years old. Best-known are his translations of Homer (1961, 1974) and of Perse. He also translated the Greek tragedians. Like so many poet-translators, his own poems were overshadowed by his 'secondary' work. There is great vigour in his translations and an often commendable freedom-but a freedom generally based in a close understanding of the text. He is not so much an interpretative translator as a re-creative one. His own poems at their best have the authority of his translations.

The Shelley scholar, poet and critic GEOFFREY MATTHEWS died on 9 December 1984. He was nearing retirement as Reader in English at Reading University. His earliest poems appeared in Our Time in the mid-1940s, under the editorship of Edgell Rickword, and others were published by Geoffrey Grigson in The Mint. An edition selecting from forty years of his poetry is to be prepared by Arnold Rattenbury. Geoffrey Matthews was the pre-eminent Shelley scholar in Britain, and his involvement with the most politically radical of the Romantic poets was consistent with his own outlook; from his youth and throughout his adult life the political views of this gentle and elusive man were revolutionary, in a communist sense. It is particularly saddening that he did not live to complete the two volumes of his edition of Shelley for the Longman's Annotated English Poets series, but the first volume, establishing the text, is virtually ready for publication, and it will be possible to complete the second.

CARL PROFFER, the Michigan professor who translated, edited and published dozens of books of Russian literature, especially under the Ardis imprint, died in September 1984. He was 46 years old. Much of his and his wife Ellendea's publishing involved issuing the work of dissident Russian writers; but they also brought into print, in English and in Russian, numerous neglected or inadequately presented texts by major writers of this century. Ardis was set up in 1971 and made its mark quickly and indelibly.

XAVIER HERBERT, a literary Ned Kelly whose novels, stories and reminiscences encapsulated many of the rebel attitudes noisily at large in Australia today, died on 10 November 1984 aged 83. Beginning with the sustained uproar of the novel Capricornia in 1938, Herbert's books exposed the ruination of the Aborigines, the crass exploitation of Australia's natural riches and its subservience to the geopolitical whims of foreign empires. 'We must never again be dragged into war like the colonial oafs we've always been,' declares the doomed hero of Herbert's last and enormous book, Poor Fellow My Country. But Herbert, far from being solemnly philosophical, was primarily a compulsive retailer of Outback yarns, based on his years as pilot, stock-rider, miner, railway navvy, rural chemist and union organizer. His writings are sometimes crude and uncouth, at the opposite pole to the spinsterish (though intriguing) sophistication of a Patrick White. Herbert's father, a locomotive driver in the pioneer days of the Australian Northwest, once expelled him from the family house, bellowing, 'You Disturbin' Helement!'. A Disturbin' Helement he will remain in his rough and ready books. (C.J.Fox)

On 1 January the Czech human rights group CHARTER 77 was eight years old. It announced the names of its three new spokesmen who-along with its three previous spokesmen and the playwright Vaclav Havel-were briefly detained by police on 3 January. The survival of the Charter group is a remarkable feat in the face of concerted opposition from various quarters, notably the secret police.

On 24 April 1984 a Leningrad court sentenced the 39 year old scholar Mikhail Meilakh to seven years in prison and five in exile for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. Since he was never involved in dissident activity, observers were shocked by the severity of the sentence-the maximum possible for part 1 of statute 70 under which he was charged. Meilakh is a specialist in troubador poetry and editor of foreign editions of the 'absurdist' Soviet poets, Kharms and Vvedenskii. (See Russkaya mysl', Paris, 3515, 3516, 3530-3 and 10 May, 16 August 1984)

The poet ROSEMARY DOBSON has won the 1984 Patrick White Award, set up by the Australian novelist with the proceeds from his 1973 Nobel Prize. Rosemary Dobson has published poems for the last 40 years and more. In commending her work the committee said her poetry 'abounds in penetrating observation and quiet wisdom; it is blessedly free from sensational effects-one reason, perhaps, why her work has not attracted the attention it deserves." Would a figure like Patrick White receive an award from such a committee? The language seems wrong.

Germany's KLEIST PRIZE, after fifty years in limbo, is to be re-instituted. During the 1920s in particular the Kleist Prize was Germany's most prestigious literary award, and went to (among others) Ernst Barlach, Brecht, Horvath, Musil, Seghers and Zuckmayer. In 1933, however, because of its association with progressive and also with leftist writing, the prize was cancelled by the Nazis. Now West Germany is reviving it: the purse of 25,000 Marks will be put up jointly by the Bundesinnenministerium (federal home office) and a number of publishing houses. (Michael Hulse)

East German novelist, poet and essayist STEPHEN HERMLIN has been awarded Bulgaria's Wapzarov Prize. The Wapzarov Prize is given every five years to a foreign writer, for outstanding achievement not only in authorial production but also in social commitment and the cause of peace. (Michael Hulse)

The first Manès Sperber Prize has been awarded to novelist SIEGFRIED LENZ, whose most recent publication is Ein Kriegsende (1984). The prize has been newly instituted by the Austrian government to commemorate Manès Sperber, who died in 1984, and will be awarded every two years. (Michael Hulse)

ERNESTO CARDENAL has been suspended from his priestly duties by the Vatican. In mid-January Cardenal, who is Nicaragua's Minister of Culture, was required by Rome to resign his political office, and he refused. Three other ministers in the Sandinista cabinet, including Cardenal's brother Fernando (Minister of Education), find themselves on the horns of the same dilemma.

In Le Monde the death of the Peruvian poet MARTIN ADAN was reported. He was 77 years of age. He spent much of his later life by choice in a mental hospital, in order to maintain a protected distance from the world. His life's work is contained in half a dozen books, including his Obras Poéticas (1928-1971) and his much-acclaimed novel The Cardboard House. He consistently swam against the tide: when fashions in Latin American literature turned indigenist and earthy, he wrote his novel full of debts to Joyce, Proust and Giraudoux.

The death of Mme Z-, dedicatee of works by Sartre, translator into Russian of Aragon, Cocteau, Mauriac, Sarraute, the Russian reader's main route of access to French culture during the last four decades, has been announced. Her name was Lena Zonina.

In Paris a WRITERS' HOUSE will be opened late this year on the rue Verneuil. An association has been set up to manage the project which, like Writers' Houses in other European cities, will house various archives and libraries and will extend services to member writers and visitors. There will be workshops to familiarize writers with the new technology.

Among the 1984 recipients of the Library Association's BESTERMAN MEDAL for outstanding bibliography are Keith Sagar and Stephen Tabor for Ted Hughes: a bibliography, 1946-1980 (Mansell, £21.50). This provides a thorough and conscientious catalogue, up to 1980, of Hughes's published texts, interviews, recordings and broadcasts, and of translations and musical settings of his work. It notes variant forms of his poems and lists reviews, books, articles and theses that discuss the poet's writings. The bibliography, clearly and attractively presented, is a useful research tool, and its publication was timely, anticipating the announcement of Hughes's accession to the Laureateship.

Few commentators welcoming the appointment of Ted Hughes as Poet Laureate remarked on one aspect of his work which distinguishes it from that of many of his contemporaries and many of those whose names were advanced as possible candidates: he has throughout his career written warm advocacies of the work of poets who mean a great deal to him and, in some instances, edited and translated their work. This generosity counts for much in a Laureate. To encourage the intelligent reading of poetry-and not only of the Laureate's own poetry: that might be added to the Laureate's job description. With Daniel Weissbort, Ted Hughes set up Modern Poetry in Translation more than twenty years ago, and MPT catalyzed much of the translation publishing that occurred in that decade, not only by the larger paperback publishing houses but by smaller imprints as well.

The Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the most important of the prizes for Spanish-language literature, was awarded on 10 December in Madrid to the Argentinian novelist ERNESTO SABATO. Earlier recipients include Octavio Paz, Alejo Carpentier, Jorge Luis Borges and Juan Carlos Onetti. Sabato, now in his mid-sixties, published his last major novel in 1974. He has re-emerged on the public stage as chairman of the commission directed by President Alfonsin to look into the matter of the Desaparecidos in Argentina.

A brochure has been received from the NATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR THE ARTS which seeks the support of members of the public and invites them to write to Francis House, Francis Street, London SW1P 1DE. The threat, as the National Campaign sees it, comes primarily from rate-capping, the abolition of the Metropolitan County Councils and the GLC. The Campaign means businness. It is setting itself up rather like a political party with a Council of 'up to 50 people', ten members elected from 'umbrella organisations' representing the interests of the Arts nationwide ('trades unions, management and other associations, but not funding bodies'); twenty members elected by postal ballot from amongst the Affiliated Institutions (professional bodies which arrange regular performances, activities, exhibitions, etc.), twelve members elected by ballot from amongst the Associates (individuals and organisations involved in or concerned with the Arts but not eligible for Affiliated Institution membership) and eight members co-opted by the Council.

The National Campaign is an amalgamation of the National Lobby for the Arts (NLA) and British Arts Voice (BRAVO). The brochure reads like a party manifesto, too:

"The Facts: *Never in this century have the Arts been so threatened. *Arts funding by the British government is already far lower than in other major European countries and the lack of attractive tax incentives makes sponsorship far harder to obtain than in the USA *Rate-capping will begin to decimate existing funding . . . * The proposed abolition of the Metropolitan County Councils . . . Cuts will be inevitable"-and so on. How many of these 'Facts' are facts? This century is a long time, and there are many kinds of threats. What the National Campaign is saying is that, never before in Britain have the Arts been so dependent on public subsidy, direct and indirect, and that one consequence of this dependence is that, in a far more immediate way than the private sector, the Arts, which in better times have been cushioned and protected, are at times of recession extremely vulnerable. What will happen is, however, not a fact any more than the Chancellor's hypotheses are facts. Christine Brooke-Rose's new novel, Amalgamemnon, is written entirely in 'unrealized' tenses and portrays the way in which certain kinds of anxiety are nurtured in us by the way in which verb tenses are handled by the media, by political parties and pressure-groups and the like. The NCA Council should read it.

Ut bonesto otio quiesceret-most writers would be glad of a little honesto otio, and HAWTHORNDEN CASTLE, the international retreat for writers, aims to provide it. "The idea is that creative writers of all kinds will be invited to come here for up to six weeks each at a time, to escape the pressures of everyday life and get on with their work in peace and quiet. Hawthornden is a peculiarly peaceful place'-except, perhaps, when Ben Jonson visited William Drummond there and-so the story goes-drank his cellar dry. Writers with substantial work already published are invited to apply to Oliver Nicholson, Administrator, Hawthornden Castle, Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland EH18 1EG. The Fellowships in so attractive a place will soon be as sought after as the Yaddo Fellowships. As William Drummond said, "The world is full of horrors, falsehoods, slights;/Woods' silent shades have only true delights."

The first ever CELTIC BOOK FAIR will be held at the London Welsh Centre, 157-163 Grays Inn Road, London WC1, on Saturday, 13 April from ten in the morning to seven in the evening. Sixty Celtic-language publishers and organizations will represent all six languages. Between four and five million people speak one or other of the Gaelic tongues. The Fair is called Scrif-Celt '85. It is open to the general public (£1.00 for adults, 50p for children). Admission covers the cost of the 76 page programme booklet. Given that the Celtic literature is, after Greek and Latin, the oldest major literature in Europe, and that it still thrives, the occasion will be an interesting one.

Poetry Prizes are back in the news. "£11,000 PRIZE MONEY" declares the Commonwealth Institute which, with British Airways, is promoting 'Commonwealth Poetry Prize 1985' with the maxim "the world's most comprehensive award for poetry". This means that poets in officially recognized Commonwealth national languages, from Assamese to Yoruba, from Tuvaluan to Chichewa, and Welsh (though not Scots Gaelic or Manx), can enter if their poem is accompanied by a translation into English. Then-jointly and severally-the Arvon Foundation and Faber & Faber announced The 1985 Observer and Ronald Duncan Foundation International Poetry Competition-TORDFIPC for short, with £8000 of prizes to be given out by Craig Raine, Amy Clampitt and Anne Stevenson. This competition is not the most comprehensive, but it calls itself "the most important poetry competition to be held in 1985". Those wishing to participate are warned that it will cost them £2.50 to enter each poem they feel is prize-worthy. Further information is available from The Arvon Foundation, Kilnhurst, Kilnhurst Road, Todmorden, Lancashire.

JOE SOAP'S CANOE will be issued once again after 'a period of hibernation' which has lasted almost two years. The first issue of the new second series of the magazine is scheduled for April publication. The American poet Paul Violi acts as New York editor, "thus consolidating the Anglo-American stance of the magazine's most recent issues"; while Martin Stannard remains the Editor. The subscription rate is £3.00 for 3 issues ($12.00 US) to joe soap's canoe, 90 Ranelagh Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk. The editor invites poets and other writers to submit original material.
Daddy What Did You Do In The Little Spartan War

This item is taken from PN Review 44, Volume 11 Number 6, July - August 1985.

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