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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 23, Volume 8 Number 3, January - February 1982.

News & Notes
PAMELA HANSFORD JOHNSON, the novelist, has died at the age of 69. Her career as a novelist was a steady and successful one. She was in a growing minority when she concluded, after close scrutiny of the Moors Murders case, that pornography can corrupt. To readers of poetry she will be best-remembered as a prime catalyst-correspondent of Dylan Thomas. (see Important to Me: Personalia, 1974). In 1933 she wrote a letter of admiration to the poet about 'That Sanity be Kept', and this led to their short, intense relationship. Her letters have vanished, but many of his survive- unguarded, explicit and engrossing. Also silly and affectionate in their egotism.

The fiction writer, poet and journalist PHILIP TOYNBEE died at the age of 65. His experimental fiction has fallen into neglect, but his verse has fallen into even deeper neglect. Pantaloon is a vast verse work, four volumes of which were published by Chatto & Windus, six volumes of which still await publication. Robert Nye quoted Toynbee as saying that his attempt in Pantaloon was to 'write something like a modern equivalent of Don Quixote, The Prelude, Faust and A la recherche du temps perdu, all in one. That's to say a tragi-comic epic whose hero is representative, but not in the least typical, of the years 1914-50.' Such hubris is rare in a writer of verse- but then, as Nye suggests, it is not exactly verse but more like accelerated speech, varied in technique and tone. Robert Nye goes so far as to call Pantaloon 'one of the last authentic works of the spirit of modernism'-a judgement the world may be some time in reaching due to the difficulty of publishing an opus of this magnitude.

WINIFRED GERIN, OBE, FRSL, died in June at the age of 81. She was among the outstanding biographers of our time and will be best remembered for her valuable work on the Brontës. One of her first works was a small book of poems -but in the end she realised her talents were those of chronicler and interpreter, and she served Clio rather than Calliope or Erato. She performed a lasting service to the Brontës, and to other subjects of biography including Mrs Gaskell.

Tass reported the death of Soviet writer SERGEI NAROVCHATOV at the age of 61. He was editor of the influential literary monthly Novi Mir.

The government of Chile has demonstrated the high respect it has for dead poets. It has decided to put the face of GABRIELA MISTRAL, who won the Nobel Prize in 1945 and who died in Hempstead, New York, in 1957, on the 5,000-peso note (about £60.00). It is the highest denomination available in Chile. If inflation continues at its famous rate there, Neruda may find his way back into currency again.

BREYTEN BREYTENBACH has been awarded the 1981 Poetry International Award, the annual prize of the Rotterdam poetry festival (10,000 guilders). The prize is given to poets in prison for legal assistance and other help. Breytenbach has been in prison in South Africa for nearly six years. He has three more years to serve. He is convicted of marrying an Asian and of other anti-apartheid activities. His book of poems, In Africa Even the Flies are Happy, is published by Calder.

ABDELLATIF LAABI, the Moroccan poet, was released from prison in his country on 18 July but has been unable to obtain a passport and lives under precarious and restricted conditions. He is a previous recipient of the Rotterdam Festival prize and was invited to participate in this year's festival. He also had invitations to Paris and Lyons. He has been unable to get medical treatment which he badly needs and which has been offered him by the Swiss League of Human Rights. His poetry, published in France and Lebanon, is banned in Morocco. Laabi was a member of the Front Progressiste, on the far left of the Moroccan socialist movement. (Index AW 2)

ANDREI VOSNESENSKY, the Soviet poet, is behind the first full-scale rock opera to be staged in Moscow. The hero is a dazzling Russian aristocrat-the opera is set rather long ago-who wants to expand trade between Russia and the United States and bring the two countries closer together. He sails to San Francisco, falls in love with the governor's daughter, they are divided by religion. Hero rushes home to get spiritual sanction, rides across Siberia, and dies. With him die the attempts to bring together the economies of the two countries. Voznesensky's lyrics make it blindingly clear that the opera is intended to have modern analogies. The hero sings some odd-sounding lines about 'international tension'; peace, love, understanding and cooperation have an allegorical dimension. The opera includes a sex scene between hero and heroine and there is a very demotic expression used to describe what they do. In the production no holds are barred: it is redolent of the 1960s and may suggest such Western experiences as Jesus Christ Superstar. The music itself is frankly contemporary. There is an historical source for the story; there is little excuse, however, for the allegory. Voznesensky first explored the theme in a long poem in 1972-'Story Under Full Sail'.

As part of the celebrations of VIRGIL, who died 2000 years ago, the Vatican has put on display two manuscripts of the Aeneid from the fourth and fifth centuries-the oldest known illustrated versions of the poem-'Virgilio Vaticano' and 'Virgilio Romano'. They will remain on show until the new year as part of the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of documents related to Virgil and the Aeneid, according to Monsignor Ruysschaert, vice-prefect of the Vatican Library. Also included is material relating to the Eclogues and the Georgics. PNR pays its tribute to Virgil by publishing in this issue a new translation of the third Georgic by Robert Wells.

'There exists somewhere, for a reader who is absent but impatiently awaited, a text without a signature . . .' Thus begins one of Stephen Romer's interesting translations from the work of Jacques Dupin (The Growing Dark, Twofold, 11 rue Delbet, 75014 Paris). Copies destined for the Paris launching of the book disappeared without trace from a Paris gare. 'There exists somewhere, for a reader who is absent . . .'

The magazine Antaeus has produced another valuable issue-Auden's previously unpublished The Prolific and the Devourer, aphorisms and reflections from 1939, which mark the poet's transition between England and America, Marxism and his later attitudes. He abandoned the effort for reasons the editor, Edward Mendelson, makes clear. Only Part I (of 4 parts) has been previously published.

MICHAEL HAMBURGER is a joint-recipient of this year's prestigious prize for translations from the German, the Schlegel-Tieck prize. Only a couple of years ago he won it for his major anthology German Poetry 1910-1975. This time the award is for The Poems of Paul Celan, reviewed by Clive Wilmer elsewhere in this issue of PNR.

Michael Hulse writes from Germany that in the twelve months since leading German writers-Grass and Böll among them-announced their determination to oppose Axel Springer and his publishing and newspaper empire wherever they could, employees of Springer's daily newspaper Bild have been found guilty of violation of privacy; and Günter Wallraff has been defended by the Federal Court in the legal battle which resulted from his publication of one book about Bild-closely followed by another about the legal contest itself. Despite the campaign by writers and the incidents 'on the ground', Axel Cäsar Springer was awarded the 1981 Konrad Adenauer Peace Prize. CDU and CSU politicians from all over Germany attended the ceremony in Munich, and those who could not make it-among them President Carl Carstens- sent messages of congratulation. The citation praised Springer for his work in establishing true freedom of the press, for his efforts on behalf of German re-unification, for his contribution to greater harmony between Germany and Israel, etc. He was figuratively smothered with laurels by the Lord Mayor of Berlin, by CDU leader Helmut Kohl, and others. CSU leader Franz Josef Strauss used the opportunity-despite the 'unity' rhetoric-to attack Ostpolitik, and Springer when he took the floor stressed the East-West polarity, scolding the Soviets and asking when we might expect a follow-up to Holocaust about the Soviet death-camps. Police briskly removed two women who tried to unfurl an uncomplimentary banner. For Strauss and Springer-with all that they represent of vested interests and of a perilous tradition of ideological conservatism-to use a Peace Prize platform for their characteristic bellicocity devalues the Prize and the ideas expressed. Given the recent history of the Springer enterprises and his predictable extremist stances, this public honour inevitably seems a deliberate provocation and, at so sensitive a time as this, an additional corrosive between east and west.

WRITING WOMEN, a new quarterly journal to be published as of November of this year, has been announced. It will be devoted to 'creative writing by women in the forms of poetry, short stories, essays and diary extracts. It will also include critical and theoretical articles written by women and men, concerning either a specific text or on broad issues in relation to women's studies. It will be available at 95p, inland personal subscriptions for 3 issues £3.25.' The editors-Eileen Aird, Linda Anderson, Gay Clifford and Sheila Whitaker-welcome submissions and subscriptions at 19 Osborne Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE2 2AH. The editors declare that 'Feminist theory and practice'-especially the activities of feminist publishers-have led to the rediscovery of neglected work, 'its worth blurred by male notions of excellence. Also there are many women writing today whose work would otherwise never have been published because of masculine partiality for certain ideas as to the proper subjects and concerns of literature.' The editors add that 'Society and culture . . . now urgently require a radical shift of emphasis and preoccupation which has so far been provided most strikingly by women's studies.' Will these editors transcend a dominant concern with gender-discrimination? The objective of the women's movement in literature, as the radical French and American groups have shown, is not 'parity' with men but the radical differentiation of language and method, the establishment of 'values' which are values, the clearance of an area for independent activity. The press statement uses dialectical terms that lead not to growth but to embattlement.

CHIMERA BOOKS, 405 Kipling Street, Palo Alto, California 94301 USA are taking over exclusive American distribution of PN Review as of this issue. Walter Martin, the bookseller and publisher of Chimera Books, will be making issues available to the American trade as well as to American subscribers. PNR does not compare in elegance or quality of production to Martin's own publications -including handsome broadsheets. Even so, he has decided to handle it on other than bibliophiliac grounds.

PNR has appointed DICK DAVIS as regular reviewer of poetry pamphlets and anthologies. With few exceptions, he will survey all such material received and will make a selection for each issue of PNR. In this way we hope to deal more fairly with the numerous extremely slim and the ephemeral publications we receive- publications to which justice is so hard to do in view of the quantity and generally of the quality of work included. Anthologies raise, in intensified form, many of the same problems.

FRANCISZKA THEMERSON will be contributing new graphic work to PNR from time to time, and we intend to print some of her earlier drawings, especially from the series 'The Way It Walks'. Her 'Portrait of an Editor' below lacks the detailed composure and the goose-quill of the Coll-Tocs with which the magazine was once embellished. The frock coat, a little the worse for wear, remains, however.

This item is taken from PN Review 23, Volume 8 Number 3, January - February 1982.



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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