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This item is taken from PN Review 31, Volume 9 Number 5, May - June 1983.

News & Notes
GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ, the Colombian writer who won the 1982 Nobel Prize, has gone from Stockholm to Havana to receive Cuba's 'top intellectual award', the Felix Varela Order, following a long 'cultural' speech by Fidel Castro. In recent Cuban cultural conferences, uninvited guests have included Borges and, of course, Octavio Paz.

The death of LOUIS ARAGON on Christmas Eve is the subject of Stephen Romer's current 'Letter from Paris'. In some ways, Aragon resembled-both in his contradictory commitments and in the uneven quality of his achievement- Hugh MacDiarmid, though he sorted out his priorities in a way which humanly impoverished his work. In Britain, his first substantial publication was The Bells of Basel (1937). Aragon was a distinct twentieth-century type of writer, a man for whom History had a logic all too clear, and the interest of his life in many respects exceeds the merits of his work.

PROFESSOR ALAN BOASE died in November at the age of 80. He was among the most distinguished British Professors and critics of French (he held the chair at Glasgow until his retirement in 1965). His most important contribution to the world of poetry was his series of four anthologies, Poetry of France, a book which for English and, I am told, for French readers as well amounted to a revaluation of the French tradition. He was a contributor to The Criterion, Scrutiny and other British and French journals.

BABETTE DEUTSCH died in New York in November at 87. Her earliest work was poetry, and she published regularly from 1919 through 1930. She also wrote novels, but her greatest distinction was as a translator, work done in collaboration with her husband Avrahm Yarmolinski. Their most important work was from the German and Russian and included early translations of Blok and others.

The death was announced in Paris of CAROL DUNLOP, the young American-born novelist and translator of the French, notably of the work of the Quebec poets Anne Hébert and Marie-Claire Blais. As a writer she was effectively bi-lingual, translating her own work into French as well. She was the wife of Julio Cortazar.

MAHMOUD DARWISH, the Palestinian poet widely regarded as the outstanding Arabic poet of our time, was refused entry to the United States to attend a colloquium of American, Arab and Jewish poets, according to a PEN report. The grounds given for the refusal were political.

BREYTEN BREYTENBACH, the Afrikaans poet who was sentenced in South Africa in 1975 to nine years in prison, has been released after seven years. The cause of his imprisonment has been variously reported. It was clearly connected with his support for the aims of the African National Congress. After his release he flew to Paris where his Vietnamese-born wife lives. Breytenbach's release has been presented as a result of new policies in the Republic; but it. is probable that the sustained pressure of individuals and groups protesting on his behalf abroad had some effect upon the authorities.

CHARLEVILLE, birthplace of Arthur Rimbaud, has purchased for 330,000 francs the manuscript of the poem 'Voyelles', written in July 1871 when the poet was seventeen. The auction at which the Charleville library bought this important trace of its ungrateful son included also a series of letters from Baudelaire to his mother. A fifth of the 115 letters were purchased by the National Library for a million francs. Since the prices far exceeded expectation, they could buy no more. This is sad, since it is one of the most important of collections of his letters, covering a period of twenty-five years and referring to his writing, his loves, his finances, etc. The manuscripts being auctioned were from the collection of the Cuban poet Armand Godoy who died in 1964. Godoy, who wrote in French, was an assiduous collector of the manuscripts of poets whom he most admired.

In Provence, the town of La Ciotat celebrated the centenary of the birth of EMILE RIPERT, poet, novelist and activist, who made it his life's work to help keep alive Provencal literature. He died in 1948. The commemoration was a popular one, with parades, dances and provencal songs, and the unveiling of the inevitable plaque on the street named after this distinguished native son.

The fifth SALON DU LIVRE of Montreal took place in November. It was-as last year when sixty thousand people attended-a Salon for the general reader, and the work of four hundred publishers was on view.

German literary prizes differ from most British prizes in that they are often given for an oeuvre, not a single book, and they are not 'competitive' in the British sense.

The winter crop has gone in the main to well-established figures. Wolfdietrich Schnurre received the Literaturpreis der Stadt Köln for his attempt, in Heinrich Vormweg's words, 'to make a new start in thought and language' after the War. The Hessischer Kulturpreis went to the lyric poet Karl Krolow, English versions of whose work were published in 1969 in the Cape Golliard series. Another poet, Erich Fried, for over forty years resident in London, received the Bremer Literaturpreis. Fried's 100 Poems Without a Country was published by Calder in 1978. The East German writer Franz Fühmann was the third recipient of Munich's Geschwister-Scholl-Preis, previously awarded to Rolf Hochhuth and Reiner Kunze. In this case the award was for a recently-published book. Günter Grass has also been honoured recently, but this time by the Italians: the Lincei Academy of Rome awarded him the Feltrinelli Prize.

Transatlantic, the German monthly magazine (see PNR 20), edited since it was founded in 1980 by Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Gaston Salvatore, is going through a period of change. Its initial print-run of 150,000 has dropped to 60,000 and its debts are reported to be some three and a half million marks. The contracts of the editors expired last September and the publishers, Newmag, are debating whether they can keep Transatlantik afloat, and if so whether it can hope to sail under its present captains. Those lines near the end of Enzensberger's poem The Sinking of the Titanic come to mind: 'Business, I wail, as usual, everything lurching, everything/under control, everything O.K., my fellow beings probably drowned/in the drizzle, a pity, never mind, I bewail them, so what?/ Dimly, hard to say why, I continue to wail, and to swim.'

The EIGHTH INTERNATIONAL POUND CONFERENCE, concentrating on 'Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts', will take place at the University of Reading from 28 to 30 March. Further details are available from Lionel Kelly, Department of English, University of Reading, White-knights, Reading RG6 2AA. The theme chosen for this conference could be an especially fruitful one: the handsome brochure, reproducing the Gaudier sketch portrait of Pound, reminds us: 'Pound's involvement with painting, drawing, sculpture and architecture was profound. It ranged from his personal discovery of Velasquez in the Prado in 1906 to his celebration of Brancusi and Picabia in the later Cantos. His association with Wyndham Lewis, Gaudier Brzeska and the Vorticist movement is well known.'

The LANCASTER LITERATURE FESTIVAL is sponsoring another National Poetry Competition. This year the 'broad theme' is 'Freedom', and it can, in the words of the organizers, 'have as many interpretations as there are individuals'. So, no doubt, can the word `poetry'. The Lancaster Festival is in peril of becoming a Rhetoric Mart, judging from the competition over the last two or three years.

We hear on good authority that a Regional Arts Associations is negotiating with two supermarkets for a Poet in Residence in the Supermarket Context. There is a precedent, maybe, in Jonathan Williams's readings at gas stations in the States, but Williams was, as far as I know, not an institutional client as he primed the Pump. How will the supermart poet deal with shoppers' lyrical problems? Who cooked up this crazy plan? It's surely a matter for the Consumer Protection people.

In November, an electronic information firm in the United States announced the publication of the first 'electronic novel'. It was written on (not by) a computer and distributed throughout the country within sixteen minutes to personal computer users. The subject-matter of the 20,000 word suspense novel was conventional enough: Blind Pharaoh. It was written in 61<½ hours by one Burke Campbell at the ArtCulture Resource Centre in Toronto. As he finished the chapters, they were passed on to editors and the entire editing process took only three hours. We have yet to read the reviews of the book-if it can be called a book. The Venetian ship-yards were once able to build and fit out a battle ship in a day, but it is hard to think of Blind Pharaoh in these terms; with the expenditure of ArtCultural Resources in this way, one is reminded rather of the monkeys with their typewriters, only the time-span is shorter and the creatures involved are only cousins of the monkeys.

We reported that Andrei Voznesensky was involved in a Soviet musical about International Relations in an earlier century. Now EVGENY EVTUSHENKO is making a film. It is autobiographical and bears the title Kindergarten. He plays the part of a slightly unhinged chess player in this account of his-as you would expect-'extraordinary' childhood. Yevtushenko is now 49. His rage has subsided, or rather it has been channeled into more civic and utilitarian activities. He has spent much of his time recently delving into his past, in verse and prose. He explains that he has called his film 'Kindergarten' because kindergarten for a child in 1941 was the War.

One of the most exciting literary events of the Winter in France was the publication by Gallimard of the first complete translation of Joyce's Finnegans Wake into French. The translator is PHILIPPE LAVERGNE, and he completed the work-650 pages of it-in the interstices of his job. He is not a professional writer but a 47-year-old engineer. He seems to have worked largely unaided. With a title such as Finnegans Wake, the act of translation is also the most arduous of critical and interpretative tasks. It took him two decades of 'white nights'. In le Monde he has been hailed as a hero, and justly so. Parts of the book have been done before into French-by Ivan Goll, Samuel Beckett, André du Bouchet and others. As a numerologist, a man interested in parapsychology, skilled in many (he will not say how many) different languages, retiring, perhaps a little obsessed, he had all the qualifications for the task. He contracted the Joyce-bug when he was seventeen.

It is salutary to be reminded that not all scholars enjoy the access to source materials that most of us take for granted. The annual conference of the British Universities' Association of Slavists at Oxford last autumn was treated to a sobering report by Sheelagh Graham of Strathclyde University on her visit to the Soviet Union to investigate manuscripts relating to a biography of the poet Nikolai Gumilyov, Akhmatova's first husband, who was suspected of complicity in an anti-Bolshevik plot and executed in 1921. Though there is an English selection of his criticism and some of his verse has appeared in anthologies, he is still inadequately valued and understood. Sheelagh Graham hoped to work in both Moscow and Leningrad, but she found that she could work only in Moscow. The library staff there was helpful in inverse proportion to the quality of the material she wished to see. Certain unexplained lacunae, notably some (catalogued) correspondence between Gumilyov and Akhmatova, could not be seen at all, and much of her most useful scholarship depended on personal kindness shown to her by individuals. One contact suggested that Gumilyov had been shot because of irregularities in his relationship with Larissa Reisner, the wife of an official. No one could tell her where Gumilyov's African notebooks were, or could confirm how many visits to Africa he had made. She had reluctantly to concede that the time was not yet right for the kind of biography she wished to write, and Soviet policy seems to be that things should stay that way. Her case is not unique: other researchers have been similarly frustrated.

This item is taken from PN Review 31, Volume 9 Number 5, May - June 1983.

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