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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 20, Volume 7 Number 6, July - August 1981.

News & Notes
On 29 December NADEZHDA MANDELSHTAM, the widow of Osip Mandelshtam, died in Moscow at the age of eighty-one. She was largely responsible for rescuing and promoting the work of her husband who died in a transit camp in Vladivostok in 1938 after long detention in various camps by the Soviet authorities. Nadezhda Mandelshtam was born in 1899 in Saratov. Her family was intellectual and she became an accomplished linguist. She travelled widely with her family. She made her living in the years after her husband's death by teaching English in various provincial towns. In 1956 she returned to Moscow. Her two best-known works are Hope Against Hope (1971) and Hope Abandoned (1974), recounting her own and her husband's ordeal as, in a sense, representative of the general ordeal of the Russian citizen during a particularly bleak period of Soviet history. Her books have appeared only in the West, but in 1974 a slim volume of her husband's poems was issued in the Soviet Union. This is a tribute to her persistence and to her memory. One of the most revealing aspects of her own books is her critique of the intellectuals and writers who were brought to heel by Stalin; she is harsh with them at least in part because she believed that, had they shown more courage and foresight, matters might have developed differently in Russia.

MARSHALL McLUHAN died on December 31 in Toronto at the age of 69. His death was widely commented on in the British press, the most interesting account of him being that of Anthony Burgess, who concluded his piece in the Observer: '. . . in refusing to accept that ideas are stronger than media, that the influence of the media is probably marginal, perhaps McLuhan was guilty of a heresy worse than the old one which thought message was all. I say "perhaps", but I am not sure. McLuhan was one of the great mind-shakers of the age.' He was Professor of English at the University of Toronto from 1952 and Director of the Centre for Culture and Technology from 1963.

On December 29 ARLAND USSHER died in Ireland. The scion of a well-to-do Anglo-Irish family, Ussher learned Irish from an employee on the family estate and subsequently translated The Midnight Court. He also wrote a well-known history of Ireland in the twentieth century and Three Great Irishmen (1952), an account of Shaw, Joyce and Yeats. He ran what must have been one of the last literary salons in Dublin. His books in Irish are highly thought of.

One of the outstanding printers of our time, and a valuable critic and editor of the work of David Jones, RENE HAGUE, died on 19 January in Cork. He was 75. He was of Irish extraction, a promising classicist who did not take his Oxford degree but tried his vocation for the priesthood as a Jesuit novice. In 1924 he met Eric Gill and began working with him, drawn by the vocational aspects of Gill's communities and also by Gill's daughter, whom he married in 1930. It was in that year that he became a printer. Later on he became a translator of the classics, of early French poetry, etc. David Jones (1975) and Commentary on the Anathemata (1977) were major contributions to Jones scholarship, as was Dai Greatcoat (1980).

Before his death, Rene Hague, with Harman Grisewood, completed for Agenda Editions an important addition to the David Jones canon, THE ROMAN QUARRY, AND OTHER SEQUENCES (£7.50paperback, £18.00-cased, from Agenda Editions, 5 Cranbourne Court, Albert Bridge Road, London SW11 4PE). This 320 page book was compiled from the large body of manuscripts found at David Jones's death in 1974. It is clear that perhaps even before he completed In Parenthesis he was contemplating a long, wide-ranging poem centred historically on Jerusalem at the time of the Passion, with forward projections into the present and backward projections into prehistory. The central figure, as in so much of Jones's work, is the enactment of the Mass.

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese of the University of California at Santa Barbara have established, with the assistance of the Gulbenkian Foundation, THE JORGE DE SENA CENTER FOR PORTUGUESE STUDIES, a worthy tribute to this outstanding Portuguese poet who taught there from 1965 until his death. Born in Lisbon in 1919, he studied Civil Engineering at the University of Oporto and supported his literary activity by his engineering work. In 1959 he left Portugal to live in Brazil, where he did further studies and became Professor of Portuguese Literature at the University of Sao Paulo. He began publishing collections of poems in 1942 and at his death had a dozen titles to his credit, as well as translations, a history of English literature, plays, essays, and stories. His work as a teacher was as valuable as his important earlier work in publishing the influential Cadernos de Poesia (1940-42 and 1951-53), which in the words of Helder Macedo 'had no specific programme. Eclectic in character, its motto was . . . "There is only one kind of poetry" . . . and the sole criterion of its editors was the quality of the poem. Nevertheless, the Cadernos poets tended to share a preference for philosophical "truth" rather than poetical "beauty". This preference is reflected in a classicist tone, with a dimension of erudite, sometimes esoteric philosophical reference . . .' The poets associated with it had, by and large, a scientific or technical background in academic terms- a phenomenon uncommon in Portuguese as in other poetries. Most of them were well-versed in English literature as well.
Photograph of Portuguese Poet Jorge de Sena

Lord Weidenfeld, writing in The Bookseller (17 January), laments the growing estrangement between British and French cultures, giving the weight of his experience some statistical substance in pointing out the decline in French translations of British books (and vice versa) of a cultural or literary nature. The decline in translation from French to English is, over a period of 20 years, 'approximately 70 to 75 per cent', and in the other direction, 50 per cent. I can perhaps suggest one reason. At the Frankfurt Book Fair, a publisher approaching one of the leading French houses concerning the work of Rene Char refused to discuss the rights situation. 'We do not come to Frankfurt to discuss translation rights for poetry,' she said. (MS)

In 1980, The Bookseller reports, a total of 786 poetry titles were published, of which 80 were reprints and new editions of existing titles, 54 were translations and 60 were limited editions.

Another interesting statistic was picked up in The Times. Mr Miroslaw Chojecki, the independent Polish publisher, has been arrested 44 times since 1976. Chojecki published the work of the Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz in Poland. He was invited to Britain, after the Stockholm ceremonies, by Index. He is motivated by a fear that Poland is being pillaged of its culture: 'People who are not conscious of their own history are in no position to define their identity,' he said.

We have received word that a new magazine will soon be-if, indeed, it is not already-launched: THE PRESENT TENSE. It will appear four times a year (but sensibly refrains from calling itself 'quarterly', a term which can be rather binding). It will focus primarily on poetry of this century, combining critical writing with new work. The magazine intends to be open and invites contributions-including long poems. It is also, of course, inviting subscriptions and advice. The editor is Michael Abbott. Single copies are available by post at 80p from 'The Present Tense', 7 John Carr's Terrace, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1DW.

We have received copies of a tabloid literary journal called-in English-Literary Word and published in Belgrade. It is an international literary journal and includes articles in various languages, with translations and original work combined, and with some emphasis on the avant garde material one would not necessarily expect to be emanating from Yugoslavia. With essays such as 'The development of semiotics in Germany' and 'under methodologi scher augenblick', it is clear that no holds are barred. Because the quality of the translations into English is so variable-from mediocre to execrable-there is a worrying sense in which this young and well-intentioned project looks like an exercise in propaganda rather than-as it is intended to be-an attempt at communication between cultures.

A copy of NICARAUAC, the new magazine of the Ministry of Culture in Managua (Edificio de Patrimonio Cultural, Plaza de Comunicaciones, Apartado Postal 3269) has reached us. It is illustrated with photographs of the victorious Sandinistas, with poems and texts full of promise and hope, and with accounts of the action which led to the overthrow of the Somoza regime. Ernesto Cardenal contributes a hortatory piece. The magazine is more documentary at this stage than literary or interpretative. It is extremely well-produced, but like other journals which rise out of the struggle, it appears to keep up the struggle after the victory is won, to relive it rather than to survive it and assimilate the experience.

International concern is growing about the fate of ALAIDE FOPPA DE SOLORZANO, a leading art critic, poet, author and broadcaster, after her abduction by armed men, probably government agents, in Guatemala City on 19 December last year. The Guatemalan government has failed to respond to repeated requests for news of her.

This item is taken from PN Review 20, Volume 7 Number 6, July - August 1981.



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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