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Blog entries on '03 July 2006'

Monday 03 July 2006

Louis Zukofsky is out of print!

Last Thursday, I mentioned that I'd been reading Louis Zukofsky's Prepositions + : The Collected Critical Essays of Louis Zukofsky. Wanting to read more, I asked the good folk at Johns Hopkins University Press if they could send on to me Zukofsky's Complete Short Poetry and his magnus opus A. They've just got back to tell me: "Unfortunately, the Zukofsky books went Out of Print in February." That's rubbish! Readers who want to read more thus only have the recent Library of America Selected Poems. I'll seek this out (it is in a box somewhere; half-lost since the recent move) and review it asap.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Monday 03 July 2006

A note from Anthony Rudolf

Responding to my interview with the poet and Celan-translator Pierre Joris, the writer and publisher Anthony Rudolf (of the excellent Menard Press) has written me this lovely note, which I'd like to share:


I would like to gloss Pierre Joris's comments on Celan translations and exclusivity, made during the fascinating interview posted on RSB. I'm glad he put the word 'official' in quotation marks concerning Michael Hamburger for, during the nearly forty years I have known him, Michael has always insisted that he is against exclusivity on principle when it comes to poetry translation, although he can see why other considerations enter the frame with a long prose book.

Gisèle [Celan-Lestrange], herself a distinguished print maker and artist, exasperated by the amount of time she had to spend dealing with copyright questions, anthology requests etc, asked me in the early 1980s if I thought Michael would agree to be the exclusive translator of her late husband; it would simplify her life no end, she said. I told her about Michael's honourable attitude and that what she proposed was not the solution.

Allow me to mention a memory triggered by this communication. Gisele and I were friends for a number of years, but we lost touch, as sometimes happens. Later, I attended the funeral of my friend Edmond Jabès at Père-Lachaise in January 1991. I half-recognised a woman who looked ill and strained, a shadow of the beautiful and elegant person she had been. I went up to her, and said: Gisèle? There was a pause -- as if to complete my half-recognition and make it whole -- and then a reply: Anthony? We embraced. Less than a year later, she was dead.

Two more comments: Paul Celan and Edmond Jabès were close friends. One day, perhaps, Celan's heavily annotated copy of Le Livre des questions will be published facsimile with a commentary (Pierre is surely too busy to edit it). Lastly, for those with the requisite French, the two-volume boxed edition of Paul's correspondence with Gisèle, published by Le Seuil in 2001, is essential reading.

PS a pertinent extract from a draft memoir:

Some years ago, I was about to publish my own translations of Claude Vigée’s poetry and prose. As an old friend, I had long known about his version of Four Quartets, which had lain untouched in a drawer for half a century because T.S. Eliot had agreed to exclusive rights in the translation by Pierre Leyris about three weeks before he read (and admired) Vigée's translation. I told Claude that the time had come to mount a campaign to find a publisher for his version. There was no problem at Faber and Faber, and Valery Eliot and Kathleen Raine wrote supporting letters. But the French publisher of Leyris was adamant that there could not be a rival version in France. I said what about Menard, which is a UK publisher? To this suggestion, they said yes, but only if Leyris agreed. Naturally, I wrote to the master translator of English poetry (Eliot, Hopkins, Shakespeare etc) in appropriate and respectful terms. He replied with the sweetest letter, saying that it was impossible for him to say no but that I should make sure that Vigée drew a distinction between “durée” and “temps” when translating the word “time”. And so the book was published, with the bonus of one of Gabriel Josipovici’s best essays, which was specially written for this book and translated into French for the occasion. He later published it in English in PNR, as I recall. The Menard book also contains a previously unpublished letter by T.S. Eliot.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Books of the Week

Edward Carpenter Edward Carpenter
Chushichi Tsuzuki
Cambridge University Press

This is the first full-scale biography of Edward Carpenter, an 'eminent Victorian' who played an intriguing role in the revival of Socialism in Britain in the late nineteenth century. 'A worthy heir of Carlyle and Ruskin', as Tolstoy called him, Carpenter tackled boldly the problems of alienation under the pressures of commercial civilisation, and developed a strongly personalised brand of Socialism which inspired both the Labour Party and its enemies, Syndicalism and Anarchism. A homosexual, he grappled with the problems of sexual alienation above all, and emerged as the foremost advocate of the homosexual cause at a time when it was a social 'taboo'. This study, based upon letters and many other personal documents, reveals much of Carpenter's personal life which has hitherto remained obscure, including his 'comradeship' with some of his working-men friends and his influence upon such notable literary figures as Siegfried Sassoon, E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence.

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Vigilant Memory Vigilant Memory
R. Clifton Spargo
Johns Hopkins University Press

Vigilant Memory: Emmanuel Levinas, the Holocaust, and the Unjust Death focuses on the particular role of Emmanuel Levinas's thought in reasserting the ethical parameters for poststructuralist criticism in the aftermath of the Holocaust. More than simply situating Levinas's ethics within the larger context of his philosophy, R. Clifton Spargo offers a new explanation of its significance in relation to history. In critical readings of the limits and also the heretofore untapped possibilities of Levinasian ethics, Spargo explores the impact of the Holocaust on Levinas's various figures of injustice while examining the place of mourning, the bad conscience, the victim, and the stranger/neighbor as they appear in Levinas's work. Ultimately, Spargo ranges beyond Levinas's explicit philosophical or implicit political positions to calculate the necessary function of the "memory of injustice" in our cultural and political discourses on the characteristics of a just society.

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Poem of the Week

Cousin Nancy

Miss Nancy Ellicott
Strode across the hills and broke them,
Rode across the hills and broke them --
The barren New England hills --
Riding to hounds
Over the cow-pasture.

Miss Nancy Ellicott smoked
And danced all the modern dances;
And her aunts were not quite sure how they felt about it,
But they knew that it was modern.

Upon the glazen shelves kept watch
Matthew and Waldo, guardians of the faith,
The army of unalterable law.

-- TS Eliot
Collected Poems 1909-62 (Faber and Faber)

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Word of the Day

fascicle

Part of a book published in installments. For example, the Oxford English Dictionary was published in fascicles. more …

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October's Books of the Month

Everything Passes Everything Passes
Gabriel Josipovici
Auschwitz Report Auschwitz Report
Primo Levi

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