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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Blog entries on '10 May 2007'

Thursday 10 May 2007

Marxism and Children's Literature 2

What are you doing on Saturday 9th June? Michael Rosen has just written to tell me about a conference called Marxism and Children's Literature 2:


Following last year's successful initiating conference (March 23 2006) at the University of Hertfordshire, there will be a second in what is hoped will be an annual event. The obituaries of Marxism continue to appear but sightings have been reported all over the world. Whether it is in biographies of writers, analyses of epochs, explanations for the appearance of new forms and themes, critics persist in finding ways to connect writers and their works to the stresses and strains of the societies that nourished them.

Alan Gibbons and Michael Rosen will discuss critiques of government approaches to the teaching of children's literature. Authors Ann Turnbull, China Mieville, Jonathan Neale and Alan Gibbons will talk about their work.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Thursday 10 May 2007

Hofmann on Herbert

Via Patrick Kurp's Anecdotal Evidence:


The poet-translator Michael Hofmann reviews The Collected Poems: 1956-1998, by Zbigniew Herbert, in the May issue of Poetry. Hofmann idolizes Herbert but eviscerates his latest translator, Alissa Valles, and addresses the question of why John and Bogdana Carpenter, Herbert's longtime translators, were not given the task. Here's a sample of Hofmann's rage:

"Alissa Valles's Herbert is slack, chattersome, hysterical, full of exaggeration, complacency, and reaching for effect. The original (I'm quite sure) is none of those things. This Collected Poems is a hopelessly, irredeemably bad book. The only solution to its problems would be a bulk reinstatement of the old translations. These things matter so much; it would be nice if they made a difference."

Hofmann goes on to say: 


"New translation" is never the infallible trump that publishers sometimes wish (do they ever believe it?) when they are driven to play it. Old translations hang around, even when they are notionally superseded or replaced, even when they have been discredited, which again is manifestly not the case here. Constance Garnett's Tolstoy, Scott-Moncrieff's Proust, Edwin and Willa Muir's Kafka, H.T. Lowe-Porter's Thomas Mann—all have their adherents. Notable instances in poetry would include the Rilke of J.B. Leishman or C.F. MacIntyre, and the Cavafy of Edmund Keeley and Phillip Sherard. As the song has it, the first cut is the deepest.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Serendipoetry

Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

-- Siegfried Sassoon
Collected Poems (Faber and Faber)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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