The Pring-Mill Collection: Nicaragua — Part III

The Testimonio (Testimonial Literature)

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Part I of this series of blog posts introduced the Robert Pring-Mill collection at the Taylor Institution Library and explored Nicaraguan poetry. The second part focused on serial publications, pamphlets and grey literature. Last but not least, Part III discusses the genre known as testimonial literature.

The Pring-Mill collection includes some very interesting books documenting the trajectory of the revolution from its early beginnings. A recurring form found in Latin American literature of that time, the testimonio flourished in Nicaragua during the course of the revolution and was developed, according to Beverley and Zimmermann (1990), by the American feminist and academic Margaret Randall in her various publications. Randall lived for many years in Nicaragua and published her well-known book Sandino’s Daughters, the story of the women who fought in the revolution, in 1981. Also in the Pring-Mill collection is her book Risking a Somersault in the Air: Conversations with Nicaraguan Writers (1984), comprising 12 interviews with some of Nicaragua’s most important writers/revolutionaries. Randall also wrote the introduction and transcribed the story of Doris Tijerino in Doris Tijerino: Inside the Nicaraguan Revolution (1978), which tells the story of one woman’s life, shaped by the country’s struggle, as an illustration of women’s experiences everywhere in times of tyranny and war. Cristianos en la Revolución (1983) comprises Randall’s interviews with some of the most important figures in the new revolutionary government, some of whom were also integrating liberation theology with the Nicaraguan movement: Ernesto Cardenal, the then Minister of Culture; Uriel Molina, director of the religious centre Antonio Valdivieso; and Luis Carrión, Commander of the Revolution and Deputy Minister of the Interior.

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Barricada: Corresponsales de Guerra (1983) was a newspaper launched during the insurgency period as a means to counter the government-owned media and it became the official organ of the FSLN. It is a journalistic account of five war testimonials of events between March and June 1983 by a group of war correspondents who take up arms. It includes photographs in black and white of the involvement of these war correspondents in their first experience of war and how they bonded with other Sandinista militias while following them into combat.

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In the tradition of Bartolome de las Casas’ Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, 1552), priest Teófilo Cabestrero published Nicaragua: Crónica de una sangre inocente (1985), an account of 60 civilian testimonials as victims of atrocities and crimes in Nicaragua at that time. It describes how the peasant population of Latin America was the primary victim of the violent social, economic and political struggles.

Published by the new revolutionary publisher Nueva Nicaragua, Sandino: Enfrenta al imperialismo (1981) is a large, beautiful collection of black and white photographs drawn from Nicaraguan citizens’ photographs taken during the revolutionary struggle led by Augusto Sandino (1927-1933). This book was published for the 47th anniversary of the death of Augusto Sandino (1934) by the Junta de Gobierno de Reconstrucción Nacional. Divided into nine parts, it documents the main players of the time and their movements, including Sandino’s travels through Mexico.

Another large book of black and white photographs is Nicaragua: A Decade of Revolution (1991) with an introduction by Eduardo Galeano and edited by Lou Dematteis with Chris Vail. It is a chronology of snapshots of Nicaragua from 1979, the year of the overthrow of dictator Anastasio Somoza, until 1990, the year of the election victory of Violeta Chamorro. These photographs offer a brutal but realistic documentation of the triumphs and tragedies of these years.

The Pring-Mill collection contains other publications documenting, through photography, Nicaragua during different periods and through different lenses, as well as many other books, magazines, journals and grey literature — too many to describe here but which are definitely worth further investigation. One of my favourites is the book Carlos Para Todos (1987). A biography of Carlos Fonseca and history of Nicaragua from 1936 onwards, it is illustrated, in comic-book style, by the illustrator and political cartoonist Eduardo del Rio, known by his pen name Rius.

photo37Readers may know him as the author of the very popular book Marx For Beginners which started the For Beginners series. Employing his characteristic style and satire he gives a short and simple narrative of Nicaragua from 1936, the year in which the Nicaraguan teacher and librarian Carlos Fonseca, founder of the FSLN, was born. The book tells Fonseca’s story with help of comic-book illustrations, photographs, and articles in an anarchic and accessible style.

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I am very grateful to Joanne Edwards and Frank Egerton for giving me the possibility to freely explore this collection and learn so much about a country that is seldom in the mainstream media and yet whose influence on Latin American literature and identity, in terms of its committed poetry and also its liberation theology, has been so powerful.

Natalia Bermúdez Qvortrup
University College of Oslo and Akershus
Intern, Social Science Library, Bodleian Libraries

Further reading

Arellano, Jorge Eduardo (1997) Literatura Nicaraguense Managua: Ediciones Distribuidora Cultural

Beverley, John and Marc Zimmerman (1990) Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions. Austin: University of Texas.

Forster, Merlin H. and K.David Jackson (1990) Vanguardism in Latin American Literature: An annotated Bibliographical Guide. New York: Greenwood Press

Pring-Mill, Robert (1970) “Both in Sorrow and in Anger: Spanish American protest poetry” Cambridge Review  vol. 91/2195.

Websites:

Cerezo Barredo: http://www.minocerezo.it/

For Beginners Books – About us: http://www.forbeginnersbooks.com/aboutus.html

Listening to Dante: An Audio-visual Afterlife

‘Listening to Dante: An Audio-Visual Afterlife’: Film – Readings – Vinyl – Books – Images
by David Bowe

2016-07-CetraIt all started with a box of LPs. Well, strictly speaking, it all started with the birth of Dante Alighieri in 1265 and his subsequent writing of the three-part epic poem the Divine Comedy (the Commedia to its friends) begun in 1308 and finished not long before his death in  1321. The LPs, a set of recordings pressed by CETRA in 1964, and featuring readings of the complete Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso by Arnoldo Foà, Carlo D’Angelo, Achille Millo, Giorgio Alber-tazzi, Antonio Crast, Romolo Valli and Tino Carraro, were placed on my library desk by the Taylorian’s Italian Literature and Language Librarian, together with a note saying, ‘I thought these might be of interest’. And they were, providing the meeting point of my love for Dante and for slightly old-fashioned recording technologies. The road this took me down was a little unexpected, as I was prompted to contemplate the range of responses that Dante’s writing has provoked over the centuries, from the earliest illuminators and commentators, to the most recent translations, adaptations, and research.

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This led me to the Taylor’s collections of rare printed books, dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries, to films, operas, and symphonic poems from all across the world and on the internet, and thence to a Taylorian event at which these different media were considered.

For the Case List of Works on Display in the Voltaire Room and Vestibule, click here:

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In 1782 Britain saw the publication of the first full translation of Dante’s Inferno into English, by one Charles Rogers. The first English translation of the entire Divine Comedy, by the Irish cleric Henry Boyd, was published in 1802 (though his version of Inferno first appeared as early as 1785).

2016-09-dante-book-display-boyde-translations-resized2Thanks to the collecting of renowned Cardiff-born Dante Scholar Edward Moore (a fellow of The Queen’s College and later Principal of St Edmund Hall in Oxford), and courtesy of a long-term loan from The Queen’s College, the Taylor Institution Library holds copies of both of these translations. Moore was working towards the end of a 19th Century which saw the growth of both general readerly interest in the Florentine poet and the emergence of the formal discipline of Dante Studies in the Anglophone world.

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Moore founded the Oxford Dante Society in 1876 and the Dante Society of America was founded by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Charles Eliot Norton in 1881. These three had previously met as a less formal Dante Club while Longfellow prepared his famous translation of the Comedy, first published in 1867. Back in Oxford, our own Edward Moore was also responsible for the first modern edition of Dante’s works in Italian, the so-called ‘Oxford Dante’, printed by Oxford University Press in 1894. This edition of Dante’s medieval texts was a landmark for Dante scholarship worldwide and also had the honour of being OUP’s first publication entirely in a ‘modern’ foreign language..

Contributing to this developing context, the Pre-Raphaelites and poets like Alfred Lord Tennyson were discovering Dante’s stories, poetry, and the powerful visual imagery which emerged from his work. Few of the larger collections of pre-Raphaelite art, including that of  are without images drawn from Dante. Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum (next door to the Taylorian) has a fine collection of Pre-Raphaelite works, recently re-installed, and includes Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s ‘Dante drawing an Angel on the First Anniversary of Beatrice’s Death’.

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Dante drawing an Angel on the First Anniversary of Beatrice’s Death (Ashmolean Museum: Watercolour and bodycolour on paper, 1853)

The 19th century wasn’t the first time that echoes of Dante’s writing had been  heard in England. The works of Chaucer are shot through with strands of allusion to and quotation or adaptation of Dante’s writing, especially the Comedy. For instance, the Wife of Bath borrows a few lines on the theme of nobility from Purgatorio Canto 7, and the Prioress’s invocations of the Virgin Mary are indebted to St. Bernard’s prayer at the start of the 33rd Canto of Paradiso. One of the most explicit acknowledgements of Dante as source text comes in the Monk’s Tale, however: the Monk tells the tragedye of one Hugelino and, having recounted the starvation of father and sons while imprisoned by Archbishop Ruggieri of Pisa, he directs curious listeners to read the Inferno (Dante’s telling of the episode is found in Canto 33).

Whoso wol here it in a lenger wise
Redeth the grete poete of Taille
That highte Dant, for he kan al devyse
Fro point to point; nat o word wol he faille.

[Whoever wants to hear it in a longer version
Read the great poet of Italy
Who is called Dante, for he can all narrate
In great detail; not one word will he lack.]

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Monk’s Tale, 2459-2462

This early foray of Dante into English was short-lived and we have to wait for Milton’s Paradise Lost for another sustained literary engagement with Dante’s works in English. This is not to say he was unknown in England during the intervening period, however. For example, thanks to the antiquarian meanderings of John Leland, we know that, in the 1530s, copies of a Latin translation and commentary of Dante’s Comedy were to be found in libraries in Oxford and in the Cathedral library of my home city of Wells. So Dante’s works were being translated into and read in the common intellectual language of Latin well before they made it into the English vernacular. Anyone interested in the fate of Dante’s works in the British Isles would do well to look at Nick Havely’s extensive work on the subject in his book Dante’s British Public, which offers an account of Dante’s readers and the fate of his texts in Britain from Chaucer to the modern day.

If translation was a part of the afterlife of Dante’s writing from a very early stage, one of the first indisputably ‘modern’ interpretations of Dante’s work emerged at the start of the 20th century in a relatively new medium, which would come to dominate the world of entertainment: the motion picture. 1911 saw the first (and possibly still the best) film adaptation of Dante’s Inferno. More interpretations would follow in 1924 & 1935 and there has been a recent flurry of animated films, an adaptation of Dan Brown’s ‘Dante-inspired’ Inferno, and there were reports last year that Warner Brothers were gearing up to make a new film in which Dante descends through the circles of Hell to save the woman he loves… There is something rather alarming about the fact that a 21st century entertainment company seems to struggle  more than a 13th century poet with the idea of Beatrice as the one doing the saving, but it remains remarkable that so many feet of celluloid (and megabytes of digital film) continue to be devoted to this medieval poem. The 1911 Milano Films’ Inferno, sometimes (falsely) advertised as the Divina Comedia, is the oldest surviving feature-length film in existence and was arguably the first international blockbuster, taking in excess of $2million in the US alone. We have a sense of some audience reactions, including Nancy Mitford’s, who described seeing it in 1922 in a letter home from Italy:

‘most bloodthirsty and exciting … a man’s hands chopped off very close and full of detail, and a man dying of starvation and eating another man very very close to … helped to add excitement to a film full of battles … , molten lead, a burning city and other little every day matters.’

And one of the episodes being described by Nancy Mitford is the case of Ugolino and Ruggieri, which so inspired Chaucer’s Monk’s Tale. (You can find the full film here, on YouTube.)

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The imagery used for Dante’s hell in this film isn’t itself entirely original. The directors’ scenography drew heavily from Gustave Doré’s iconic 19th century illustrations of the Divine Comedy. There’s something very striking about those engravings brought vividly to life on film and with special effects which were cutting edge at the time and can still sometimes startle (particularly in the more gruesome torments of lower hell that so captured Nancy Mitford’s admiration). The 1911 Inferno acts as a double adaptation, then, of text into image and illustration into moving picture.

The Doré connection is proof enough (and plenty more is available) that the appeal of Dante (and his creations) beyond Italy wasn’t limited to Britain, or the anglophone world. Liszt’s 1849 Après une Lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata is more commonly know as the Dante Sonata, inspired by the Hungarian composer’s reading of the Italian poet’s  Divine Comedy. (Connect here to Vitaly Pisarenko’s rendition.) Dorè and Liszt are but two representatives of the rich traditions of translation, reception and artistic response to his work across Europe and Russia, where Tchaikovsky penned a symphonic poem called Francesca da Rimini in 1876, and Rachmaninov was inspired to write an opera of the same name, based on the events of Inferno 5. Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov were not alone in seeing the musical potential for Francesca’s story, although, of a dozen operas named after Dante’s anti-heroine, only his and Riccardo Zandonai’s remain in the repertoire. Perhaps it is unsurprising that Francesca should be so enthusiastically adopted as a tragic operatic heroine. She is lyrical, enamoured, articulate, and doomed. Her adulterous (incestuous, by medieval standards) affair with her brother-in-law and the murderous wrath of her husband (who will, according to Francesca, end up in Caïna, the zone named for the biblical fratricide Cain and reserved for those who betray, often violently, their kin), are all features that beg for melodrama. Rachmaninov’s opera — available here  — opens with a slow build towards the infernal storm — the ‘bufera infernal’ — of Inferno 5, which eternally buffets the souls of the carnal sinners. The score drives the action and reflects this atmosphere. We then see Dante enquiring about the souls and calling to Paolo and Francesca, who identify themselves and utter the immortal lines: “‘There is no greater sorrow / than to recall our time of joy / in wretchedness’” — “‘Nessun maggior dolore / che ricordarsi del tempo felice / ne la miseria’”.

Rachmaniov’s swirling, disorienting score gives a vivid sense of the frightening, overwhelming moment of Dante’s entry into Hell-proper, which the poet had previously characterised as a space full of ‘Diverse lingue, orribili favelle, / parole di dolore, accenti d’ira, / voci alte e fioche’ [Unfamiliar tongues, horrendous accents, / words of suffering, cries of rage, voices / loud and faint]. All these, Dante, recounts in Inferno III, ‘facevano un tumulto, il qual s’aggira / sempre in quell’ aura sanza tempo tinta, / come la rena quando turbo spira’ [made a tumult, always whirling / in that black and timeless air, / as sand is swirled in a whirlwind]. The vibrant and violent soundscape evoked by Dante’s poetry lends itself readily to musical and sonic responses, the text of his Divine Comedy often demands that we hear as we read, that we allow ourselves to be drawn into a synaesthetic muddling of sight and sound, just as Dante finds his own senses confounded on the 1st terrace of Purgatory.

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La Divina commedia: ridotta a miglior lezione dagli Accademici della Crusca (Firenze: Domenico Manzani, 1595)

After emerging from the Inferno, the next leg of Dante’s journey will be to ascend the mountain of Purgatory where penitent sinners undergo productive torments to pay for their sins and cleanse their souls in preparation for Heaven:

    e canterò di quel secondo regno
dove l’umano spirito si purga
e di salire al ciel diventa degno.

    [Now I shall sing the second kingdom
there where the soul of man is cleansed
made worthy to ascend to Heaven.]

Purgatorio I, 4-6

After a certain amount of milling about on the shores of Purgatory meeting those souls who left their repentance to the last minute, Dante passes through the gate leading to the Mountain where the real work of purgation takes place. The mountain is divided into terraces, each of which is dedicated to the purifying of a particular deadly sinful impulse: Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and finally Lust. The first of these sins is corrected on the first terrace of the mountain of Purgatory and, as Dante emerges onto it, he is faced with three reliefs carved into the living rock. These reliefs depict three scenes of humility, the Virgin Mary accepting the will of God, King David dancing before Ark of the Covenant, and the Emperor Trajan taking time out of his busy schedule to grant justice to a widow whose son had been slain. And these freezes are not the work of man, but the art of God himself, surpassing all other art. Dante describes his sensory confusion in an act of divine ekphrasis: his eyes tell him that he can hear Mary speaking, but his ears tell him no, he can visually smell the incense burning in the scene of the dancing David, even though his nostrils are sure there is nothing to be smelled. Dante is faced with the art of the divine, which is impossible for human sense to fully comprehend or communicate, but Dante gives it a shot… His audacity leads to some beautiful verse and, subsequently, to a vibrant artistic tradition, as generations of artists took Dante’s text as a challenge to produce their own art of the divine. One of the most notable efforts comes from the pen of Botticelli, subject of a recent exhibition at the Courtauld Galleries (London).

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Though Botticelli’s illustrative programme for the Comedy is largely unfinished, the incompleteness takes on a poetic justice in the case of this particular canto, where God’s art is described as so beyond the realm of human hand. Indeed, Dante describes the angel Gabriel who, in this relief,

    dinanzi a noi pareva sì verace
quivi intagliato in un atto soave
che non sembiava imagine che tace.
Giurato si saria ch’el dicesse ‘Ave!

     [appeared before us so vividly engraved
in gracious attitude
it did not seem an image, carved and silent.
One would have sworn he was saying ‘Ave,’]

(Purgatorio X 37-40)

Having now looked at Purgatorio, and, while any discussion of the audio-visual afterlives of the Comedy somewhat inevitably skews towards Inferno, given the comparative weight of artistic responses, translations, and adaptations of the first part of the poem, it would be remiss not to account at least briefly, for Paradiso, a realm which, even more than the divine art of Purgatory, defies representation. Even as Dante recounts the marvels he has seen, he accounts for the failure of language to express that which he has undergone. When recalling his final mystical vision in the heights of Paradiso 33, Dante tell us:

   Omai sarà più corta mia favella
pur a quel ch’io ricordo, che d’un fante
che bagni ancor la lingua a la mammella.

   [Now my words will come far short
of what I still remember, like a babe’s
who at his mother’s breast still wets his tongue.]

Paradiso XXXIII, 106-8

And again:

   Oh quanto è corto il dire e come fioco
al mio concetto! e questo, a quel ch’i’ vidi
è tanto, che non basta a dicer ‘poco’.

           [Oh how scant is speech, too weak to frame my thoughts.
Compared to what I still recall my words are faint —
to call them ‘little’ is to praise them much.]

Par XXXIII, 121-3

Of course, as with that divine art in the previous realm, this didn’t stop Dante exploring the possibility of representation in words, nor did it deter artists from endeavouring to depict the undepictable, Boccaccio again gives it his best shot, here illustrating Dante receiving a lesson on angelology from Beatrice in canto 28 of the Paradiso.

One artist who did eventually embrace the inexpressibility of Paradise, was Liszt, in another Dantean composition, A Symphony to Dante’s Divine Comedy. He had intended to compose a choral third movement to give voice to Paradiso, but was persuaded to shy away from any attempt to express the rapturous heights of heaven in his music, instead concluding his symphonic poem (as it is more often been classified), with a Magnificat.

Artists and entertainers, readers and scholars have listened to Dante in a variety of ways over the seven and half centuries since his death: interpretations, translations, appropriations, distortions, and homages ranging from the OUP’s Very Short Introduction, to Electronic Art’s very questionable videogame, from Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sketches, to Mary Jo Bang’s thematically modernising translation. The Russian poet and essayist Osip Mandelstam, in the Conversations on Dante dictated to his wife in the mid 1930s, said, ‘It is unthinkable to read the cantos of Dante without aiming them in the direction of the present day. They are missiles for capturing the future.’ Our continued fascination with Dante’s poetry, the scores, and texts, and images that have been and continue to be generated and regenerated from those earliest illuminators, commentators, and biographers, to today’s artists, translators, filmmakers and writers demonstrate the continued resonance of his work and the lasting impacts of those missiles from the past. Dante has plenty more to tell us, if we continue to listen.

David Bowe, Victoria Maltby Junior Research Fellow, Somerville College
Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages

Further reading

Dante Alighieri. Inferno, translated by Mary Jo Bang (Minneapolis: Greywolf Press, 2012)

Peter Hainsworth & David Robey. Dante: a very short introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015)

N.R. Havely. Dante’s British public: readers and texts, from the fourteenth century to the present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)

Tristan Kay, Martin McLaughlin, and Michelangelo Zaccarello. ‘Introduction’, in  Dante in Oxford: the Paget Toynbee Lectures, ed. by Tristan Kay, Martin McLaughlin, and Michelangelo Zaccarello (London: Legenda, 2011), pp. 1-23 (1)

Dagmar Korbacher, ed. Botticelli and the treasures from the Hamilton collection (London: Paul Holberton, 2016)

Osip Mandelstam. ‘Conversation on Dante’, in The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam, translated by Clarence Brown and W.S. Merwin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973)

Matthew Pearl. The Dante Club (London: Vintage, 2014)

 

The Pring-Mill Collection: Nicaragua — Part II

Serial publications, pamphlets and propaganda

Part I of this series of blog posts introduced the Robert Pring-Mill collection at the Taylor Institution Library and explored Nicaraguan poetry. This second part focuses on serial publications, pamphlets and grey literature. Part III, the last in the series, will discuss the genre known as testimonial literature.

It is in the serial publications, political pamphlets and the literacy campaign – La Cruzada Nacional de Alfabetización, with which Ernesto Cardenal was involved – that one can clearly see the role of what Pring-Mill termed “committed poetry”. In these publications, alongside political essays and journalistic accounts of human rights abuses, we find poetry and songs. Publications such as Tlaloc, Amanecer, La Chachalaca, student journals, literacy pamphlets and revolutionary martyrs’ obituaries, as well as other genres, show the function of poetry as part of a greater expression of national identity and development.

A good introduction to Nicaragua of the late 1970s and early 1980s is the magazine Amanecer: Reflexion Cristiana en la Nueva Nicaragua. It shows the strong links, in Nicaragua, between Christianity and the Sandinista movement. As its official artist and cartoonist it had Maximino Cerezo Barredo, the liberation theologian who produced liberation art throughout Latin America. The magazine provides a good insight into what was going on in Nicaragua politically and socially, covering events from the visit of Pope John Paul II (1983), to cinema festivals and peasant workshops. The Pope’s visit resulted in a variety of articles by prominent figures in the liberation theology movement expressing frustration and disappointment over the pontiff’s position with regard to the Sandinista revolution.

Amanecer includes articles and poems from the best-known intellectuals and poets of Nicaragua, authors widely represented in the Taylorian’s collections. We find poetry by Rubén Darío, Rosario Murillo, Ernesto Cardenal (Minister of Culture 1979-87), José María Valverde and other liberation theologians such as Fray Betto and Leonardo Boff, as well as interviews with the historian Hans-Jurgen Prien. There is political analysis, including the prediction of the escalation of the Contra War (Amanecer, January 1982, p.4), alongside songs and poems. This juxtapositioning shows the deep roots that the oral tradition has in Nicaragua, and the role it plays in its national identity and by extension in its political and social development.

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Selection of periodicals in the Pring-Mill collection

The place of poetry in the reconstruction of the country after the revolution of 1979 is also evident in these serial publications. La Chachalaca (1985) was a publication of the Centros Populares de Cultura (Ministry of Culture) with the aim of developing “educational activities that contribute to increasing the level of culture of the citizens” (my own translation). This was the Sandinista project of cultural democratisation.

Article by Cortazar in La Chachalaca

Julio Cortázar. Article extract in La Chachalaca

Aurora, a trimestral publication on a variety of topics, comprises political essays, historical analysis, book reviews and poetry including, in 1964, Pablo Neruda’s poem Cita de Invierno. The number of articles on the Soviet Union in both Aurora and another publication, América Latina No. 4 (1976), reflects the close ties between the two regions. The latter, a Russian-Latin American academic publication, was probably collected by Pring-Mill for its article on Pablo Neruda as it includes 20 of the poet’s previously unpublished letters.

Various pamphlet series celebrating the lives of combatants who died during the armed struggle were published during the ‘70s and ‘80s. Each pamphlet is dedicated to the biography of an individual revolutionary martyr. Many of the combatants wrote poetry and this is included in each of their biographies. Some biographies also include a prayer or a passage from the Bible and frequently there is a direct comparison between the deceased and Jesus Christ or the Christian martyrs. It is here, as well as in Amanecer, that the influence of liberation theology in Nicaragua can really be seen.

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A publication which aims to be pedagogic as well as religious is Historia de la Iglesia de los Pobres en Nicaragua, by the Comisión de Estudios de Historia de la Iglesia en Latinoamérica (1983). The booklet is in a simple language, within a cartoon-like format. It narrates the history of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua beginning with the colonial period and ending with 1979. It explains the differing models of the Church, how the Church dealt with the different historical periods in Nicaragua, and how the Church integrated itself into the revolution.

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Less religious in focus but told in similar comic-book fashion is a translated booklet of cartoons by Roger Sánchez, a political cartoonist and social critic then aged 24, who also drew for the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN — Sandinista National Liberation Front) and its newspaper, Barricada. Sánchez’s Cartoons from Nicaragua: The Revolutionary Humour of Roger (1984) was published by the Committee of US Citizens Living in Nicaragua which, though it claimed not to align itself with the FSLN, did want to help change US policy in Nicaragua.

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Part of the Sandinista project was the creation of a space with possibilities of alliance between the workers and the middle and upper classes. The aim was to increase educational attainment as well as create a shared sense of national-popular identity. Serie Educación Popular: Programa de reactivación económica en beneficio del pueblo (small booklet version, 1980) is written in clear and simple language explaining what the economic recovery programme consists of, its strategies, aims and related problems.

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Other pragmatic pamphlets include, Revolución y El Campo: Boletín Informativo by the Centros Populares de Cultura, and Qué es el plan 80?: Plan de emergencia y reactivación económica en beneficio del pueblo: Ministerio de Planificación Nacional, among others. They were an attempt to inform citizens in an open and straightforward language about the economic plans and strategies of the new revolutionary government. Other pamphlets like these were part of the literacy campaign launched by the Sandinista government in 1980, in what was known as El año de la alfabetización (The Year of Literacy).

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Natalia Bermúdez Qvortrup
University College of Oslo and Akershus
Intern, Social Science Library, Bodleian Libraries

Further reading

Arellano, Jorge Eduardo (1997) Literatura Nicaraguense Managua: Ediciones Distribuidora Cultural

Beverley, John and Marc Zimmerman (1990) Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions. Austin: University of Texas.

Forster, Merlin H. and K.David Jackson (1990) Vanguardism in Latin American Literature: An annotated Bibliographical Guide. New York: Greenwood Press.

Pring-Mill, Robert “ Both in Sorrow and in Anger: Spanish American protest poetry” Cambridge Review  vol.91/ 2195 (1970).

Websites:

Maximino Cerezo Barredo: http://www.minocerezo.it/

For Beginners Books: http://www.forbeginnersbooks.com/aboutus.html

 

The World of Ariosto

The World of Ariosto

Oxford, Taylor Institution
16-17 June 2016

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Dosso Dossi. Melissa [previously thought to be Circe] (oil on canvas, 1522-1524)

2016 marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of Ariosto’s Orlando furioso, one of the most precious gems of the Italian Renaissance, a chivalric romance brimming with dazzling feats of arms and seductive love stories whose graceful irony and underlying seriousness have never ceased to enthral and intrigue readers and critics alike. Since the beginning of this anniversary year there has been a number of celebratory events in different parts of the world, with more being planned for the coming months. Oxford had no desire to overlook this centenary and on 16-17 June 2016 the Taylor Institution hosted a two-day international conference entitled ‘500 Years of Orlando Furioso’. (Link here to the conference programme: Oxford Ariosto Conference.) Two bibliographic displays, devoted to Ariosto and his world, were also on show. One group of works was exhibited in the Taylor Institution Library’s Voltaire Room; another group could be seen at the Weston Library.

These displays were designed to visually highlight key moments in both the publishing history of the poem and also the history of its reception and interpretation in Italy and Europe, with a focus on the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. They were conceived as visual counterparts to the Oxford Ariosto conference, whose main themes were tradition, reception, and interpretation. At the Taylorian, the items were drawn from the Italian collections of the Taylor Institution Library: though not as large as that of the Bodleian Library, its early printed book collection includes a number of valuable editions of Renaissance chivalric classics as well as works of literary criticism.

Ariosto’s fame began to spread far and wide soon after the publication of the 1532 Furioso. It was reprinted 16 times by 1540, and for the next decades every year saw the publication of at least one edition, mostly in Venice, one of the centres of the European printing industry in the sixteenth century. Particular highlights of the display were copies of sixteenth-century Venetian editions of Orlando furioso. The 1555 Gabriele Giolito edition, the 1562 Vincenzo Valgrisi Furioso and the 1584 Francesco de’ Franceschi Furioso are decorated with beautiful woodcuts (copper engravings in the case of the latter edition), and visitors could compare different illustrations to the first canto of the poem.

ORLANDO / FVRIOSO / DI M. / LODOVICO ARIOSTO / Nuouamente / adornato di Figure di Rame / da Girolamo Porro […], Venice, Francesco de Franceschi Senese, 1584

ORLANDO / FVRIOSO / DI M. / LODOVICO ARIOSTO / Nuouamente / adornato di Figure di Rame / da Girolamo Porro […], Venice, Francesco de Franceschi Senese, 1584

The endearingly tiny 1570 Valgrisi Furioso was displayed alongside these three luxurious books – an attractive pocket edition for less well-off readers or for those who wanted their Furioso to be of convenient size for carrying around.

Robert McNulty’s edition of John Harington’s 1591 translation of the poem, as well as the Spanish (Jerónimo de Urrea, 1553) and French (François de Rosset, 1625) translations, gave visitors an idea of Ariosto’s success outside Italy. His renown in his native land was further reflected in the selection of sixteenth-century scholarly works devoted to Orlando furioso, ranging from Simon Fórnari’s Spositione (1549) to Giuseppe Malatesta’s Della nuova poesia, o vero delle difese del Furioso (1589).

Other items included chivalric poems by Luca Pulci (a 1572 copy of Ciriffo calvaneo) and Matteo Maria Boiardo’s Orlando innamorato, together with Nicolò degli Agostini’s sequel in Domenico Imberti’s 1602 edition), Ariosto’s comedy Cassaria (the 1560 Giolito edition) and Boiardo’s translation of Herodotus (Giovan Antonio di Nicolini di Sabbio, 1533).

CIRIFFO CALVANEO / DI LVCA PVLCI / Gentilhuomo Fiorentino. / Con la Giostra del Magnifico Lorenzo / DE MEDICI […], Florence, Stamperia de’ Giunti, 1572

CIRIFFO CALVANEO / DI LVCA PVLCI / Gentilhuomo Fiorentino. / Con la Giostra del Magnifico Lorenzo / DE MEDICI […], Florence, Stamperia de’ Giunti, 1572

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ORLANDO / INNAMORATO / DEL / S. MATTEO MARIA / BOIARDO, CONTE / DI SCANDIANO. / INSIEME COI TRE LIBRI DI M. NICOLO / de gli Agostini, già riformati per M. / Lodouico Domenichi […], Venice, Domenico Imberti, 1602.

The Taylor Institution Library display was held in conjunction with another, shown at the recently renovated Weston Library. The latter featured two illuminated manuscripts of fifteenth-century chivalric poems, a manuscript of Matteo Maria Boiardo’s collection of lyric poetry, and a copy of the 1532 definitive edition of Orlando furioso. The displays were accompanied by an illustrated catalogue (here split into two parts, for easier consultation) produced by Dr Maria Pavlova with the help of Anna Wawrzonkowska, a second-year student in Italian and Linguistics.

LINK to the catalogue:   2016-06-Ariosto-Weston and Taylorian Part 1-Taylorian

LINK to the catalogue: 2016-06-Ariosto-Weston and Taylorian Part 2-Weston

Maria Pavlova
Joanna Randall MacIver Junior Research Fellow, St Hugh’s College
Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages

DISCORSO / SOPRA IL PRINCIPIO / DI TVTTI I CANTI / D’ORLANDO FVRIOSO. / DELLA S. LAVRA TERRACINA, / detta nell’Academia de gl’incogniti, Febea […], Venice, Gabriel Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1565

DISCORSO / SOPRA IL PRINCIPIO / DI TVTTI I CANTI / D’ORLANDO FVRIOSO. / DELLA S. LAVRA TERRACINA, / detta nell’Academia de gl’incogniti, Febea […], Venice, Gabriel Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1565

Further reading

Ludovico Ariosto. Orlando furioso secondo la princeps del 1516, ed. Marco Dorigatti (Firenze: Olschki, 2006)

Orlando Lina Bolzoni and Loreta Lucchetti. L’Orlando furioso nello specchio delle immagini (Roma: Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, [2014?])

Lina Bolzoni, et al. L’Orlando Furioso e la sua traduzione in immagini: http://www.orlandofurioso.org/

Sir John Harington, trans. Ludovico Ariosto’s ‘Orlando furioso’, ed. Robert McNulty (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972)

Neil Harris. Bibliografia dell’“Orlando innamorato” (Modena: Panini, 1988)

Daniel Javitch. Proclaiming a Classic: the Canonization of “Orlando Furioso” (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991)

Ita MacCarthy. Women and the making of poetry in Ariosto’s Orlando furioso (Leicester: Troubador, 2007)

Marco Villoresi. La letteratura cavalleresca: dai cicli medievali all’Ariosto (Roma: Carocci, 2000)

 

 

The Pring-Mill Collection: Nicaragua — Part I

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In recent months, Victor Jara has been in the news again owing to a trial being brought against a former Chilean lieutenant involved in his murder. The names of songwriters such as Victor Jara, Mercedes Sosa and Quilapayún continue to resonate in Latin America and around the world. Less well known (beyond Latin America) is the poetry, with the same kind of political commitment to revolution and the people’s struggle, that emerged in Nicaragua. These writings influenced subsequent generations, including pre-eminent Latin American musicians, and they play a prominent part in Latin American cultural history.

Part of the collection that the late renowned academic Robert Pring-Mill (1924-2005) bequeathed to the Taylor Institution Library depicts and encapsulates not only a crucial period of Latin American history — the revolutionary struggle of Nicaragua — but also the struggle in Latin America for meaning and representation through literature. As scholars such as Pring-Mill, and John Beverley and Marc Zimmerman (1990) have argued, while the novel became literary nationalism in Latin America, in Central America it was poetry that took on this role. In no other country in Central America did poetry have the significance and effect on national culture and identity as in Nicaragua. Testimonial writing is also a form of literature found in the publications of this collection, and has been a central tool for writers of revolutions in Central America.

The Pring-Mill collection is fascinating as a legacy of an era where committed poetry and testimonials take centre stage. The term “committed poetry”, a term penned by Pring-Mill himself, applies to a poetry that moves beyond the aesthetic to the testimonial of not only describing reality, but acting upon it and influencing the world, using poetry as a tool for social change through critique, protest, denunciation and reporting.

The Pring-Mill collection, which I was very generously given access to study, illustrates how art and revolution are closely interwoven in Latin America; and, in the case of Nicaragua, the close interweaving of art, Catholicism and revolution.

This article has been divided into three blog posts, published separately and over the course of the coming weeks. The first post introduces the collection and then focuses on Nicaraguan poetry. The second will explore serial publications and grey literature. The third will discuss testimonial literature.

Introducing the Collection

Steve Simpson. Postcard from Nicaragua

Steve Simpson. Postcard from Nicaragua

Some good introductory publications to both the collection and to Nicaragua of that time, for those who do not read Spanish, are: Not Just Another Nicaragua Travel Guide, by Alan Hulme, Steve Krekel and Shannon O’Reilly (1990); and Postcard from Nicaragua, by Steve Simpson (1987). They approach Nicaragua from a visitor’s perspective. The travel guide gives a fantastic portrait of Nicaragua, using humour, photographs in black and white and the authors’ personal opinions. Simpson’s book is the diary of his journey through Nicaragua in 1987, with a few illustrations.

A few documents were published in Germany, Russia, the UK, France and the US and show the support coming from different sectors of these countries. Many of these are from Nicaragua Solidarity Campaigns in their respective countries, while others, such as the New Left Review and the Latin American Bureau, are of a more academic nature.

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Yet the most interesting of these, for me personally, is the counter-report on Central America by two UK Members of Parliament, Stuart Holland and Donald Anderson, with a preface by Neil Kinnock, entitled Kissinger’s Kingdom? (1984).

This report was the product of a fact-finding mission instigated by Neil Kinnock, the then leader of the Labour Party, as a response to the Kissinger Commission on Population and Development in Central America (its report was issued in 1984). The result is a wider and more balanced investigation into the struggles of the region and by extension is a criticism of American foreign policy at that time. It also includes criticism of the structural inadequacies in UK diplomatic representation and provides some analogies with other conflicts such as those in The Balkans and Vietnam. It is a short but fascinating insight not only into Central America but also into the mentality of the UK’s Labour Party at that time.

On the whole, the Pring-Mill collection on Nicaragua falls into three categories — which invariably overlap. The first and largest of the three, is the collection of Nicaraguan poetry; the second is the collection of grey material, ephemera and serial publications, mostly issued by the new revolutionary government of 1979 and onwards; and, finally, the testimonial writings.

Nicaraguan Poetry

Poetry has been identified as the starting point for the Sandinista revolution, as the vehicle for inspiration and political expression of Nicaraguans. For a good introduction to the historical development of Nicaraguan poetry there is Jorge E. Arellano’s Antología general de la poesía nicaragüense (1984). It provides a survey of all the currents, trends and styles of the poetry in Nicaragua throughout the years. It starts with pre-Columbian poetry, followed by colonial poetry, then the neoclassical and romantic poets, poets contemporary with Rubén Darío, modernists, vanguard poets and post-modernists. It also includes poets on the periphery and the ‘50s generation. But to understand the importance of poetry in Nicaragua one must go back to Rubén Darío, one of the most famous poets in Latin America. He was the first to pen the term modernismo in Latin America and later the Sandinista movement established Darío as a cult figure. There are some articles dedicated to Darío in the Pring-Mill collection, but there is more emphasis on the poets who came later in the vanguard movement, poets who in fact rejected Darío and modernismo. The Vanguardia movement in Nicaragua was, according to Forster and Jackson, by far the most vital in Central America. It was the “initial impetus”, in the mid 1920s, of José Coronel Urtecho, who published a sardonic poem “Oda a Rubén Darío” which inspired a number of famous poets whose works are in the Pring-Mill collection.  Urtecho is an important figure in Nicaragua both before and after the revolution and his support and enthusiasm for the new Nicaragua is depicted in his poem Conversación con Carlos, with engravings by Graciale Azcarate and Tony Capellán (1986), about his time with the founder of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), Carlos Fonseca.

Urtecho was mentor to Ernesto Cardenal and other 1940s poets and intellectuals who were “incubated” in the celebrated poetry workshop, Taller San Lucas. Established in 1941, the Taller was the result of a group of friends brought together by their Catholicism and love of culture and is a product of the revolutionary fervor that was growing at that time, together with the vanguardista movement of which Pablo Antonio Cuadra was very much a part. The poetry workshop was organised by another significant vanguardista, Pablo Antonio Cuadra. It was Cuadra, together with Francisco Pérez Estrada, who collected the texts for Muestrario del Folklore Nicaragüense (1978), produced by the Fondo de Promoción Cultural as part of the series Ciencias Humanas.

Photo10The Fondo was set up by the Banco de América to promote Nicaraguan culture through a collection of historical, literary, anthropological and archaeological publications. Muestrario del Folklore Nicaragüense is a collection of popular and folkloric Nicaraguan stories, theatre pieces, songs, poems, legends, sayings, rhymes, myths and more.

Photo09As the introduction mentions, it is the fruit of research conducted by the editors during their work at Taller San Lucas during the 1940s. It is one of the most interesting publications in the Pring-Mill collection, due to the richness of its content, and it was clearly a long labour of love to put the book together.

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The publication is also an extraordinary record of Nicaraguan culture. Muestrario’s editors have maintained original spellings and the vernacular used by the locals who penned the works included. Loga del Niño Dios, for example, contains words in the Mangue language of the Chorotegas, natives of the region.

The voice of Ernesto Cardenal (Minister of Culture 1979-87)  can be found in a few items in the Taylorian collections, as well as in the interviews he gave for Margaret Randall’s Cristianos en la Revolución (1983) and Teófilo Cabestrero’s Ministers of God, Ministers of the People: Testimonies of Faith from Nicaragua (1983). His poem to Marilyn Monroe, as well as others, appeared in Tlaloc (Spring 1972. 3,4), a magazine produced by the students of the Department of Hispanic Studies at the State University of New York Stony Brook. A free publication distributed in Latin America and the US, it also includes poems and articles from Juan Rotta and Mario Vargas Llosa.

Photo11The surge and the establishment of the Sandinista movement in the ‘70s was supported by poets whose works form a significant part this collection. These authors are among Nicaragua’s most recognised poets: Fernando Silva, Julio-Valle Castillo, David McField, Tomás Borge, Pablo Centeno-Gómez and Fransisco de Asís Fernández.

Photo12Photo13Also central to the Nicaraguan poetry of this time is the work of poet-combatants such as Tomás Borge and Luis Vega.

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Yet the most striking are the writings of poet-combatants killed in the revolutionary struggle, such as Leonel Rugama (1949-1970), Ernesto Castillo Salaverry, who died at the age of twenty, and Gaspar García Laviana, a Spanish priest who became a Sandinista leader.Photo15

I am very grateful to Joanne Edwards and Frank Egerton for giving me the possibility to freely explore this collection and learn so much about a country that is seldom in the mainstream media and yet whose influence on Latin American literature and identity, in terms of its committed poetry and also its liberation theology, has been so powerful.

Natalia Bermúdez Qvortrup
University College of Oslo and Akershus
Intern, Social Science Library, Bodleian Libraries

Further reading

Arellano, Jorge Eduardo (1997) Literatura Nicaraguense. Managua: Ediciones Distribuidora Cultural.

Beverley, John and Marc Zimmerman (1990) Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions. Austin: University of Texas.

Forster, Merlin H. and K.David Jackson (1990) Vanguardism in Latin American Literature: An annotated Bibliographical Guide. New York: Greenwood Press.

Pring-Mill, Robert “ Both in Sorrow and in Anger: Spanish American protest poetry” Cambridge Review  vol.91/ 2195 (1970).

 

Six Unpublished Lectures by Jean Seznec

“Revival and Metamorphoses of the Gods in Nineteenth Century Art and Literature”
(1978)

For Blog-Seznec photo-ResizedJean Seznec (1905–1984) came to Oxford in 1950 as Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature and  occupied this position until his retirement in 1972. In 1989 Alain Seznec deposited a selection from among his father’s papers in the Taylor Institution (MS Fol. F. 21–28). The holdings include biographical documents, letters, reviews, and miscellaneous working notes on French authors and painters from Balzac to Voltaire – as well as a number of  polished lecture texts, never published. Especially worth recovering are the six Messenger Lectures, slide lectures that Seznec delivered at Cornell University in the Spring of 1978 on the theme ‘Revival and Metamorphoses of the Gods in Nineteenth Century Art and Literature’. These six talks are here made available for perusal for the first time.

2016-07-MessengerLectures-ResizedBiographical Matters

Of Breton stock, Seznec began his education at the Lycée in Rennes before continuing at the famed Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris and the Ecole normale supérieure, where he took the agrégation in 1928. His subsequent career unfolded largely outside of France – in Italy, the United States, and England. First a member of the Ecole française de Rome (1929–31), then a lecturer in French at Cambridge (1931–33) and briefly a Professeur de Lettres at the Lycée Thiers in Marseilles, he then proceeded to the Institut Française in Florence (1934-39), where he lectured on French literature. Having submitted his thesis at the Sorbonne in 1940, and after having served in the French forces until the armistice, he crossed the Atlantic with family in wartime (leaving books and notes behind) to join the faculty at Harvard University. Here he taught as Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (1941–1949) until he received the call from Oxford. In the years that followed, as a research professor and Fellow of All Souls College, he was involved in the great project, undertaken with Jean Adhémar (Conservateur en chef, Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale), of editing Diderot’s salon criticism: The Clarendon Press would publish this work in four volumes (1957–67; 2nd ed. in three vols, 1975–83).

From the outset Seznec’s  scholarship was distinguished by its hybrid character. He worked between disciplines and regularly turned his attention to writers who studied art and artists who derived inspiration from literature. He is best known for his classic synthesis, La Survivance des dieux antiques – published in 1940 simultaneously as a thesis in the format required by the Sorbonne (100 copies) and as a book (530 copies) in the series Studies of the Warburg Institute. Owing to wartime conditions the volumes could not be distributed until 1945, but then the accolades came: in 1948 the book was awarded the Prix Fould by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, and it would be translated into numerous languages, the English version appearing in 1953 as The Survival of the Pagan Gods: The Mythological Tradition and Its Place in Renaissance Humanism and Art. The Messenger Lectures can be seen as the continuation of this early fascination with the enduring power of myth on the creative mind and the twists and turns of transmission of mythological material, textual and pictorial.

It was in the early 1930s, when Seznec was resident in Rome as a member of the Ecole Française, that he had begun to investigate the iconography of the ancient gods. Overwhelmed by the great mythological cycles painted in Renaissance palaces, and coming to know art historians working in the capital, he became intrigued by the question of the relation of text and image and fascinated by the impact of the great mythographic handbooks of the early modern era on art and literature.

Unusually for a young Frenchman, Seznec sought out a connection with German scholars at the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg in Hamburg, a research library dedicated to the study of the afterlife of antiquity. Its director, Fritz Saxl, offered counsel, and in time the two became close friends. The Warburgians began to call Seznec a Fernschüler – a long distance student. Seznec visited the library, renamed the Warburg Institute, in its new London quarters not long after it had left Nazi Germany. In April 1935 he delivered two lectures there: ‘Mythological Sources of the Sixteenth Century’, and ‘The Diffusion and Influence of the Iconography of the Gods.’ The Institute would publish not only his Survivance  in 1940 – which made accessible a good deal of Warburgian material – but also his Nouvelles études sur La Tentation de saint Antoine in 1949. Seznec published many an essay in the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, the first in 1937 and the last in 1982, ‘La Fontaine égyptologe’, not long before his death.

Mythographical Ventures

Again and again Seznec would return to the theme of the power of ancient myth – not only Greek and Roman. An article he published in 1931, ‘Un essai de mythologie comparée au début du XVIIe siècle’, focused on Lorenzo Pignoria’s preface to an edition of Vincenzo Cartari’s Imagini degli dei (1615) and Pignoria’s efforts to develop a general theory of religion on the basis of comparative study of disparate traditions – Aztec, Japanese, Egyptian.

The goddess Aurora in Vincenzo Cartari's Le imagini degli dei (Venice, 1556) Sackler Library, Wind Room

The goddess Aurora in Vincenzo Cartari’s Le imagini degli dei (Venice, 1556)
Sackler Library, Wind Room

Seznec’s research into the afterlife of the gods remains impressive for its chronological range. The subject of his 1952 Zaharoff Lecture at Oxford was ‘Marcel Proust et les Dieux’; here he argued that Proust’s work, ‘as modern and singular as it is, remains tributary, through all sorts of diversions, to that great classical river that has never ceased to fertilise French literature’. In 1978, the year in which he delivered the Messenger Lectures, Seznec also  gave a series of lectures at Smith College on a parallel survivance: ‘A Nineteenth Century Renaissance: The Revival of Egypt’.  The scripts for these talks, too, survive, if in less polished state, among the Seznec papers in the Taylorian. The content of one, ‘Isis Resurrected’, is shared with the fourth of the Messenger Lectures.

Seznec delivered the Messenger Lectures at Cornell University between 28 March and 6 April 1978. Cassette tapes of all six are preserved – valuable documents of oral history even if the recordings are not of highest quality – along with the handwritten texts of the lectures (MS. Fol. F 28). Seznec had planned to publish these talks and had taken the first steps in acquiring relevant black-and-white photographs. He had also had a few of the texts typed up, with occasional amplifications. I offer here straightforward transcriptions of the handwritten texts, replicating Seznec’s system of inserting red dots at points where slides would have been projected. No attempt is made to provide a proper annotated edition.  The aim is rather to take the reader into the lecture hall. I am grateful to Professor Walter Cahn (Yale University) for having collaborated in proofing the transcriptions.

Elizabeth Sears
George H. Forsyth Jr. Collegiate  Professor of History of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Lecture 1 – The Passing of the Gods

Lecture 2 – After Strange Gods

Lecture 3 – The Awakening of the Centaur

Lecture 4 – The Resurrection of Isis

Lecture 5 – Olympus Parodied and the Jewelled Gods

Lecture 6 – The Cave at Ithaca

Further reading

H. T. Levi and F. Haskell, ‘Jean Joseph Seznec, 1905–1983’, in Proceedings of the British Academy 73 (1987): 643–55 (with bibliography of works)

E. Sears, ‘Seznec, Saxl and La Survivance des dieux antiques’, in R. Duits and F. Quiviger (eds), Les Images des Dieux / Images of the Gods, ed. (London: The Warburg Institute, 2010), 3-20.

M. Sheringham, ‘Seznec, Jean Joseph (1905–1983)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2011 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/62524, accessed 22 July 2016: accessible within the Oxford University network]

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Messenger Lecture 2, p. 8

Istro-Romanian and the Hurren Bequest: Documentation of an Endangered Language

Istro-Romanian is a ‘Daco-Romance’ dialect, closely related to Romanian and spoken by 200-250 people in North-East Istria, Croatia. Their villages are separated by a mountain, Mount Učka, which explains the continued existence of two dialects, northern and southern IR. The Istro-Romanian area has shrunk since the Middle Ages, when it included the islands Krk and Rab off the Croatian Coast in the Adriatic See. The Istro-Romanians probably descend from pastoral people, who settled in Istria in the 15th century, away from the Romanian homeland searching for new pastures for their flocks. This is the most likely hypothesis about their origins, although a movement of people in the opposite direction cannot be entirely ruled out.

2016-06-IRmapIstro-Romanian and Croatian

Istro-Romanian is the only Romance language that shows extensive influence from a Slavic language, i.e. Croatian, not only in vocabulary and verbal system but also in word order which is remarkably free. For example

bovu    ɨn‘trεba  asiru

Ox.the asks        ass.the

can be translated as ‘The ox asks the ass’ or as ‘The ass asks the ox’. The appropriate translation can only be deduced from the context, which would not be the case in Romanian or in Croatian.

The Istro-Romanian speakers don’t have a great sense of linguistic identity, to the extent that they do not have an indigenous name for their language. All speakers are bilingual in Croatian. There is hardly any written IR, although nowadays social media are used as a means of writing in the local language, all be it without a standardized grammar. IR is mainly orally transmitted and is not used in education in any way.

Given this situation, it is remarkable that so many works about the language have been published. A selection of titles, kept in the Taylorian, can be see below. These books were brought out after the Istro-Romanian seminar on 2nd December, given by Prof Martin Maiden, professor of Romance Linguistics at Oxford who is a specialist in Romanian.

The display included several dialect atlases and a textbook.

The Hurren Bequest

The highlight of the book display was an unpublished type-written grammar, written by Anthony Hurren, who did his DPhil at Oxford in 1972. This grammar was donated to the Taylorian as part of the Hurren bequest. It was ready to be published in 1999 but sadly, this never happened due to Hurren’s death. The book deals with phonology, grammar and lexicon of the language and contains a lovely folk tale in the southern dialect about a cat, a cock, a donkey, and a sheep who decide to travel around the world. Since there is not much written material available in IR, Hurren had to collect his language data first before he could contemplate writing a grammar. He interviewed informants from all villages in the region in the 1960s, in preparation for his Oxford DPhil thesis A linguistic description of Istro-Romanian (1972). A list of informants is provided in Appendix B in the grammar which is also based on these sound recordings.

The many hours of sound recordings provide unique Istro-Romanian language material on  reel to reel tape. All is now digitised and kept in the Taylorian as part of the Hurren bequest. A transcription project is underway.

I thank Prof Maiden for his enlightening seminar on 2nd December 2015 in the Taylorian and I am most grateful that I could have the text of his lecture on which most of this blog is based.

Johanneke Sytsema, Linguistics Librarian, Taylor Institution Library

Further reading:

Atlas

Flora, R. (2003) Micul atlas lingvistic al graiurilor istroromâne (MALGI).  București : Editura Academiei Române. (Taylor Library L.ATL.B.ROU.13)

Dictionary

Neiescu, Petru. (2011- ) Dicționarul dialectului istroromân. București : Editura Academiei Române. (Closed stack)

Language studies

Popovici, J. (1914). Dialectele romîne din Istria.  Halle a.S. (Taylor Library ARA.1.BV.5/4)

Puşcariu, S. (1926). Studii istroromâne. Bucharest; Cultura naţională. (Taylor Institution Library ARA.1.BV.5/1)

Sârbu, R. and Frăţilă, V. (1998). Dialectul istroromân : texte și glosar. Timişoara: Amarcord. (Taylor Institution Library ARA.1.BV.5/9)

Kovačec, A. (1971). Descrierea istroromânei actuale. Bucharest: Editura Academiei. (Taylor Institution Library  ARA.1.BV.5/7)

Hurren, H. A. (1969). Verbal aspect and archi-aspect in Istro-Rumanian. La Linguistique 2:59-90. (Closed stack and Online)

Hurren, H. A.  (1971). A linguistic description of Istro-Rumanian. Thesis (D.Phil.)–University of Oxford. (Weston Library, closed stack)

Scărlătoiu, Elena.(1998) Istroromânii şi istroromânâ. Relații lingvistice cu slavii de sud : cuvinte de origine veche slavă.. București : Editura Staff. (Taylor Institution Library ARA.1.BV.5/8)

Playing Shakespeare in German

IMG_2885 - compressed

The Taylor Institution’s ‘Shakespeare in Translation’ exhibition illustrates the broad linguistic scope of Shakespeare reception across Europe. His plays have a particularly long history of adaptation and translation in German. This post explores some of the milestones in that history, from anonymous reinterpretation while Shakespeare was still writing, all the way to Brecht’s radio plays the twentieth century, via the authoritative Schlegel-Tieck edition of the early nineteenth century.

The Beginning

In 1586, the English comedians arrived in Germany, and continued to perform until 1660. It was they who provided Germany’s introduction to Shakespeare, during the playwright’s lifetime. Their repertoire included plays loosely based on Shakespeare’s – emphasis on the word ‘loosely’. The name ‘Shakespeare’, however, was not associated with these plays, and is generally thought not to have been mentioned in Germany until Daniel Georg Morhof’s Unterricht von der Teutschen Sprache und Poesie in 1682. Even if divorced from the name of Shakespeare, these plays do represent very early reception of his works in Germany. Some of the texts survive, both in fairly modern and near-contemporary editions, of which the oldest is Englische Comedien und Tragedien (1620). The eighth play in this collection is a German translation and adaptation of Titus Andronicus, making it the first of Shakespeare’s plays to be printed in Germany, as well as the first to be printed in England. Its temporal proximity to the earliest English performances of the play, as well as that fact of its being performed by English actors (some in English, and some in German), mean that we can learn a great deal about the history of Titus Andronicus and its original performance from this printing.

Collected Plays in Translation

Shakespe11.WielandShakespeare Theatralische Werke Band 1 p129 - compressedare’s popularity took off in Germany in the eighteenth century, when German commentaries on his work first began to appear. Although his name had been known in Germany since Morhof in 1682, and to French-reading audiences through Voltaire’s Lettres philosophiques sur les Anglais, the real development did not come for another eighty years, with Christoph Martin Wieland’s Shakespear: theatralische Werke (1762). Although Wieland did not translate all of the plays, English-language scholars of Shakespeare in Germany are united in their assessment of the significance of this publication:

 

 

Simon Williams: ‘It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Wieland’s translation in the introduction of Shakespeare into German’ (Williams, p. 52)

Roger Paulin: ‘no serious discussion of Shakespeare’s text could … be expected much   before 1762, the date of the first volume of Wieland’s translation’ (Paulin, p. 21)

Wieland’s work was neither definitive nor complete, and J.J. Eschenburg built upon it in the next decade with William Shakespear’s Schauspiele. Neue Ausgabe (1775-77, 1782). It was, though, the appearance of Schlegel’s translation (1797-1810) which irrevocably changed Germany’s relationship with Shakespeare. Schlegel’s work become the standard German Shakespeare translation, largely because of his famous principle ‘alles im Deutschen Thunliche’. Paulin summarises the impact of this approach, which:

‘means that Shakespeare can be both translatable and German … For Schlegel, poetic             rendition was an absolute requirement, not an option’ (Paulin, p. 303)

In the 1820s, Ludwig Tieck re-edited Schlegel’s translations to produce Shakespeare’s dramatische Werke. Uebersetzt von August Wilhelm von Schlegel, ergänzt und erläutert von Ludwig Tieck (1825-33). In the introduction, Tieck takes it upon himself to warn his readers against another set of translations which began appearing in the intervening 14.SchlegelTieckShakespeareÔÇÖs Werke SchlegelTieck Title Page 2 - compressedyears between Schlegel’s original publication, and his own reissue: that of Johann Heinrich Voss and his sons, Shakespeare’s Schauspiele von Johann Heinrich Voß und dessen Söhnen Heinrich Voß und Abraham Voß (1818-1829). Schlegel was not himself involved in this new version and was furious, both at the reissue of his work, and at Tieck’s supposed improvements (Paulin, p. 344). The Schlegel-Tieck edition is viewed as a ‘German classic in its own right’ (Korte and Spittel, p. 269), and Friedrich Gundolf viewed Schlegel’s work as the endpoint and the high-point of a development of Shakespeare as belonging to the German spirit, which had begun with Lessing (Gundolf, p. 356). But it was also a question of timing. George Steiner describes Schlegel’s translations as ‘formidable re-creations of the English text [which] coincided precisely with the time in which the German language was coming of literary age’ (Steiner, p. 156).

The Schlegel-Tieck edition, however seminal, did not put an end to the translation of Shakespeare into German. Paulin identifies the translations by Ernst Ortlieb (W. Shakespeare’s dramatische Werke (1842-43)) and Friedrich Bodenstedt (William Shakespeare’s Dramatische Werke (1867-71) as having been undervalued (Paulin, pp. 331, 329), and indeed they have received little modern critical attention. Moving into the twentieth century, Friedrich Gundolf’s enduring contribution to Shakespeare studies must be his Shakespeare und der deutsche Geist (1911), but a decade later he published Shakespeare in deutscher Sprache (1920-22). This, though, is ‘today only [of] antiquarian interest’ (Paulin, p. 488).

Translations of Individual Plays

20.Schroeder Ko¦ênig Lear Title Page - compressedWhere translations of individual works are concerned, we see some famous names, and some that are less familiar. The Taylor Institution holds several translations by the actor, theatre manager, and dramatist F.L. Schröder, including his Hamlet and König Lear (both editions 1778), as well as Gottfried August Burger’s Macbeth (1783). Schröder’s production of Hamlet had a particular influence on German literature, for it inspires the hero of Goethe’s Wilhem Meister’s Lehrjahre (himself named for Shakespeare) to want to put on a complete German version of the play. Hamlet, indeed, is discussed at length in the novel. Bürger, meanwhile, was Schlegel’s mentor, and although Schlegel had little complimentary to say about this version of Macbeth in later life, ‘it was Bürger who in 1789-93 was able to instil in the young Schlegel the confidence to produce a verse Midsummer Night’s Dream quite distinct from Wieland’s’ (Paulin, p. 311). Seventeen years later, Schiller also produced an adapted translation of Macbeth, and in 1812, Goethe, who as theatre director in Weimar produced a number of Shakespeare’s plays, put on his own adapted version of Romeo and Juliet, although thereafter he lost interest in translating Shakespeare. Moving forward over a century, we come to Bertolt Brecht, who used elements of many of Shakespeare’s plays in his writing, and whose free adaptations were tailored to his own critical and political purposes. In October 1927, his adaptation of Macbeth was performed on the Berliner Rundfunk radio station, but the manuscript is now lost. The same station also broadcast his Hamlet in 1931. Between 1951 and 1953 Brecht also produced a partial translation of Coriolanus. Although it remained unfinished, it was nonetheless translated back into English by Ralph Manheim.

Four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare’s popularity in Germany shows no sign of waning. He is perhaps as present in German schools as in English. Despite the great variety of interpretation made possible through the different acts of translation outlined above, however, the status of Schlegel’s achievement means that German has a standard version of Shakespeare which has something like the status which the original has in English. But while this post has focused on German translators of Shakespeare, they are only one aspect of German Shakespeare reception. Germany also has a long tradition of Shakespeare critics and commentators, some of whose names are well known, and some of whose stories have been almost forgotten.

Mary Boyle
University of Oxford

Resources:

Print:

  • Bate, Jonathan (ed.), Titus Andronicus, the Arden Shakespeare (London and New York: Routledge, 1995)
  • Gundolf, Friedrich, Shakespeare und der deutsche Geist (Berlin: Bondi, 1911)
  • Guntner, Lawrence, ‘Rewriting Shakespeare: Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller, and the Politics of Performance’ in Shakespeare and European Politics (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2008), pp. 179-195
  • Korte, Barbara, and Christina Spittel. “Shakespeare Under Different Flags: The Bard in German Classrooms from Hitler to Honecker”. Journal of Contemporary History2 (2009): 267–286.
  • Paulin, Roger, The Critical Reception of Shakespeare in Germany: 1682-1914 (Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Olms, 2003)
  • Steiner, George, The Death of Tragedy (Faber & Faber, new edition 2010)
  • Williams, Simon, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 1: 1586-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, repr. 2004)

Online

 

 

Shall I compare thee? Shakespeare in Translation Exhibition in the Taylorian

On 12 April, 6pm, Library Graduate Trainee Philippa Taylor pulled off the cover from the display case in the vestibule of the Voltaire Room and revealed to an admiring crowd of linguists, librarians and literature lovers four versions of Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’: a Portuguese translation printed in Lisbon in 1977, Aimé Césaire’s adaptation pour un théâtre nègre from 1969, the typescript of the only Frisian translation with commentary extant and, as crowning piece, a wonderfully atmospheric large colour print from a French artist’s book based on the translation by A. du Couchet.

Tempest

The Tempest arrangement forms the final case in a new exhibition in the Taylor Institution dedicated to Shakespeare in translation. The idea for putting this on was sparked by the lucky coincidence of a symposium on Ulrike Draesner, Writer-in-Residence at the German Sub-Faculty in 2015-16, and the Shakespeare 2016 events going on in Oxford. A few years ago, Ulrike had published her “radical translations” of 17 Shakespeare sonnets, set in a post-modern world of reproduction not via nature as in Shakespeare’s sonnets but via cloning. This had inspired German lecturer, translator and poet Tom Cheesman to venture a back-translation in which he “Englished” her versions again. Emma Huber as German Subject Librarian and Henrike Lähnemann as Professor for Medieval German, working together on the Reformation 2017 project, were just looking for a test case to trial a new form of library booklet as print-on-demand. They both thought that this would be the perfect copy: Shakespeare – put into German – returned to English in a literature-generating movement characteristic for Modern Languages in dialogue.

The exhibition spirals out from the display cases in the centre of the Voltaire Room. Standing high, the oldest cabinet which has seen many a distinguished publication from first editions to brand new research publications shows the genesis of ‘Twin Spin’, the Shakespeare x Draesner x Cheesman sonnet version.

Central case

The largest cabinet next to it is needed to show at least a fraction of the over 180 attempts to render Shakespeare sonnets in German, starting with Dorothea Tieck’s take on it as part of the classic ‘Schlegel-Tieck-Ausgabe’ which made Shakespeare – at least in the eyes of nineteenth century Germans – a truly German author. A special focus is on the early 20th century bibliophile versions of Stefan George and Friedrich Huch, which provide an eye-catching display in contrast to the typescript aesthetics of the 1980s and 1990s, when Shakespeare was in vogue with the likes of the singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann.

Spiralling outward from the central cabinets are two cases crammed with again just a small selection of sonnet translations into other European languages, from Sorbian to Yiddish, emphasising – as an Italian dissertation on display claims – that Shakespeare speaks ‘da poeta a poeta’. The rich material on literary engagement with Shakespeare is then taken beyond the sonnets in samples of translations of his plays across the languages – and across the media to visual material and DVDs. The Tempest display case mentioned at the beginning provides a final case study of how much more could be explored.

case5-glass

The exhibition was curated by Henrike Lähnemann (Professor of Medieval German Literature and Linguistics), together with Emilia Henderson and Philippa Taylor and the help of the Taylor Institution staff. Special thanks go to Lydia Pryce-Jones who designed the cover image, to Emma Huber for master-minding the operation, and to Clare Hills-Nova for her curatorial expertise! So this is an exhibition that invites visitors on a journey to discover more of the astonishing treasures of the Taylorian while engaging with Shakespeare. The catalogue of the exhibition can be downloaded here; the full edition of ‘Twin Spin’ can be bought in the Taylorian at the Issue Desk or ordered from online retailers (ISBN 978-0-9954564-0-2). This first pamphlet from the Taylor Institution Library is published on the day of Shakespeare’s 400th death day, showing that he is very much alive – not least through the constant renewal in translation.