Archive for September, 2007


El 20 de septiembre de 2007, se celebró en Lima (Perú), en la Facultad de Arquitectura de la Universidad Federico Villarreal, una velada dedicada a Bob Dylan, sin duda el más amplio homenaje al cantautor estadounidense organizado hasta la fecha en el país andino.

Abrió la sesión el arquitecto Manuel Zavala, quien explicó las razones por las que una facultad más ligada a la construcción decidió organizar un conversatorio sobre el cantautor de Minnesota. Expresó que, contra toda creencia, los arquitectos no sólo se ocupan de planos y estructuras, sino que su carrera implica una visión artística de las cosas, un momento de creación basado en la inspiración. Así, ello fue lo que los motivó a buscar poesía más allá de sus trabajos y planos: y encontraron a Dylan. 

"Bob Dylan: poética de la transgresión" (es así como se llamó el evento) congregó como ponentes a la poetisa Carla Vanessa Gonzáles y al músico y presentador de TV Gerardo Manuel. También se proyectaron extractos del documental No Direction Home. La velada se cerró con un segmento musical: varios jóvenes de la Universidad Federico Villarreal interpretaron algunas de las más conocidas canciones dylanianas, para un público que ya estaba rendido ante los inevitables encantos de ese trovador antiguo, moderno y universal a la vez que es Bob Dylan.


Información proporcionada por Carla Vanessa Gonzáles: véase su bitácora en:



On 20 September 2007 in Lima (Peru), the Faculty of Architecture of the Universidad Federico Villarreal hosted an event dedicated to Bob Dylan, no doubt the most substantial homage yet offered to the US singer-songwriter in that country.

The session was opened by the architect Manuel Zavala, who explained why a faculty associated with the activity of construction had decided to organise an event on the bard from Minnesota. He said that, contrary to popular belief, architects are not concerned only with plans and structures: their profession supposes an artistic vision of things, an act of creation grounded in inspiration. It was this that had motivated his faculty to go beyond their works and plans and seek out poetry: and they had found Bob Dylan. 

"Bob Dylan: poética de la transgresión" ("Bob Dylan: a poetics of transgression"), as the event was titled, also featured talks by the poet Carla Vanessa Gonzáles and the musician and TV presenter Gerardo Manuel. Extracts were shown from the documentary No Direction Home. The event closed with a musical contribution from students of the Universidad Federico Villarreal, who interpreted some of Dylan’s most famous songs, for a public now fully aware of the inescapable charm of that universal troubadour for times past and times present, Bob Dylan.


Information supplied by Carla Vanessa Gonzáles: see her blog at:



‘The Task of Walter Benjamin’s Translators: Reflections on the Different Language Versions of THE ARCADES PROJECT’


On-line on my site at:

is my new article on:

‘The Task of Walter Benjamin’s Translators: Reflections on the Different Language Versions of “Das Passagen-Werk” (“The Arcades Project”)’




It is somewhat paradoxical that Walter Benjamin, who is by now all but universally recognised as one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century, is also a name cited with reverence in the academic field of Translation Studies – even though he produced only a sliver of reflections on the subject. There are, indeed, only two frequently cited texts in which Benjamin considers the subject: the early, esoteric essay ‘On Language as Such and on the Language of Man’ (‘Über die Sprache überhaupt und über die Sprache des Menschen’, 1916), and the very well-known piece ‘The Task of the Translator’ (‘Die Aufgabe des Übersetzers’, 1923). From these two slim texts comes Benjamin’s surprising fame as a theorist of translation, concerning which we may note two interesting points: first, that the later essay is actually linked to the practice of translation, since it was originally published as Benjamin’s preface to his own translation into German of Charles Baudelaire’s poem-sequence “Tableaux Parisiens”); and second, that since by no means all those who write on Walter Benjamin know his native language, German, his writings on translation are more often than not quoted in translation (English, Spanish, Italian or whatever). All this may usefully alert the readers of his work to the importance of translation, as an indispensable means of communication of ideas, and, at the same time, to the need for theoretical reflection on what is in no sense an unproblematic or value-free activity. In this brief study, we shall first examine the key elements of Benjamin’s concept of translation, and then look in detail at certain aspects of the different language versions of his posthumous masterpiece, the study of nineteenth-century Paris centring on the arcades that is “Das Passagen-Werk”.


Note added 20-III-2009:

This article has been cited in an article by Marjorie Perloff:

‘Unoriginal Genius: Walter Benjamin’s Arcades as Paradigm for the New Poetics’, ETUDES ANGLAISES, 2008/2, No 61, pp. 229-252 (citation: p. 245n).

Note added 30-IX-2009:

The article is also cited in:

Revista ISEL, Número de 2009, Instituto Superior de Estudios Lomas de Zamora (Buenos Aires): Álvaro Cuadra, ‘Ópticas de la Modernidad de Julio Verne a Walter Benjamin’ (pp. 66-97; my text is cited on p. 74). For more information (in Spanish), see this blog, entry for 29-IX-2009.


Note added 29 December 2009:

This article has been published in BABEL: ASPECTOS DE FILOLOXÍA INGLESA E ALEMÁ (University of Vigo, Spain), No 18, 2009, pp. 93-104.



“POSTMODERN IDENTITY” by T. Ravichandran: New study of John Barth, Thomas Pynchon and the postmodern (with my Foreword)

"POSTMODERN IDENTITY" by T. Ravichandran: New study of John Barth, Thomas
Pynchon and the postmodern (with my Foreword)
Now out in India is "Postmodern Identity" (Jaipur: RBSA Publishers, 2007,
hardback, xxxviii + 212 pp.), an important new study of postmodernism by Dr
T. Ravichandran of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the
Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur. The book includes a long foreword
(pp. i-xxxi) by myself, in which I endeavour to place this very able study
of two major living US novelists in a more general context of postmodernism
and globalisation.

The full text of the foreword is on-line at:

Description of the book:
"Postmodernism is reckoned to be the most complex and amorphous of all
literary trends. Even its sceptics, who secretly wish for an
unresurrectable death of Postmodernism, grudgingly accept the fact that
Postmodernism has a deeply penetrating and over-arching presence in the
contemporary literary scenario and the critical and heuristic potential of
its practices and theories are far from being exhausted. Paradoxically, in
spite of its global impact, it appears to be the most abused and
misunderstood of all literary phenomena. In this context, Postmodern
Identity illuminates the concept of Postmodernism by endeavouring to fix
its identity in relation to the novels of two of the central postmodern
proponents, namely, John Barth and Thomas Pynchon. The book explains the
apparent evasiveness of the postmodern phenomenon in the light of its
semantic and historical instability; its love-hate affinity with modernism;
its deconstructionalist irreverence for centre and hierarchy resulting in a
self-reflexive parody of reality; and finally, its approach towards reality
as a fictionalized version. Among the pluriversions of Postmodernism, the
versions of Barth and Pynchon are studied particularly to explicate the
oneness they exhibit in their concern for the theme of fluidity of
identity. Towards expressing the postmodern fragmentation, these writers
disseminate identity in terms of nameless, characterless anonymity;
ailments in relation to pathology; remedies pertaining to control systems;
dismemberment owing to deflated myths and reversal of identity-quests
because of their deteleological textual basis."
Extract from my foreword:
"Dr. Ravichandran has expounded and tabulated the different elements in the
earlier work of Barth and Pynchon that may best be considered
representative of identifying what is postmodernism. . . . If the
postmodern mode transforms narrative into a Borgesian garden of forking
paths, then what the reader new to the game needs most is a map. . . . If
we apply Jameson’s method to literary criticism in relation to postmodern
works, we may conclude that Ravichandran, in this book, offers us such a
cognitive map of the postmodernist text—a map enabling the reader to
successfully navigate the complexities of the new mode of writing. . . . As
the reader will discover, the critical exposition offered of the parallel
universes of the two writers is remarkable both for its theoretical sweep
and its attention to textual detail."