Archive for July, 2009

“CAVALCADE”: A NEW JOURNAL FROM NIGERIA (includes my translations of 2 poems by Carla Vanessa Gonzáles)

I draw to your attention the first issue of CAVALCADE, a well-produced and originally conceived journal from Nigeria. Details:

CAVALCADE: A JOURNAL OF WRITING, CRITICISM AND ART – Vol. 1, No. 1, Jan-Apr 2009 – Abuja Writers’ Forum, Abuja, Nigeria; editor: Emman Usman Shehu – guest editor for this issue: Dr E.E. Sule



The journal includes literary criticism, short stories, poems, interviews and reviews. The contributors are mostly Nigerian; there is also material from Kenya, India and Peru. The critical articles in this issue concentrate on the work of the Nigerian writer Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo (1932-1967). The interviews ate with Gboyega Kolawole (Nigeria – interviewed by Uchenna Oyali) and the Denmark-resident Indian writer Tabish Khair (interviewed by Jaydeep Sarangi). There are stories by D.E. Kaze, Wumi Raji, Elnathan John and Ifeoma Chinwuba (all Nigeria). Among the authors of the poems included are: Angela Nwosu and Ismail Bala Garba (Nigeria), Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Kenya), Satish Verma  and Anuraag Sharma (India) and Carla Vanessa Gonzáles (Peru; two poems, ‘Dream No 3’ an ‘Dream No 4’, translated from the Spanish by Christopher Rollason).



The editors may be contacted at:;;


My review of THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO BOB DYLAN, ed. Kevin J. Dettmar

On-line on my Yatra site at:

is this review:


‘Big universities to study in’: Review of

THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO BOB DYLAN, ed. Kevin J. Dettmar, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, soft covers, xvii + 185 pp., ISBN 978-0-521-71494-5




Bob Dylan allowed academia a brief look-in on his very first album, informing the world in his spoken intro to ‘Baby, Let Me Follow You Down’ that he first met the blues guitar-player Eric von Schmidt ‘in the green pastures of Harvard University’; years later, in ‘Foot of Pride’, he berated those who ‘like to take all this money from sin, / Build big universities to study in’. Dylan’s relationship with the groves of academe is vexed but is also indisputable, as this multi-author volume now arrives to testify. The Cambridge Companions are an established series of study aids aimed in the first place at undergraduate students, covering a wide field of mostly literary subjects, ranging from Greek Tragedy through Ovid, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and Virginia Woolf all the way to Modern British Women Playwrights, even taking in the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. The arrival in 2009 of a Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan among this distinguished company is first and foremost further evidence, were it needed, of the ever-growing academic respectability of Dylan studies. However, the pretensions of such a volume are one thing, and the reality another, and my aim in this review will not to be question whether Dylan’s work merits substantive academic attention (there is more than enough evidence for that by now), but to examine this particular study guide with a view to determining whether it is up to the job.


The volume, though published in the UK, is decidedly American in cast. The editor, Kevin J. Dettmar, is chair of the English Department at Pomona College, California. The contributors (nineteen, five of them women; two of the contributions have two authors) are almost entirely fellow Americans, either academics from departments of English or American Studies or professional writers, the one exception being Lee Marshall, senior lecturer in Sociology at Bristol University, England. Strikingly absent are the major names in Dylan criticism: there is nothing from Aidan Day, Michael Gray, Greil Marcus, Christopher Ricks or Stephen Scobie, though there is a piece by Eric Lott, the professor of American Studies from the University of Virginia whose book on blackface minstrelsy, Love and Theft, famously supplied Dylan with an album title (Lott’s contribution is, suitably enough, a discussion of … “Love and Theft”).


The book consists of: an editor’s introduction; a Dylan chronology; nine general articles, all titled using the formula ‘Bob Dylan and/as …’, grouped under ‘Part I: Perspectives’; eight album studies grouped as ‘Part II: Landmark Albums’; a bibliography; and an index. The general studies are on: Dylan and ‘the Anglo-American tradition’, ‘Rolling Thunder’, ‘collaboration’, ‘gender politics’, ‘religion’, and ‘the Academy’; and Dylan as ‘songwriter’, ‘performer’, and ‘cultural icon’ (the room for overlap between some of these categories should at once be obvious). The eight albums allotted chapters are: The Free-Wheelin’ Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, The Basement Tapes, Blood on the Tracks, Infidels and “Love and Theft”. Despite the 2009 publication date, the book is in fact up-to-date as far as Modern Times, coming too late for Tell-Tale Signs (listed in the chronology as ‘announced’) and Together Through Life




Note added 21 December 2009: This review has now been published in the British Dylan magazine THE BRIDGE, No 35, Winter 2009, pp. 108-114.


I am pleased to note that the Spanish version of my essay:

‘The Passageways of Paris: Walter Benjamin’s “Arcades Project” and Contemporary Cultural Debate in the West’, in Modern Criticism, ed. Christopher Rollason and Rajeshwar Mittapalli, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2002, pp. 262-296;  see entry on this blog for 27 Sept 2005 –


El Libro de los pasajes de Walter Benjamin, La Historia No Lineal y la Internet’, 


has been substantially cited in the paper “Implicaciones de la lógica digital en la comunicación de las organizaciones contemporáneas” (“Implications of digital logic in the communication of contemporary organisations”) –

submitted in May 2008 by Andrea Hoare Madrid, a Chilean academic resident in Venezuela, as a memoir for purposes of academic promotion (‘trabajo de ascenso’) to the Faculty of Humanities and Education (School of Social Comunication) of the Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas. I thank Andrea for quoting my essay so extensively and citing me with all correctness, and am delighted that it has been of use to her in her career.



Me complace señalaros que la versión en lengua española de mi ensayo:

‘The Passageways of Paris: Walter Benjamin’s “Arcades Project” and Contemporary Cultural Debate in the West’, en Modern Criticism, ed. Christopher Rollason y Rajeshwar Mittapalli, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2002, pp. 262-296; texto revisado en: Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate – véase entrada en esta bitácora: 27-IX-05 –


El Libro de los pasajes de Walter Benjamin, La Historia No Lineal y la Internet’, 


ha sido extensamente citada en el texto: “Implicaciones de la lógica digital en la comunicación de las organizaciones contemporáneas” –

presentado en mayo de 2008 por Andrea Hoare Madrid, docente universiitaria chilena residente en Venezuela, como “trabajo de ascenso” en la Facultad de Humanidades y Educación (Escuela de Comunicación Social) de la Universidad Central de Venezuela (Caracas). Le agradezco a Andrea el haber citado mi texto en detalle, y me felicito por el hecho de que este trabajo mío le haya resultado de utilidad profesional en el marco de su carrera académica.

For more academic citations of this essay, see the entries on this blog for 10 October 2005 and 20 May 2008 / para más citas académicas de este trabajo, véanse las entradas en esta bitácora para el 10-X-2005 y el 20-V-2008.



("Autores y libros peruanos")

quienes se interesen por la literatura peruana encontrarán un sitio de referencia de valor, organizado por autores. Hay textos en castellano y quechua, material audiovisual, y material biográfico y crítico con enlaces a estudios críticos para una treintena de autores – César Vallejo, Mario Vargas Llosa, José María Arguedas y muchos más.


Me complace añadir que entre las entradas para la escritora Clorinda Matto de Turner hay un enlace hacia mi propio texto sobre esta autora (véase entrada en esta bitácora, 31-V-2007):


Reseña de Clorinda Matto de Turner, "Aves sin nido", edición de 2007, Boletín de la Academia Peruana de la Lengua (Lima), No 43, 2007, 173-181;


The Portuguese weekly EXPRESSO features, in its 12 July 2009 issue, a long and interesting article, “O tesouro da criadora de Harry Potter” (“The treasure of Harry Potter’s creator”, by Valdemar Cruz), on J.K. Rowling’s time in Portugal, her marriage there, the places she frequented and the Portuguese influences on her work.


I am pleased to say that I am quoted on the onomastics of the sinister character Salazar Slytherin in the Potter books:

‘Para o académico inglês Christopher Rollason, ex-professor da Universidade de Coimbra, esta é “uma referência evidente ao ditador fascista António de Oliveira Salazar”.’

(‘For the British scholar Christopher Rollason, ex-lecturer at the University of Coimbra, this is “a clear reference to the fascist dictator António de Oliveira Salazar”‘)


This point comes from my own article on J.K. Rowling in Portugal (there is a note on it on this blog, in Spanish, entry: 4 May 2008):


‘An English Teacher in Porto: In Search of Joanne Rowling’, Lingua Franca (Brussels), Vol. 6, No. 1, 2003, pp. 4-8; first published rec.arts.books (Internet), 2002; Spanish translation (trans. Leandro Fanzone) ‘Una Profesora de Inglés en Porto: En busca de Joanne Rowling’, 2004, republished in on-line journal Sextante (Mexico City, Mexico), No 28, May 2008,


The two texts are on-line at:



Vikram Seth has told the world he is writing a new novel, and it turns out to be A SUITABLE GIRL, slated for publication in 2013 by Penguin (Hamish Hamilton) in India, the UK and Canada and conceived as what he calls a ‘jump sequel’ to his celebrated epic A SUITABLE BOY (1993). It will feature Lata, the heroine of the earlier novel and 19 at the time, now a grandmother and seeking the right match for her grandson. 
THE BOOKSELLER, 2 July 2009,
"Penguin to publish Vikram Seth’s sequel to A Suitable Boy" – Catherine Neilan
THE GUARDIAN, 3 July 2009 – Alison Flood
"Vikram Seth writes Suitable Boy sequel:
A Suitable Girl brings the story into the present day and is due out in 2013".


SUMMARY IN ENGLISH: This news item concerns a seminar in several parts being offered in July 2009 on Bob Dylan in Cochabamba (Bolivia). Contact: Javier Rodríguez –



Me permito reproducir estas muy interesantes informaciones acerca de un seminario que se está organizando durante el mes de julio de 2009 sobre la obra de BOB DYLAN, en Cochabamba (Bolivia).


miércoles 1 de julio de 2009 – bitACORA DE XAVIER RODRIGUEZ

Taller: "Desolation Row" – Robinson Jeffers escuchando a Bob Dylan


"El rock y la literatura contemporánea entablan una relación simbiótica de profundísimos alcances. Tomando como pivote al mayor autor de la música popular del Siglo XX, Bob Dylan, en este taller se esbozará una constelación literario-musical sostenida por las equivalencias, apropiaciones y superaciones tramadas entre la literatura y la música –y particularmente entre el rock y la poesía moderna.


Partiendo de las tradiciones líricas (y narrativas) anglosajonas, se articulará a través del rock’n’roll y Bob Dylan, las innovaciones formales y temáticas de T.S. Eliot, Arthur Rimbaud, Ezra Pound, Robinson Jeffers y otros poetas modernistas, con la influencia ejercida por el blues y la música del "Oeste Mítico" (Old Weird America) en la formación poética de la música popular. La aparición de los poetas a caballo entre el jazz y la lírica, los beatniks, los grandes autores americanos y los poetas de la posmodernidad urbana, también irá generando ramificaciones en ese corpus vital que denominamos música popular. Cabe remarcar que no nos concentraremos sólo en la música de lengua inglesa, sino que, permanentemente, estaremos introduciéndonos en el rock latinoamericano, la MPB, la tradición del flamenco, la chanson francesa y -por supuesto- también la música boliviana."


A lo largo de tres sesiones se abordará tales temas, sin exclusivamente detenernos en la obra de Bob Dylan o Robinson Jeffers, sino que se analizando -de forma más amplia y plenamente participativa- las proliferaciones literarias en el rock.


Las sesiones tendrán lugar los días miércoles de julio (8,15 y 22) de horas 19 a 21, en la sala de cursillos de Centro "Simón I. Patiño" (Av. Potosí nº 1450, Cochabamba – Bolivia). Se entregará material impreso y digital a los participantes. La entrada es completamente gratuita.


Texto de Javier Rodríguez



Nota añadida el 6-VIII-09:


En un texto publicado en (Bolivia), hoy 6-VIII-09,

el mismo Javier Rodríguez ofrece un comentario comunicando

el buen éxito del seminario de Dylan:

En particular, le agradezco a Javier el haberme citado como una de las personas

de fuera de Bolivia cuya colaboración y divulgación habrán aportado algo para dicho éxito.

Me quedo muy grato por esta mención. 


At last and almost 22 years since its completion, the full text of my doctoral thesis THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE SUBJECT IN THE SHORT FICTION OF EDGAR ALLAN POE (xi + 1059 pp., University of York, England, 1987) is on-line. It can be downloaded, free of charge and without registration, as two .pdfs (vols. I and II), fully searchable and printable, at: 

from the White Rose site (eTheses Online – Universities of York, Leeds and Sheffield). You can also download it at the British Library’s EThOS site – – again free of charge, but you will have to register.


I am delighted that this thesis – begun at York and completed at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, where I was fortunate to encounter a strong emphasis on American Studies – has at last become freely available to all, in this "most immemorial year" of 2009, the bicentennial of Poe’s birth. I hope it will be received as a small contribution to the worldwide bicentennial celebrations (see entry on this blog, 19 January 2009).




This study is primarily concerned with the diverse processes of constitution and deconstitution of subjectivity at work in the writing of Edgar Allan Poe. The analysis is largely confined to the short fiction, although some reference is made to Poe’s other work; twenty-one tales are examined, in greater or lesser detail, with the aid of various theoretical perspectives – sociological, structuralist and, above all, psychoanalytic. The aim is to present a new reading of Poe’s texts which rejects traditional "unity"-based interpretations. The thesis privileges the psychological dimension, but in textual, not biographical terms; it stresses the tales’ often undervalued element of modernity as well as their receptiveness to emergent processes and discourses. The psychological dimensions analysed include: the explicit presentation of mental splitting (‘William Wilson’) and institutionalised madness (‘The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether’); the signification of alienation (‘The Man of the Crowd’) and self-destruction (‘The Imp of the Perverse’, ‘The Black Cat’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’) as constitutive of the subject at a determinate historical moment; the simultaneous construction and subversion of mythical signifiers of an illusory "full" subject, both metonyms (the detective, the mesmerist) and metaphors (the artwork, the interior); the symbolic emergence from repression of active female desire, perceived as threatening in the male unconscious (‘The Oval Portrait’, ‘Ligeia’); and the disintegration of the subject under the pressure of its own repressions (‘The Fall of the House of Usher’). Particular stress is laid throughout on the textual undermining of the dividing-lines between "normal" and "abnormal", "sane" and "insane", "respectable" and "criminal". It is concluded that Poe’s work constitutes a map of the vicissitudes and contradictions of subjectivity in patriarchal culture; from the study of these texts, the "I" emerges as formed out of a massive repression, and as therefore constantly liable to fragmentation and rupture.


NB: The photo is of vol. III of the print version; the on-line text is, as stated above, in two volumes.


Note added 15-VII-2009: My thanks to Alberto Chimal (Mexico) for linking directly to the thesis from the Edgar Allan Poe page of his site:



I draw your attention to the book POSTCOLONIAL INDIAN FICTION IN ENGLISH AND MASCULINITY, edited by Dr Rajeshwar Mittapalli (Kakatiya University, Warangal, India) and Dr Letizia Alterno (recently awarded her doctorate by the University of Manchester, England) – Delhi: Atlantic, 2009, – ISBN  978-81-269-1015. This book consists of the articles listed below, plus a preface by the editors and a bibliography –


1. A Reading of G.V. Desani’s All About H. Hatterr as Queer Autofiction – Geetha Ganapathy-Doré

2. Marriage, Sexual Violence and Indian Masculinity: A Study of Shashi Deshpande’s The

Dark Holds No Terrors and Anita Nair’s Mistress –Aparna Sundaram

3. Beyond the Phallic Axis in Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games –Adalinda Gasparini

4. Reconsidering Gender-Power Hierarchy in a Post/Colonial Society: Masculinities in Amitav

Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide –Susmita Roye

5. Kiran Nagarkar and the Discontents of Masculinity –Aysha Viswamohan

6. Mapping Masculinities in Mumbai: A Reading of Shobha Dé’s Fiction –Tripti Karekatti

7. “Tridib’s Gastric”: The Contradictory Sexual Politics of [Amitav Ghosh’s] The Shadow Lines

–Stephen da Silva

8. Masculinity vs. Femininity: Perpetuation and Transgression in Arundhati Roy’s The God of

Small Things –Fewzia Bedjaoui

9. The Inheritance of Loss: Mapping Postcolonial Indian Masculinities –Purnendu Chatterjee

10. Reciprocal Relationship between Masculinity and Femininity in Thi.Ja.’s Mogamul and Mulk Raj Anand’s Gauri –N. Chandra

11. Inferiority, Individual Psychology and Cultural Determinism: An ‘Indian Complex’ in

Ra.Vi.Sastri’s A Man of No Consequence –Rajeshwar Mittapalli