Journal of The Odisha Association For English Studies, 5-1 (includes my paper on Rushdie as intellectual)

Now out is the latest issue (Volume 5, Issue 1, 2015) of the Journal of The Odisha Association For English Studies, ably edited by Dr Santwana Haldar (Baleswar, India).

It includes (pp. 63-77) my essay ‘Salman Rushdie as Public Intellectual’, given as a paper at the conference ‘Salman Rushdie in the 21st Century’, held at the University of Lisbon in 2013.

 The essay is available on-line on my personal site at:

http://yatrarollason.info/files/Rushdieasintellectual.pdf

For the conference, see my report at:

https://rollason.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/conference-salmanrushdie-in-the-21st-century-swallowing-a-world-university-of-lisbon-7-9-november-2013

The journal issue also includes articles on, among other themes, Jayanta Mahapatra (N.B. Routh), A.K. Ramanujan (Dimika Parmer), Rohinton Mistry (Saroj Laxmi Singh), Raja Rao’s ‘The Serpent and the Rope’ (Amarnath Shaw), Thomas Hardy (Gananath Dash), George Orwell’s ‘Coming Up For Air’ (Francesca d’Alfonso) and Oscar Wilde’s ‘An Ideal Husband’ (Rajeshwar Mittapalli and Anita Ahmadi), plus reviews and creative writing.  The editor may be contacted at: santwanahaldar2004@yahoo.com

 

 

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CONFESSIONS OF A KINDLE CONVERT

In François Truffaut’s science fiction film Fahrenheit 451, a totalitarian regime’s war on books is resisted by characters who become banned works of literature by learning them by heart. Today, in what a decade ago would have seemed a similar piece of science fiction, I can carry around with me at all times an ever-expanding library of world literature, books that are readable on a minuscule screen where I can read in comfort adjusting brightness and font size.

kindle

And books that are more than books as we have understood them in the past! My portable library now includes the complete works of Charles Dickens, Walter Scott, Honoré de Balzac, Victor Hugo and Emile Zola, the complete tales and poems of Edgar Allan Poe, and the complete poems and/or plays of William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, W.B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire and Federico García Lorca, each author in one single file and in many cases acquired for less than 2 euros apiece – prices too that seem like science fiction!  Not to mention the Bible, the complete works of Shakespeare, the Quijote, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, Hans Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, the Alice books and Le Petit Prince, Portugal’s Fernando Pessoa, Hispanic women authors such as Mexico’s Rosario Castellanos and Galicia’s Rosalía de Castro, and more … some 50 items, already the equivalent of several hundred volumes of conventional books.

kindle2

The library includes books in four languages that I read, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. For each language there is a dictionary, and I can look up unfamiliar words directly from the text, thus enriching both the reading experience and my vocabulary in whatever language, my own included!

This is, of course, all thanks to Amazon’s invention of the Kindle. Yes, it is proprietary hardware and software, and yes, there are unresolved logistic and quality issues. As a resident in Luxembourg, I was obliged by Amazon to acquire my Kindle from Germany, and I can only download books from Amazon’s French site, which, even though it has no lack of books in languages other than French, is not ideal.

Amazon’s Kindle site is not fully attuned to scholarly values: it tends not to offer full details of particular editions, and trial-and-error cancellation and replacement sometimes prove necessary for securing the right user-friendly edition of a book or author. Some books may be scanned copies with errors; others may lack a table of contents, impeding easy search; one academic book I bought at full price failed to synchronise between endnotes and note numbers, requiring complex search every time I wanted to read a note.

Still, as a recent Kindle convert I am absolutely clear that the advantages greatly outweigh the drawbacks. The contents of my Kindle account are available not only on my Kindle proper but also on my PC and mobile phone. This makes the library virtually indestructible, with everything on three devices at once. On the dedicated Kindle screen or on my smartphone, books can be read anywhere, on the bus or train or in a restaurant, and all but weightlessly.

I am sure I am reading more now that I have a Kindle: technology and reading need not be enemies. The uses and advantages are manifold. I have just got Yeats’ poem ‘The Second Coming’ perfectly by heart with help from the Kindle, and see how useful it is for reinforcing learning tasks. The classic Kindle is not Web-enabled, other than for Amazon’s own site and a slimmed-down version of Wikipedia. For children, this means parents can trust them with the device, and its ‘modern’ feel should help turn them on to reading books. And, to return to where I began and the totalitarianism evoked in Fahrenheit 451, at a time when priceless libraries are being destroyed in the Middle East,  the sheer portability and compactness of the Kindle promise to make it a weapon, if necessary, for the preservation of literature against future enemies of thought. The screen is mightier than the sword!

 

FRIDA KAHLO – EXPOSICIÓN EN JARDÍN BOTÁNICO DE NUEVA YORK / EXHIBITION IN NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN

Una faceta hasta ahora poco explorada de la célebre pintora mexicana Frida Kahlo será homenajeada en una exposición en el Jardín Botánico de Nueva York que presentará el fuerte vínculo que mantuvo la artista con el universo de las plantas.  La muestra, “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life” (“Frida Kahlo: arte, jardín, vida”), se celebrará entre el 16 de mayo y el 1 de noviembre de 2015.

Frida Taschen

La exposición reconstituirá el jardín que Frida creó junto a su marido, el muralista Diego Rivera, en su residencia en Coyoacán (México DF), la Casa Azul, que actualmente alberga el Museo Frida Kahlo. Se recrearán el color azul del patio y el estudio donde trabajaba la artista, y se mostrará una colección de plantas de México que había en el jardín. También se presentará  un total de 14 obras de la artista  (12 pinturas y 2 dibujos), entre las cuales un autorretrato de 1940 con fondo de vegetación; y el “Retrato de Luther Burbank” (1931), en el que se muestra una figura mitad humana mitad planta. También habrá un recital de poemas de Octavio Paz, un festival de cine y una muestra de cocina mexicana.

La comisaria de exposición, Adriana Zavala, plantea la muestra como una manera nueva de ver a Frida más allá de su vida personal. Recordando que los libros sobre ella suelen centrarse en su biografía, en sus relaciones románticas y su salud, afirma que esta exposición puede abrir una puerta, porque ‘sí que hay cosas nuevas que podemos decir y estudiar sobre Frida Kahlo’.

Más detalles :

http://www.informador.com.mx/cultura/

2015/570581/6/jardin-botanico-de-ny-dedica-muestra-a-frida-kahlo.htm

(‘Jardín Botánico de NY dedica muestra a Frida Kahlo’ –

El Informador [Guadalajara], 29-I-15)

**

A hitherto little-explored facet of the celebrated Mexican painter Frida Kahlo will be the object of an exhibition at New York’s Botanical Garden presenting the intimate links which the artist maintained with the world of plants. The event, “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life”, will run from 16 May to 1 November 2015.

The exhibition will reconstitute the garden which Frida created together with her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera, at their house in Coyoacán (Mexico City), the ‘Casa Azul’ (Blue House), which today houses the Frida Kahlo Museum. It will reproduce the blue hues of the patio and the artist’s studio, and will present a collection of Mexican plants as in the original garden. On show will be a total of 14 works by Frida Kahlo (12 paintings and 2 drawings), among them a self-portrait from 1940 with a background of vegetation and the “Portrait of Luther Burbank” (1931), which depicts a figure half human, half plant. There will also be a recital of poems by Octavio Paz, a film festival and an exhibition of Mexican cuisine.

The organiser, Adriana Zavala, sees the exhibition as presenting a new way of seeing Frida, going beyond her personal life. Recalling that the books on Kahlo tend to concentrate on her biography, her love relations and her health, she stresses that this event has the potential to open doors, for ‘there are certainly new things to say and to study about Frida Kahlo’.

More details:

http://www.informador.com.mx/cultura/

2015/570581/6/jardin-botanico-de-ny-dedica-muestra-a-frida-kahlo.htm

  • ‘Jardín Botánico de NY dedica muestra a Frida Kahlo’ (New York Botanical Garden devotes exhibition to Frida Kahlo) –

El Informador (Guadalajara, Mexico), 29-I-15

 

REQUIEM FOR THE GETCITED SITE

I wonder how many scholars worldwide noticed, or mourned, the demise earlier this year of the getcited site at http://www.getcited.org. As a repository for references to academic publications with in-site links to citers and cited, getcited hosted 3 million publications by 300 000 authors.

The day dawned when getcited users could no longer log in. Wikipedia confirms that the site is no more, claiming that it had ‘largely been supplanted by other tools including Google Scholar’.

As a confirmed getcited user right up to its disappearance, I maintain that was not the case. Google Scholar’s entries are automatically generated and often contain errors (on matters as basic as author name) which authors cannot correct. Getcited, by contrast, was 100% user-controlled: users created their own entries and could always correct or update them. It even contributed to keeping Google Scholar’s standards up, as each getcited entry automatically generated a Google Scholar entry. Also, getcited grouped entries into categories (book, book chapter, journal article, conference paper, translation, etc), allowing authors to create full and complex overviews of their work.

I found getcited sufficiently useful to enter all of my publications there. I am sure many others did too when the site was at its peak. For a couple of years before it died, getcited seemed to be running on automatic pilot: problems arose with special characters, emails to site management went answered.

I have no information on where getcited was hosted or who managed it, still less on how or why it disappeared, though I suspect it became a living-dead operation and may have finally expired along with its hosting contract. Have all those entries disappeared into cyberspace forever, like Edgar Allan Poe’s hero Roderick Usher’s books and paintings disappearing into the sullen waters of the tarn, or are they miraculously cached on some asteroid of the Internet galaxy? I miss this site, and would be delighted if one day some magnanimous cyberangel revived it!

 

 

 

 

‘WASAFIRI’, DECEMBER 2014: REVIEW OF VIKRAM CHANDRA, ‘GEEK SUBLIME’

Wasafiri

The UK-based literary journal and well-known point of reference for postcolonial studies, Wasafiri, has published, in its latest issue, my review of Geek Sublime, the first non-fiction work to be published by the Indian novelist Vikram Chandra (on whose work I have written on various occasions in the past).

 Details:

Vikram Chandra, Geek Sublime: Writing Fiction, Coding Software, London: Faber and Faber, 2014, paperback, xiii + 258 pp., ISBN 978-0-571-31030-2

Christopher Rollason, review of Geek Sublime, Wasafiri, Vol. 29, No. 4, December 2014, pp. 90-91.

Geek Sublime

 **

 An edited extract from the review follows.

 **

In July 1963, the first-ever computer to manifest on Indian soil, an IBM mainframe, was unloaded at Kanpur airport, commissioned by that city’s Indian Institute of Technology or IIT. This event, which with India’s rise since then to stellar IT status now retrospectively appears as world-changing, is lovingly chronicled in the pages of Geek Sublime, the fourth published book and first non-fiction title by Vikram Chandra. Born in Bombay/Mumbai and today based in Berkeley, Chandra is the author of three works of fiction appertaining to the genre of Indian Writing in English (IWE), the novels Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995) and Sacred Games (2006) and the story-sequence Love and Longing in Bombay (1997).

Chandra’s latest book appeared in this UK print edition [i.e. that under review] in February 2014, some while after its print launch in India, where it was published in November 2013 by Penguin India / Hamish Hamilton under a completely different title – Mirrored Mind: My Life in Letters and Code. The US edition, published by Graywolf in September 2014, has yet another title: Geek Sublime: The Code of Beauty, the Beauty of Code. A UK Kindle version, with the same title as the UK print edition, appeared in parallel with the Indian print edition in November 2013.

The book is a generic hybrid, poised somewhere between essay and autobiography. Its leitmotif is made up of the complex and fascinating parallels that Chandra draws between his two selves, hands-on IT person and writer of fiction. As he puts it, ‘I am a writer from India, but I’ve worked professionally as a programmer in the United States. Fiction has been my vocation, and code my obsession’.

NEW BOOK ‘TRANSLATED POE’ AND EDGAR ALLAN POE IN MEXICO / SALIDA DE LIBRO ‘TRANSLATED POE’ Y EDGAR ALLAN POE EN MÉXICO

I am pleased to have a chapter in an important and original volume on Edgar Allan Poe, just released.

 The book is:

 
 TRANSLATED POE, eds. Emron Esplin and Margarida Vale de Gato, Bethlehem: Pennsylvania State University (Lehigh Press) / Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, xxi + 471 pp., ISBN 978-1-61146-171-8, hardback

It brings together 31 essays (in English) by Poe scholars focusing on the translation of Edgar Allan Poe’s writings, covering 15 languages and 19 countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. Translation has played a key role in the worldwide dissemination of Poe’s work and his fame as a universal writer, and his translators have included fellow writers as important as Charles Baudelaire in French and Julio Cortázar in Spanish. However, until now no volume existed bringing together essays on the multiple aspects of the translation of Edgar Allan Poe, over time and place in the global literary marketplace.

TranslatedPoe cover

The Rowman & Littlefield website has a full book description and table of contents at:

https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781611461725

The authors of the individual chapters are: Emron Esplin; Margarida Vale de Gato; Ayşe Nihal Akbulut; Bouchra Benlemlih; Liviu Cotrău; Hivren Demir-Atay; Lenita Esteves; Ástráður Eysteinsson ; Ástráður Eysteinsson and Eysteinn Þorvaldsson; Zongxin Feng; Maria Filippakopoulou; Daniel Göske; Daniela Hăisan; Magda Mansour Hasabelnaby; Aimei Ji; Henri Justin; Woosung Kang; Marius Littschwager; J. Scott Miller; George Monteiro; Rafael Olea Franco and Pamela Vicenteño Bravo (trans. Marlene Hansen Esplin); Elvira Osipova; Renata Philippov; Margarita Rigal-Aragón; Santiago Rodríguez Guerrero-Strachan; Christopher Rollason; Ugo Rubeo; Takayuki Tatsumi; Alexandra Urakova; Lois Davis Vines; and Johan Wijkmark.

My own contribution is one of two essays in the book on the translation of Poe in Mexico (the other being by Rafael Olea Franco and Pamela Vicenteño Bravo). My essay (pp. 321-328) is entitled: ‘Return to El Dorado? Poe Translated in Mexico in the Twenty-First Century’. In it, I examine three recent Mexican translations into Spanish of poems by Poe – ‘To Helen’, ‘Eldorado’ and ‘Ulalume’ – included in the volume (translated by the Proyecto Helbardot group and introduced by Ana Elena González Treviño) ‘El Cuervo y otros poemas: Edición bilingüe conmemorativa del bicentenario del natalicio de Edgar Allan Poe’ (‘ « The Raven » and other poems: Bilingual edition in commemoration of the bicentenary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth’), Mexico City: Stonehenge Books, 2009.

TRANSLATED POE is a project that marks an important contribution to both Poe studies and translation studies, which I am more than happy to be part of.

**

Me da gusto informar de mi participación como autor en un importante y original volumen sobre Edgar Allan Poe, ahora lanzado.

Detalles del libro:

 TRANSLATED POE, eds. Emron Esplin y Margarida Vale de Gato, Bethlehem: Pennsylvania State University (Lehigh Press) / Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, xxi + 471 págs., ISBN 978-1-61146-171-8, tapa dura

 El volumen reúne 31 ensayos de estudiosos de Poe en el tema de la traducción de los escritos del autor estadounidense, abarcando 15 idiomas y 19 países – Alemania, Argentina, Brasil, China, Corea, Egipto, España, Francia, Grecia, Islandia, Italia, Japón, Marruecos, México, Portugal, Rumanía, Rusia, Suecia y Turquía. La traducción ha desempeñado un papel fundamental en la difusión a nivel mundial de la obra de Poe y en la consolidación de su renombre como autor universal, y entre sus traductores se cuentan escritores tan ilustres como Charles Baudelaire (al francés) o Julio Cortázar (al castellano). No obstante, es sólo a partir de ahora que existe un estudio compuesto de ensayos sobre las múltiples facetas de la traducción de Edgar Allan Poe, con todas sus variaciones de tiempo y lugar en el mercado literario global.

En el sitio de Rowman & Littlefield se pueden encontrar descriptivo e índice del libro:

https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781611461725

Los autores de los capítulos individuales son: Emron Esplin; Margarida Vale de Gato; Ayşe Nihal Akbulut; Bouchra Benlemlih; Liviu Cotrău; Hivren Demir-Atay; Lenita Esteves; Ástráður Eysteinsson; Ástráður Eysteinsson y Eysteinn Þorvaldsson; Zongxin Feng; Maria Filippakopoulou; Daniel Göske; Daniela Hăisan; Magda Mansour Hasabelnaby; Aimei Ji; Henri Justin; Woosung Kang; Marius Littschwager; J. Scott Miller; George Monteiro; Rafael Olea Franco y Pamela Vicenteño Bravo (trad. Marlene Hansen Esplin); Elvira Osipova; Renata Philippov; Margarita Rigal-Aragón; Santiago Rodríguez Guerrero-Strachan; Christopher Rollason; Ugo Rubeo; Takayuki Tatsumi; Alexandra Urakova; Lois Davis Vines; y Johan Wijkmark.

Mi propia aportación es uno de los dos capítulos en el tema de la traducción de Poe en México (siendo el otro de la autoría de Rafael Olea Franco y Pamela Vicenteño Bravo). Mi texto (págs. 321-328) se intitula: ‘Return to El Dorado? Poe Translated in Mexico in the Twenty-First Century’ (‘¿Regreso a El Dorado? Poe traducido en México en el siglo XXI’). Allí analizo tres recientes traducciones mexicanas de poemas de Poe – ‘To Helen’, ‘Eldorado’ y ‘Ulalume’ – incluídas en el volumen (traducido por el grupo Proyecto Helbardot, con prefacio de Ana Elena González Treviño) ‘El Cuervo y otros poemas: Edición bilingüe conmemorativa del bicentenario del natalicio de Edgar Allan Poe’, México D.F.:

TRANSLATED POE es un proyecto que constituye una importante aportación tanto a los estudios de Poe como a la traductología, en el cual me complace muchísimo ser partícipe.

OCTAVIO PAZ 1914-1998 – SITIO OFICIAL/OFFICIAL SITE – VÍNCULO/LINK: “VISLUMBRES DE LA INDIA / IN LIGHT OF INDIA”

En el centenario del nacimiento de Octavio Paz (1914-1998), Premio Nobel de 1990 y figura de proa de la literatura mexicana del siglo XX, la Cámara de Diputados de México ha creado un sitio de homenaje al autor, en:

http://octaviopaz.diputados.gob.mx/octaviopaz

Este sitio abarca una impresionante colección de materiales relativos al gran poeta y ensayista (biografía, artículos críticos, reseñas, entrevistas, etc).

Me es grato informar que en la página « Reseñas »:

http://octaviopaz.diputados.gob.mx/octaviopaz/2014-06/resenas/vislumbres-de-la-india,

hay un vínculo:

http://yatrarollason.info/files/PazES.pdf

a un texto de mi autoría de 1995 sobre Octavio Paz, en la cual reseñé su libro del mismo año acerca de la cultura de la India, país donde fue embajador de México, ‘Vislumbres de la India’. Estoy, evidentemente, muy agradecido a quien colocó ese enlace, que me permite ser partícipe en las conmemoraciones del centenario del inolvidable poeta mexicano.

Octavio Paz Vislumbres de la India

**

2014 marks the birth centenary of Octavio Paz (1914-1998), the 1990 Nobel laureate and standard-bearer for Mexican literature in the 20th century. In commemoration, the Mexican Chamber of Deputies (lower house of the national parliament) has created a site paying homage to the writer, at:

http://octaviopaz.diputados.gob.mx/octaviopaz

This site (in Spanish only) brings together an impressive collection of material on the great poet and essayist (biography, critical artícles, reviews, interviews, etc).

I am pleased to note that the page « Reseñas » (« Reviews »):

http://octaviopaz.diputados.gob.mx/octaviopaz/2014-06/resenas/vislumbres-de-la-india,

includes a link:

http://yatrarollason.info/files/PazES.pdf

to a text (in Spanish) of my authorship from 1995 on Octavio Paz, in which I reviewed his book of the same year on the culture of India, where he served as Mexico’s ambassador, ‘Vislumbres de la India’ (‘In Light of India’). I am of course most grateful to those who created this link, which enables me to be a participant in the commemorations of the centenary of the unforgettable Mexican poet.

NB – My review of Paz’s book is also available in English at: http://yatrarollason.info/files/PazEN.pdf