‘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

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 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

 

Published in France: new life of Sigmund Freud by Élisabeth Roudinesco

Roudinesco cover

Élisabeth Roudinesco, ‘Sigmund Freud en son temps et dans le nôtre’, Paris: Seuil, 2014, 582 pp.

 In the 21st century, Sigmund Freud remains a controversial figure, liable to criticism from both left and right but continuing to attract passionate defenders. At a time when hermeneutic models of reality such as those of both Marxism and Freudianism have ceased to be fashionable and postmodernism rules the roost in academia, the appearance of what claims to be the first-ever serious biography of Freud to be published in France should merit the attention not only of professional therapists but of anyone interested in psychology, philosophy, literature or the history of ideas.

 The task falls to Élisabeth Roudinesco, historian, director of research at the Université de Paris-VII and author of a long series of works on psychoanalysis, including a voluminous ‘Dictionnaire de la Psychanalyse’ (co-authored with Michel Plon, 1997) and the eloquent manifesto ‘Pourquoi la Psychanalyse?’ (‘Why Psychoanalysis?’, 1999).

 Roudinesco’s new book, whose title may be rendered ‘Sigmund Freud in his time and in ours’, draws on the author’s knowledge of Freud’s complete psychological works and correspondence, as well as the archive material held in London and Vienna, and includes a full bibliography with details of Freud’s writings, their translations into French and the archives consulted. It has a final chapter examining the vicissitudes of the reception of Freud and Freudianism in our day. What is visibly a scrupulously researched and intellectually rigorous study, from a scholar and defender of Sigmund Freud already known for her polemical force, is likely to prove a major literary and intellectual event.

The book is reviewed (in French) by Juliette Cerf in the magazine Télérama (20 September 2014), at:

http://www.telerama.fr/livres/sigmund-freud-en-son-temps-et-dans-le-notre,116796.php#DeXLct5XmjhpuDQP.99

‘LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE’: INTERVIEW WITH / ENTREVISTA CON GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ

Garcia Marquez2

The August 2014 issue of ‘Le Monde Diplomatique’ (No 725) includes one of the very last interviews with the late Gabriel García Márquez, conducted in Havana by Ignacio Ramonet, former editor of the prestigious French publication (‘Gabriel García Márquez: ultime rencontre’ – ‘Gabriel García Márquez: ultime rencontre’, p. 28).

 ‘Gabo’ offers opinions on a wide range of subjects ranging from Nicaragua to Cuba, affirming his political beliefs as trenchantly as ever while not neglecting literature: ‘N’oublie pas que l’imagination est clairvoyante. Elle est parfois plus vraie que la vérité. Regarde Kafka, ou Faulkner, ou tout simplement Cervantès’ (‘Don’t forget that the imagination is clairvoyant. It is sometimes truer than the truth. Look at Kafka, or Faulkner, or quite simply Cervantes’).

 Ramonet leaves the author of ‘Cien Años de Soledad/One Hundred Years of Solitude’ ‘silencieux et méditatif, fixant la pluie inépuisable’ (‘silent and meditative, staring at the unceasing rain’), like one of his own characters. The Nobel-winning novelist comes over as a universal intellectual unafraid to express his views on the world’s multiplicity – akin to his fellow Latin Americans such as the late Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes or the still living Mario Vargas Llosa, all writers of a breadth and sweep such as we are unlikely to see again so soon in these more limited and fragmented times.

 **

Garcia Marquez1

El número de agosto de 2014 de ‘Le Monde Diplomatique’ (núm. 725) incluye una de las ultimísimas entrevistas que concedió el fallecido Gabriel García Márquez, realizada en La Habana por Ignacio Ramonet, antiguo director de la prestigiosa publicación francesa (‘Gabriel García Márquez: ultime rencontre’ – ‘Gabriel García Márquez: último encuentro’, p. 28).

 ‘Gabo’ expone sus puntos de vista en un amplio abanico de temas, desde Nicaragua a Cuba, afirmando sus creencias políticas de la forma tajante de siempre, y sin ignorar la literatura: ‘N’oublie pas que l’imagination est clairvoyante. Elle est parfois plus vraie que la vérité. Regarde Kafka, ou Faulkner, ou tout simplement Cervantès’ (‘No te olvides de que la imaginación es clarividente. A veces es más verdadera que la verdad. Piensa en Kafka, o en Faulkner, o todo sencillamente en Cervantes’).

 Ramonet se despide del autor de ‘Cien Años de Soledad’, ‘silencieux et méditatif, fixant la pluie inépuisable’ (‘silencioso y meditativo, fijándose en la inagotable lluvia’), como uno de sus propios personajes. El Nobel de Literatura se revela como un intelectual universal, pronunciándose impavidamente sobre la multiplicidad del mundo, en la corriente que comparte con sus congéneres latinoamericanos como los fenecidos Octavio Paz y Carlos Fuentes o el siempre activo Mario Vargas Llosa, todos ellos escritores de una visión amplia y abarcativa cuyo equivalente difícilmente volveremos a ver, en esta época más limitada y fragmentaria.

MANJU KAPUR EDITS ANTHOLOGY OF ESSAYS BY WOMEN WRITERS

Indian novelist Manju Kapur, whose work has featured on various occasions on this blog, has just published an anthology of essays, edited by her and signed by 24 contemporary women writers from the subcontinent. The New Indian Express for 27 July 2014 includes a brief interview with the novelist by Supriya Sharma, ‘Gender Figures Because You Write From Who You Are’:

 newindianexpress.com/lifestyle/books/%E2%80%98Gender-Figures-Because-You-Write-From-Who-You-Are%E2%80%99/2014/07/27/article2347090.ece

 Kapur names Jane Austen as one of her favourite writers, and advises intending novelists: ‘Read like mad and write every day’.

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ – EN INDIA / IN INDIA

GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ: EN INDIA / IN INDIA

 In the wake of the recent sad decease on 17 April this year of Colombia’s Nobel Literature laureate Gabriel García Márquez, an aspect of his work which may have been unjustly overlooked is his impressive and remarkable influence in India.

 This is highlighted in an article by Kavita Punjabi, ‘Salaams Gabo’, in The Times of India, 20 April 2014:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/stoi/deep-focus/Salaams-Gabo/articleshow/33980223.cms

 The author sees ‘Gabo’ as ‘a supreme architect’ who ‘through his tales he enabled the people of the North to see the South – us – as we see ourselves’, who worked to undo ‘the loss of cultural memory under colonialism’ and ‘drew us [Indians] close, very close, to Latin America’. She also states: ‘Three of the thirty languages that One Hundred Years of Solitude has been translated into are Indian. The Malayalam version is into the 13th edition, having sold over 25,000 copies; the Bangla and Hindi translations are also bestsellers’, and adds for our times that ‘never before, in the history of Facebook, have so many Indians grieved the passing away of a writer’.

 With this, the story of Gabo’s footprint in India should surely now be wide open for research!

 **

En la estela del reciente triste fallecimiento, el 17 de abril de este año, del Nobel de Literatura colombiano Gabriel García Márquez, cabe traer a colación un aspecto de su obra que tal vez no haya recibido la atención que merece, concretamente las profundas huellas que ha dejado en India.

Este aspecto viene subrayado en un artículo de Kavita Punjabi intitulado ‘Salaams Gabo’, publicado en The Times of India el 20 de abril de 2014:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/stoi/deep-focus/Salaams-Gabo/articleshow/33980223.cms

Para la autora, ‘Gabo’ fue ‘a supreme architect’ (‘un arquitecto supremo’) que ‘through his tales he enabled the people of the North to see the South – us – as we see ourselves’ (‘a través de sus relatos capacitó a los del Norte para poder ver al Sur – vernos a nosotros – como nosotros nos vemos’), que obró para deshacer ‘the loss of cultural memory under colonialism’ (‘la pérdida de la memoria cultural bajo el colonialismo’) y ‘drew us [Indians] close, very close, to Latin America’ (‘nos aproximó [a los indios], cerca, muy cerquita, a América Latina’). Añade: ‘Three of the thirty languages that One Hundred Years of Solitude has been translated into are Indian. The Malayalam version is into the 13th edition, having sold over 25,000 copies; the Bangla and Hindi translations are also bestsellers’ ‘Tres de los treinta idiomas a los que ha sido traducido Cien Años de Soledad son indios: la versión en malayalam ya ha llegado a 13 ediciones y ha vendido 25.000 ejemplares, y las versiones en bengalí e hindi también son éxitos de librería’), afirmando adicionalmente, para nuestra época, que ‘nunca antes en la historia de Facebook hubo tantos indios que lamentaron el fenecimiento de un escritor’.

¡Con todo esto, espérese ahora que el asunto de la influencia de ‘Gabo’ en India se abra plenamente como tema de investigación!