Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One of the blogs I subscribe to is the Words Without Borders blog, and today, a quick perusal of their website before I went to teach yielded two things I wanted to share with you all here at ITM.

First: I'm not the only person feeling inspired by Forster. Christopher Merrill has a post on the University of Iowa's writing program which he calls "Only Connect". An excerpt:

Literature works by subterranean means. Ideas migrate at the speed of thought, which for a writer in the act of composition means the speed of sound—syllable by syllable—if not the speed of light. And literary exchanges have the merit of launching new ideas into the cultural discourse.

This connects so well with some of the Deleuze and Guattari I've been reading over the past few weeks -- these rhizome networks of literature. One of the things I think, increasingly, is important, is the work of not simply literary critics, but truly literary scholars. Put differently: I don't think I'll ever understand The Wanderer as well as I did when I tried, after many years of writing about the poem, to actually write the poem, via translation.

Second: I had never heard of Doris Koreva until this morning. One of her poems, translated here, expresses for me the relationship between what Allen Mandelbaum called, in his Chelmaxioms "the-Reader and the-Read." The lines I found most intriguing:

The reader casts his shadow over the poem.

All possibilities bloom in language,
the mind hears but what it wants to
or what it fears.
Such hope for language -- for communication -- but simultaneously, such fear. However, Koreva suggests something in her poem I've always felt, though I don't think it made sense to me until this morning: Is there something about literature -- the writing or composition of text -- that is inherently hopeful? A leap of faith, even: faith in language, perhaps, but moreover -- faith in the possibility of communication?

cross posted at ITM


JLH said...

I've just stumbled, shomehow, onto your blog and am happy that I did. I'll definitely follow the Forster trail, since he is one of my favorites too. I'll be reading along now, for a while. I'm an amateur, not an academic, reader, not having gone beyond the master's level, and that in the innocent 60s. Close reading ruled, and rightly so. Be seeing ya.