diumenge, 31 d’octubre de 2010

Halloween and All Souls' Day

Halloween (or Hallowe'en) is an annual holiday observed on October 31, primarily in Canada, Ireland, the USA and the UK. It has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holiday All Saints' Day, but is today largely a secular celebration.

Common Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, wearing costumes and attending costume parties, carving jack-o'lanterns, ghost tours, bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, committing pranks, telling ghost stories or other frightening tales, and watching horror films.

The imagery of Halloween is derived from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula), and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy) Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks, and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween.

Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, magic, or mythical monsters. Traditional characters include ghosts, witches, skeletons, vampires, werewolves, demons, bats, spiders, and black cats. Black and orange are the traditional Halloween colors and represent the darkness of night and the color of bonfires, autumn leaves, and jack-o'-lanterns.

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, "Trick or treat?" The word "trick" refers to a (mostly idle) "threat" to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. In some parts of Scotland children still go guising. In this custom the child performs some sort of trick, i.e. sings a song or tells a ghost story, to earn their treats.

The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays dates back to the Middle Ages and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of "puling [whimpering or whining] like a beggar at Hallowmas." The custom of wearing costumes and masks at Halloween goes back to Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them, in Scotland for instance where the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white.

All Souls' Day commemorates the faithful departed. In Western Christianity, this day is observed principally in the Catholic Church, although some churches of the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches also celebrate it. The Eastern Orthodox Churches observe several All Souls' Days during the year. The Roman Catholic celebration is associated with the doctrine that the souls of the faithful who at death have not been cleansed from the temporal punishment due to venial sins and from attachment to mortal sins cannot immediately attain the beatific vision in heaven, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass. In other words, when they died, they had not yet attained full sanctification and moral perfection, a requirement for entrance into Heaven. This sanctification is carried out posthumously in Purgatory.

dissabte, 30 d’octubre de 2010


Real Time: Stories and a Memoir in Verse (2002) consists of 15 short stories and a piece of poetry. Many of the tales are fictional meditations on the artistic process and its characters are often poets and musicians. One critic has described Chaudhuri as a 'miniaturist' and the intricate, understated stories within this collection certainly constitute memorable miniatures. This fact also sets his work apart from the 'elephantic' narratives of people like Mistry, Seth and Rushdie.

A New World (2000), Chaudhuri's fourth novel, tells the story of Jayojit Chatterjee, an economist, writer and university lecturer. Jayojit travels back from the United States to his native India with his son, Vikram (otherwise known as Bonny). They are to stay for four months to take advantage of the custody settlement following Jayojit's divorce. As father and son re-establish themselves in the city during the summer we are given a sense of the returning migrants' disorientation within a landscape that is both familiar yet strange. Behind him, in America, is the broken relationship that has left Jayojit fragile and depressed, yet he can't help glancing back at that land of wealth and opportunity as if it might also cure him.

As well as being a gifted storyteller, Amit Chaudhuri has demonstrated his ability as an editor recently, in The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature (2001). This is an ambitious collection spanning over 600 pages, and taking over five years to complete. The selections are headed with incisive, illuminating and often amusing biographical details. The selections themselves are informed and diverse, combining the household names of Indian literature (Seth, Rushdie, Narayan, Ghosh) with lesser-known writers (Ashok Banker, Nirmal Verma). However the Picador anthology is certainly not without some glaring absences: Arundhati Roy, Rohinton Mistry, not to mention the complete absence of Gujarati and Marathi writers. Unlike Rushdie though, whose anthology of Indian literature famously snubbed writers not writing in English, Chaudhuri does offer a rich selection (around 20) of work in translation for us to enjoy.

AMIT CHAUDHURI is an unlikely radical. He dresses conservatively. His hesitant delivery is of one who weighs each word carefully before committing it to speech, as though language came to him in a box labelled "Handle With Care". His four novels, A Strange and Sublime Address, Afternoon Raag, Freedom Song, and A New World, are slim and sensitive — a bit like the man himself. "I was first and foremost a poet," he confesses, "I had no intention of becoming a prose writer" and yet it is fiction (albeit highly poeticised fiction) that has made his name.

But there is another aspect to the man revealed in his latest two works — both non-fiction. The first, a work of literary criticism which reveals him to be a fiercely intelligent and non-conformist critic; the other a collection of political essays, where he comes across as passionate, committed, and outspoken.

Reading D.H. Lawrence and Difference: Postcoloniality and the Poetry of the Present (OUP), I couldn't help but admire the sheer chutzpah of taking on: (a) Lawrence, the Wild Man of Eng. Lit.; (b) not even his novels but his poetry, a notoriously mixed bag of the good, the bad and the ikky; and (c) coming at it via post-structuralist and post-colonialist theory. It sounded like a recipe for disaster — or, worse, a print run of 500, and a lingering death on some dusty university library bookshelf.

divendres, 29 d’octubre de 2010


Born in Calcutta, India, in 1962, Amit Chaudhuri was brought up in Bombay. He graduated from University College, London, and was a research student at Balliol College, Oxford. He was later Creative Arts Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, and received the Harper Wood Studentship for English Literature and Poetry from St John's College, Cambridge. He has contributed fiction, poetry and reviews to numerous publications including The Guardian, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the New Yorker and Granta magazine.

His first book, A Strange and Sublime Address (1991), a novella and a number of short stories, won the Betty Trask Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia Region, Best First Book) and was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize. His second novel, Afternoon Raag (1993), won both the Southern Arts Literature Prize and the Encore Award (for best second novel of the year). The novel adopts the metaphor of Indian classical music, the raag, to evoke the complex emotions displayed by the narrator, a young Indian student at Oxford. It was followed by Freedom Song (1998), set in Calcutta during the winter of 1992-3 against a backdrop of growing political tension between Hindus and Muslims. The US edition of Freedom Song won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Fiction) in 2000. A New World (2000) is the story of Jayojit Chatterjee, a divorced writer living in America, and the visit he makes with his son Vikram to his elderly parents' home in Calcutta. His latest book, Real Time (2002), includes a number of short stories set in Bombay and Calcutta, some of which have been published in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the New Yorker, as well as 'E-minor', a memoir written in verse. D. H. Lawrence and 'Difference': Postcoloniality and the Poetry of the Present, exploring Lawrence's position as a 'foreigner' in the English canon, was published in 2003.

Amit Chaudhuri is currently teaching Creative Writing at the Unversity of East Anglia. He is editor of The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature, published in 2001. His most recent book is St. Cyril Road and Other Poems (2005).

Amit Chaudhuri's first book, A Strange and Sublime Address (1991), unfolds in Calcutta, as the child protagonist, Sandeep, leaves behind the tranquility of his parents' flat in Bombay and returns, once more, to spend the vacation in Calcutta. Winner of the 1991 Betty Trask Award, the narrative of A Strange and Sublime Address is structured around nine evocative tales. Like so many of his other stories and novels, the text is without major events or upheavals. Nothing much seems to happen. Yet this is one of the strengths of Chaudhuri's writing, which pursues its larger questions indirectly, and through the seemingly insignificant. In a typically outspoken attack on postcolonial writing recently, Chaudhuri despaired that work appearing under this heading 'has become less a critical or imaginative exploration than a political programme, with novelists "writing back" to the Empire that had supposedly formed their recent histories'. Whether or not we agree with Chaudhuri here, it would be difficult to accuse the author's own imaginative explorations of such reductiveness.

His next novel, Afternoon Raag (1993), tells the story of a young English Literature student at Oxford University, whose obsession with music is matched only by his equally obsessive memories and hallucinations of home and the past. The 'raag' (a piece of classical Indian music) of the title is not just an allusion to the musical tastes of the 'I' narrator - it seems to refer to the very substance of the novel and its poetic, musical prose. In a recent article, Amit Chaudhuri recalled the influence of Nobel Prize winner, V. S. Naipaul, on his work, and there is something of Naipaul's sadness, solitariness and pessimism here. Both A Strange and Sublime Address and Afternoon Raag have been more recently collected with a new novel, Freedom Song (1998). Freedom Song is set against the backdrop of social, religious and economic unrest. It follows the lives of two families in Calcutta as they grow up and grow old.

dijous, 28 d’octubre de 2010

Joan Solà... i visca la llengua catalana!!!!

Ens ha deixat, després d'una llarga malaltia terminal, Joan Solà (Bell-lloc d'Urgell, 1940), un dels grans de les nostres lletres: premi d'honor de les lletres catalanes. Un homenot que ho ha donat tot per la nostra llengua, que el podem situar com a estudiós al costat de filòlegs i lingüistes de l'alçada de Joan Coromines o Pompeu Fabra. Dia de dol profund, doncs, per a la llengua catalana.
Mentre escric aquest apunt, tinc al costat la impressionant Gramàtica del català contemporani, que ell va dirigir. Sempre que mort un personatge tan gran m'agrada acompanyar-me de les obresrespectives que tinc a la nostra biblioteca familiar. I t'adones fàcilment de la grandesa de la catalanitat!!! Una llengua menyspreada i perseguida, odiada a l'Espanya de sempre per intel·lectuals i per la ciutadania, que, en contraposició, no para d'aportar grans intel·lectuals i estudiosos, persones amb tanta fidelitat, prestigi acadèmic i compromís lingüístic i cultural.
Joan Solà va realitzar un memorable discurs al Parlament de Catalunya, que serà recordat per la seua contundència i claredat d'ideals. No es tallava un pèl, ja que el seu prestigi acadèmic li permetia no anar amb mitges tintes. Lllegim el text d'aquest memorable discurs de Joan Solà, i aprenem del seu missatge dignificador (extret del bloc de Víctor Pàmies, Raons que rimen).
Professor de llengua a la universitat de Catalana, membre de nombroses acadèmies i institucions culturals, era una persona meticulosa i sàvia, al qual donava goig escoltar i llegir.
Hem de plantar a la tergiversació de la nostra identitat política i cultural, i plantejar qui som i què volem ser... Solà dixit.
Els polítics esquiven plantejar-se les coses http://www.vilaweb.tv/?video=5707. No hi ha pau lingüística, ja que hi ha gent que viu angoixada, mentre d'altres s'aprofiten del menyspreu cultural. Tots aquests missatges ens reafirmen com a poble, un poble maltractat com a part d'Espanya indesitjada. Que els polítics intenten comprendre això i li donin autoestima... paraules que comparteixo totalment.
Fa unes setmanes ens va deixar Joan Triadú, un altre gran. Dos Joans fidels a la llengua i d'una intel·lectual sana i de la terra. I hi ha tres Joans més que es presentaran per separat a eleccions: Joan Puigcercós, Joan Laporta i Joan Carretero. Fan un desastre monumental!!!! I aquest desastre contribuirà al desori de la llengua que han estimat i defensat tant els Joans desapareguts.
Joan Solà estava a favor d'un català rebregat per la gent. Estava a favor del país i la seua normalització. Que ens ha deixat un dels grans!!!

(del bloc de l'Emigdi Subirats)

dimecres, 27 d’octubre de 2010


The increasingly elaborate and highly wrought texture of poems of the 1950s, such as ‘Spectacular Blossom’ and ‘A Small Room with Large Windows’, gave way to a more openly textured verse, often vividly colloquial, imagistic, and idiomatic in expression while still precisely calculated in its effects. Also with this book a new landscape made a forceful entry into the poetry—that of the bush-clad hills and wild beaches of Auckland’s west coast, in particular Lone Kauri Road and Karekare Beach; as Curnow explained in a note in Selected Poems 1940–1989 (1990): ‘I have spent most of my summers and weekends there since 1961.’

If this beach-and-bush locale represents a kind of ‘fixed foot’ in the universe of Curnow’s later poetry, the other ‘foot’ has continued to roam widely through time and space, drawing in experiences from overseas travel in Europe (including a spell as Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton) and the United States, and also exploring personal and family history to a much greater extent than before.

American settings are especially important in Trees, Effigies, Moving Objects, in which Washington DC serves with Lone Kauri Road as coordinates by which the sequence is mapped, so to speak. Family history figures especially prominently in the title poem of An Abominable Temper & Other Poems (1973), a ten-part sequence in which the poet adopts the persona of his great-grandfather, H.A.H. Monro, to create a portrait of his father, Peter Monro—the man with ‘an abominable temper’, the poet’s great-great-grandfather —who settled in the Hokianga in the early nineteenth century.

In An Incorrigible Music (1979), another book-length sequence, Karekare again provides the ‘home’ coordinate (as in, e.g., ‘Canst Thou Draw Out Leviathan with an Hook?’—the title is from the Book of Job) while Italian settings both historical and contemporary provide the ‘away’ coordinate, notably in two powerful multi-part poems, ‘In the Duomo’ (the account of a murder in Renaissance Florence) and ‘Moro Assassinato’ (which takes its subject from the assassination by terrorists of a contemporary Italian statesman, Aldo Moro).

You Will Know When You Get There: Poems 1979–81 (1982) is a more various sequence containing a number of outstanding short lyrics, some of which appear to focus on the imminence of death, as, for instance, in the title piece and ‘The Parakeets at Karekare’, while the suburban Auckland of the poet’s city residence figures in such poems as ‘The Weather in Tohunga Crescent’. In ‘A Fellow Being’, a further ten-part sequence, the poet explored his coincidental connection to an Aucklander of an earlier time, the entrepreneurial American dentist and feller of kauri forests, Dr F.J. Rayner.

Increasingly through the 1980s and 1990s, Curnow began making poems out of incidents from his Canterbury childhood. While there were isolated earlier poems of childhood reminiscence, e.g. ‘Country School’ from 1941, such poems became much more prominent in The Loop in Lone Kauri Road: Poems 1983–1985 (1986), and in the previously uncollected poems in Continuum: New and Later Poems1972–1988 (1988)— which brought together five books from the 1970s and 1980s—and Early Days Yet: New and Collected Poems 1941–1997 (1997).

Between poems with Karekare settings and the poems with childhood Canterbury settings an elaborate pattern of contrasts and oppositions is implicitly established: youth and age, south and north, Canterbury and Auckland, east and west, Pacific and Tasman, plain and bush. An example of such patterning is the implied connection between two late ‘car’ poems, ‘Early Days Yet’—in part a recollection of travelling the long dusty roads of rural Canterbury with his clergyman father in a model-T Ford—and ‘The Game of Tag’, a poetic fiction (in the Wallace Stevens sense of imaginative construct) in which an old Falcon is driven ‘like a bat / out of Hell’ around the twisting corners of Lone Kauri Road by the poet’s ‘spray- / gun-toting rival’ whose death note is the spray-painted roadside graffito ‘THANKS FOR THE TAG’.

dimarts, 26 d’octubre de 2010


In the 1950s and 1960s Curnow got caught up in intergenerational and interregional conflicts with the younger Wellington-based writers Louis Johnson and Baxter, especially in connection with his reviews in Here Now of the early issues of Johnson’s New Zealand Poetry Yearbook (1951–52) and then the contents of his own second anthology, The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse (1960), the publication of which was delayed by disputes about his selections and introduction.

Curnow has written about this episode: ‘My critical positions, as understood from my reviews and anthologies, inevitably came under some fire: whether from an older generation who thought me unjust to respected poets of their time, or from writers younger than myself who believed themselves underrated, and who interpreted any emphasis on a New Zealand particularity or "common problem" as a restrictive desideratum—so to speak, a charge for admission to my anthologies which they were not prepared to pay.

Such challenges came to a head in 1957–58, when a second anthology The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse (1960) was on the point of publication in the United Kingdom. A set of galley-proofs fell into the hands of young Wellington poets employed in the School Publications Branch of the Education Department. Letters were rushed off to England threatening a concerted withdrawal by several poets the threatened walk-out didn’t eventuate. But publication was delayed two years. Invited to undertake a sequel to the 1960 Penguin, I refused.’

Debate about the contents of the anthology and its fifty-page introduction (a key document in New Zealand criticism) figured prominently in literary discussion in the 1960s. One passage in particular—‘Reality must be local and special at the point where we pick up the traces: as manifold as the signs we follow and the routes we take. Whatever is true vision belongs, here, uniquely to the islands of New Zealand.

The best of our verse is marked or moulded everywhere by peculiar pressures—pressures arising from the isolation of the country, its physical character, and its history’—became celebrated, seen by some as an important truth memorably expressed, while others—usually younger—took it as prescriptively nationalistic. There were clarifications and elaborations of Curnow’s views in the lectures ‘New Zealand Literature: The Case for a Working Definition’ (1963) and ‘Distraction and Definition: Centripetal Directions in New Zealand Poetry’ (1968). These lectures, the anthology introductions and other miscellaneous pieces were eventually collected in Look Back Harder: Critical Writings 1935–1984, edited by Peter Simpson (Auckland University Press, 1987).

After A Small Room with Large Windows (Oxford University Press, 1962)—a selected poems published in the UK which contained only two previously uncollected poems—Curnow published no further verse collection until Trees, Effigies, Moving Objects appeared in 1972. From the perspective of the end of the 1990s it is apparent that this brilliant sequence of eighteen poems initiated a new phase of his poetic career.

dilluns, 25 d’octubre de 2010


The notion that there are circumstances reflected in the poetry which are ‘peculiarly New Zealand’s’ (‘Attitudes for a New Zealand Poet’ iii) was perhaps the most influential and controversial of his critical ideas in that it engages with the complex and much debated question of ‘nationalism’, a keyword of the Curnow era though one he seldom used himself. An expanded edition of the anthology, including several poets who had emerged in the post-war period up to 1950 (such as Ruth Dallas, Keith Sinclair, Kendrick Smithyman and Charles Spear), was published in 1951.

During and after the war Curnow’s own poetry gradually became less preoccupied with issues of history and national identity and moved towards more personal and universal themes (for example, ‘At Dead Low Water’, 1945). As he wrote in the Author’s Note to Collected Poems 1933–73 (1974): ‘I had to get past the severities, not to say rigidities, of our New Zealand anti-myth: away from questions which present themselves as public and answerable, towards the questions which are always private and unanswerable.

The geographical anxieties didn’t disappear; but I began to find a personal and poetic use for them, rather than let them use me up’ (p. xiii). Reflective of this tendency were the collections Jack Without Magic (Caxton, 1946) and At Dead Low Water and Sonnets (Caxton, 1949).

In 1949 Curnow was awarded a grant from the newly established Literary Fund to travel abroad for the first time. He spent much of that year in the UK, supplementing the grant by employment on the News Chronicle, and with occasional work for the BBC. He spent a week with Dylan and Caitlin Thomas (then living at Laugharne village), having met the Welsh poet through the BBC; they were to see more of each other the following year in New York City, Cambridge (Massachusetts) and San Francisco. After a brief return to Christchurch and the Press in 1950, he and his family moved toAuckland; he took up a position in the English department at the University of Auckland where he worked from 1951 to 1976, retiring as associate professor. He received the university’s LittD degree, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Canterbury.

Throughout the 1950s, Curnow—by this time recognised as one of the country’s leading writers—continued to write verse (Poems 1949–57, 1957), including a second verse play ‘Moon Section’ which was professionally toured through the North Island, but he was disappointed in it, and gave up thoughts of revising it for the stage, or for print. His Four Plays (1972) were all produced on radio, commissioned by the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation: The Axe, revised with sound images by Douglas Lilburn (1961); The Overseas Expert (1962); The Duke’s Miracle (1967); and Resident of Nowhere (1969).

In Joseph Hirsal’s translation The Duke’s Miracle was broadcast by Prague Radio several times in the 1968–69 Czechoslovak Radio Festival of Foreign Plays; later productions were from BBC World Service and Australian Broadcasting Commission; in Italo Verri’s Italian, it was published as Il Miracolo del Duca (Ferrara 1993).

diumenge, 24 d’octubre de 2010

Lectura de L'ombra rogenca de la lloba

Lectura de L'ombra rogenca de la lloba, el poemari del mestre poètic tortosí Gerard Vergés, guanyador del premi Carles Riba de 1981, durant les Jornades literàries ebrenques d'Amposta. Comença amb la recitació de la meua fillola, la Rosa, d'un himne poètic de l'admirat Gerard Vergés. Després ve la recitació del poemari per part del professor i escriptor Manel Ollé i per l'Emigdi Subirats. A internet podeu trobar la continuació de la recitació amb la intervenció de Sílvia Panisello, Rafel Haro, Maria Josep Margalef, Maria José Fernández, Jordi Andreu i Corbaton, Mari Chordà i Dolors Queralt.


His first collection of poems Valley of Decision (1933)—printed, like Kiwi and Phoenix, by R.W. Lowry—reflected a crisis of religious vocation pointing towards his decision not to be ordained, taken the following year. Biblical imagery and language remained an important element in all his writing.

In 1934 Curnow returned to the South Island. During a brief period on a South Canterbury farm he corresponded with Iris Wilkinson (Robin Hyde) and Alan Mulgan at the Auckland Star. He then found a job on the Christchurch Press. In Christchurch he quickly established a lifelong friendship and collaboration with Denis Glover and began contributing to Caxton Press publications, such as New Poems (1934) and Another Argo (1935).

Three Poems and a brief prose manifesto, Poetry and Language, were published by Caxton in 1935. He also contributed verse and prose to the radical periodical Tomorrow (1934–40), often under the pseudonyms ‘Amen’ and ‘Julian’. A shift in his poetic manner is observable in Enemies: Poems 1934–36 (Caxton, 1937), which reveals an awareness of contemporary English poetry (including Yeats, Pound, Eliot, Auden, Day Lewis, Spender, MacNeice, Dylan Thomas and William Empson—some of these influences came in a bit later) and a sharper consciousness of the New Zealand scene, both social and physical.

These tendencies continued in his next three books, Not in Narrow Seas (Caxton, 1939), Island Time (Caxton, 1941) and Sailing or Drowning (Progressive Publishing Society, 1943), which demonstrate growing technical mastery and a progressive widening of thematic scope. These books display a tight focus on details of New Zealand’s landscape and history and on its situation as a small island nation in the wider world—a consciousness further accentuated by the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939, and the widening of the conflict to the Pacific from late 1941.

From the mid-1930s Curnow contributed frequent reviews and articles to the literary pages of the Press, and, after 1941, to the Caxton miscellany Book. A Present for Hitler, the first of several volumes of topical satirical verses—most of them originally printed in the Press (and from 1952 also the New Zealand Herald) under the pseudonym ‘Whim-Wham’—appeared in 1940.

During the war years, Curnow—who by this time had a young family—spent his nights sub-editing foreign news at the Press and his days working on The Axe, a verse play with a Pacific setting (performed on stage 1948, 1953, published Caxton, 1949) and an anthology, eventually published as A Book of New Zealand Verse 1923–45 (Caxton, 1945). This seminal anthology included the work of sixteen poets, most of whom (Ursula Bethell, J.R. Hervey, D’Arcy Cresswell, Beaglehole, Fairburn, Mason, Glover, Hyde, Charles Brasch, Basil Dowling, Anton Vogt, James K. Baxter and Curnow himself) had been published by Caxton during the previous decade.

The selection, together with Curnow’s forty-page introduction, provided the first coherent and substantial representation and analysis of New Zealand poetry and has remained a landmark publication. The introduction was most noteworthy for his identification of recurring elements among the themes and images of the poets, in which he saw evidence of ‘some common problem of the imagination’ particular to the New Zealander’s situation.

dissabte, 23 d’octubre de 2010


Primer gol de Guillem com a futbolista!!! Ha estat el segon del partit de prebenjamins entre la UE Remolins-Bítem 6 Col·legi Temple de Tortosa.

Un 6-0 prometedor... Festa gran a casa!!! Orgull de pare!!! (Ja us el podeu imaginar!!!) Igual se fa un Leo Messi i ens jubila ràpid, a la padrina inclosa!!!

I per a celebrar-ho, a dinar lasagna que li encanta! FELICITATS, CARINYET! ETS UN CRACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


He wrote a long-running weekly satirical poetry column under the pen-name of Whim Wham for the The Press from 1937, and then the New Zealand Herald from 1951, finishing in 1988 - a far-reaching period in which he turned his keen wit to many world issues. From Franco, Hitler, Vietnam, Apartheid, and the White Australia policy, to the internal politics of Walter Nash and the eras of Robert Muldoon and David Lange, all interspersed with humorous commentary on New Zealand's obsession with rugby and other light-hearted subjects.

His publication, Book of New Zealand Verse (1945), is a landmark in New Zealand literature.

Curnow is however, more celebrated as poet than as a satirist. His poetic works are heavily influenced by his training for the Anglican ministry, and subsequent rejection of that calling, with Christian imagery, myth and symbolism being included frequently, particularly in his early works (such as 'Valley of Decision'). He draws consistently on his experiences in childhood to shape a number of his poems, reflecting perhaps a childlike engagement with the environment in which he grew up, these poems bringing the hopeful, curious, questioning voice that a childlike view entails. Curnow's work of course is not all so innocently reflective. The satirist in Curnow is certainly not pushed aside in his poetic works, but is explored instead with a greater degree of emotional connectivity and self reflection. His works concerning the New Zealand Landscape and the sense of isolation experienced by one who lives in an island colony are perhaps his most moving and most deeply pertinent works regarding the New Zealand condition. His landscape/isolation centered poetry reflects varying degrees of engaged fear, guilt, accusation, rage and possessiveness, creating an important but, both previously and still, much neglected dialog with the New Zealand landscape. He positions himself as an outside critic (he was far less religiously and politically involved than contemporaries like James K. Baxter, and far less outrageous in his lifestyle also) and though perhaps less impassioned in his writing than his contemporaries, his poetic works are both prophetic and intelligent.

Author entry from The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, edited by Roger Robinson and Nelson Wattie (1998). [About the Companion entries] CURNOW, Allen (1911– 2001) was born in Timaru, where his father—a fourth-generation New Zealander—was an Anglican clergyman; his mother was English-born. During his childhood Curnow lived in a succession of Anglican vicarages in Canterbury, at Belfast, Malvern, Lyttelton and New Brighton. He was educated at Christchurch BHS and the universities of Canterbury and Auckland.

He worked for the Christchurch Sun in 1929–30, before moving to Auckland to prepare for the Anglican ministry at St John’s Theological College, 1931–33. His earliest poems appeared in the university periodicals Kiwi in 1931 and Phoenix (he was a member of the editorial committee) in 1932–33. Several Phoenix contributors, including the founding editor James Bertram, R.A.K. Mason, A.R.D. Fairburn and J.C. Beaglehole became friends (he later edited Mason’s Collected Poems, 1962).

divendres, 22 d’octubre de 2010


Harrison has forged a singular career as a poet, dramatist, film-maker - and these all in verse. He was a working class scholarship boy and his obsession with class and his passion for classical literature remain the two driving forces of his work. His early poems, collected in The Loiners (1970) (Loiners are residents of Leeds), were muscular and anguished about sex, class, family and the struggle to acquire culture. The characteristic poem was perhaps 'Thomas Campey and the Copernican System', the poem that opens the book. Thomas Campey was a poor second-hand bookseller who sold books off a handcart. Harrison is a buyer of second-hand books and the ironic distance between the culture Campey purveys and his own pathetic circumstances is at the heart of Harrison's art. He insists on both high art and the consequences for the class he came from of the stratification of society that high art entails.

Harrison travelled very widely in his early years as a poet, especially in Africa and Eastern Europe. The African poems convey a teeming panorama of self-disgust and degradation 'I murmur over and over; / buttocks...buttocks...BUTOX, / marketable essence of beef - / negritude - dilute to taste!' from 'The Zeg-Zeg Postcards'.

In his early years Harrison didn't publish conventional self-contained volumes, but worked on series of poems, From the School of Eloquence and Other Poems (1978) and Art & Extinction which were added to over a long period. This hindered an appreciation of his work and his poetry only reached a wide audience with the publication of the Penguin Selected Poems in1984.

From the School of Eloquence and Other Poems contains his best-known poems, sonnets about his parents and extended family, class, and poetry. The title is a good one because all these poems are about 'utterances' of various kinds. He reflects on the inarticulacy of his family, his Uncle Joe who stammered and could 'handset type much faster than he spoke', his English teacher telling him 'Poetry's the speech of kings. You're one of those / Shakespeare gives the comic bits to: prose!' There is an obsessive zeal about these tightly interlocked poems. Themes echo in many poems: fire and destruction, with special reference to the VJ celebrations in 1946 (which he remembers as a boy of 9) and Hiroshima, the extinction of species, the power that articulacy brings, the painful self-limitation of the working class ('too posh for me! He said (though he dressed well) / If you weren't wi' me ah'd nivver dare!').

Harrison spent some time in America in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the poems that emerged were longer, more relaxed and discursive. He said 'I don't read America with the same spikey class instincts as I read England'. Poems like 'Cypress and Cedar', 'The Red Lights of Plenty', 'The Lords of Life', are wide-ranging meditations on nature, homesteading, the American way.

In poetic terms Harrison returned to England with a vengeance with the publication of his most famous poem, v. (1985). A long poem in rhyming quatrains deliberately echoing Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard, v.. captures a moment in English life when the collapse of traditional industries like mining undermined a whole way of life. Harrison puts the resultant nihilism into the mouth of a lager-swilling yobbo and admits, for all his berating of the youth, that there's something of the vandal in him too: he remembers as a teenager letting off a fire extinguisher at a singer and orchestra. The justification he gives for this is revealing:

What I hated in those high soprano ranges

Was uplift beyond all reason and control

And in a world where you say nothing changes

It seemed a sort of pricktease of the soul.

Harrison's next full collection The Gaze of the Gorgon (1992), although a normal miscellany volume, did have some unity. Harrison's poems about the Gulf War, 'Initial Illumination' and 'A Cold Coming', began a new phase for him, appearing in the Guardian newspaper rather than a literary magazine (v. had first appeared in the London Review of Books). Harrison believes that poetry should address the great issues of the day and that it should strive for a mass audience.

This tendency became even more pronounced during the Bosnian conflict of 1992-4. The Guardian sent Harrison to the region as poetic war correspondent. Thanks to poems like these and his television films Harrison had a very high profile during the 1990s. Inevitably his name was mentioned as a contender for Poet Laureate when Ted Hughes died. But Harrison is a fierce republican and he published another poem in the Guardian, 'A Celebratory Ode on the Abdication of King Charles III', which effectively ruled himself out. This and other new poems were published as Laureate's Block by Penguin in 2000. Some critics have felt that in such recent poems the ferocity of his polemic has been detrimental to his verse, which can seem clumsy when compared to the early sonnets.

dijous, 21 d’octubre de 2010


Major characters


Wilson never appears in the play, but he is directly or indirectly behind the messages from the dumb waiter and speaking tube. His obvious theatrical corollary is Godot in Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Both are off-stage characters who exercise a powerful, god-like influence over the on-stage characters. When Gus suggests that Wilson is playing "games" with the men (the orders for food), it raises the possibility of Wilson's having a sadistic personality—a malevolent god. Not only is he going to execute Gus, for unknown reasons, but he will put him through an agonizing final day. Gus also mentions that Wilson put them through tests several years ago to prove themselves, so we know that Wilson may also be paranoid (a reasonable expectation for the head of a crime syndicate).

As with Godot, there are two characters, one dominant, one submissive, who share the amount of letters and syllables in their names (although Pinter's Gus and Ben are simpler names—and simpler characters—than Beckett's Vladimir and Estragon). Gus's difficulty in putting on his shoe corresponds to a similar problem with a boot in Beckett's play. In both plays, moreover, the characters have been stranded in one place with an unclear purpose, at least from the audience's perspective. The single location is a staple of Pinter's other plays, as well.

Pinter's use of repetition and silence also harkens back to Beckett's work. Beckett's primary use of these is to suggest the ideas of alienation and the approach of death, but Pinter fashions them with a more sinister, violent touch. Pinter has said that silence is a form of nakedness, and that speech is an attempt to cover this nakedness. Gus keeps wanting to ask Ben something but is interrupted, an exchange that will repeat throughout the play. The dialogue in between is often Ben's attempt to delay answering Gus's question—here, a trivial matter about the toilet. Ben also uses silence to deflect the potential for more intimate probing from Gus. Not only are Ben's delays and interruptions a form of silence, but even they are interrupted—Ben's reports of the death of the elderly man and the cat, serious matters of mortality, are quickly aborted in favor of more mundane concerns. The men do not break the silence themselves usually. Rather, the sound of an inanimate object—the toilet—jolts them back into discussion.

The toilet serves as a base for Gus throughout the play. It represents repetition, and the futility of repetition. Like the choppy dialogue, the toilet works on a delay—the flush is preceded by a long pause—solidifying the notion that repetition effects little change. Just as Gus transfers the flattened matchbox and carton (both defective objects) from his shoes to his pocket—one receptacle to another—the receptacle of the defective toilet transfers human waste to the receptacle of the sewers. The waste, however, does not disappear; it will return in some form, and is part of the cyclical nature of life that bores Gus, the dull repetition of work and sleep.

The characters' complete separation from the upper class is also introduced and will be explored in further depth later. Their unfamiliarity with the sporting terms of posh cricket and their affection for the more working-class game of soccer immediately defines their social standing.

In ways, The Dumb Waiter is a precursor to a major conceit of modern gangster films, such as those of Quentin Tarantino, films that juxtapose, often to comic effect, the violence of the criminal's job with his banal, but revealing, small talk. The argument over "light the kettle" is seemingly trivial but divulges key information about the men: Gus no longer sees his mother, and Ben is the senior partner.

The debate also produces the men's first physical confrontation after much verbal build-up. It is no accident that Ben screams and chokes Gus at the same time. Pinter is known for the innate violence in his characters' language, violence that lurks beneath the clipped structure of the language, and Ben's dialogue is a part of, and nearly causes, the physical violence. The violence is offset by the comic effect, which occurs after the confrontation, when Ben unconsciously uses the same language as Gus. Moreover, his comical use of Gus's phrase after displaying intense hostility to it implies that repetition of language can dull its effect, and that it can mechanically flow between people as an unconscious transaction.

Pinter reinforces the mechanical feeling with his use of repetition. Gus twice says that he doesn't know what the envelope is, and twice that "no one" and "nothing" were outside. These last two statements both express an absence—both of knowledge and of the physical presence—that constitute a type of silence, and Ben's repetitive queries try to cover this naked, fearful mystery with extraneous speech. He later deflects Gus's question referring to who they will victimize, answering with silence and then ordering Gus to make tea. The other theme behind repetitiveness in the play is how it dulls life into a cyclical routine, and we can view Gus's running out of matches as a symbol of how life continually burns down and then refuels. Ben's scolding Gus over not wasting the matches is almost pointless. Sooner or later, they will be wasted, but their supply will be replenished.

it becomes clearer that Ben is perhaps not telling Gus the complete truth about their operation—they are certainly in the kitchen of a working café, not merely a basement, and something is odd about their interaction with the person or people upstairs. In Godot, the two men wait around for a man named Godot who never arrives, yet who exercises great power over them. In The Dumb Waiter, Ben and Gus are at the beck and call of Wilson, a mysterious character who dominates the duo even when he's not around—or perhaps especially when he's not around. Ben is more reverent of Wilson, while Gus is wary of their relationship to the mysterious figure. It is therefore not surprising that Gus is the one who looks up and wants to shout up the hatch—investigating the god upstairs, so to speak—and not Ben, who seems fearful of angering the gods and who is anxious to please them. He is noticeably embarrassed when the tea is returned. Gus also seems to hold a greater sensitivity to his job. He is not only disturbed about their murder of the girl, but he wonders who has the task of cleaning up the remains.

The characters' anxiety over their lower-class status hangs over the food sequence. It begins with their inability to pay for the meter, which inhibits their ability to make their own food, or at least to brew their own tea. Their anxiety amplifies when they feel they need to send more food back up the hatch, and then with the orders for increasingly fancy food with which they are not familiar. Much of this class tension is bound up in language. Gus tries to dress up their own standard food by announcing the brand names associated with the items, names that pale in comparison to the exotic names of the ordered dishes, such as "Ormitha Macarounada." Ben noticeably tries to cover up his lower-class status by pretending that he knows how to make the dish. The characters' dialect is also distinctly lower class, abrupt sentences peppered with idiomatic utterances like "Kaw!" Many productions of The Dumb Waiter emphasize Ben's and Gus's different relationships to class by giving Ben an accent of a slightly better-off Englishman, while Gus often speaks in a lower-class Cockney accent. American audiences may not be able to distinguish between the particular accents so readily.

Interruptions and abbreviations continue to play a significant role in this section, as Gus's continuing questions about the nature of their job and the café are twice broken by the sounds of the descending dumb waiter. As of now, Ben and Gus's communication with the upstairs via the dumb waiter has been based on written notes with abbreviated sentences at that. This limited communication will assume a more symbolic form in the next section.

The dumb waiter, with its accompanying speaking tube, becomes an agent for murder as the play ends, but the device is also a metaphor for the type of communication that has already split apart Ben and Gus. Whenever Gus broaches an important topic—here, especially, Wilson and his "games"—Ben deflects the question or descends into silence. They communicate as if with a dumb waiter; one says something, it travels to and registers with the other, and then a reply is made (if at all). It is impossible for both men to speak their minds at once, just as the dumb waiter restricts language (either in the form of a note or the speaking tube) to one person at a time; its very name indicates muteness. They do not converse in true dialogue with one other. Rather, they

they speak to each other, not with one another. Fittingly, when he finds the speaking tube, Gus ironically says, "Funny I never noticed it before." He and Ben have had a block in their communication with each other that is highlighted by his reference to the tube used for communication.

This lack of communication heightens the sense that Ben has been withholding information from Gus and perhaps even betraying his partner. Whenever Gus strays too close to the truth—a truth Ben seems to be more aware of—Ben withholds and alters crucial information (such as his lie about the café's changing ownership), almost as if he were retracting the evidence on a dumb waiter and adjusting it for the return trip. His language throughout the play, then, stands on its own as a betrayal, a closely monitored transaction of information that takes pains not to give too much away. Betrayal is a constant theme in Pinter's work—he has a play titled Betrayal—and here we must take Ben's word that the job is about to commence, but we do not know if it will be carried out the way he originally indicated or whether he will end up actually shooting Gus.

But the repetitive, mechanical quality of language is the ultimate murderer here. The characters' repetition of their newspaper routine—an act that surely occurs every day—is part of the slow approach to death that Gus spoke of at the start of the play when he bemoaned his dull, cyclical life. Ben's instructions, which Gus repeats, similarly drain the life out of an act that itself seeks to end life. Gus's toneless echo is actually a form of silence that seeks to avoid having to perform the horrifying act.