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Global Modernists on Modernism: An Anthology
 9781474242325, 9781474242349, 9781474242332

Table of contents :
Cover
Contents
Alternate Tables of Contents
Editorial Preface to Modernist Archives
Contributor Biographies
Acknowledgments
Permissions and Credits
Global Modernism: An Introduction and Ten Theses Alys Moody and Stephen J. Ross
1. Modernism in Latin America
i. New Poetry (1926, France/Peru) César Vallejo
Translated by Joseph W. Mulligan
ii. Platforms for Living (1927, Peru) Magda Portal Translated by Melvin S. Arrington, Jr.
iii. Cannibalist Manifesto (1928, Brazil) Oswald de Andrade Translated by Leslie Bary
iv. From “Revolution and Renascence” (1929, Mexico/US)
Anita Brenner
v. Will to Construct (1930, France/Uruguay)
Joaquín Torres-García
Translated by Stephen J. Ross and John Steen
vi. Prologue to Sóngoro Cosongo (1931, Cuba)
Nicolás Guillén
Translated by Stephen J. Ross and John Steen
vii. From Woman and Her Expression (1935, Argentina)
Victoria Ocampo
Translated by Patricia Owen Steiner
viii. How I Write (1938, Chile)
Gabriela Mistral
Translated by Stephen Tapscott
ix. Protest against Folklore (1943, Costa Rica)
Yolanda Oreamuno
Translated by Janet N. Gold
2 Modernism in the Caribbean
i. La Revue indigène: Program (1927, Haiti)
Normil G. Sylvain
Translated by Alys Moody
ii. Légitime Défense: Declaration (1932, France/Martinique)
Étienne Léro et al.
Translated by Krzysztof Fijalkowski and Michael Richardson
iii. The Time Has Come (1933, Trinidad) Hugh Stollmeyer
iv. Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution (1935, France/Martinique)
Aimé Césaire
Translated by Alys Moody
v. Tropiques: Presentation (1941, Martinique)
Aimé Césaire
Translated by Alys Moody
vi. Poverty of a Poetry (1942, Martinique)
Suzanne Césaire
Translated by Alys Moody
vii. Bim: An Introduction (1955, Barbados)
George Lamming
viii. Jazz and the West Indian Novel, I (1967, Barbados/Jamaica/UK)
L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite
ix. The Artist in the Caribbean (1970, Guyana/UK)
Aubrey Williams
3 Modernism in Sub-Saharan Africa
i. In Search of the Lost! (1932, Madagascar)
Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo
Translated by Matthew Winterton
ii. The Lost Is Found (1934, Madagascar)
Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo
Translated by Matthew Winterton
iii. Negritude and the Concept of Universal Civilisation (1963, Senegal)
Léopold Sédar Senghor Uncredited translation from Présence Africaine, English edition
iv. Copying Puts God to Sleep (1963, Kenya)
Elimo Njau
v. On the Threshold, VIII (1965, South Africa)
André P. Brink
Translated by Klara du Plessis
vi. The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist
(1966, Nigeria)
Ben Enwonwu
vii. Prodigals, Come Home! (1973, Nigeria)
Chinweizu
viii. Manifesto of the Zairian Avant-Gardists (1973, Zaire)
Les avant-gardistes zaïrois
Translated by Sarah Van Beurden
4 Modernism in the Arab World
i. On Degenerate Art (1939, Egypt)
Kāmil al-Tilimsānī
Translated by Mandy McClure
ii. Introduction to Splinters and Ash (1949, Iraq)
Nāzik al-Malāʾikah
Translated by Emily Drumsta
iii. Prologue to Souffles (1966, Morocco)
Abdellatif Laâbi
Translated by Teresa Villa-Ignacio
iv. Art in the Time of the Palestinian Revolution (1971, Palestine/Lebanon)
Kamāl Bullāṭah
Translated by Katharine Halls
v. From Poetics and Modernity (1984, Syria/France)
Adūnīs
Translated by Catherine Cobham
5 Modernism in Turkey
i. Some Thoughts about Poetry (1921, Turkey)
Ahmet Haşim
Translated by Kaitlin Staudt
ii. The Garip Preface (1941, Turkey)
Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet, and Oktay Rifat
Translated by Sidney Wade and Efe Murad
iii. The Change of Civilization and Inner Man (1951, Turkey)
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar
Translated by Kaitlin Staudt
6 Persian Modernism
i. Preface to The Myth (1922, Iran)
Nima Yushij
Translated by Bahareh Azad
ii. A Poetry That Is Life (1958, Iran)
Ahmad Shamlu
Translated by Samad Alavi
iii. Hasan Honarmandi’s Interview with Forough Farrokhzad (1967, Iran)
Forough Farrokhzad and Hasan Honarmandi
Translated by Bahareh Azad
7 Modernism in the Caucasus
i. Niko Pirosmanashvili (1926, Georgia)
Kirill Zdanevich
Translated by Harsha Ram
ii. Niko Pirosmani (1926, Georgia)
Grigol Robakidze
Translated by Harsha Ram
8 Modernism in South Asia
i. From Japan: A Lecture (1916, British India) Rabindranath Tagore
ii. Manifesto of the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association
(1936, British India/UK)
Mulk Raj Anand
iii. Introduction to A Stranger in Iran (1957, Pakistan/US)
N. M. Rashed
Translated by A. Sean Pue
iv. The Portrait of the Artist as a Notun Samalochak (1968, India/US)
Malay Roy Choudhury
Translated by the author
v. The Hungryalist Manifesto on Poetry (1968, India/US)
Malay Roy Choudhury
Translated by the author
vi. Introduction to the New Story (1969, India)
Kamleshwar
Translated by Arshdeep Singh Brar and Rudrani Gangopadhyay
vii. From The True Story of Satyakatha (1969, India)
Raja Dhale
Translated by Sadhana Bhagwat
viii. Modern Literature (c. 1986–7, India)
Ka. Naa. Subramanyam
Translated by Darun Subramaniam
9 Chinese Modernism
i. Some Thoughts on Our New Literature (1929, Republic of China)
Lu Xun
Translated by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang
ii. Dai Wangshu’s Poetic Theory (1932, Republic of China)
Dai Wangshu
Translated by Kirk A. Denton
iii. Dream of Genius (1940, Republic of China)
Eileen Chang
Translated by Karen Kingsbury
iv. Explicating the Tenets of the Modernist School (1956, Taiwan)
Ji Xian
Translated by Paul Manfredi
v. The New Poetry—A Turning Point? (A Misty Manifesto)
(1980, People’s Republic of China)
Hong Huang
Translated and adapted by Zhu Zhiyu with John Minford
vi. Without Isms (1993, People’s Republic of China/France)
Gao Xingjian
Translated by Mabel Lee
vii. A Particular Sort of Story (2003, People’s Republic of China) Can Xue Translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping
10 Modernism in Japan
i. My Futurism in Action (1921, Japan)
Hirato Renkichi
Translated by Sho Sugita
ii. Red and Black Manifesto (1923, Japan) Translated by Tom Baudinette
iii. An Artistic Inquiry into the Barrack Towns (1924, Japan)
Hagiwara Kyojiro
Translated by Sho Sugita
iv. Novels without a “Story-Like” Story (1927, Japan)
Akutagawa Ryūnosuke
Translated by Sho Sugita
v. On Wall Stories and “Short” Short Stories: A New Approach to
Proletarian Literature (1931, Japan)
Kobayashi Takiji
Translated by Ann Sherif
vi. When Passing between Trees (1930s, Japan)
Sagawa Chika
Translated by Sawako Nakayasu
vii. Literature of the Lost Home (1933, Japan) Kobayashi Hideo Translated by Paul Anderer
11 Korean Modernism
i. Misconstrued “Dada”: For Kim Kijin (1924, Korea)
Ko Dada
Translated by Nagi Yoshikawa, with Sho Sugita
ii. Soliloquies of “Pierrot”—Fragmentary Notions on “Poésie” (1931, Korea)
Kim Kirim
Translated by Walter K. Lew
iii. The Expansion and Deepening of Realism: On Scenes by a Stream and
“Wings,” I and II (1936, Korea)
Ch’oe Chaesŏ
Translated by Christopher P. Hanscom
12 Modernism in Vietnam
i. Manifesto of the Self-Reliant Literary Group (1934, Vietnam)
Translated by Chi P. Pham
13 Malay Modernism
i. Our Art (1950, Malaysia)
Mohd Salehuddin
Translated by Muhamad Nasri Mohamad Shah
ii. Which Art Is for Us? (1954, Malaysia)
Anonymous
Translated by Muhamad Nasri Mohamad Shah
14 Modernism in the South Pacific
i. Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art (1923, Australia)
Margaret Preston
ii. Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters (1934, New Zealand)
A. R. D. Fairburn
iii. Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors
(1944, Australia)
James McAuley and Harold Stewart
iv. From Modern Trends in Maori Art Forms (1968, New Zealand)
Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira
v. Towards a New Oceania (1976, Sāmoa/Fiji)
Albert Wendt
15 Modernism of the Ashkenazi Jewish Diaspora
i. The Introspectivist Manifesto (1919, US)
Yankev Glatshteyn, Aaron Glantz-Leyeles, and Nachum Baruch Minkov
Translated by Anita Norich
ii. Procession IV: “Every New Poet: Proem” (1932, US)
Mikhl Likht
Translated by Ariel Resnikoff and Stephen J. Ross
iii. “Afterword” to Mannequins (1934, Poland)
Devorah Fogel
Translated by Ariel Resnikoff
iv. From Whom Did I Take Permission? (1979, Israel)
Avot Yeshurun
Translated by Ariel Resnikoff
Index

Citation preview

GLOBAL MODERNISTS ON MODERNISM

Modernist Archives Series Series Editors: Matthew Feldman (University of York, UK), Erik Tonning (University of Bergen, Norway), and David Tucker (Goldsmiths, University of London, UK). Editorial Board: Chris Ackerley (University of Otago, New Zealand), Ronald Bush (University of Oxford, UK), Mark Byron (University of Sydney, Australia), Wayne K. Chapman (Clemson University, USA), Miranda Hickman (McGill University, Canada), Gregory Maertz (St John’s University, USA), Alec Marsh (Muhlenberg College, USA), Steven Matthews (Oxford Brookes University, UK), Lois M. Overbeck (Emory University, USA), Dirk Van Hulle (University of Antwerp, Belgium). From letters, journals, and notebooks to unpublished or out-of-print works, unfamiliar but important writings in translation and forgotten articles, Bloomsbury’s Modernist Archives series makes available to researchers at all levels historical archival material that can reconfigure received views of Modernist literature and culture. Annotated throughout and supported by extensive contextual essays by leading scholars, the Modernist Archives series is an essential resource for anyone with a serious interest in 20th Century Literature and Culture. Titles in series David Jones on Religion, Politics, and Culture Edited by Thomas Berenato, Anne Price-Owen, and Kathleen Henderson Staudt David Jones’s The Grail Mass and Other Works Edited by Thomas Goldpaugh and Jamie Callison Ezra Pound and Globe Magazine: The Complete Correspondence Edited by Michael T. Davis and Cameron McWhirter Ezra Pound’s and Olga Rudge’s The Blue Spill: A Manuscript Critical Edition Edited by Mark Byron and Sophia Barnes W. B. Yeats’s Robartes-Aherne Writings, Wayne K. Chapman Edith Ayrton Zangwill’s The Call: A New Scholarly Edition Edited by Stephanie Brown Forthcoming titles The Correspondence of Ezra Pound and the Frobenius Institute, 1930–1959 Edited by Ronald Bush and Erik Tonning Man Into Woman: A Comparative Scholarly Edition Edited by Pamela L. Caughie and Sabine Meyer The Fifth Notebook of Dylan Thomas Edited by John Goodby and Adrian Osbourne The Selected Stories of Katherine Mansfield Edited by Todd Martin

GLOBAL MODERNISTS ON MODERNISM

An Anthology Edited by Alys Moody and Stephen J. Ross

BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain 2020 Copyright © Alys Moody, Stephen J. Ross and contributors, 2020 Alys Moody and Stephen J. Ross have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Editors of this work. For legal purposes the Acknowledgments on p. xxxii constitute an extension of this copyright page. Cover design: Daniel Benneworth-Gray Cover image © Alfred Liyolo, Le Bouclier de la Révolution (1973, Mount N’Galiema, Kinshasa). Photograph by John and Pauline Grimshaw, reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN: HB: 978-1-4742-4232-5 ePDF: 978-1-4742-4234-9 eBook: 978-1-4742-4233-2 Series: Modernist Archives Typeset by Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd. To find out more about our authors and books visit www.bloomsbury.com and sign up for our newsletters.

for Ari Jay

vi

CONTENTS

A lternate T ables of C ontents E ditorial P reface to M odernist A rchives C ontributor B iographies A cknowledgments P ermissions and C redits Global Modernism: An Introduction and Ten Theses Alys Moody and Stephen J. Ross 1. Modernism in Latin America edited by Camilla Sutherland

xiv xxvii xxix xxxii xxxiv 1 25

i.   New Poetry (1926, France/Peru) César Vallejo Translated by Joseph W. Mulligan

30

ii.   Platforms for Living (1927, Peru) Magda Portal Translated by Melvin S. Arrington, Jr.

32

iii.  Cannibalist Manifesto (1928, Brazil) Oswald de Andrade Translated by Leslie Bary

35

iv. From “Revolution and Renascence” (1929, Mexico/US) Anita Brenner

44

v.

Will to Construct (1930, France/Uruguay) Joaquín Torres-García Translated by Stephen J. Ross and John Steen

49

vi.  Prologue to Sóngoro Cosongo (1931, Cuba) Nicolás Guillén Translated by Stephen J. Ross and John Steen

52

vii. From Woman and Her Expression (1935, Argentina) Victoria Ocampo Translated by Patricia Owen Steiner

54

viii. How I Write (1938, Chile) Gabriela Mistral Translated by Stephen Tapscott

58

ix.  Protest against Folklore (1943, Costa Rica) Yolanda Oreamuno Translated by Janet N. Gold

61

viii

CONTENTS

2 Modernism in the Caribbean edited by Alys Moody and Stephen J. Ross i.

La Revue indigène: Program (1927, Haiti) Normil G. Sylvain Translated by Alys Moody

65 69

ii.    Légitime Défense: Declaration (1932, France/Martinique) Étienne Léro et al. Translated by Krzysztof Fijalkowski and Michael Richardson

80

iii. The Time Has Come (1933, Trinidad) Hugh Stollmeyer

83

iv. Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution (1935, France/Martinique) Aimé Césaire Translated by Alys Moody

87

v.

91

Tropiques: Presentation (1941, Martinique) Aimé Césaire Translated by Alys Moody

vi. Poverty of a Poetry (1942, Martinique) Suzanne Césaire Translated by Alys Moody

93

vii. Bim: An Introduction (1955, Barbados) George Lamming

97

viii. Jazz and the West Indian Novel, I (1967, Barbados/Jamaica/UK) L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite

100

ix. The Artist in the Caribbean (1970, Guyana/UK) Aubrey Williams

109

3 Modernism in Sub-Saharan Africa edited by Alys Moody

113

i.

In Search of the Lost! (1932, Madagascar) Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo Translated by Matthew Winterton

117

ii.

The Lost Is Found (1934, Madagascar) Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo Translated by Matthew Winterton

120

iii.  Negritude and the Concept of Universal Civilisation (1963, Senegal) Léopold Sédar Senghor Uncredited translation from Présence Africaine, English edition

121

iv.   Copying Puts God to Sleep (1963, Kenya) Elimo Njau

127

v.

133

On the Threshold, VIII (1965, South Africa) André P. Brink Translated by Klara du Plessis

CONTENTS

vi. The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist (1966, Nigeria) Ben Enwonwu

ix

135

vii. Prodigals, Come Home! (1973, Nigeria) Chinweizu

143

viii. Manifesto of the Zairian Avant-Gardists (1973, Zaire) Les avant-gardistes zaïrois Translated by Sarah Van Beurden

155

4 Modernism in the Arab World edited by Stephen J. Ross and Alys Moody

157

i.   On Degenerate Art (1939, Egypt) Kāmil al-Tilimsānī Translated by Mandy McClure

161

ii. Introduction to Splinters and Ash (1949, Iraq) Nāzik al-Malāʾikah Translated by Emily Drumsta

166

iii. Prologue to Souffles (1966, Morocco) Abdellatif Laâbi Translated by Teresa Villa-Ignacio

176

iv. Art in the Time of the Palestinian Revolution (1971, Palestine/Lebanon) Kamāl Bullāṭah Translated by Katharine Halls

181

v.

185

From Poetics and Modernity (1984, Syria/France) Adūnīs Translated by Catherine Cobham

5 Modernism in Turkey edited by Kaitlin Staudt i.

 Some Thoughts about Poetry (1921, Turkey) Ahmet Haşim Translated by Kaitlin Staudt

191 194

ii. The Garip Preface (1941, Turkey) Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet, and Oktay Rifat Translated by Sidney Wade and Efe Murad

199

iii. The Change of Civilization and Inner Man (1951, Turkey) Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Translated by Kaitlin Staudt

205

6 Persian Modernism edited by Bahareh Azad i.  Preface to The Myth (1922, Iran) Nima Yushij Translated by Bahareh Azad

211 213

x

CONTENTS

ii.   A Poetry That Is Life (1958, Iran) Ahmad Shamlu Translated by Samad Alavi

215

iii.  Hasan Honarmandi’s Interview with Forough Farrokhzad (1967, Iran) Forough Farrokhzad and Hasan Honarmandi Translated by Bahareh Azad

221

7 Modernism in the Caucasus edited by Harsha Ram i.

Niko Pirosmanashvili (1926, Georgia) Kirill Zdanevich Translated by Harsha Ram

ii. Niko Pirosmani (1926, Georgia) Grigol Robakidze Translated by Harsha Ram 8 Modernism in South Asia edited by Rudrani Gangopadhyay

225 228

236

241

i.

From Japan: A Lecture (1916, British India) Rabindranath Tagore

245

ii.

Manifesto of the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association (1936, British India/UK) Mulk Raj Anand

248

iii. Introduction to A Stranger in Iran (1957, Pakistan/US) N. M. Rashed Translated by A. Sean Pue

250

iv. The Portrait of the Artist as a Notun Samalochak (1968, India/US) Malay Roy Choudhury Translated by the author

255

v.

257

The Hungryalist Manifesto on Poetry (1968, India/US) Malay Roy Choudhury Translated by the author

vi. Introduction to the New Story (1969, India) Kamleshwar Translated by Arshdeep Singh Brar and Rudrani Gangopadhyay

258

vii. From The True Story of Satyakatha (1969, India) Raja Dhale Translated by Sadhana Bhagwat

266

viii. Modern Literature (c. 1986–7, India) Ka. Naa. Subramanyam Translated by Darun Subramaniam

273

CONTENTS

9 Chinese Modernism edited by Stephen J. Ross

xi

281

i.    Some Thoughts on Our New Literature (1929, Republic of China) Lu Xun Translated by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang

285

ii. Dai Wangshu’s Poetic Theory (1932, Republic of China) Dai Wangshu Translated by Kirk A. Denton

289

iii. Dream of Genius (1940, Republic of China) Eileen Chang Translated by Karen Kingsbury

291

iv. Explicating the Tenets of the Modernist School (1956, Taiwan)  Ji Xian Translated by Paul Manfredi

294

v. The New Poetry—A Turning Point? (A Misty Manifesto) (1980, People’s Republic of China) Hong Huang Translated and adapted by Zhu Zhiyu with John Minford

297

vi. Without Isms (1993, People’s Republic of China/France) Gao Xingjian Translated by Mabel Lee

302

vii.  A Particular Sort of Story (2003, People’s Republic of China) Can Xue Translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping

311

10 Modernism in Japan edited by Alys Moody

315

i.    My Futurism in Action (1921, Japan) Hirato Renkichi Translated by Sho Sugita

318

ii. Red and Black Manifesto (1923, Japan) Translated by Tom Baudinette

320

iii. An Artistic Inquiry into the Barrack Towns (1924, Japan) Hagiwara Kyojiro Translated by Sho Sugita

321

iv. Novels without a “Story-Like” Story (1927, Japan) Akutagawa Ryūnosuke Translated by Sho Sugita

326

v. On Wall Stories and “Short” Short Stories: A New Approach to Proletarian Literature (1931, Japan) Kobayashi Takiji Translated by Ann Sherif

329

xii

CONTENTS

vi. When Passing between Trees (1930s, Japan) Sagawa Chika Translated by Sawako Nakayasu

332

vii. Literature of the Lost Home (1933, Japan) Kobayashi Hideo Translated by Paul Anderer

335

11 Korean Modernism edited by Keeran Murphy i.  Misconstrued “Dada”: For Kim Kijin (1924, Korea) Ko Dada Translated by Nagi Yoshikawa, with Sho Sugita

343 345

ii.  Soliloquies of “Pierrot”—Fragmentary Notions on “Poésie” (1931, Korea) 347 Kim Kirim Translated by Walter K. Lew iii. The Expansion and Deepening of Realism: On Scenes by a Stream and “Wings,” I and II (1936, Korea) Ch’oe Chaesŏ Translated by Christopher P. Hanscom 12 Modernism in Vietnam edited by Phuong Ngoc Nguyen i.  Manifesto of the Self-Reliant Literary Group (1934, Vietnam) Translated by Chi P. Pham 13 Malay Modernism edited by Muhamad Nasir Mohamad Shah

352

357 358 359

i.  Our Art (1950, Malaysia) Mohd Salehuddin Translated by Muhamad Nasri Mohamad Shah

361

ii. Which Art Is for Us? (1954, Malaysia) Anonymous Translated by Muhamad Nasri Mohamad Shah

363

14 Modernism in the South Pacific edited by Alys Moody and Shaynah Jackson i.

Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art (1923, Australia) Margaret Preston

ii.  Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters (1934, New Zealand) A. R. D. Fairburn iii. Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors (1944, Australia) James McAuley and Harold Stewart iv. From Modern Trends in Maori Art Forms (1968, New Zealand) Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira

365 368 371

377 381

CONTENTS

v. Towards a New Oceania (1976, Sāmoa/Fiji) Albert Wendt 15 Modernism of the Ashkenazi Jewish Diaspora edited by Ariel Resnikoff

xiii

385 397

i.  The Introspectivist Manifesto (1919, US) Yankev Glatshteyn, Aaron Glantz-Leyeles, and Nachum Baruch Minkov Translated by Anita Norich

401

ii.  Procession IV: “Every New Poet: Proem” (1932, US) Mikhl Likht Translated by Ariel Resnikoff and Stephen J. Ross

412

iii. “Afterword” to Mannequins (1934, Poland) Devorah Fogel Translated by Ariel Resnikoff

415

iv. From Whom Did I Take Permission? (1979, Israel) Avot Yeshurun Translated by Ariel Resnikoff

417

I ndex 

421

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

1. POLITICAL AND SOCIAL FORMATIONS Revolutionary and Leftist Modernisms Red and Black Manifesto (1923, Japan; 10.ii) Hagiwara Kyojiro, “An Artistic Enquiry into the Barrack Towns” (1924, Japan; 10.iii) Ko Dada, “Misconstrued ‘Dada’: For Kim Kijin” (1924, Korea; 11.i) Magda Portal, “Platforms for Living” (1927, Peru; 1.ii) Anita Brenner, from “Revolution and Renascence” (1929, Mexico/US, 1.iv) Kobayashi Takiji, “On Wall Stories and ‘Short’ Short Stories: A New Approach to Proletarian Literature” (1931, Japan; 10.v) “Légitime Défense: Declaration” (1932, Martinique/France; 2.ii) Aimé Césaire, “Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution” (1935, Martinique/ France; 2.iv) Mulk Raj Anand, “Manifesto of the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association” (1936, British India/UK; 8.ii) Aimé Césaire, “Tropiques: Presentation” (1941, Martinique; 2.v) Raja Dhale, from “The True Story of Satyakatha (1969, India; 8.vii) Kamāl Bullāṭah, “Art in the Time of the Palestinian Revolution” (1971, Palestine/Lebanon; 4.iv) Conservative Modernisms Normil G. Sylvain, “La Revue indigène: Program” (1927, Haiti; 2.i) Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, “In Search of the Lost!” (1932, Madagascar; 3.i) Kobayashi Hideo, “Literature of the Lost Home” (1933, Japan; 10.vii) Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, “The Lost Is Found” (1934, Madagascar; 3.ii) Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, “The Change of Civilization and Inner Man” (1951, Turkey; 5.iii) James McAuley and Harold Stewart, “Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors” (1944, Australia; 14.iii)

320 321 345 32 44 329 80 87 248 91 266 181 69 117 335 120 205 377

Modernism as Anti-Communism James McAuley and Harold Stewart, “Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors” (1944, Australia; 14.iii) Ji Xian, “Explicating the Tenets of the Modernist School” (1956, Taiwan; 9.iv)

377 294

Decolonizing and Anti-Colonial Modernisms Normil G. Sylvain, “La Revue indigène: Program” (1927, Haiti; 2.i) Oswald de Andrade, “Cannibalist Manifesto” (1928, Brazil; 1.iii) Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, “In Search of the Lost” (1932, Madagascar; 3.i)

69 35 117

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

xv

Hugh Stollmeyer, “The Time Has Come” (1933, Trinidad; 2.iii) Aimé Césaire, “Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution” (1935, Martinique/France; 2.iv) Mulk Raj Anand, “Manifesto of the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association” (1936, British India/UK; 8.ii) Suzanne Césaire, “Poverty of a Poetry” (1942, Martinique; 2.vi) Léopold Sédar Senghor, “Negritude and the Concept of Universal Civilization” (1963, Senegal; 3.iii) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) Abdellatif Laâbi, Prologue to Souffles (1966, Morocco; 4.iii) L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite, “Jazz and the West Indian Novel, I” (1967, Barbados/Jamaica/UK; 2.viii) Chinweizu, “Prodigals, Come Home!” (1973, Nigeria; 3.vii) Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania” (1976, Samoa/Fiji; 14.v)

83

Settler Colonial Modernisms A. R. D. Fairburn, “Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters” (1934, New Zealand; 14.ii) James McAuley and Harold Stewart, “Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors” (1944, Australia; 14.iii) André P. Brink, “On the Threshold, VIII” (1965, South Africa; 3.v) Nationalist Modernisms Grigol Robakidze, “Niko Pirosmani” (1926, Georgia; 7.ii) Normil G. Sylvain, “La Revue indigène: Program” (1927, Haiti; 2.i) Anita Brenner, from “Revolution and Renascence” (1929, Mexico/US, 1.iv) Hugh Stollmeyer, “The Time Has Come” (1933, Trinidad; 2.iii) Manifesto of the Self-Reliant Literary Group (1934, Vietnam) A. R. D. Fairburn, “Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters” (1934, New Zealand; 14.ii) Mulk Raj Anand, “Manifesto of the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association” (1936, British India/UK; 8.ii) Suzanne Césaire, “Poverty of a Poetry” (1942, Martinique; 2.vi) Nāzik al-Malāʾikah, “Introduction” to Splinters and Ash (1949, Iraq; 4.ii) Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, “The Change of Civilization and Inner Man” (1951, Turkey; 5.iii) Kamleshwar, “Introduction to the New Story” (1969, India; 8.vi) “Manifesto of the Zairian Avant-Gardists” (1973, Zaire; 3.viii)

87 248 93 121 135 176 100 143 385

371 377 133 236 69 44 83 358 371 248 93 166 205 258 155

Indigenism and Indigenous Modernisms Normil G. Sylvain, “La Revue indigène: Program” (1927, Haiti; 2.i) 69 Oswald de Andrade, “Cannibalist Manifesto” (1928, Brazil; 1.iii) 35 Yolanda Oreamuno, “Protest against Folklore” (1943, Costa Rica; 1.ix) 61 Kāterina Mataira, from “Modern Trends in Maori Art Forms” (1968, New Zealand; 14.iv) 381 Aubrey Williams, “The Artist in the Caribbean,” (1970, Guyana/UK; 2.ix) 109 Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania” (1976, Samoa/Fiji; 14.v) 385

xvi

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

Supranational Regionalisms Normil G. Sylvain, “La Revue indigène: Program” (1927, Haiti; 2.i) George Lamming, “Bim: An Introduction” (1955, Barbados; 2.vii) N. M. Rashed, “Introduction” to A Stranger in Iran (1957, Pakistan/US; 8.iii) Elimo Njau, “Copying Puts God to Sleep” (1963, Kenya; 3.iv) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) Abdellatif Laâbi, Prologue to Souffles (1966, Morocco; 4.iii) L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite, “Jazz and the West Indian Novel, I” (1967, Barbados/Jamaica/UK; 2.viii) Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania” (1976, Samoa/Fiji; 14.v) Cosmopolitan, Internationalist, and Universalist Modernisms Rabindranath Tagore, from Japan: A Lecture (1916, British India; 8.i) Hirato Renkichi, “My Futurism in Action” (1921, Japan; 10.i) Margaret Preston, “Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art” (1923, Australia; 14.i) Grigol Robakidze, “Niko Pirosmani” (1926, Georgia; 7.ii) Lu Xun, “Some Notes on Our New Literature” (1929, Republic of China; 9.i) Victoria Ocampo, from “Woman and Her Expression” (1935, Argentina; 1.vii) Kāmil al-Tilimsānī, “On Degenerate Art” (1939, Egypt; 4.i) Eileen Chang, “Dream of Genius” (1940, Republic of China; 9.iii) Ji Xian, “Explicating the Tenets of the Modernist School” (1956, 9.iv) Léopold Sédar Senghor, “Negritude and the Concept of Universal Civilization” (1963, Senegal; 3.iii) André P. Brink, “On the Threshold, VIII” (1965, South Africa; 3.v) Expatriate Modernisms and Modernisms in Exile Margaret Preston, “Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art” (1923, Australia; 14.i) César Vallejo, “New Poetry” (1926, Peru/France; 1.i) Aimé Césaire, “Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution” (1935, Martinique/France; 2.iv) Gabriela Mistral, “How I Write” (1938, Chile; 1.viii) Eileen Chang, “Dream of Genius” (1940, Republic of China; 9.iii) N. M. Rashed, “Introduction” to A Stranger in Iran (1957, Pakistan/US; 8.iii) Aubrey Williams, “The Artist in the Caribbean,” (1970, Guyana/UK; 2.ix) Kamāl Bullāṭah, “Art in the Time of the Palestinian Revolution” (1971, Palestine/ Lebanon; 4.iv) Chinweizu, “Prodigals, Come Home!” (1973, Nigeria; 3.vii) Avot Yeshurun, “From Whom Did I Take Permission?” (1979, Israel; 15.iii) Gao Xingjian, “Without Isms” (1993, People’s Republic of China/France; 9.vi) Feminist Modernisms Devorah Fogel, “Afterword” to Mannequins (1934, Poland; 15.iv) Victoria Ocampo, From “Woman and Her Expression” (1935, Argentina; 1.vii) Gabriela Mistral, “How I Write” (1938, Chile; 1.viii) Eileen Chang, “Dream of Genius” (1940, Republic of China; 9.iii)

69 97 250 127 135 176 100 385 245 318 368 236 285 54 161 291 294 121 133

368 30 87 58 291 250 109 181 143 417 302 415 54 58 291

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

xvii

Suzanne Césaire, “Poverty of a Poetry” (1942, Martinique; 2.vi) 93 Forough Farrokhzad and Hasan Honarmandi, “Hasan Honarmandi’s Interview with Forough Farrokhzad” (1967, Iran; 6.iii) 221 Can Xue, “A Particular Sort of Story” (2003, People’s Republic of China; 9.vii) 311 Aesthetic Autonomy and the Resistance to Politicized Art Ahmet Haşim, “Some Thoughts about Poetry” (1921, Turkey; 5.i) Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, “Novels without a ‘Story-Like’ Story” (1927, Japan; 10.iv) André P. Brink, “On the Threshold, VIII” (1965, South Africa; 3.v) Hong Huang, “The New Poetry—A Turning Point? (A Misty Manifesto)” (1980, People’s Republic of China; 9.v) Gao Xingjian, “Without Isms” (1993, People’s Republic of China/France; 9.vi)

194 326 133 297 302

2. ARTISTIC MOVEMENTS AND STYLES Realism Margaret Preston, “Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art”(1923, Australia; 14.i) Ch’oe Chaesŏ, “The Expansion and Deepening of Realism: On Scenes from a Stream and ‘Wings,’ I and II” (1936, Korea; 11.iii) Kamleshwar, “Introduction to the New Story” (1969, India; 8.vi) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) Symbolism and Poésie pur Ahmet Haşim, “Some Thoughts about Poetry” (1921, Turkey; 5.i) Dai Wangshu, “Dai Wangshu’s Poetic Theory” (1932, Republic of China; 9.ii) Sagawa Chika, “When Passing between Trees” (1930s, Japan; 10.vi) Ji Xian, “Explicating the Tenets of the Modernist School” (1956, 9.iv) André P. Brink, “On the Threshold, VIII” (1965, South Africa; 3.v) Surrealism Kim Kirim, “Soliloquies of ‘Pierrot’—Fragmentary Notions on ‘Poésie’” (1931, Korea; 11.ii) “Légitime Défense: Declaration” (1932, Martinique/France; 2.ii) Kāmil al-Tilimsānī, “On Degenerate Art” (1939, Egypt; 4.i) Aimé Césaire, “Tropiques: Presentation” (1941, Martinique; 2.v) Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet, and Oktay Rifat, “The Garip Preface” (1941, Turkey; 5.ii) Suzanne Césaire, “Poverty of a Poetry” (1942, Martinique; 2.vi) James McAuley and Harold Stewart, “Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors” (1944, Australia; 14.iii) Primitivism Kirill Zdanevich, “Niko Pirosmanashvili” (1926, Georgia; 7.i) Grigol Robakidze, “Niko Pirosmani” (1926, Georgia; 7.ii) Oswald de Andrade, “Cannibalist Manifesto” (1928, Brazil; 1.iii) Aubrey Williams, “The Artist in the Caribbean,” (1970, Guyana/UK; 2.ix)

368 352 258 135 194 289 332 294 133

347 80 161 91 199 93 377 228 236 35 109

xviii

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

The Transnational Avant-Gardes Hirato Renkichi, “My Futurism in Action” (1921, Japan; 10.i) Red and Black Manifesto (1923, Japan; 10.ii) Hagiwara Kyojiro, “An Artistic Enquiry into the Barrack Towns” (1924, Japan; 10.iii) Ko Dada, “Misconstrued ‘Dada’: For Kim Kijin” (1924, Korea; 11.i) César Vallejo, “New Poetry” (1926, Peru/France; 1.i) Joaquín Torres-García, “Will to Construct” (1930, France/Uruguay; 1.v) Victoria Ocampo, From “Woman and Her Expression” (1935, Argentina; 1.vii) Malay Roy Choudhury, “The Hungryalist Manifesto on Poetry” (1968, India; 8.v) Negritude and Pan-Africanism Nicolás Guillén, Prologue to Sóngoro Cosongo (1931, Cuba; 1.vi) Aimé Césaire, “Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution” (1935, Martinique/France; 2.iv) Aimé Césaire, “Tropiques: Presentation” (1941, Martinique; 2.v) Léopold Sédar Senghor, “Negritude and the Concept of Universal Civilization” (1963, Senegal; 3.iii) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite, “Jazz and the West Indian Novel, I” (1967, Barbados/Jamaica/UK; 2.viii)

318 320 321 345 30 49 54 257 52 87 91 121 135 100

3. FORMS AND MEDIA Free Verse and Poetry Yankev Glatshteyn, Aaron Glantz-Leyeles, and Nachum Baruch Minkov, “The Introspectivist Manifesto” (1919, US; 15.1) Ahmet Haşim, “Some Thoughts about Poetry” (1921, Turkey; 5.i) Nima Yushij, “Preface to The Myth” (1922, Iran; 6.i) César Vallejo, “New Poetry” (1926, Peru/France; 1.i) Nicolás Guillén, Prologue to Sóngoro Cosongo (1931, Cuba; 1.vi) Kim Kirim, “Soliloquies of ‘Pierrot’—Fragmentary Notions on ‘Poésie’” (1931, Korea; 11.ii) Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, “In Search of the Lost” (1932, Madagascar; 3.i) Dai Wangshu, “Dai Wangshu’s Poetic Theory” (1932, Republic of China; 9.ii) Hugh Stollmeyer, “The Time Has Come” (1933, Trinidad; 2.iii) Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, “The Lost Is Found!” (1934, Madagascar, 3.ii) Sagawa Chika, “When Passing between Trees” (1930s, Japan; 10.vi) Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet, and Oktay Rifat, “The Garip Preface” (1941, Turkey; 5.ii) Suzanne Césaire, “Poverty of a Poetry” (1942, Martinique; 2.vi) James McAuley and Harold Stewart, “Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors” (1944, Australia; 14.iii) Nāzik al-Malāʾikah, “Introduction” to Splinters and Ash (1949, Iraq; 4.ii) Ji Xian, “Explicating the Tenets of the Modernist School” (1956, 9.iv) N. M. Rashed, “Introduction” to A Stranger in Iran (1957, Pakistan/US; 8.iii) Ahmad Shamlu, “A Poetry That Is Life” (1958, Iran; 6.ii)

401 194 213 30 52 347 117 289 83 120 332 199 93 377 166 294 250 215

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

Forough Farrokhzad and Hasan Honarmandi, “Hasan Honarmandi’s Interview with Forough Farrokhzad” (1967, Iran; 6.iii) Malay Roy Choudhury, “The Hungryalist Manifesto on Poetry” (1968, India; 8.v) Chinweizu, “Prodigals, Come Home!” (1973, Nigeria; 3.vii) Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania” (1976, Samoa/Fiji; 14.v) Hong Huang, “The New Poetry—A Turning Point? (A Misty Manifesto)” (1980, People’s Republic of China; 9.v) Adūnīs, from “Poetics and Modernity” (1984, Syria/France; 4.v) Ka. Naa. Su, “Modern Literature” (c. 1986–7, India; 8.viii) The Novel Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, “Novels without a ‘Story-Like’ Story” (1927, Japan; 10.iv) L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite, “Jazz and the West Indian Novel, I” (1967, Barbados/Jamaica/UK; 2.viii) Ka. Naa. Su, “Modern Literature” (c. 1986–7, India; 8.viii)

xix

221 257 143 385 297 185 273

326 100 273

The Short Story Kobayashi Takiji, “On Wall Stories and ‘Short’ Short Stories: A New Approach to Proletarian Literature” (1931, Japan; 10.v) 329 Ch’oe Chaesŏ, “The Expansion and Deepening of Realism: On Scenes from a Stream and ‘Wings,’ I and II” (1936, Korea; 11.iii) 352 Kamleshwar, “Introduction to the New Story” (1969, India; 8.vi) 258 Ka. Naa. Su, “Modern Literature” (c. 1986–7, India; 8.viii) 273 Painting and the Visual Arts Margaret Preston, “Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art”(1923, Australia; 14.i) Hagiwara Kyojiro, “An Artistic Enquiry into the Barrack Towns” (1924, Japan; 10.iii) Kirill Zdanevich, “Niko Pirosmanashvili” (1926, Georgia; 7.i) Anita Brenner, from “Revolution and Renascence” (1929, Mexico/US, 1.iv) Joaquín Torres-García, “Will to Construct” (1930, France/Uruguary; 1.v) A. R. D. Fairburn, “Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters” (1934, New Zealand; 14.ii) Mohd Salehuddin, “Our Art” (1950, Malaysia; 13.i) Elimo Njau, “Copying Puts God to Sleep” (1963, Kenya; 3.iv) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) Kāterina Mataira, from “Modern Trends in Maori Art Forms” (1968, New Zealand; 14.iv) Aubrey Williams, “The Artist in the Caribbean,” (1970, Guyana/UK; 2.ix) Kamāl Bullāṭah, “Art in the Time of the Palestinian Revolution” (1971, Palestine/ Lebanon; 4.iv) Film and Photography Sagawa Chika, “When Passing between Trees” (1930s, Japan; 10.vi) Kobayashi Hideo, “Literature of the Lost Home” (1933, Japan; 10.vii)

368 321 228 44 49 371 361 127 135 381 109 181 332 335

xx

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

Ch’oe Chaesŏ, “The Expansion and Deepening of Realism: On Scenes from a Stream and ‘Wings,’ I and II” (1936, Korea; 11.iii) 352 Music Hirato Renkichi, “My Futurism in Action” (1921, Japan; 10.i) Elimo Njau, “Copying Puts God to Sleep” (1963, Kenya; 3.iv) L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite, “Jazz and the West Indian Novel, I” (1967, Barbados/Jamaica/UK; 2.viii)

100

Dance Anonymous, “Which Art Is for Us?” (1954, Malaysia; 13.ii)

363

Criticism and the Essay Kobayashi Hideo, “Literature of the Lost Home” (1933, Japan; 10.vii) Ch’oe Chaesŏ, “The Expansion and Deepening of Realism: On Scenes from a Stream and ‘Wings,’ I and II” (1936, Korea; 11.iii) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) Malay Roy Choudhury, “The Portrait of the Artist as a Notun Samalochak” (1968, India; 8.iv) Raja Dhale, from “The True Story of Satyakatha (1969, India; 8.vii) Ka. Naa. Su, “Modern Literature” (c. 1986–7, India; 8.viii) Manifestos Yankev Glatshteyn, Aaron Glantz-Leyeles, and Nachum Baruch Minkov, “The Introspectivist Manifesto” (1919, US; 15.i) Hirato Renkichi, “My Futurism in Action” (1921, Japan; 10.i) Oswald de Andrade, “Cannibalist Manifesto” (1928, Brazil; 1.iii) Dai Wangshu, “Dai Wangshu’s Poetic Theory” (1932, Republic of China; 9.ii) Manifesto of the Self-Reliant Literary Group (1934, Vietnam) Mulk Raj Anand, “Manifesto of the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association” (1936, British India/UK; 8.ii) Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet, and Oktay Rifat, “The Garip Preface” (1941, Turkey; 5.ii) Ji Xian, “Explicating the Tenets of the Modernist School” (1956, 9.iv) Malay Roy Choudhury, “The Hungryalist Manifesto on Poetry” (1968, India; 8.v) “Manifesto of the Zairian Avant-Gardists” (1973, Zaire; 3.viii) Hong Huang, “The New Poetry—A Turning Point? (A Misty Manifesto)” (1980, People’s Republic of China; 9.v)

318 127

335 352 135 255 266 273

401 318 35 289 358 248 199 294 257 155 297

4. THEMES Inheriting the West and Negotiating Western Cultural Hegemony Rabindranath Tagore, from Japan: A Lecture (1916, British India; 8.i) Hirato Renkichi, “My Futurism in Action” (1921, Japan; 10.i) Margaret Preston, “Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art” (1923, Australia; 14.i) Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, “Novels without a ‘Story-Like’ Story” (1927, Japan; 10.iv) Oswald de Andrade, “Cannibalist Manifesto” (1928, Brazil; 1.iii)

245 318 368 326 35

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, “In Search of the Lost” (1932, Madagascar; 3.ii) Hugh Stollmeyer, “The Time Has Come” (1933, Trinidad; 2.iii) Kobayashi Hideo, “Literature of the Lost Home” (1933, Japan; 10.vii) A. R. D. Fairburn, “Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters” (1934, New Zealand; 14.ii) Aimé Césaire, “Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution” (1935, Martinique/ France; 2.iv) Kāmil al-Tilimsānī, “On Degenerate Art” (1939, Egypt; 4.i) Suzanne Césaire, “Poverty of a Poetry” (1942, Martinique; 2.vi) Mohd Salehuddin, “Our Art” (1950, Malaysia; 13.i) Anonymous, “Which Art Is for Us?” (1954, Malaysia; 13.ii) Ji Xian, “Explicating the Tenets of the Modernist School” (1956, 9.iv) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) Chinweizu, “Prodigals, Come Home!” (1973, Nigeria; 3.vii) Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania” (1976, Samoa/Fiji; 14.v) Hong Huang, “The New Poetry—A Turning Point? (A Misty Manifesto)” (1980, People’s Republic of China; 9.v) Adūnīs, from “Poetics and Modernity” (1984, Syria/France; 4.v) Gao Xingjian, “Without Isms” (1993, People’s Republic of China/France; 9.vi) Cultural Hybridity Oswald de Andrade, “Cannibalist Manifesto” (1928, Brazil; 1.iii) Mikhl Likht, “Every New Poet: Proem” (1932, New York; 15.ii) Elimo Njau, “Copying Puts God to Sleep” (1963, Kenya; 3.iv) L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite, “Jazz and the West Indian Novel, I” (1967, Barbados/Jamaica/UK; 2.viii) Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania” (1976, Samoa/Fiji; 14.v) Hong Huang, “The New Poetry—A Turning Point? (A Misty Manifesto)” (1980, People’s Republic of China; 9.v) Making Tradition Modern Yankev Glatshteyn, Aron Glanz-Leyeles, and Nachum Baruch Minkov, “The Introspectivist Manifesto” (1919, US; 15.i) Nima Yushij, “Preface to The Myth” (1922, Iran; 6.i) Kirill Zdanevich, “Niko Pirosmanashvili” (1926, Georgia; 7.i) Oswald de Andrade, “Cannibalist Manifesto” (1928, Brazil; 1.iii) Anita Brenner, from “Revolution and Renascence” (1929, Mexico/US, 1.iv) Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, “In Search of the Lost” (1932, Madagascar; 3.i) Hugh Stollmeyer, “The Time Has Come” (1933, Trinidad; 2.iii) Kobayashi Hideo, “Literature of the Lost Home” (1933, Japan; 10.vii) Kāmil al-Tilimsānī, “On Degenerate Art” (1939, Egypt; 4.i) Yolanda Oreamuno, “Protest against Folklore” (1943, Costa Rica; 1.ix) Nāzik al-Malāʾikah, “Introduction” to Splinters and Ash (1949, Iraq; 4.ii) Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, “The Change of Civilization and Inner Man” (1951, Turkey; 5.iii) N. M. Rashed, “Introduction” to A Stranger in Iran (1957, Pakistan/US; 8.iii) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi)

xxi

117 83 335 371 87 161 93 361 363 294 135 143 385 297 185 302 35 412 127 100 385 297

401 213 228 35 44 117 83 335 161 61 166 205 250 135

xxii

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

Kāterina Mataira, from “Modern Trends in Maori Art Forms” (1968, New Zealand; 14.iv) Chinweizu, “Prodigals, Come Home!” (1973, Nigeria; 3.vii) Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania” (1976, Samoa/Fiji; 14.v) Hong Huang, “The New Poetry—A Turning Point? (A Misty Manifesto)” (1980, People’s Republic of China; 9.v) Adūnīs, from “Poetics and Modernity” (1984, Syria/France; 4.v) Gao Xingjian, “Without Isms” (1993, People’s Republic of China/France; 9.vi) Inventing a New Tradition Margaret Preston, “Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art” (1923, Australia; 14.i) A. R. D. Fairburn, “Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters” (1934, New Zealand; 14.ii) Aimé Césaire, “Tropiques: Presentation” (1941, Martinique; 2.v) Suzanne Césaire, “Poverty of a Poetry” (1942, Martinique; 2.vi) Language and Translation Yankev Glatshteyn, Aaron Glantz-Leyeles, and Nachum Baruch Minkov, “The Introspectivist Manifesto” (1919, US; 15.i) Lu Xun, “Some Notes on Our New Literature” (1929, Republic of China; 9.i) Mikhl Likht, “Every New Poet: Proem” (1932, New York; 15.ii) Léopold Sédar Senghor, “Negritude and the Concept of Universal Civilization” (1963, Senegal; 3.iii) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) Abdellatif Laâbi, Prologue to Souffles (1966, Morocco; 4.iii) Chinweizu, “Prodigals, Come Home!” (1973, Nigeria; 3.vii) Raja Dhale, from “The True Story of Satyakatha (1969, India; 8.vii) Adūnīs, from “Poetics and Modernity” (1984, Syria/France; 4.v) Gao Xingjian, “Without Isms” (1993, People’s Republic of China/France; 9.vi)

381 143 385 297 185 302

368 371 91 93

401 285 412 121 135 176 143 266 185 302

Folk Arts and Popular Culture Kirill Zdanevich, “Niko Pirosmanashvili” (1926, Georgia; 7.i) Grigol Robakidze, “Niko Pirosmani” (1926, Georgia; 7.ii) Anita Brenner, from “Revolution and Renascence” (1929, Mexico/US, 1.iv) Yolanda Oreamuno, “Protest against Folklore” (1943, Costa Rica; 1.ix) L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite, “Jazz and the West Indian Novel, I” (1967, Barbados/Jamaica/UK; 2.viii) Aubrey Williams, “The Artist in the Caribbean,” (1970, Guyana/UK; 2.ix)

100 109

Mass Culture Kobayashi Hideo, “Literature of the Lost Home” (1933, Japan; 10.vii) Eileen Chang, “Dream of Genius” (1940, Republic of China; 9.iii) Anonymous, “Which Art Is for Us?” (1954, Malaysia; 13.ii)

335 291 363

Landscape and the Natural World Rabindranath Tagore, from Japan: A Lecture (1916, British India; 8.i) Grigol Robakidze, “Niko Pirosmani” (1926, Georgia; 7.ii)

245 236

228 236 44 61

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

xxiii

Sagawa Chika, “When Passing between Trees” (1930s, Japan; 10.vi) Kobayashi Hideo, “Literature of the Lost Home” (1933, Japan; 10.vii) A. R. D. Fairburn, “Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters” (1934, New Zealand; 14.ii) Gabriela Mistral, “How I Write” (1938, Chile; 1.viii) Suzanne Césaire, “Poverty of a Poetry” (1942, Martinique; 2.vi) Kāterina Mataira, from “Modern Trends in Maori Art Forms” (1968, New Zealand; 14.iv) Aubrey Williams, “The Artist in the Caribbean,” (1970, Guyana/UK; 2.ix)

332 335 371 58 93 381 109

The City Hagiwara Kyojiro, “An Artistic Enquiry into the Barrack Towns” (1924, Japan; 10.iii) Kirill Zdanevich, “Niko Pirosmanashvili” (1926, Georgia; 7.i) Grigol Robakidze, “Niko Pirosmani” (1926, Georgia; 7.ii) Kobayashi Hideo, “Literature of the Lost Home” (1933, Japan; 10.vii) Eileen Chang, “Dream of Genius” (1940, Republic of China; 9.iii)

321 228 236 335 291

Religion Elimo Njau, “Copying Puts God to Sleep” (1963, Kenya; 3.iv) Kamleshwar, “Introduction to the New Story” (1969, India; 8.vi) Avot Yeshurun, “From Whom Did I Take Permission?” (1979, Israel; 15.iii) Adūnīs, from “Poetics and Modernity” (1984, Syria/France; 4.v)

127 258 417 185

War Magda Portal, “Platforms for Living” (1927, Peru; 1.ii) Aimé Césaire, “Tropiques: Presentation” (1941, Martinique; 2.v) James McAuley and Harold Stewart, “Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors” (1944, Australia; 14.iii) N. M. Rashed, “Introduction” to A Stranger in Iran (1957, Pakistan/US; 8.iii) Kamāl Bullāṭah, “Art in the Time of the Palestinian Revolution” (1971, Palestine/ Lebanon; 4.iv) Gender (see also, Feminist Modernisms, above) A. R. D. Fairburn, “Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters” (1934, New Zealand; 14.ii) Devorah Fogel, “Afterword” to Mannequins (1934, Poland; 15.iv) Suzanne Césaire, “Poverty of a Poetry” (1942, Martinique; 2.vi) Anonymous, “Which Art Is for Us?” (1954, Malaysia; 13.ii) N. M. Rashed, “Introduction” to A Stranger in Iran (1957, Pakistan/US; 8.iii) Kāterina Mataira, from “Modern Trends in Maori Art Forms” (1968, New Zealand; 14.iv) Kamleshwar, “Introduction to the New Story” (1969, India; 8.vi) Individualism and Individuality Yankev Glatshteyn, Aaron Glantz-Leyeles, and Nachum Baruch Minkov, “The Introspectivist Manifesto” (1919, US; 15.i) Elimo Njau, “Copying Puts God to Sleep” (1963, Kenya; 3.iv)

32 91 377 250 181

371 415 93 363 250 381 258

401 127

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ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite, “Jazz and the West Indian Novel, I” (1967, Barbados/Jamaica/UK; 2.viii) Gao Xingjian, “Without Isms” (1993, People’s Republic of China/France; 9.vi) Can Xue, “A Particular Sort of Story” (2003, People’s Republic of China; 9.vii) Interiority, Subjectivism, and Psychological Narration Ch’oe Chaesŏ, “The Expansion and Deepening of Realism: On Scenes from a Stream and ‘Wings,’ I and II” (1936, Korea; 11.iii) Nāzik al-Malāʾikah, “Introduction” to Splinters and Ash (1949, Iraq; 4.ii) Hong Huang, “The New Poetry—A Turning Point? (A Misty Manifesto)” (1980, People’s Republic of China; 9.v) Gao Xingjian, “Without Isms” (1993, People’s Republic of China/France; 9.vi) Can Xue, “A Particular Sort of Story” (2003, People’s Republic of China; 9.vii)

135 100 302 311

352 166 297 302 311

5. INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS OF THE FIELD Little Magazines Red and Black Manifesto (1923, Japan; 10.ii) Magda Portal, “Platforms for Living” (1927, Peru; 1.ii) Normil G. Sylvain, “La Revue indigène: Program” (1927, Haiti; 2.i) “Légitime Défense: Declaration” (1932, Martinique/France; 2.ii) Aimé Césaire, “Tropiques: Presentation” (1941, Martinique; 2.v) James McAuley and Harold Stewart, “Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors” (1944, Australia; 14.iii) George Lamming, “Bim: An Introduction” (1955, Barbados; 2.vii) Abdellatif Laâbi, Prologue to Souffles (1966, Morocco; 4.iii) Raja Dhale, from “The True Story of Satyakatha (1969, India; 8.vii) Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania” (1976, Samoa/Fiji; 14.v) Educational Institutions Ahmet Haşim, “Some Thoughts about Poetry” (1921, Turkey; 5.i) Margaret Preston, “Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art” (1923, Australia; 14.i) Elimo Njau, “Copying Puts God to Sleep” (1963, Kenya; 3.iv) Kāterina Mataira, from “Modern Trends in Maori Art Forms” (1968, New Zealand; 14.iv) Raja Dhale, from “The True Story of Satyakatha (1969, India; 8.vii) Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania” (1976, Samoa/Fiji; 14.v) Newspapers and the Popular Press Eileen Chang, “Dream of Genius” (1940, Republic of China; 9.iii) James McAuley and Harold Stewart, “Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors” (1944, Australia; 14.iii) Raja Dhale, from “The True Story of Satyakatha (1969, India; 8.vii) Ka. Naa. Su, “Modern Literature” (c. 1986–7, India; 8.viii)

320 32 69 80 91 377 97 176 266 385 194 368 127 381 266 385 291 377 266 273

ALTERNATE TABLES OF CONTENTS

State Sponsorship of the Arts Léopold Sédar Senghor, “Negritude and the Concept of Universal Civilization” (1963, Senegal; 3.iii) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) “Manifesto of the Zairian Avant-Gardists” (1973, Zaire; 3.viii) Institutions of the Art World: The Art Market, Exhibitions, Galleries Margaret Preston, “Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art”(1923, Australia; 14.i) Kirill Zdanevich, “Niko Pirosmanashvili” (1926, Georgia; 7.i) Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist” (1966, Nigeria; 3.vi) Kamāl Bullāṭah, “Art in the Time of the Palestinian Revolution” (1971, Palestine/ Lebanon; 4.iv) Coterie Modernism Ko Dada, “Misconstrued ‘Dada’: For Kim Kijin” (1924, Korea; 11.i) Sagawa Chika, “When Passing between Trees” (1930s, Japan; 10.vi) George Lamming, “Bim: An Introduction” (1955, Barbados; 2.vii) Malay Roy Choudhury, “The Hungryalist Manifesto on Poetry” (1968, India; 8.v) Kamleshwar, “Introduction to the New Story” (1969, India; 8.vi) Raja Dhale, from “The True Story of Satyakatha (1969, India; 8.vii) Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania” (1976, Samoa/Fiji; 14.v) Ka. Naa. Su, “Modern Literature” (c. 1986–7, India; 8.viii)

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121 135 155

368 228 135 181 345 332 97 257 258 266 385 273

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EDITORIAL PREFACE TO MODERNIST ARCHIVES

Archival excavation and detailed contextualization are becoming increasingly central to scholarship on literary modernism. In recent years, the increased accessibility and dissemination of previously unpublished or little-known documents and texts have led to paradigm-shifting scholarly interventions on a range of canonical authors (Beckett, Eliot, Joyce, Pound, and Woolf, among others), neglected topics (the occult, “primitivism,” fascism, eugenics, book history, the writing process), and critical methodologies (genetic criticism, intertextuality, and historical contexts). This trend will surely only increase as large-scale digitization of archival materials gathers pace and existing copyright restrictions gradually lapse. Modernist Archives is a book series that aims to channel, extend, and interrogate these shifts by publishing hitherto unavailable or neglected primary materials for a wider readership. Each volume also provides supporting, contextualizing work by scholars, alongside a critical apparatus of notes and references. The impetus for Modernist Archives emerges from the editors’ well-established series, Historicizing Modernism. While Historicizing Modernism’s focus is analytical, Modernist Archives will make accessible edited and annotated versions of little-known sources and avant-texts. The monographs and edited collections in Historicizing Modernism have revealed the extent to which contemporary scholars are increasingly turning toward archival and/or unpublished material in order to reconfigure understandings of modernism, in its broader historical rootedness as well as in its compositional methodologies. The present series extends this empirical and genetic focus. Understanding and defining such primary sources as a broad category extending to letters, diaries, notes, drafts, and marginalia, the Modernist Archives series produces volumes that not only unearth significant unpublished material and provide original scholarship on this material, but also develop cutting-edge editorial presentation techniques that preserve as much information as possible in an economical and accessible way. Also of note is the potential for the series to explore collections pertaining to the relations between literary modernism and other media (radio, television), or important cultural moments. The series thus aims to be an enabling force within modernist scholarship. It is becoming ever more difficult to read this extraordinary period of literary experimentation in isolation from contextualizing archival material, sometimes dubbed the “grey canon” of Modernist writing. The difficulty, we suggest, is something like a loss of innocence: once obviously relevant materials are actually accessible, they cannot be ignored. They may challenge received ideas about the limits or definition of modernism; they may upend theoretical frameworks, or encourage fresh theoretical reflection; they may require new methodologies, or revise the very notion of

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EDITORIAL PREFACE TO MODERNIST ARCHIVES

“authorship”; likewise, they may require types of knowledge that we never knew we needed—but there they are. However, while we are champions of historical, archival research, Modernist Archives in no way seeks to influence the results or approaches that scholars in this area will utilize in the exciting times ahead. By commissioning a wide range of innovative and challenging editions, this series aims to once more “make strange” and “make new” our fundamental ideas about modernism. Matthew Feldman, Erik Tonning, and David Tucker

CONTRIBUTOR BIOGRAPHIES

Bahareh Azad is undertaking a joint PhD program in English between University of Isfahan, Iran, and McGill University. Her main interest lies in modernist and contemporary poetry and poetics, posthumanism, gender, race, and Persian studies. She has authored Testing Liberal Humanism: The East in David Hare’s Plays and is writing a dissertation on the posthuman in the poetry of J.H. Prynne, Joshua Whitehead, and Tracy K. Smith. Her recent research engages biopolitics in Philip Roth’s The Human Stain and chimeric subjectivities in Native American poetry. She is currently working with McGill English’s Poetry Matters and the Montreal International Poetry Prize. Rudrani Gangopadhyay is a doctoral student at the Program in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. Her primary research interest is the textual and cinematic city in twentieth-century South Asia. She is also interested in the theory and practice of translation as well as comparative modernisms in South Asia. She has been published in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Mejo: The MELOW Journal of World Literature, and the Contemporary Literary Review of India, among other places, and is one of the organizers of the Urban Humanities Working Group housed at the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers. Shaynah Jackson is a graduate from the Master of Arts programme at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Her thesis in English Literature focused on the figure of the child within modernism, particularly as a projection of adult desire. She has published on the portrayal of eating disorders within literature and her current research is interested in queer theory, feminist scholarship, and liminal bodies within modernism. She works as an English language teacher in Tokyo, Japan. Alys Moody is Assistant Professor in Literature at Bard College and a Senior Lecturer in English at Macquarie University. She was the 2018-19 Early Career Fellow in the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of The Art of Hunger: Aesthetic Autonomy and the Afterlives of Modernism (Oxford University Press, 2018), as well as numerous essays on modernism and world literature. Her current book project examines the relationship between world hunger, world literature, and global modernism in the second half of the twentieth century. Keeran Murphy is completing a PhD in English at Duke University. His research focuses on Global Anglophone and Korean modern fiction, comparative literary studies, globalization, and literary engagements with modernity/coloniality. He is a former Fulbright Korea English Teaching Assistant. Phuong Ngoc Nguyen is Senior Lecturer (MCF HDR) in Vietnamese language and civilization in the Department of Asian Studies at Aix Marseille University and member of

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CONTRIBUTOR BIOGRAPHIES

the Institute of Asian Research (IRASIA, Institut de recherches asiatiques, AMU-CNRS). Her doctoral thesis, on the first Vietnamese anthropologists, who published in the first half of the twentieth century, was published as A l’origine de l’anthropologies au Vietnam (2012). Her research continues to focus on Vietnamese intellectuals and writers during the period of French colonization. She is currently working on a book project entitled “The birth of a National Literature: The Vietnamese Literary Space in the First Half of the 20th Century.” Harsha Ram is Associate Professor of Slavic and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Ram’s first book, The Imperial Sublime (2003), addressed the relationship between poetic genre, aesthetic theory, territorial space, and political power in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Russian literature. His recent publications chiefly concern Russian-Georgian and Russian-Italian literary relations in the context of theories of world literature and comparative modernisms. His forthcoming book, The Scale of Culture: City, Nation, Empire and the Russian-Georgian Encounter, seeks to provide a historical account of cultural relations between Georgian and Russian artists and writers during the imperial and early Soviet eras, while at the same time offering a site-specific case study of how a “peripheral” city on the margins of multiple regional systems negotiated the challenges of historical modernity and aesthetic modernism.  Ariel Resnikoff is a poet, scholar, translator, and educator who completed his PhD in comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania in 2019. His most recent works include Ten-Four: Poems, Translations, Variations (Operating System 2015), with Jerome Rothenberg, and Between Shades (Materialist Press 2014). With Stephen Ross, he is at work on the first critical bilingual edition of Mikhl Likht’s modernist Yiddish long poem, Processions; and with Lilach Lachman and Gabriel Levin, he is translating into English the collected writings of the translingual-Hebrew poet, Avot Yeshurun. He has taught courses on multilingual diasporic literatures at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (UPenn) and at BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, the artist and landscape architect, Rivka Weinstock. Stephen Ross is Assistant Professor of English at Concordia University. He is the author of Invisible Terrain: John Ashbery and the Aesthetics of Nature (Oxford University Press, 2017), and is currently at work on a second monograph that examines the relationship between poetic knowledge and the problem of compulsory self-description. With Ariel Resnikoff, he is working toward the first translation and critical edition of Mikhl Likht’s Yiddish modernist long-poem, Processions. Kaitlin Staudt recently completed her DPhil in Turkish literature at the University of Oxford. Her research examines how authors develop experimental aesthetics to counter hegemonic narratives of political modernity in Turkey, with an emphasis on the novels of the early Kemalist Republic and on contemporary fiction published since the rise of the AKP government in 2002. She is currently writing a book looking comparatively at Turkish and British modernisms. Her work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the DAAD, the British Institute at Ankara, Turkey Scholarships, and the Fulbright Program. 

CONTRIBUTOR BIOGRAPHIES

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Camilla Sutherland (PhD, University College London) has taught at the University of Oxford and is currently tenured Assistant Professor of Hispanic Literature and Culture and Co-Director of the Center of Mexican Studies at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on gender and Latin American modernism. She is a contributor to the forthcoming Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Global Modernist Magazines and is currently working on a monograph entitled The Space of Latin American Women Modernists. 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Our first thanks go to our editors at Bloomsbury, David Avital and Clara Herberg, for their unflagging guidance, support, professionalism, and patience. We are likewise extremely grateful to Matthew Feldman and Erik Tonning, the series editors, for inviting us to undertake this project in the first place and for stewarding this book through its early stages with unrivalled faith and generosity. Collaboration is the beating heart of this project. Editing it has taught us profound lessons about the virtues and necessity of collaboration and horizontal networking within the field of global modernism. Our inductive approach to assembling materials here reflects that scruple. Collaboration on a volume such as this one, especially beginning it as we did so early in our careers, has meant working largely with graduate students and early career academics who are building their credentials as scholars and area specialists. The pervasive and insidious precarity of junior scholars within the contemporary academy has afflicted our collaborators and us at every turn. It is not hyperbole to say that it threatened the existence of this project dozens of times. We are immensely proud of our collaborators and ourselves for having seen this project through in the face of the myriad challenges which precarity poses to academic labor in terms of mental health and access to institutional resources and support. It has been an enormous privilege to work with our large team of collaborators and contributors. We would like to begin by acknowledging the hard and dedicated work of our section editors: Camilla Sutherland (Latin American modernism); Kaitlin Staudt (Turkish modernism); Bahareh Azad (Persian modernism); Harsha Ram (modernism in the Caucasus); Rudrani Gangopadhyay (South Asian modernism); Phuong Ngoc Nguyen (Vietnamese modernism); Keeran Murphy (Korean modernism, who went above and beyond in putting together a stellar section on very short notice); Muhamad Nasri Mohamad Shah (Malay modernism); Shaynah Jackson (South Pacific modernism); and Ariel Resnikoff (Ashkenazi Jewish modernism). We would also like to single out Sho Sugita who, though not a section editor, made a number of inspired and indispensable contributions to the Japanese and Korean modernism sections. We would like to acknowledge the superb work of our many translators. The following provided original translations for this volume: Matthew Winterton (Malagasy); Klara du Plessis (Afrikaans); Sarah Van Beurden (French); Harsha Ram (Russian); Bahareh Azad (Persian); Emily Drumsta (Arabic); Sho Sugita (Japanese); Tom Baudinette (Japanese); Kaitlin Staudt (Turkish); A. Sean Pue (Urdu); Sadhana Bhagwat (Marathi); Rudrani Gangopadhyay and Arshdeep Singh Brar (Hindi); Darun Subramaniam (Tamil); Chi P. Pham (Vietnamese); Muhamad Nasri Mohamad Shah (Malay); Nagi Yoshikawa (Korean); John Steen (Spanish); and Ariel Resnikoff (Yiddish and Hebrew). We are likewise grateful for the labor of those whose previously published translations we reproduce here, as well as to all rights holders who granted us permission to use their texts. Please see the sources and permission section at the end of these acknowledgments for the complete list.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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We have benefited enormously from the expert advice and assistance of a number of colleagues, friends, and associates along the way: Tom Baudinette (Japanese modernism); Jordan Walsh (Chinese modernism); Jerome Rothenberg (Ashkenazi Jewish modernism); Ahona Panda (Indian modernism); Priyasha Mukhopadhyay (Indian modernism); Klara du Plessis (Sub-Saharan African Modernism); Anjali Nerlekar (Indian modernism); Yiyan Wang (Chinese modernism); Maebh Long (Fijian/South Pacific modernism); Ben Etherington (Caribbean modernism); Ruzbeh Jamshidi (Persian modernism); Mike Niblett (Caribbean modernism); Sawako Nakayasu (Japanese modernism); Sarah Dunstan (African/Caribbean modernism); Moyang Li and Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (Chinese modernism); A. Sean Pue (Urdu Modernism); Cath Duric (French translation); Melinda Cooper (Australian modernism); Joshua L. Freeman (Uyghur modernism); and Simon Wickhamsmith (Mongolian modernism). We particularly enjoyed our consultations with Joshua and Simon, and although we weren’t ultimately able to find suitable texts representing Uyghur and Mongolian modernism for this volume, our conversations with them both convinced us of the exciting work that remains to be done on modernisms in these regions. Special thanks to Rawad Wehbe for expert last-minute assistance with Arabic transliteration. Colleagues and friends have supported this project through their willingness to read and discuss the manuscript and to give general advice and feedback: Becky Roach; Kaitlin Staudt; Helen Rydstrand; Stephanie Russo; Sarah Dunstan; Ariel Resnikoff; John Steen; Daniel Katz; Andre Furlani; Omri Moses; Nathan Brown. We would like to thank and acknowledge our research assistants: Shaynah Jackson (University of Waikato), who did brilliant work as the South Pacific modernism section co-editor; Valerie Justo (Concordia University); and Derek Bateman (Concordia University), who heroically transcribed a large swathe of this manuscript. This project was generously supported along the way by a number of funding sources: a Summer Research Scholarship from University of Waikato, which supported Shaynah Jackson’s work on this manuscript; a New Staff Grant from Macquarie University, which allowed us to fund necessary travel and copyright permissions; a Travelling Fellowship from the Australian Academy of the Humanities, for archival research; an Aide to Research Related Expenses grant from Concordia University; and a new faculty Start-Up Grant from Concordia University, which we used toward copyright permissions. When we conceived this project, in a very different form, way back in 2013, we could not have foreseen the winding paths down which our careers and lives would subsequently lead us: from the United Kingdom to New Zealand, Australia, and the US (Alys) and the United States and Canada (Stephen), but also from graduate students to tenure-track faculty, with plenty of potholes and rough patches along the way. This project bookends a (frankly) quite stressful but also deeply transformative and productive interval in our lives, and stands as a testament to the power of collegiality and friendship. Jane Hudson has been a rock-solid partner, a brilliant friend, and an unconditionally supportive fellow traveler of this project from the start; she is this volume’s third editor for the monumental work she has done outside its covers to make it possible. We dedicate Global Modernists on Modernism to Ari Jay, Jane’s and Stephen’s son, whose birth in 2018 was a beautiful premonition of this book’s coming into the world.

PERMISSIONS AND CREDITS

1. MODERNISM IN LATIN AMERICA César Vallejo, “New Poetry,” trans. Joseph W. Mulligan. Originally published in Selected Writings of César Vallejo (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2015). Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. Excerpt from “Woman and Her Expression” by Victoria Ocampo, translated by Patricia Owen Steiner, pp. 128–32; complete text of Platforms for Living by Magda Portal, translated by Mervin S. Arrington Jr., pp. 151–4; and complete text of Protest against Folklore by Yolanda Oreamuno, translated by Janet N. Gold, pp. 223–5 from Rereading the Spanish American Essay: Translations of 19th & 20th Century Women’s Essays edited by Doris Meyer, copyright © 1995. By permission of the University of Texas Press. Oswald Andrade, “Cannibalist Manifesto,” trans. Leslie Bary. Originally published in Latin American Literary Review 19.38 (1991). Reprinted by permission of LALR and Leslie Bary. Anita Brenner, extract of “Revolution and Renascence.” Originally published in Idols Behind Altars Modern Mexican Art and Its Cultural Roots (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1929). Reprinted by permission of Peter Glusker, David Page, and Michael Page, for the Anita Brenner Estate. Joaquín Torres-García, “Will to Construct,” trans. Stephen Ross and John Steen. Originally published as “Vouloir Construire” in Cercle et Carré 1 (15 March 1930). Courtesy of the Estate of Joaquín Torres-García. Nicolás Guillén, “Prologue to Sóngoro Cosongo,” trans. Stephen Ross and John Steen. Originally published as “Prólogo” to Sóngoro Cosongo (Havana: Talleres de Ucar, Garcia y Cia., 1931). By permission of the Guillén Foundation. Gabriela Mistral, “How I Write.” From Selected Prose and Prose-Poems, by Gabriela Mistral, edited and translated by Stephen Tapscott, copyright © 2002. By permission of the University of Texas Press.

2. MODERNISM IN THE CARIBBEAN Étienne Léro et al, “Légitime Défense: Declaration,” trans. Michael Richardson and Krzysztof Fijalkowski. English translation originally published in Refusal of the Shadow: Surrealism and the Caribbean, ed. Michael Richardson (London: Verso, 1996). Reproduced by permission of Verso Books, with the support of Michael Richardson and Krzysztof Fijalkowski. Hugh Stollmeyer, “The Time Has Come.” Originally published in The Beacon (1932). Reproduced by permission of the Estate of Hugh Stollmeyer.

PERMISSIONS AND CREDITS

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Aimé Césaire, “Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution.” Originally published in L’Étudiant noir (1935). Translated and reproduced by permission of Marc Césaire. Aimé Césaire, “Presentation,” originally published in Tropiques, no. 1 (1941), and Suzanne Césaire, “Poverty of a Poetry,” originally published in Tropiques, no. 4 (1942). Reprinted by Nouvelles Éditions Place (1978). Translated and reproduced by permission of Marc Césaire and Jean-Michel Place. George Lamming, “An Introduction.” Originally published in Bim (1955). Reproduced by permission of George Lamming. Kamau Brathwaite, “Jazz and the West Indian Novel.” Originally published in Bim (1967). Every effort has been made to contact Brathwaite and his representatives for permission to reproduce this essay. Aubrey Williams, “The Artist in the Caribbean.” © Estate of Aubrey Williams. All rights reserved/DACS. Licensed by Viscopy, 2017.

3. MODERNISM IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Léopold Sédar Senghor, “Negritude and the Concept of Universal Civilization.” English translation originally published in Présence Africaine, no. 18 (2nd quarter, 1963): 9–13. Reprinted by permission of Présence Africaine. Elimo Njau, “Copying Puts God to Sleep.” Originally published in Transition 9 (June 1963): 15–17. Reprinted by permission of Elimo Njau. André P. Brink, “On the Threshold, VIII.” Originally published in Sestiger 1.3 (1965): 14–25. © The André P. Brink Literary Trust. Reprinted with permission by Liepman AG, Zurich. Ben Enwonwu, “The African View of Art and Some Problems Facing the African Artist.” Originally published in Colloquium: Function and Significance of African Negro Art in the Life of the People and for the People (March 30 – April 8, 1966) (Paris: Présence Africaine, 1968): 417–26. Courtesy of the Ben Enwonwu Foundation. Chinweizu, “Prodigals, Come Home!” Originally published in Okike: An African Journal of New Writing 4 (December 1973): 1–16. Reprinted by permission of Amechi N. Akwayna, editor of Okike magazine.

4. MODERNISM IN THE ARAB WORLD Kāmil al-Tilimsānī, “On Degenerate Art.” Essay reprinted by permission of May Telmissany. English translation by Mandy McClure originally published in Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents, ed. Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, and Nada Shabout (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018): 101–3. Reprinted by permission of MoMA and the editors. © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Nāzik al-Malāʾikah, “Introduction” to Splinters and Ash. Essay translated by permission of Barraq Mahbuba, on behalf of al-Malāʾikah's estate. Abdellatif Laâbi, “Prologue” to Souffles, trans. Teresa Villa-Ignacio. Essay reproduced by permission of Abdellatif Laâbi. Translation originally published in Souffles/Anfas: A Critical Anthology from the Moroccan Journal of Culture and Politics, ed. Olivia C. Harrison and

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Teresa Villa-Ignacio (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016). Translation reproduced with permission of Teresa Villa-Ignacio and Stanford University Press. Kamāl Bullāṭah, “Art in the Time of the Palestinian Revolution.” Essay reprinted by permission of Kamāl Bullāṭah. English translation by Katharine Halls originally published in Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents, ed. Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, and Nada Shabout (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018): 325–8. Reprinted by permission of MoMA and the editors. © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Adūnīs, from “Poetics and Modernity,” trans. Catherine Cobham. Reprinted from Adūnīs, An Introduction to Arab Poetics (London: Saqi Books, 1990). Originally published as Introduction à la poétique arabe (Paris: Sindbad 1985). © Sindbad 1985. Reproduced with permission of the Licensor through PLSclear.

5. MODERNISM IN TURKEY Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet, and Oktay Rifat, “The Garip Preface,” trans. Sidney Wade and Efe Murad. Essay reproduced by permission of Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık Ticaret ve Sanayi A.Ş. Translation first published as “Garip: A Turkish Poetry Manifesto” in Critical Flame, November 8, 2015. Translation reproduced with permission of Sidney Wade and Efe Murad. Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, “The Change of Civilization and Inner Man,” trans. Kaitlin Staudt. Essay reproduced by permission of Nermin Mollaoğlu.

6. PERSIAN MODERNISM Nima Yushij, “Preface to The Myth,” trans. Bahareh Azad. Originally published in Persian as the preface to Afsaneh (The Myth), 1922. Every effort has been made to contact Yushij’s representatives for permission to reproduce this essay. Ahmad Shamlu, “A Poetry That Is Life,” trans. Samad Alavi. Originally published in Persian ‘She’r-i Ke Zendegist’ in Hava-ye Tazeh (Fresh Air). Tehran: Nil Publication, 1958: 153–61. Every effort has been made to contact Shamlu’s representatives for permission to reproduce this essay. Forough Farrokhzad and Hasan Honarmandi, “Hasan Honardmandi’s Interview with Forough Farrokhzad,” trans. Bahareh Azad. Originally published in Persian in Arash 13 (1967). Reprinted in Javdaneh Zistan dar Ouj Mandan (Living for Eternity, Dying at the Peak). Tehran: Morvarid, 1998: 180–4. Every effort has been made to contact Farrokhzad’s and Honarmandi’s representatives for permission to reproduce this essay.

7. MODERNISM IN THE CAUCASUS Kirill Zdanevich, “Niko Pirosmanashvili,” trans. Harsha Ram. Originally published in Russian in Tabidze, Titsian, Grigol Robakidze, Geronti Kikodze, Kirill Zdanevich, and Kolau Cherniavskii, Niko Pirosmanishvili (Tiflis: Gosudarstvennoe Izdaltel’stvo Gruzii, 1926). Every effort has been made to contact Zdanevich’s representatives for permission to reproduce this essay.

PERMISSIONS AND CREDITS

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Grigol Robakidze, “Niko Pirosmani,” trans. Harsha Ram. Originally published in Russian in Tabidze, Titsian, Grigol Robakidze, Geronti Kikodze, Kirill Zdanevich, and Kolau Cherniavskii, Niko Pirosmanishvili (Tiflis: Gosudarstvennoe Izdaltel’stvo Gruzii, 1926). Every effort has been made to contact Robakidze’s representatives for permission to reproduce this essay.

8. MODERNISM IN SOUTH ASIA Mulk Raj Anand, “Manifesto of the Progressive Writers’ Association.” Originally published in Left Review (February 1936). Reprinted by permission of Kewal Anand, for Lokayata. N. M. Rashed, “Introduction” to A Stranger in Iran. Translated and reproduced by permission of Yasmin Hassan, for the N. M. Rashed estate. Malay Roy Choudhury, “The Portrait of the Artist as a Notun Samalochak” and “The Hungryalist Manifesto on Poetry,” trans. Malay Roy Choudhury. Reprinted by permission of Malay Roy Choudhury. Kamleshwar, “Introduction to the New Story,” trans. Arshdeep Singh Brar and Rudrani Gangopadhyay. Originally published in Hindi as “Nayi Kahaani ki Bhumika” (Introduction to the New Story) in Nayi Kahaani ki Bhumika. Akshara Prakashan: New Delhi, 1969. Every effort has been made to contact Kamleshwar’s representatives for permission to reproduce this essay. Raja Dhale, from “The True Story of Satyakatha.” Translated and reproduced by permission of Raja Dhale. Ka. Naa. Subramanyam, “Modern Literature,” trans. Darun Subramaniam. Originally published in Tamil as “Naveena Ilakkiyam” c. 1986–7. Translated from Ilakiya Vimarsanangal: Ka. Naa. Su Katturaigal, II (Literary Criticism: Ka. Na. Su’s Essays, II), edited by Kaavya Shanmugasundaram (Kaavya: Chennai, 2005). Every effort has been made to contact Subramanyam’s representatives for permission to reproduce this essay.

9. CHINESE MODERNISM Lu Xun, “Some Thoughts on Our New Literature,” trans. Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang. English translation originally published in Selected Works of Lu Hsun, 4 vols, ed. Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1956–60). Every effort has been made to contact Lu Xun’s representatives for permission to reproduce this essay. Dai Wangshu, “Dai Wangshu’s Poetic Theory,” trans. Kirk A. Denton. Excerpted from Modern Chinese Literary Thought: Writings on Literature, 1893–1945, ed. and trans. Kirk A. Denton. Copyright (c) 1996 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Jr. University. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of Stanford University Press, www.sup.org. “Dream of Genius” by Eileen Chang (tr. Karen Kingsbury). First published in Renditions, no. 45 (Spring 1996), pp. 25–7. Reprinted by permission of the Research Centre for Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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Ji Xian, “Explicating the Tenets of the Modernist School,” trans. Paul Manfredi. English translation originally published in The Columbia Sourcebook of Literary Taiwan, ed. Sungsheng Yvonne Chang, Michelle Yeh, and Ming-ju Fan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014). Reproduced by permission of Columbia University Press. “The New Poetry—A Turning Point? (A Misty Manifesto)” by Hong Huang (tr. Zhu Zhiyu and John Minford). First published in Renditions, nos. 19 & 20 (Spring & Autumn 1983), pp. 191–4. Reprinted by permission of the Research Centre for Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Gao Xingjian, “Without Isms,” trans. Mabel Lee. English translation originally published in The Case for Literature, by Gao Xingjian, trans. Mabel Lee (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001): 64–77. Reproduced by permission of Mabel Lee. Can Xue, “A Particular Sort of Story,” trans. Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping. English translation originally published in Blue Light in the Sky and Other Stories, by Can Xue (New Directions, 2006): 206–9. Reproduced by permission of New Directions Press, Chen Zeping, and Can Xue.

10. MODERNISM IN JAPAN Kobayashi Takiji, “On Wall Stories and ‘Short’ Short Stories: A New Approach to Proletarian Literature,” trans. Ann Sherif. English translation originally published in For Dignity, Justice, and Revolution: An Anthology of Japanese Proletarian Literature, ed. Heather Bowen-Struyk and Norma Field (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015). Reproduced by permission of Ann Sherif, the editors, and the University of Chicago Press. Sagawa Chika, “When Passing between Trees,” trans. Sawako Nakayasu. English translation originally published in The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa (Canarium Books, 2015). Reproduced by permission of Sawako Nakayasu and Canarium Books. Kobayashi Hideo, “Literature of the Lost Home,” trans. Paul Anderer. English translation originally published in New Leaves: Studies and Translations of Japanese Literature in Honor of Edward Seidensticker, ed. Aileen Gatten and Anthony Hood Chambers, Michigan Monograph Series in Japanese Studies no. 11 ﴾1993﴿, pp. 175–83. Reproduced by permission of Paul Anderer and the University of Michigan Press.

11. KOREAN MODERNISM Ko Dada, “Misconstrued ‘Dada’: For Kim Kijin,” trans. Nagi Yoshikawa, with Sho Sugita. Translated and printed by permission of Ko Dada’s daughter. Kim Kirim, “Soliloquies of ‘Pierrot’—Fragmentary Notions on ‘Poésie,’” trans. Walter K. Lew; and Ch’oe Chaesŏ, “The Expansion and Deepening of Realism: On Scenes by a Stream and ‘Wings,’ I and II,” trans. Christopher P. Hanscom. English translations originally published in Christopher P. Hanscom, Walter L. Kew and Youngju Ryu, eds, Imperatives of Culture: Selected Essays on Korean History, Literature and Society from the Japanese Colonial Era (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2013): 154–64 and 169–72. Reproduced by permission of the University of Hawaii Press.

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13. MALAY MODERNISM Mohd Salehuddin, “Our Art.” Translated and reproduced by permission of Adina Quraisa Tanrahim and the estate of Mohd Salehuddin. “Which Art Is for Us?” Originally published in Seni Magazine. Translated and reproduced by permission of Aziz Talib, on behalf of the publisher.

14. MODERNISM IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC Margaret Rose Preston, “Why I Became a Convert to Modern Art.” © Margaret Preston. Licensed by Viscopy, 2017. A. R. D. Fairburn, “Some Aspects of N.Z. Art and Letters.” Reproduced by permission of Dinah Holman and the Fairburn Estate. “Ern Malley, Poet of Debunk: Full Story from the Two Authors.” Originally published in Fact, supplement to The Sun (1944). Reproduced by permission of the James McAuley and Harold Stewart estates. Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira, excerpt from “Modern Trends in Maori Art Forms.” Originally published in The Maori People in the Nineteen-Sixties: A Symposium, ed. Erik Schwimmer (Auckland: Blackwood and Janet Paul, 1968). Reproduced by permission of the Kāterina Mataira Estate. Albert Wendt, “Towards a New Oceania.” Originally published in Mana: A South Pacific Journal of Language and Literature 1.1 (1976): 49–60. Reproduced by permission of Albert Wendt.

15. MODERNISM OF THE ASHKENAZI JEWISH DIASPORA Yankev Glatshteyn, Aaron Glantz-Leyeles, and Nachum Baruch Minkov, “Introspectivism [Manifesto of 1919],” trans. Anita Norich. Originally published in Inzikh 1.1 (January 1920): 1–10. English translation originally published in Barbara Harshav and Benjamin Harshav, eds, American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007). Reproduced by permission of Stanford University Press. Mikhl Likht, “Every New Poet: Proem,” trans. Ariel Resnikoff and Stephen Ross. Originally published in Processions and Other Poems (New York: Farlag Gelye, 1932). Reproduced by permission of Roslyn Wood. Avot Yeshurun, “From Whom Did I Take Permission?,” trans. Ariel Resnikoff. Reproduced by permission of Helit Yeshurun.

xl

Global Modernism: An Introduction and Ten Theses ALYS MOODY AND STEPHEN J. ROSS

Collecting, Jeremy Braddock argues, is a modernist practice. From art collections to literary anthologies, modernists embarked on ambitious, large-scale projects of assemblage and selection. In the process, they produced what Braddock calls “provisional institutions”: public-facing and polemical formations that “model[ed] and creat[ed] the conditions of modernism’s reception.”1 This process of assemblage and collection, of triage and sorting, has been central to the history of modernism’s reception. From the landmark modernist anthologies of Nancy Cunard and Ezra Pound to contemporary teaching texts and digital humanities archives, anthology-making has been one of the principal strategies by which modernism has been consolidated and contested. Texts like Bonnie Kime Scott’s feminist provocation, The Gender of Modernism: A Critical Anthology (1990), have produced new directions in the field, transforming the conditions of modernism’s institutionalization. Those like Lawrence Rainey’s Modernism: An Anthology (2005) have enshrined the changes their more polemical cousins produce, providing snapshots of the modernist canon as it stands at a moment in time. Throughout the field’s history, we have learned what modernism is through anthology projects that generate ever-shifting canons, each as provisional in its claims as it is necessarily polemical in its selections. This book constitutes a minor contribution to this critical-institutional history. Like so many anthologizers before us, our impetus comes from a desire to reimagine what modernism is; we seek, in particular, to contribute to a recent expansion of modernist studies to new times and new places. Under the rubric of “global modernism,” scholars of modernist studies have, in the last decade or two, begun turning their attention to the proliferation of modernist practices that have flourished outside Europe and the United States. This anthology seeks to be one of the “provisional institutions” that sketches the contours of this burgeoning subfield. We approach this project through statements by global modernists themselves—that is, by those artists, writers, and critics whose creative and critical practices have produced modernism in parts of the world that we have not historically associated with the term. Global Modernists on Modernism thus seeks to understand how global modernists conceptualized themselves as modernist, and, in doing so, to advance a new understanding of global modernism itself. In bringing these texts together, our aim is threefold. First, and most basically, we want to stake a claim for the existence and vitality of global modernism as a field of inquiry. Jeremy Braddock, Collecting as a Modernist Practice (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012): 3.

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For reasons we detail below, modernism’s expansion has been greeted by skepticism in some quarters, both within and outside of modernist studies. Not everyone who works on modernism thinks expanding the term’s geographical scope is desirable; not everyone who works on the regions in which modernists are discovering “new modernisms” welcomes the intrusion of a traditionally Euro-American subfield into their field of expertise. The politics of these objections are complex, and we offer a preliminary sketch of the stakes in the text below and in some of the section introductions. At a minimum, however, we hope that the sheer volume and interest of the texts assembled here will stand as a testimony to modernism’s importance for writers and artists on all continents and in many parts of the world. Our second goal is to go beyond merely gesturing to the existence of modernists around the world, to defend the value of “global modernism” as a critical hermeneutic. In assembling these texts, we have been thrilled and often surprised at the echoes that ring out across unlikely times and places. We have traced the appearance of Japan as a model for a non-Western modernity in the years after the Russo-Japanese War, as colonized countries turned European modernism’s Orientalism to incipiently anti-colonial ends. We have found poets from Palestine to Japan repeating the metaphor of poetry as a bomb. We have chased the surprising affinity between anti-colonial black nationalisms in the Francophone African diaspora and the proto-fascist, anti-semitic group Action Française in the years before the Second World War. These (and many other) suggestive lines of connection arise out of the reality of modernity as a global phenomenon, but they also get some of their bite and much of their analytical interest from the peculiarly anxious and unsettled relation to modernity that modernists everywhere cultivated. Reading modernism globally, then, is not just a statement of historical fact, but also a productive and illuminating critical maneuver. By watching how this critical lens refracts across over seventy-five texts from nineteen languages, this book hopes to shed new light on modernity’s discontents and on the emergence of the global as a field of action and imagination in the twentieth century. Finally, and in keeping with the remit of this series as a whole, this book hopes to ground the sometimes rather flighty subfield of global modernism more firmly in the archive. Global modernism, barely a decade into its short life as a scholarly project, remains limited by the uneven availability of primary sources and by the difficulties of working comparatively in a field that comprises so many linguistic traditions. Perhaps as a result, many of the key theories of global modernism work from high-level theoretical standpoints, first developing an account of what they hope to find and then testing it in different locations. At the same time, many of these accounts have been extremely broad, leading to an expansion of the term modernism that, as we discuss, verges on the collapse of definition itself. In this volume, we attempt a different approach, foregrounding instead the voices of practitioners themselves, and seeking to work inductively to produce a definition of global modernism from the archive, rather than an archive from a definition of global modernism. In the process, we hope to discover new ways of delimiting the field and of grounding studies of global modernism in the rich archive of self-theorization that has been produced by our objects of study.

I. THE PROBLEM OF DEFINITION: MODERNISM AND MODERNITY Given the project’s definitional ambitions, it is perhaps unsurprising that one of the central dilemmas in assembling this book has been a disarmingly simple question: how do we know what we are looking for? What are we in search of, exactly, when we go

AN INTRODUCTION AND TEN THESES

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in search of global modernism? The difficulty is intimated by Sean Latham and Gayle Rogers’ rather disheartening declaration, on the opening page of a volume promising to trace the history of the term, that “there is no such thing as modernism.” They mean that there is “no singular definition capable of bringing order to the diverse multitude of creators, manifestos, practices, and politics that have been variously constellated around this enigmatic term” and, of course, they are absolutely correct.2 But such hard truths about the inevitably imprecise and multivalent nature of the term make for poor selection criteria. Such claims can only bring us, as editors of a volume like this, up against the difficult reality that our task is an inherently definitional one, in a field that no longer really believes in its own definitions. Every text that we select necessarily carries with it the secret charge of definition; each is loaded with the assertion that it is modernism. In this context, the growing consensus in modernist studies that the term itself lacks clear parameters, however stimulating to critical and theoretical work, presents itself as a problem. How does one start to assemble a collection of texts from modernism— especially from modernism as practiced in unconventional times and places—when no one in the field believes that “modernism” denotes a fixed thing? How does one start to undertake an anthologizing project that presupposes definitions, when definitions themselves are precisely what is at stake? In many respects, this dilemma is not new. As Latham and Rogers highlight, modernism as a term has always been contested and polymorphous. Nonetheless, the definitional vagueness has become especially acute since the 1990s, in the aftermath of what Douglas Mao and Rebecca Walkowitz have described as the expansive movement of the “new modernist studies,” of which global modernism constitutes a late but influential addition.3 In seeking to find modernism outside its historical centers of Europe and North America, global modernist studies has tended to reject accounts of modernism that tie it to a particular style or that ground it in a fixed historical period. In doing so, the field builds upon the expansive maneuver of earlier scholars, who have pushed literary modernism’s origins back to the mid-nineteenth century and forward to at least the Second World War, arguing in the process that modernism constitutes not a single aesthetic position or literary style, but a set of debates and contestations.4 Many scholars of global modernism, however, go further than these predecessors, redefining “modernism” simply as the literature, culture, and arts of modernity. This approach is broadly shared across the two main theoretical positions to have developed out of global modernist studies. On the one hand, Susan Stanford Friedman has made this case influentially, if controversially, in drawing on a “multiple modernities” model to

Sean Latham and Gayle Rogers, Modernism: Evolution of an Idea (London: Bloomsbury, 2015): 1.

2

Douglas Mao and Rebecca L. Walkowitz, “The New Modernist Studies,” PMLA 123.3 (2008): 737–48.

3

For scholars who find modernism as early as the mid-nineteenth-century, see Peter Nicholls, Modernisms: A Literary Guide, 2nd ed. (Houndmills, Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); Michael Levenson, Modernism (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011). For an influential account pushing modernism toward the Second World War and beyond, see Tyrus Miller, Late Modernism: Politics, Fiction, and the Arts between the World Wars (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). For influential accounts that locate modernism not in a single position but in a contest of ideas, see Nicholls, Modernisms; Levenson, Modernism; Latham and Rogers, Modernism; Astradur Eysteinsson, The Concept of Modernism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990).

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argue that modernism should be understood as “the expressive domain of modernity.”5 On the other, scholars influenced by Immanuel Wallerstein’s world-systems theory, such as the Warwick Research Collective (WReC), have offered an account of modernism as the literature that “registers” modernity.6 While WReC and Friedman have very different theoretical orientations, they share an attempt to redefine modernism in order to make it co-extensive with modernity, a move that has become the standard gesture of global modernist studies. It is not a coincidence that the expansion of modernist studies to new parts of the world has been accompanied by a redefinition of modernism to denote the aesthetic or cultural dimension of modernity. This coupling emerged as a response to one of the central realizations of global modernist studies: the sheer insufficiency of our standard definitions of modernism, when we try to transplant them outside Europe and the United States—a situation not helped by the fact that the revisions in the field prompted by the new modernist studies have been accompanied by such a sustained resistance to producing new definitions to account for the new parameters of the field. Typically, therefore, when we suggest that this or that text or artwork or dance is modernist, we mean one of two things: either that it “sounds” or “looks” modernist to us—that is, that it conforms to a set of stylistic conventions associated with modernism—or that it is the product of a milieu that we take to be modernist. Some modernists from outside the West certainly produce texts and artworks that seem stylistically modernist, and some participate in transnational networks that link them to the milieus we have associated with modernism. But using these qualities as definitions for modernism—as selection criteria in assembling a volume such as this—throws up more problems than it solves. The central problem with definitions of modernism that treat it as a period or a style is that, when we move beyond Europe and the United States, both these accounts tend to produce a kind of cultural imperialism. Such accounts typically cast non-European art and literature as secondary, derivative products, whose status as modernist is determined by their relation to the standard of European modernism. The classic refusal of this model is Ghanaian novelist Ayi Kwei Armah’s hilarious and impassioned rejection of Charles Larson’s 1971 study The Emergence of African Fiction—still one of only a handful of attempts to discuss the modernism of African literature. In his book, Larson links Armah’s writing to that of James Joyce, a claim that Armah finds risible. Instead, he writes, this claim of influence arises from Larson’s “own obsessive, blind need to annihilate whatever is African in me and my work.”7 It reflects, he suggests, a deeper pathology, grounded in the conviction that “Africa is inferior; the West is superior. As African literature develops, the best of it must become less African, more Western.”8 A global modernism that defines its texts either by their conformity to Western models or by their historical links with Western artists and milieus will always be open to this devastating charge. Such an account inevitably reproduces the assumption that the West is the site of innovation, while the rest of the world merely imitates the novelty of the center—a set of assumptions

Susan Stanford Friedman, Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015): 54.

5

Warwick Research Collective, Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of WorldLiterature (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015).

6

Ayi Kwai Armah, “Larsony, or Fiction as Criticism of Fiction,” Asemka 4 (1976): 9.

7

Armah, “Larsony,” 12.

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that have served as the warrant of colonialism and other forms of racial oppression on a global scale. By linking modernism not to Western styles or Western contexts, but rather to the experience of modernity itself, scholars like Friedman and WReC can reconceive modernism as an umbrella term that harnesses multiple, divergent aesthetic responses to modernity, without according ontological or historical priority to any particular mode or location. As a result, it becomes possible to imagine an African modernism, for example, that is not derivative of its Western counterparts, but that instead constitutes its own independent response to the conditions of modernity as experienced on the African continent. The obvious objection to this definitional solution is that “modernity” itself is not a neutral term in these debates. As many scholars have argued, the concept of modernity has frequently been wielded as part of a colonial project, enshrining the Western as the modern in a move that casts non-Western locations as developmentally “behind.”9 While modernity is typically understood as a social, economic, and political project—in contrast to modernism, which deals with aesthetics and culture—both terms have been integral to a racist and Eurocentric vision of history. Both are, for instance, centrally implicated in the spatializing of history that gave us nineteenth-century racial science’s claims that nonwhite races represent various earlier stages on the evolutionary family tree of humanity.10 Unless we are careful about what we mean by “modernity,” an account of modernism that equates it to modernity might therefore still smuggle in a model of Western advancement and non-Western belatedness, by way of the concept of modernity itself. What is needed, then, is not just a new way of conceptualizing modernism, but also a new way of conceptualizing modernity. We need to break from its history of oppression without losing the broadly helpful periodization that allows us to express that something has changed in the last several centuries of human history. There have, broadly speaking, been two primary approaches to this problem. The first, sometimes called the “multiple modernities” model, argues that, far from being a phenomenon that occurred only or first in Europe, modernity—usually understood as some combination of industrialization, transnational trade, urbanization, and so forth—has occurred in many places at many times, including some places that predate Europe’s supposed “firsts.” Thus, for instance, Geraldine Heng argues that eleventh-century Song China industrialized on a modern scale, centuries before such processes were imaginable in Britain, taking this as evidence for a Chinese modernity that predates European modernity.11 Friedman’s account of global modernism adapts the multiple modernities model, relying on an account of modernity as “multiple, polycentric, and recurrent instances of transformational rupture and rapid change across the full spectrum of political, economic, cultural, technological,

The foundational text to make this argument is Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000). Notable work in this field has also come out of global medieval studies, where the stakes of “modernity” are highly contested for reasons of periodization. For an introduction to these debates, see Kathleen Davis and Michael Puett, “Periodization and the ‘Medieval Globe’: A Conversation,” The Medieval Globe 2.1 (2015): Article 3.

9

Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Conquest (New York: Routledge, 1995): 36–42.

10

Geraldine Heng, “Reinventing Race, Colonization, and Globalisms across Deep Time: Lessons from Longue Durée,” PMLA 130.2 (n.d.): 362.

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demographic, and military arenas of interlocking societies and civilizations.”12 This capacious definition allows her to find modernism as early as the eighth century, in Du Fu’s poetry from Tang Dynasty China, and as late as the 1980s, in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée (1982). In so doing, Friedman emphasizes that what links these exceedingly diverse writers is “not a singular aesthetic style or philosophical sensibility but instead a creative rupture of conventional forms that accompanies the specific modernities of their time and place.”13 The multiple modernities model has been contested by scholars who understand modernity not as the experience of rupture, broadly conceived, but more specifically as the epochal shift that accompanies the global expansion of capitalism. This work typically draws on Immanuel Wallerstein’s world-systems theory, an account that describes the “modern world-system” as a “capitalist world-economy,” where capitalism is the system that “gives priority to the endless accumulation of capital.”14 In this model, modernity is understood as a single phenomenon, which eventually drew the whole world into its purview, albeit unevenly and asynchronously. On this account, it makes no sense to talk of multiple modernities, for individual incidents of, say, mass production or state centralization, do not constitute modernity unless they take place as part of the modern capitalist world-system. This is the model that WReC draws on in developing an account of what they variously call modernism or “world-literature,” both signaling “the literary registration of modernity under the sign of combined and uneven development.”15 This project, like Friedman’s, entails a substantial expansion of modernism’s temporal scope, as well as its geographical one, “incorporat[ing] the great wave of writing from the mid-nineteenth century onwards that is construable precisely … as an encoding of the capitalisation of the world.”16 Both these models aspire to a reconceptualization of modernity that decouples the term from its historical tendency to elevate the West as the primary location of modernity. We are sympathetic to this project, which recognizes the fraught political terrain on which the terms “modernism” and “modernity” have developed. We agree that a global modernism that reinscribes the power imbalances of the world that it describes is probably not worth doing. In assembling this volume, we have tried to be alert to the risk of casting Europe and the United States as the gold standard to which all other parts of the world must aspire—the risk, that is, that global modernism will merely co-opt non-Western aesthetic products and bind them to a teleology that retains Western art as the source and center. Linking modernism to modernity is, we think, a useful tactic in staving this off. For the purposes of a volume such as this, however, it does not yet solve the definitional problem. If we were to take Friedman or WReC at their word, the modernism that we would produce here would be unrecognizable to most scholars working with either European or US materials, or in any of the regions and languages represented here. In reconfiguring modernism as the culture or art proper to modernity,

Friedman, Planetary Modernisms, ix.

12

Friedman, Planetary Modernisms, 190.

13

Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004): 24.

14

Warwick Research Collective, Combined and Uneven Development, 17.

15

Warwick Research Collective, Combined and Uneven Development, 17–18.

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these scholars expand modernism’s boundaries so dramatically that their modernism starts to include many things—Charles Dickens, Tang Dynasty poetry—that no one else generally considers to be modernist. This expansive maneuver is a key part of the polemical position-taking of both sets of scholars, and in this context, it is a salutary and provocative move that has been successful in generating debate and reflection within the field. But our goals are somewhat different: with this volume, we seek to facilitate exchange between scholars working with similar aesthetic objects in diverse parts of the world. In order to do so, we need to be sure that, as much as possible, we are all talking about the same thing, and that we do so in terms that are narrow and specific enough to provide a field of conversation that specialists in the various regions might recognize. Few if any Victorianists describe British novels of the mid-nineteenth century as modernist, just as few experts in Tang Dynasty China consider Du Fu’s poetry modernist. Insisting that they do so seems to overstep the bounds of what a useful modernism might involve. This is especially so, given that there are already plenty of scholars, writers, and artists in these and other parts of the world who do consider themselves to be working with something called “modernism.” If what we seek is a conversation about what modernism is, or what the stakes are of theorizing modernism on a global scale, it seems helpful if everyone involved in the conversation thinks they are in fact talking about modernism. This rather modest ambition has been our guiding principle in deciding what counts as modernist for the purposes of this volume. Rather than imposing a predetermined account of modernism everywhere we go, we have instead begun, more simply, with the ways modernism has been understood in different parts of the world. For this, we have drawn heavily on the accounts of scholars who are expert in local languages, literatures, and arts, and of practitioners who have understood themselves as modernist. By following this approach, this book aims to construct an archive from which we might begin to derive answers to the definitional questions posed above. To this end, we bring together a wide range of texts, each of which is engaged in a more or less explicit act of theorizing modernism. We hope that these texts will provide the basis for others to develop their own understandings of modernism, grounded in a clearer sense of what modernism meant to individual authors, artists, and critics. To put this another way, we have sought to develop an inductive method for the study of global modernism, one which begins with the particulars and works out from them to a general statement. In practice, this has meant that this project has been highly collaborative. Editing this volume, we have been acutely aware that, like most scholars of global modernism, we have been trained and employed primarily in English departments—although we both also work with non-Anglophone literatures—and have worked and studied primarily in the Anglophone world (including the United Kingdom and the United States, but also Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, where we held positions during the development of this book). We have therefore sought actively to engage scholars with expertise and language training in regions in which we are lacking. Where possible, we have delegated individual sections to scholars who are expert in the languages and literatures of the nation or region under discussion. In several cases, we have worked closely with translators to produce new translations of previously untranslated texts, seeking in the process to better understand the larger linguistic, literary, and social contexts out of which these texts arose. In all sections, we have regularly consulted with scholars whose expertise on matters large and small has underpinned our understanding of the specific authors,

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movements, languages, and contexts out of which the texts included here come (see the acknowledgments for a list of those to whom we owe particular debts, although the conversations have ranged more widely than can be fully accounted for here). Across the volume, our selections have been driven primarily by the scholarship about modernism in the given region, and by local understandings of the term, where available. Our priority has been to make available texts that are important for scholarly debate but that are not widely available in English. By and large, we have granted section editors autonomy in deciding what constitutes modernism in their part of the world. This book, therefore, arises not from a single overarching theory of modernism, but from an attempt to tease out the interlocking but never fully consonant meanings that the term has assumed as it has travelled from place to place.

II. TEN THESES ON GLOBAL MODERNISM Writing now from the end of this project, we can identify ten insights that have emerged as key through-lines of the project. Together, they provide the beginnings of a more comprehensive model of global modernism, rooted in an inductive method that works out from particular instances. Although these theses derive from our readings of the texts in this volume, they also, we think, shed new light on modernism in Europe and the United States, regions which for reasons of space are not represented here.

1. Modernism is one of the aesthetic modes of modernity, but it is not the only one. Everywhere we have looked, modernism has always been intimately connected to modernity. Modernism always arises in contexts that understand themselves to have undergone a process of modernization, and to be still grappling with the effects of this transformation. Indeed, modernism is always theorized as one of the aesthetic consequences of modernity. Scholars of global modernism are, in this sense, absolutely correct to suggest that modernism is the literature or art of modernity. However—and this gets less frequently remarked upon in global modernist scholarship—modernism is only one of several aesthetic modes that arise in and through modernization. Across a range of contexts, modernity is registered in works that scholars and artists understand not only as modernist, but also as Romantic, realist, symbolist, or aestheticist. In European literatures, we typically take these modes to exist in a particular narrative formation, where Romanticism gives on to realism, gives on to symbolism and/or aestheticism, and finally produces modernism. As they travel globally, however, they tend to become decoupled from this periodizing formation. At times, their boundaries lose their clarity: writers are described as romantic and modernist, realism becomes redescribed as a form of modernism, and so forth. At other times, they are understood to exist in a narrative relation, or as competing modes or resources that different authors choose between at a given time. One way of understanding this relationship is to see it as a literary correlative of the concept of combined and uneven development, whereby countries that develop as capitalist later are able to follow different paths, drawing on the whole set of resources and technologies that more industrialized countries have already produced. This is not to suggest that modernism is more “advanced” than other literary forms;

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rather, it suggests that what emerged in the West as a linear narrative form loses its linearity when different aesthetic modes are imported simultaneously to new locations. Modernism, while always one of the key modes by which modernity is rendered in literature and art, therefore is never the only mode available. Modernism is an—but not the—aesthetic mode of modernity. One of the tasks of global modernism as a scholarly project, then, must be to specify what is particular about modernism—how it is different to other aesthetic modes for the registration or expression of modernity.

2. Global modernism develops across multiple, asynchronous chronologies, which reflect the specific experiences of modernity and the specific histories of art in different locations. If modernism is one possible aesthetic mode for responding to modernity among several, then it follows that (a) modernism cannot exist without modernity, but also (b) modernism is not necessarily found everywhere modernity is. These conclusions are supported by the multiple and asynchronous chronologies that characterize modernism as it develops around the world, reflected in the dates of texts included in this volume (see Figure 1). Although almost every part of the world has its modernism, these modernisms develop at different times in different places. Typically, modernism accompanies (or follows within a few decades) the emergence of particular locations as states in the modern world-system. Some places, like Japan, are generally understood to pass through periods in which literature undergoes a process of “modernization”—generally equated in this context with the Westernization of literature, and linked initially to the emergence of symbolist, aestheticist, or Romantic modes—before reaching a point of crisis, which produces

Figure 1  Modernism’s combined and uneven global timelines. (Graph records dates of texts in this volume for each region; where a single date is recorded for a section, the decade is given instead.)

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modernism. In other places, especially areas in the process of decolonizing, as in Africa or the Pacific Islands, modernism emerges as part of the struggle for national identity at the moment of state-formation, often contemporaneously with other aesthetic modes. In still other places, like China or the Caribbean, modernism’s history is protracted and discontinuous; an early period of modernist proliferation returns again decades later as political, economic, and cultural conditions shift. The form taken by each nation’s or region’s entry into the world-system, the internal development of its own literary history, and the nature and timing of its interaction with literatures from around the world all condition the specific timeline on which modernism develops in any particular place. The result is a global modernism that, like modernity itself, is combined and uneven, developing on different timescales at different locations in the world-system.

3. Modernism is not a single position, but a set of debates about the form and status of the aesthetic under the conditions of modernity. When modernism does appear, it never arises as a consensus position. Instead, it is constituted as a set of debates about formal strategies, authorial positioning, and the relation of art to the social and political. In other words, modernism always arises as a literary (or artistic) field, as Pierre Bourdieu describes it—one in which different writers carve out space for themselves by adopting positions in relation to other writers.17 On this account, modernism is best understood not as a single position, but rather as the set of key issues around which these debates are mobilized, and which repeat across times and places. The central issues that define the modernist literary field include: whether art should be autonomous or political; how to relate to tradition in the face of the pressures of modernity; how to produce art, including national art, in a context where there is no clearly defined public for such an undertaking; how to establish a place for one’s national or individual writing on a global scale, in the context of the inequalities that constitute the modern worldsystem; and how to achieve and sustain an appropriately masculine mode of art or, conversely, how to make space for women within an overwhelmingly masculine set of movements. These debates will be familiar to scholars of European and American modernism as the central questions that polarize modernists in those regions, but they also repeat with unmistakable regularity everywhere that modernism arises. Modernism is never to be found in any single answer to any of these questions, but rather in the centrality of the debates themselves to the theory and practice of artmaking at certain times and places.

4. Modernism is a self-theorizing project. Because modernism is constituted by its debates, modernist aesthetics requires artists and writers to constantly justify their practice and approach. As a result, modernism—more than any aesthetic mode before it—is distinguished by its practitioners’ indefatigable self-theorization and their assimilation of criticism to creative practice. The centrality of this mode has long been recognized by scholars

Pierre Bourdieu, The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field, trans. Susan Emanuel (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995).

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of European and US modernism, reflected in the long-standing acknowledgment of the central role of the manifesto to the movement.18 As a result, authors’ and artists’ statements about their work—from avant-garde manifestos to T. S. Eliot’s literary criticism—have long formed the basis of understandings of European and US modernism. To date, however, these statements have been a relatively underutilized resource in global modernist studies, although (as this volume attests) modernists around the world produced a wealth of self-theorization. The modernist tendency toward self-theorization enables our inductive method, and has led us to understand this project as an anthology of texts by modernist practitioners that reflect on and enact modernism. Because of the centrality of self-theorization to the modernist project, a major goal of the book has been to gather documents of global modernist self-theorization and allow them to speak for themselves. We have gathered texts—statements, manifestos, essays, letters, prefaces, prologues, and so on—situated ambiguously between primary and secondary status, operating on the conviction that such texts do not merely reflect on modernism but, crucially, constitute it as well. We believe such texts, and the impulse to write them, are defining features of modernism. To the extent that modernist art challenges formal and generic boundaries between different aesthetic media, modernist self-theorization itself blurs the line between art and criticism. As the academic background of several of these texts suggests, the incursion into the domain of criticism and its assimilation to modernist practice is all the more notable, and partly explicable, for having happened alongside the emergence of modern academic criticism itself.

5. Western modernism was one of the central problems for non-Western modernism, but the relationship between any given modernism and the West, while always central and contested, was not derivative. Despite the understandable skittishness around questions of influence in much scholarship on global modernism, Western modernist precursors and interlocutors— including but not limited to Charles Baudelaire, André Breton and the surrealists, Pablo Picasso, F. T. Marinetti and the Italian Futurists, T. S. Eliot, Mina Loy, Virginia Woolf, and so forth—loom large in much self-theorization by non-Western modernists. These precursors appear both as significant influences, stylistically and theoretically, and as figures of Western imperialism whose influence is fiercely resisted. Their presence in debates is sometimes what leads scholars of these nations or regions to consider a particular moment as modernist, even as practitioners and scholars alike push back against the assumption that modernist art is necessarily writing shaped by Western sources. Indeed, Armah’s scathing attack on Larson—the canonical repudiation of influence-based accounts of global modernism—needs to be understood not just as a commentary about the relationship between modernism and African literature, but as a specific act of position-taking in a field where the relationship between African and Western modernism was a source of bitter debate (see, for instance, Chinweizu’s essay, 3.vii). In this sense, we might say that one of See, for example, Laura Winkiel, Modernism, Race, and Manifestos (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Martin Puchner, Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Garde (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006).

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the central debates that constitutes non-Western modernism is its relationship to Western modernism. We suggest that to properly understand the phenomenon of global modernism, we need to acknowledge the central role that Western modernism often plays in it. At the same time, however, it would be a serious mistake to assume that when non-Western writers or artists take European figures as important interlocutors, this relationship is necessarily derivative. Time and again, it is clear that to read Breton in Martinique, or Loy in Japan, or Picasso in Africa requires a significant reconceptualization of each of their original projects, and opens unforeseen ways of elaborating their work. In a context where global Western cultural dominance is a given (as it is in every context where modernism arises), reading Western modernism, and considering what kinds of resources it might provide, becomes one of the tools by which writers and artists in the peripheral locations of the worldsystem negotiate their relationship to centers of power. In doing so, they substantially reimagine and radically redeploy both the forms of Western modernism and the meaning of those forms. To suggest that, say, Hirato Renkichi’s engagement with F. T. Marinetti is derivative, while W. B. Yeats’ engagement with Noh theater is a spur to original creation is to betray an unspoken assumption that only Western writers or artists have the capacity for innovation that allows them to remake other culture’s materials as “new.” A close reading of the texts contained in this volume reveals that, on the contrary, the active reappraisal of Western modernism was one of the foundations on which the innovations of non-Western modernisms were built.

6. The revitalization of tradition is as important for modernism as the break with the past or the demand for absolute novelty. Standard accounts of modernism tend to emphasize modernism as an experience of rupture, assuming that what makes modernism modern is its unprecedented commitment to novelty and innovation. Surveying the texts included in this volume, it is clear that this connection between modernism and the new is everywhere apparent, as writers on continent after continent worry about how to produce a new art, capable of responding to the pressures of modernity. This commitment to novelty, however, sits alongside an equally strong commitment to tradition, as writers seek to recast, invent, or sustain their own cultural heritage in the face of modernity’s demand for transformation. Scholars of European and American modernism are of course already familiar with this tension, which has made texts like T. S. Eliot’s “Tradition and the Individual Talent” and Ezra Pound’s call to “make it new” central to our understanding of modernism. In the peripheral and semiperipheral zones that constitute this book, however, the pressures are greater and more fraught, as modernism becomes bound up with anti-colonial nationalisms that demand a strong national tradition to wield against the threat of foreign influence or occupation. In this context (as in European modernism), novelty and tradition are not really opposites. Rather, the push to make tradition new becomes one of the guiding pressures of many if not most modernist positions around the world. Tradition therefore becomes a site of ideological struggle. The discourse of novelty and innovation is a symptom of that struggle, and not (always) its foundational principle.

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The specific form that the attempt to renovate tradition takes varies according to the histories and political pressures experienced in each location. In declining or defeated sites of empire like China, Iran, and the Arab world, where strong literary and cultural traditions retain their grasp on the public imagination, the problem faced by writers is how to accommodate these still-influential traditions to the new demands of modernity. In many decolonizing nations, as in most African countries and among the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Islands, the push for tradition takes the form of attempts to rebuild and make new use of suppressed and disrupted precolonial traditions, from oral literature to weaving and sculpting. In nations formed out of the population displacements of modernity, as in settler colonial states and those formed by slavery, from the Caribbean and Latin America to South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, the dilemma is instead how to build a new tradition, usually forged from some combination of a new relation to landscape, new social form, and the heritage of the countries from which the peoples of these new nations came. In all these contexts, Western modernism and other non-indigenous sources are often important for helping writers and artists rethink their own traditions. In each case, modernism is as much a project for recovering and reimagining a moribund or threatened cultural tradition as it is a project of aesthetic novelty and innovation.

7. Modernism has always been global, and this global disposition is inextricable from the radically unequal power relations that characterize modernity itself. It should be clear by now that although we are not satisfied with the approach that sees modernism as fully coextensive with modernity, the world-systems account of modernity nonetheless significantly influences our thinking. What this account allows us to see is that modernity is a system—a single system—that is constituted through unequal distributions of power and wealth. Rich and poor, powerful and marginal, and peripheral and core regions are thus bound together in a single worldsystem. In this context, we should not be surprised to see modernism proliferate throughout the world-system, albeit unevenly and asynchronously, according to different locations’ different access to cultural and political power. Nor should we be surprised to see that as it does so, it often becomes complicit in the inequalities at the heart of the system. This leaves us with two conclusions. First, because modernism is one of the aesthetic modes of the modern world-system, it has always been global, in each of its manifestations. Thus, global modernist studies’ foundational insight was not that there was modernism outside the core, but that the modernism of the core was already and foundationally global in its orientation and its influences.19 But, second, while modernists of core and periphery both participate in a single world-system, they do not do so on equal terms. Peripheral and semiperipheral modernists’ engagement with the culture of the core is fundamentally different to core modernists’ engagement with the cultures of the periphery, because the former is forced on them by the cultural hegemony of more powerful nation-states.

See, for example, Laura Doyle and Laura Winkiel, “Introduction: The Global Horizons of Modernism,” in Geomodernisms: Race, Modernism, Modernity, ed. Laura Doyle and Laura Winkiel (Bloomington: Indian University Press, 2005): 1–14.

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Similarly, peripheral and semiperipheral modernists’ recourse to tradition is often a defensive maneuver, an attempt to retain a degree of autonomy and agency in the face of this hegemony. While we want to emphasize that modernism everywhere is founded on processes of global exchange and dialogue, we need to always bear in mind that these exchanges are dramatically unequal and asymmetrical. Modernism is, then, one of the aesthetic routes by which this unequal system was dramatized, reproduced, and contested.

8. Because translation is a necessary condition for a global modernism, global modernism is shaped and distorted by the uneven politics of language. In order to have global modernism, there must be translation and, necessarily, its distortions. This principle applies as much to global modernist creative practices as to their disciplinary study in the academy. Our understanding of the significance of translation as it relates to global modernism draws from the robust body of scholarly work that has theorized the modernist “labour of translation” far beyond the strict remit of textual translation between languages.20 This expanded sense of translation helps us grasp the ways in which global modernism registers not just the linguistic inter-animation of literary traditions but the more general collision and clarification of aesthetic and political values across a world theater characterized by asymmetrical power relations. Global modernism, by foregrounding this established problematic of translation in the context of an awareness of the unevenness of global exchange, highlights the centrality of language politics to modernist literary creation. Translation and language politics are deeply consequential for every modernist practice featured in this book. The modernizing projects of places like Turkey and Israel, for example, yoke the concept of modernism to nationalist monolingualism (though not without internal voices of dissent). In these parts of the world, modernization was closely linked both to ambitious, state-driven projects to produce new national languages, as in the move from Ottoman to Turkish, as well as extensive statesponsored projects of translation from European to local languages. In regions such as South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, on the other hand, the diversity of languages precludes linguistic monoculturalism on this order and produces a different set of tensions between major/minor and colonial/indigenous languages. To choose to write in a minor and/or indigenous language, when there is a choice at all, often means to write oneself out of larger networks of modernist circulation. But to “opt out” in this way can also be a potent political gesture (as in the famous case of Kenyan novelist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o switching from English to Gikuyu). A third way is to write between languages. We might consider the Yiddish poetry of Mikhl Likht (1893–1953), a body of work destined never to have a large readership in its original language. Tellingly, Likht started out by writing and publishing autotranslated bilingual versions of his poems in English and Yiddish and then switched

See, for instance, Steven G. Yao, Translation and the Languages of Modernism: Gender, Politics, Language (Houndmills, Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002); Daniel Katz, American Modernism’s Expatriate Scene: The Labour of Translation (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007); Gayle Rogers, Incomparable Empires: Modernism and the Translation of Spanish and American Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016).

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definitively to Yiddish later on. It has been said of him that he writes in Yiddish but thinks in English. Modernist literature privileges inter-, cross-, and multi-lingualism of this sort as often as it reinforces majoritarian/minoritarian language hierarchies (sometimes it does both at the same time). If modernism involves the assimilation of translation, like self-theorization, to creative practice, it does so for a wide variety of reasons. Translation might be an inspired tarrying with the “exotic” (as in Ezra Pound’s Cathay), or it might be born out of ingenious exophonic necessity (as in Eileen Chang’s English writings and auto-translations). Exophony—the practice of writing outside one’s native tongue—itself comes in many shapes and forms. Consider Avot Yeshurun (born Yekhiel Perlmutter, 1904–92), another native Yiddish speaker who immigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1925 and wrote a “broken,” polyglot Hebrew poetry shot through with Arabic, Polish, and Yiddish syntax, grammar, and vocabulary in the teeth of nationalist Hebrew monolingualism. Consider, too, anti-colonial poets such as the Moroccan Abdellatif Laâbi (1942–) and the Martinican Aimé Césaire (1913–2008) who appropriate the literal lingua franca of colonial France rather than write in indigenous languages or local creoles. Or consider expatriate writers such as the Syrian poet Adūnīs (1930–) and the Chinese novelist and playwright Gao Xingjian (1940–), who have made France their home for decades but continue to write in their native languages. In each instance, the decision (forcible or voluntary) to write in one language over another, in one place or another, is constitutive of a given writer’s modernist practice, rather than incidental to it. If translation, in the broad sense, has been central to the development of global modernism, it must also be central to its study. Nonetheless, the sheer number of languages involved and the difficulty of working in languages one does not speak present serious problems for the study of global modernism. Although these problems are, in some sense, unsolvable, they can be mitigated in various ways, chief among them through collaboration. As we note above, this project has leaned heavily on experts in languages beyond our direct knowledge. Ideally, a volume such as this would go further down the path of multilingualism, reproducing the texts in their original language alongside English, and we regret that we have been unable to do that here for reasons for space. Translation can be an apparatus of linguistic and cultural domination, but it can also be a mode of recovering texts in a way that brings scholars and readers back to the original. Bearing both its possibilities and its limitations in mind is crucial for the advancement of global modernist studies.

9. Methodologically, modernism needs to be read across multiple scales simultaneously. In order to capture both the local specificity of modernism, including the agency and creativity of individual practitioners and movements, as well as the large-scale systems and structures that put pressure on their practice and limit their options, we agree with Harsha Ram that modernism might profitably engage in a method of “scale jumping.” Ram advocates for a method that moves between what he calls the “cartographic” scale of accounts like the world-systems theory model, which makes visible structural inequalities, and the “geographic” scale of the network-based

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model that he associates with Friedman, which “seeks to render space as a series of distinct geographic locales or transregional itineraries.”21 This scalar method does not fully resolve the differences between WReC and Friedman—there is also, as we have seen, a fundamental difference of opinion over what modernity is, which is not reconcilable in this way. Nonetheless, as a method, rather than a theory of modernity, this mode allows us to shift focus between structural inequalities and individual responses, between transnational networks of friends and collaborators and large-scale systems, without relinquishing the insights of either. By organizing individual texts in this volume into regions or nations and by identifying more local links between them as we go along, we seek to facilitate work that reads individual texts simultaneously according to the large-scale historical structures within which these nations and regions are caught, and the more local and provisional networks in which modernism unfolds and develops. In making the decision about how to organize this volume, we have had to stake a position in a methodological debate within global modernist studies about the best way of approaching the globalness of the field. Many of the field’s most influential edited volumes—Mark Wollaeger’s field-defining Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms, for instance, as well as Allana Lindgran and Stephen Ross’s recent The Modernist World—have, like us, worked through the field region by region, presenting global modernism as the accumulation of a series of discrete local modernisms. Peter Kalliney, in his critical introduction to the field, Modernism in a Global Context, however, criticizes this approach, which he calls “an area studies approach to modernism.” He argues that “categories such as European, African, or Latin American modernism” are “somewhat limiting, enticing us with a comfortable sense of cultural specificity at the expense of a more uneasy, a more expansive understanding of what modernism does when it is on the move.”22 Other recent texts, such as Eric Hayot and Rebecca Walkowitz’s A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism, have followed Kalliney in seeking to adopt a method that integrates the modernisms of center and periphery into a cohesive whole, or at least a dialogic bundle. We are, on the whole, sympathetic to both sides of this debate which, following Ram, we understand as a debate about scale. Our two tables of contents—one framed around regional modernisms, the other identifying meridians that cut across different regions—reflect our desire to facilitate methodological scale jumping of this kind. Nonetheless, while we encourage readers to read across scales, we also want to insist that framing texts in local fields is crucial for a full understanding of their contexts of production. By embedding them in this way, we can see both how texts develop as part of local literary fields, with their own particular debates, and how they enter global circuits of exchange in ways that embroil them within global systems of oppression and inequality.

10. The institutional contexts within which modernism develops are as central to modernism as its formal strategies or aesthetic positions. One of the significant insights of modernist studies scholarship in the last several decades has been the role of institutions in sustaining and shaping modernism, Harsha Ram, “The Scale of Global Modernisms: Imperial, National, Regional, Local,” PMLA 131.5 (2016): 1374.

21

Peter Kalliney, Modernism in a Global Context (London: Bloomsbury, 2016): 24.

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especially in the United States and Britain.23 As the field expanded globally, the attention to modernism’s institutional contexts followed this global expansion, as scholars came to realize the importance of state-sponsored institutions such as the BBC and the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), independent ventures such as little magazines, and commercial undertakings such as publishing houses and series to the development and circulation of global modernism.24 The process of assembling this anthology has underscored the extent to which these insights hold true—in fact, become even more pressing and significant—in a global context. As modernism moves from place to place, institutions common to modernism across the world (the little magazine, the modern revival of the patronage system, an uneasy accommodation with modes of literary professionalization, the rise of the university) become inflected by and embroiled with local institutional contexts. Our understanding of modernism therefore moves across scales, not just because of how texts or authors travel, but because of how institutions do too. On a global scale, there have been three major developments in the institutionalization of modernism over the twentieth century, which profoundly shape both the forms and meanings of literary and artistic production in this period. The first such development is the rise of organizations that made the global promotion of modernism into an important geopolitical endeavor. There were various such institutions, but perhaps the most emblematic is the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a CIA-funded organization charged with light-touch promotion of US interests by fostering global cultural exchange between writers and intellectuals. The CCF funded little magazines all over the world, including Black Orpheus and Transition in Africa, Quest in India, and Quadrant in Australia, and sponsored a number of landmark conferences of writers and critics. The network of CCF-funded little magazines provided an institutional context for modernism around the world, and facilitated the exchange of writings and articles between intellectuals whose political beliefs, aesthetic dispositions, and geographic locations made it unlikely that they would otherwise come into contact. In so doing, it strengthened the Cold War association between modernism and US-style liberal capitalism, and entrenched its opposition to Soviet-sponsored social realism.25 The importance of organizations operating across national borders is matched by the importance of state-sponsored institutions. Modernity, it is often remarked, has as one of its distinctive features the emergence of the modern nation-state, and while modernism is sometimes understood as a cosmopolitan movement that

See, for example, Lawrence Rainey, Institutions of Modernism: Literary Elites and Public Culture (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998); Aaron Jaffe, Modernism and the Culture of Celebrity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Jonathan Goldman, Modernism Is the Literature of Celebrity (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011).

23

Peter Kalliney’s work has been particularly influential in this regard. See Peter Kalliney, Commonwealth of Letters: British Literary Culture and the Emergence of Postcolonial Aesthetics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013); Peter Kalliney, “Modernism, African Literature, and the Cold War,” MLQ 76.3 (2015): 334–68. On little magazines, see Eric Bulson, Little Magazine, World Form (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017).

24

On modernism’s relation to Cold War politics, see Greg Barnhisel, Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015). The classic study of this relationship in the context of the visual arts is Serge Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art: Abstract Expressionism, Freedom, and the Cold War, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983).

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pulls against this consensus, it is equally true that nationalist modernisms have long had significant purchase. In many parts of the world, modernism emerged either through or in reaction to state-sponsored cultural programs. The emblematic instance of this is Léopold Senghor’s Senegal, where state support for the arts was a key plank of the poet-president’s nation-building program. Elsewhere, in places like Japan and Turkey, state-sponsored translation and circulation of Western texts and the promotion of certain sanctioned forms modernized literature, in tandem with the development of the nation-state, which in turn laid the groundwork for modernism to emerge in these locations. Finally, the rise of the university as a site for literary studies and eventually literature itself over the twentieth century played a central role in the development of modernism. This has been influentially documented in the US context by Mark McGurl, in his history of US creative writing programs, but the university was an equally important site for the development of modernism elsewhere in the world.26 In Africa and the Caribbean, for instance, many little magazines from the 1960s and 1970s onwards were affiliated with university English departments and many modernist writers were employed in universities, either in their home countries or in the United States and the United Kingdom. This institutionalization of global modernism in the university helps to account for one of the striking formal shifts that is captured by this volume: over the course of the twentieth century, manifestos and critical essays expand dramatically in length, moving from the catchy 1000-word declarations of the interwar years to academic-length articles that frequently exceed 5000 words by the 1970s. This has produced its own pressures in assembling the anthology. Because of space constraints, it has tempted us to over-represent earlier texts (and modernisms where the bulk of texts were produced early) and neglect later ones by providing fewer or more heavily excerpted essays. But it also reflects the profound influence of institutional contexts in shaping the forms modernism takes and the routes by which it circulates. Because of changes in the institutional ecology of modernism in the post-war years, the specific chronology of a given modernism has a major bearing on the form and circulation of its textual products. If institutions are foundational to the development and circulation of global modernism at the moment of production, they are also central to its preservation and thus its availability for anthologization in the present. The availability of texts is shaped by different approaches to and pressures on the production of canons, which reflect both financial constraints and local norms. In Japan, almost all the authors represented in this volume have their own zenshū, roughly translated as “collected works,” which compile not just the author’s major works, but an extensive collection of their ephemera and occasional writings as well. This genre is itself a development of Japanese modernization; the first author zenshū appeared in the late 1910s, just as modernism was first emerging in Japan.27 The availability of these collected works makes even quite obscure texts easy to locate for the scholar, although it also

Mark McGurl, The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009).

26

Kiyoko Myojo, “The Functions of Zenshū in Japanese Book Culture: Practices and Problems in Modern Textual Editing in Japan,” Variants: Journal of the European Society for Textual Scholarship 10 (2013): 261.

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entrenches and reproduces systems of author-based canonization that are then hard to escape. Similarly, Latin American countries have developed a system of nonprofit foundations for the promotion of individual authors’ works, which often also hold the copyright permissions for them. The extent to which these foundations are well-staffed and able to reply to correspondence has been a significant factor in whose work we have been able to secure the rights to reproduce. In this sense, local practices of canonization are inevitably reproduced as we move to a global scale. Nor are these institutional effects exclusively local. The importance of the African diaspora to African-American identity has meant that African and Caribbean little magazines and other archival materials are often well-preserved in well-funded US libraries. As a result, these texts have been unusually accessible for a volume such as this—although ironically, in the process they sometimes become less accessible to scholars and writers still living in the regions from which they are drawn. In this case, transnational political movements and global cultural orientations underpin processes of canonization that reproduce uneven outcomes. Some of the institutional factors are more practical. In many parts of the world, including most developing countries as well as, for instance, the Francophone world in general, the practice of using literary agents is not common. Authors without agents can be harder to locate and their estates can be harder to identify after their deaths, but those with agents sometimes set prohibitively high fees that have forced us to exclude them from this volume. Such differences also perpetuate global inequalities on a local scale, making it much easier to pay less to those who already have less. Finally, in some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, and Iran, international copyright treaties are either not recognized or local laws have much shorter durations. In these contexts, securing permissions has been extremely difficult because institutional structures for handling copyright requests are not in place and rights holders are often not even aware that they own the rights. In such contexts, our own publisher is forced to make a decision about whether to proceed without being able to secure permissions. All these different circumstances lead to significant unevenness in the way texts are canonized and preserved. As a result, we need to bear in mind that the global modernism we have access to is itself not just a reflection but also a product of the combined and uneven modernity out of which it arises.

III. CONSTRAINTS AND LIMITATIONS As the foregoing suggest, a book such as this is inevitably partial and limited, and we would encourage readers to approach it with an awareness of its limitations. Its main constraint is, of course, the sheer enormity of global modernism itself. Although it draws from a global archive of modernist texts, the book could not possibly hope to be “global” in the sense of fully comprehensive. We are wary of the colonial overtones of attempting canon formation in a field with global scope, especially from within the Anglophone academy and in the English language. We would emphasize that while we are inevitably engaged in a project of canonization and institutionalization, this anthology should be approached, like all modernist anthologies, as a “provisional institution.” Nonetheless, while this project militates against the hierarchical and exclusionary logic of canon formation, most explicitly against the discourse of non-Western belatedness and derivativeness, we also

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acknowledge that we have been compelled to make a selection that inevitably places emphasis in some places and not others. Such selection cannot but involve the staking of claims and the delineation of borders, however provisional we might want them to be. We understand “global modernism” to be a field that incorporates both Western and non-Western, core and peripheral modernisms, and we would want to see scholarship that reads across these regions. Nonetheless, this volume focuses more or less exclusively on texts of semiperipheral and peripheral modernism, for reasons of space and because European and US texts of this sort are already widely anthologized and available. Even within these limitations, it is not a comprehensive gathering; peripheral European cultures as well as indigenous and minority cultures within core countries are felt absences. In some cases, important texts are missing because we were simply unable to obtain rights to reprint texts we wanted. In most cases, when faced with a choice between an important but obscure or a widely circulated text, we opted for those that were less accessible or prominent. Given these constraints, the book must be read not as a stand-alone text, but as a supplement to existing European modernist sourcebooks like Kolocotroni et  al.’s Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents, as well as those assembling further readings from the non-Western world (see the reading list for some suggestions). We would strongly encourage readers to place the texts assembled here in dialogue with those from Europe and the United States, and to engage them via deeper readings in the literatures of particular regions or nations. Our selection criteria for the book have required us to adopt a flexible approach to national and geographical divisions. Sections are organized according to categories that range from the national, to the regional or continental, to the diasporic. The size and scope of each section has been driven by the field that modernists in these regions imagined themselves to be writing into and out of, as well as by the limits of the scholarly fields that have sprung up to cover them. As such, the unevenness of the section divisions reflects the varied geographical imaginaries of modernism around the world. One consequence of the varied geographical reach of our sections has been an equally varied length. Our shortest section contains a single text; our longest contains nine. In each case, we negotiated with section editors to establish the smallest possible number of texts that would allow them to offer an acceptable representation of the breadth of modernist practice in the region. For this reason, multinational and multilinguistic sections—Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia—have tended to be the longest, demanding as they did the representation of multiple linguistic and national groupings. Similarly, Chinese modernism, which extended over an unusually long time span, and Japanese modernism, which was unusually active and contested, producing a large number of opposing movements, are each represented by seven texts. The shorter sections—Vietnamese, Malay, Turkish, Korean, and Persian modernisms, for instance— tend to represent single national traditions. In all cases, what we have included here represents only a necessarily limited sampling of available materials, and we hope that readers will continue to explore areas of interest to them through our suggested further reading in each section. We are scholars of literary studies, working within a tight word limit, and this volume reflects these limitations in focusing primarily on literary modernisms and on those that can shed more light on it. Because literary and artistic modernism often emerged in dialogue with one another in many parts of the world, many of our sections also include important representatives from the visual arts, although these are on the whole less comprehensive. We regret not finding space for more detailed discussion of the performing arts, and

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would welcome an anthology attending more closely to this important area. Within the field of literature, our texts overwhelmingly and unintentionally incline toward poetry and poetics over fiction, a phenomenon that perhaps reflects the dominance of poetry in some parts of the world, especially across the Middle East, as well as poetry’s stronger impulse toward explicit self-theorization. Our selections focus overwhelmingly on self-theorization, and we have excluded, for the most part, autobiographies and memoirs by modernists, retrospective accounts, and other genres that tell the story of modernism “after the fact,” as reminiscence, or from a critical position outside the fray, as it were. The skewing of our materials toward these charismatic texts reposes on our conviction that modernism is a self-theorizing project. Nonetheless, one limitation of our inductive editorial method is that it might force us to relinquish critical distance and reaffirm power asymmetries endemic to modernism’s self-theorization. If we simply ask what modernism has meant to different practitioners and then derive a general account of modernism from the archive thereby assembled, we might fail to grasp those modernist practices that explicitly or implicitly refuse familiar and/or spectacular forms of self-theorization and self-description, like the manifesto. We might overlook practices that require a different critical lens entirely to become visible and legible. One issue we have faced as editors of this volume has been to represent modernists as they would wish to be represented; another issue has been to confront modernism’s failures to represent itself and/or to be fully representative in its self-theorizations. We would draw specific attention to the overwhelmingly male cast of authors and signatories of modernist manifestos and similar programmatic statements everywhere they have appeared. Far too few women appear in this book, even though this was a problem that has played on us from the beginning and that we sought repeatedly to address. Although we may still have done better, this gender imbalance is to a significant extent a symptom of the replication and magnification of gender inequality within modernism, especially modernism understood as a self-theorizing project. To write a manifesto, more so than writing a poem or an essay, is to lay claim to a form of authority—of authoritative selfmaking—that has often been unavailable to many women. To the extent that modernism is a self-theorizing project it is therefore one that reinscribes and frequently exacerbates gender inequity.

IV. EDITORIAL PRINCIPLES In editing the texts in this volume, we have sought as much as possible to provide editions that will be sufficiently authoritative to permit scholars to use them in their research, while being readable and accessible enough for use in the classroom. Texts originally published in English have been transcribed from the original publication with the greatest degree of fidelity possible. In keeping with the principles of documentary editing, we have sought to preserve idiosyncrasies in spelling, formatting, and punctuation from the original. Where we have been forced to depart from this practice, as in cases where the original text was not available, we have noted the source from which our version has been taken in the headnote to the text. Where texts were not originally published in English, preserving the precise idiosyncrasies of spelling and related textual features has obviously been considerably more difficult and often impossible. Nonetheless, we have sought, as much as possible, to

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translate texts from the original publication or, where multiple authoritative versions exist, to translate through a comparison between different versions. In these cases, significant textual variants are recorded in the notes to the text. In all cases where it is known to us, the precise source text from which the translation has been produced is noted in the headnote to the text. Most translations have either been completed by professional translators and scholars for this volume, or reproduced from reputable scholarly sources, with permission of the original translator. In a few cases, translations undertaken by the author or by a journal have been reproduced, in order to preserve acts of translation that themselves constitute important historical documents in the circulation of global modernism. In these cases, we have followed the principles of documentary editing that we applied to texts originally published in English. In selecting texts, we have privileged whole texts wherever possible. The major constraint on this practice has, of course, been space, especially in cases where a booklength publication has made a significant contribution to our understanding of modernism, or in the case of more recent texts, which tend to be considerably longer. Where we have been obliged to edit the text, we have sought to excerpt continuous sections, and have preferred to reproduce sections that are themselves relatively self-contained (as in, for example, one section of a multi-section essay; one chapter of a book; or one installment of an essay that was serialized across several issues of a journal or periodical). In the vast majority of cases, ellipses in the text are there in the original. In those rare instances where we have reproduced a discontinuous section, ellipses in square brackets (“[…]”) indicate omitted sections. All texts have been extensively annotated for classroom use and to facilitate scholarly research. Section introductions introduce readers to the particular form that modernism took in each nation or region, while headnotes to individual texts provide background information on the author, text, and its circumstances of publication. Authorship of headnotes and section introductions is indicated by the author’s initials at the end of each piece of writing. Usually, the author will be one of the volume editors, the section editor, or the translator. Footnotes provide detailed information on sources contained in the text or explanations of references or allusions that may not be clear to the non-expert reader. Unless otherwise noted, footnotes are written by the person credited with writing the headnote for that text. In some cases, the translator or author has instead annotated the text, and this is indicated at the end of the headnote. The majority of these texts appeared without footnotes in the original, but where the original was footnoted by the author, we have reproduced those footnotes. Where a mix of author’s, translator’s and/ or editor’s notes is used, the author’s and translator’s notes are indicated in the note itself, and unmarked notes should be assumed to be written by the headnote writer.

V. HOW TO USE THIS BOOK Above all, we hope the book will be a useful reference text for students and scholars as well as a point of departure for future research and study. Our goal has been to gather a set of texts against which readings and theories of global modernism might be tested. Readers of this book will discover that many books are contained within it. In addition to our main table of contents we have included an “Alternate Table of Contents,” which can be used to direct more specific or focused studies of global modernism. This resource is also useful for drawing out the multitude of patterns and motifs that run through global

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modernist practices in different configurations than those emphasized by the geographical ordering of our main table of contents. It seeks to emphasize in particular those themes, groupings, and structures that connect the texts in this volume with those contained in European and US volumes of this sort, as well as to identify the relation of these texts to existing areas of research within modernist studies. Global Modernists on Modernism is also a book for writers and artists who are seeking a deeper understanding of the historical precedents and impulses animating contemporary art and literature. A number of our translators and section editors, including Sho Sugita, Sawako Nakayasu, Klara du Plessis, and Ariel Resnikoff, are themselves accomplished multilingual poets. Their contributions to this volume, and the conversations we had with them and other writers and artists along the way, remind us that this book is fundamentally about the perennially contested field of art making and the ongoing struggle to clarify the social function of art.

FURTHER READING Anthologies of Primary Documents Bowen-Struyk, Heather, and Norma Fields, eds. For Dignity, Justice, and Revolution: An Anthology of Japanese Proletarian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. Chang, Sung-sheng Yvonne, Michelle Yeh, and Ming-ju Fan, eds. The Columbia Sourcebook of Literary Taiwan. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. Hanscom, Christopher P., Walter L. Kew, and Youngju Ryu, eds. Imperatives of Culture: Selected Essays on Korean History, Literature, and Society from the Japanese Colonial Era. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2013. Harshav, Benjamin, and Barbara Harshav, eds. American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. Kolocotroni, Vassiliki, Jane Goldman, and Olga Taxidou, eds. Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998. Lenssen, Anneka, Sarah Rogers, and Nada Shabout, eds. Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018. Olanyian, Tejumola, and Ato Quayson, eds. African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007. Rosemont, Franklin, and Robin D. G. Kelley, eds. Black, Brown, and Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009. Tyler, William J., ed. Modanizumu: Modernist Fiction from Japan, 1913–1938. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008.

Secondary Works about Global Modernism For works dealing with modernism in specific regions, see the Further Reading lists at the end of each section’s introduction. Apter, Emily. Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability. London: Verso, 2013. Berman, Jessica. Modernist Commitments: Ethics, Politics and Transnational Modernism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. Bulson, Eric. Little Magazine, World Form. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.

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Charkabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. Doyle, Laura, and Laura Winkiel, eds. Geomodernisms: Race, Modernism, Modernity. Bloomington: Indian University Press, 2005. Friedman, Susan Stanford. Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. Hayot, Eric, and Rebecca L. Walkowitz, eds. A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. Kalliney, Peter. Commonwealth of Letters: British Literary Culture and the Emergence of Postcolonial Aesthetics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Kalliney, Peter. Modernism in a Global Context. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. Latham, Sean, and Gayle Rogers. Modernism: Evolution of an Idea. London: Bloomsbury, 2015. Lee, Steven S. The Ethnic Avant-Garde: Minority Cultures and World Revolution. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. Puchner, Martin. Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Garde. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. Ram, Harsha. “The Scale of Global Modernisms: Imperial, National, Regional, Local,” PMLA 131.5 (2016): 1372–85. Ramazani, Jahan. A Transnational Poetics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Ross, Stephen, and Allana C. Lindgren, eds. The Modern World. London: Routledge, 2015. Wallerstein, Immanuel. World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004. Warwick Research Collective. Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015. Winkiel, Laura. Modernism, Race and Manifestos. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Wollaeger, Mark, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

CHAPTER ONE

Modernism in Latin America EDITED BY CAMILLA SUTHERLAND

One of the first problems when talking about modernism in Latin America is terminological: depending on the context, the Spanish and Portuguese term modernismo can refer to two very distinct moments of cultural production in the region. In Spanish America, modernismo refers to a fin de siècle literary movement spearheaded by Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío and characterized by its engagement with European Parnassianism and Symbolism. In the Brazilian context, however, modernismo designates the period of fervent artistic innovation that emerged out of the groundbreaking São Paulo Week of Modern Art of 1922. Within these same early decades of the twentieth century, we see a comparable moment of cultural innovation develop in Spanish America, but taking into account the extent to which these writers and artists were directly working against the perceived excesses and Europhilia of Spanish-American modernismo, the term “vanguard” is preferred among practitioners of the time and in subsequent scholarly accounts. The works of Spanish-American vanguardism and Brazilian modernismo most closely align with modernism as understood within the English-speaking world. I will therefore use the terms modernism and modernist (alongside vanguard and avant-garde) in their English usage to refer to the period of cultural production of both Spanish America and Brazil in the early part of the twentieth century. These modernist movements flourished in Latin America’s major cities—Mexico City, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Lima, and Havana—predominantly between 1920 and 1945. This historical moment saw issues of national identity take center stage within both the political and artistic spheres of Latin America, with widespread efforts being made to identify and consolidate unique national, and also continental, forms of cultural expression. There are three key historical developments that provoked this particular moment of revived interest in national and continental cultural identity: (1) the SpanishAmerican War (1898), which marked the loss of the final Spanish colonies in the region and the intensification of direct US intervention in Latin America; (2) the independence centenaries, between 1910 and 1920, for the majority of Spanish American nations (1922, the year of the São Paulo Week of Modern Art, marked the centenary of independence in Brazil); (3) the Mexican Revolution (1910–17) and the shockwaves it sent through the entire continent. These three developments contextualize the extent to which artistic renewal within the region responded to liberation from colonial influence and other forms of oligarchic rule. The renewal of artistic identity during this time of political fervor therefore entailed a distancing from, or rejection of, European cultural models—even if only in word and not in deed. At the same time, during this period technologies of modernity (rapid

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advancements in mass mechanical reproduction, communication, and transport) enabled the wider dissemination of ideas of the European avant-garde within Latin America. These technologies also allowed for unprecedented mobility of both people and ideas within the American continent itself, contributing to a certain commonality in major artistic trends and developments stretching from north to south, particularly notions of indigenism and Pan-Americanism. A pertinent example from this period of artistic experimentation and continental interchange is the 1926 Índice de la nueva poesía americana. Co-edited by the Peruvian Alberto Hidalgo, the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges, and the Chilean Vicente Huidobro, this collection was among the first anthologies to offer an overview of vanguard production across the Spanish-American region, and is typical of efforts to unite artistic output in a common transnational project. A dominant preoccupation of modernist activities across Latin America is how to account for and incorporate European and US cultural trends while asserting a singular, autochthonous form of expression. Isolating this singular voice takes on distinct forms throughout the nations of this diverse region. As with Anglo-Irish modernism, 1922 was a crucial year for Latin American modernism, one which marked the publication of four seminal volumes of poetry across the region: César Vallejo’s Trilce (Peru), Gabriela Mistral’s Desolation (Chile), Oliverio Girondo’s Twenty Poems to Be Read on the Streetcar (Argentina), and Manuel Maples Arce’s Inner Scaffolds (Mexico), with Borges’s Fervor of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Pablo Neruda’s Crepusculario (Chile) both appearing early the following year. Central to this year of fervent vanguard activity was the São Paulo Week of Modern Art, the first exhibition of its kind in the continent. Akin in status to the Armory Show held in New York nine years earlier, the São Paulo Week of Modern Art consisted of exhibitions of works by experimental plastic artists, alongside avantgarde poetry readings, musical performances, and lectures on modern art. The event was predominantly received with horror, confusion, and ridicule by the public and press, but its impact irrevocably shaped the development of Latin American artistic expression and cemented Brazil’s position at the center of modernist expression in the region. In the wake of the revolution, Mexican writers and artists embarked on a Janus-faced project to create a strikingly modern and forward-looking Mexico that was at the same time rooted in its indigenous, pre-Columbian history; the country was, in the words of Carlos Fuentes, “captured between its native impulses, the Zapata syndrome, and its modernizing impulses, the Ford syndrome.”1 This dynamic tension is encapsulated in the works of painters such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Rivera’s The Liberated Earth with the Natural Forces Controlled by Man (1926) and Kahlo’s Self-Portrait on the Borderline between Mexico and the United States (1932), with their overt use of both indigenous and mechanical symbolism (synthesized in the work of Rivera and placed in opposition in the case of Kahlo), are indicative examples of the dualism at the heart of much Mexican modernism. The oscillation between autochthonous and cosmopolitan concerns is likewise present in the two key literary groups of the age: the Estridentistas (with whom Rivera was briefly associated) and the Contemporáneos. Within the Peruvian context we see a comparable preoccupation with incorporating the country’s prominent indigenous heritage into a burgeoning avant-garde movement. As with post-Revolutionary Mexico, Peruvian modernism was characterized by its socialist inflections. Spearheaded by José Carlos Mariátegui (considered Latin America’s first Marxist theorist), the aims of Peru’s Fuentes, Carlos, “Introduction,” in The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-portrait, by Frida Kahlo (New York: Abrams, 2005): 19.

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vanguard can be traced through the program of its key publication, Amauta, founded by Mariátegui in 1926. Though defined by its explicit socialist concerns, this modernist magazine attempted to strike a balance between local political struggles, internationalism and innovations in the arts. The defining aims of Amauta can be characterized as the following: the revalorization of Peru’s indigenous heritage; the establishment of a dialogue between previous generations and emerging writers; and the promotion of three key vanguard practitioners: Carlos Oquendo de Amat (Five Meters of Poems, 1927), Martín Adán (“anti-sonnets” and novel The Cardboard House, 1928), and the Surrealist poet and painter César Moro. Surrealism took a dominant position within the Amauta group and represented for Mariátegui a method for humanity to escape subordination. Amauta is also notable for the active presence of Peruvian women writers in its vanguard activities, most notably poet Magda Portal (represented in this anthology) and cultural critic María Wiesse. In Cuba—another center of modernist developments—the emphasis fell on capturing a vernacular form of expression particular to the Hispanic Caribbean. Central to these efforts was the Grupo Minorista de La Habana, a group formed in Havana in 1923 that defined itself as “a movement of purification and renovation as much socio-political as literary and artistic.”2 Inflected with Afro-Cuban cadences and bringing to the fore the legacy of African music, dance, and cosmogonies in the Caribbean, poet Nicolás Guillén’s Sóngoro Cosongo (1931) and novelist Alejo Carpentier’s ¡Ecue-Yamba-O! (1933) are indicative examples of Cuban modernism. Argentine modernist developments are typically categorized according to the two main artistic factions that existed in the capital in the early decades of the twentieth century: the Florida and Boedo groups. Named after two districts of Buenos Aires, these groups represent the central (and opposing) artistic and ideological currents that coexisted in the capital during this period. Florida brought together primarily middle- and upperclass writers and artists who sought to promote avant-garde experimentation and the rejection of traditional culture. Boedo championed working-class causes and the social realist fiction that best represented them. Leónidas Barletta succinctly encapsulates the groups’ opposing though related aims when he writes that Florida sought a “revolution for art” while Boedo pursued “art for a revolution.”3 Borges was central to the Florida group, founding and contributing to a number of its key publications, such as Prisma, Proa, and Martín Fierro. During the early decades of the twentieth century, Ultraísmo dominated much of the poetic production of the Florida group and defined itself as a quest for the new, aiming to shed the ornamentation of previous generations of writers and achieve what they saw as concentrated metaphor. Ultraísmo shares many characteristics with Creacionismo developed by Chilean Vicente Huidobro; this poetics privileged the singular role of the writer as creator—casting him as literally “a little god” whose works would reject mimetic forms in favor of autonomous creation.4 While Huidobro valorized the act of “pure creation,” fellow Chilean poet Neruda advocated an opposing poetics of impurity that rejected the Félix Lizaso, Las vanguardias literarias en Hispanoamérica: Manifiestos, proclamas y otros escritos, ed. Hugo J. Verani (Mexico, DF: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1990): 21.

2

Leónidas Barletta, Boedo y Florida: Una visión diferente (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Metrópolis, 1967): 52. Translation my own.

3

Vicente Huidobro, “Arte poética,” in Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology, ed. Stephen Tapscott (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996): 117–8.

4

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autonomy of the art object and reconnected it with the dirt and sweat of humanity and thus anchored it in material reality. This tension between autonomous avant-garde creation and social engagement colors many of the modernist developments throughout the continent. Rather than simply rejecting European and US cultural modes, Latin American modernists demanded to be voices (not echoes) in a larger dialogue. Even so, the issues of influence and imitation have governed subsequent scholarly accounts of Latin America’s positioning in relation to European and US modernism. Of the figures represented in this section, Victoria Ocampo, Gabriela Mistral, César Vallejo, and Joaquín Torres-García spent substantial periods in Europe observing and contributing to vanguard artistic activities. Other key figures such as Rivera, Huidobro, Neruda, Borges, Emilio Pettoruti, and Carpentier likewise made important interventions in European and US modernist scenes. In the late teens and early 1920s, Huidobro and Borges, for example, edited and published frequently in French and Spanish literary journals such as Pierre Reverdy’s Nord-Sud and Isaac del Vando-Villar’s Grecia, with both writers credited with having consolidated the Ultraísta movement in Spain before transporting it to the Southern Cone. In the US context, Rivera was the second artist (after Matisse) to have a solo show at New York’s MoMA gallery in 1931, breaking all previous attendance records in his opening week. Meanwhile, the 1920s and 1930s also saw an unprecedented number of US and European artists and writers operating within Latin America. The American photographer Edward Weston, for example, based himself in Mexico almost continuously between 1923 and 1927, collaborating often with Italian photographer Tina Modotti. At the invitation of Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, American painters Philip Guston and Reuben Kadish completed a mural in the Museo Michoacano in the State University of Morelia, Mexico, in 1934, while the French Surrealists André Breton and Antonin Artaud made important trips to the country in 1936 and 1938, respectively. In the Southern Cone we see the Italian Futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti undertake an acclaimed lecture tour of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in 1926, while key Spanish writers such as Guillermo de Torre, Ramón Gómez de la Serna, and Federico García Lorca participated actively in the Buenos Aires vanguard scene by publishing in local modernist magazines such as Martín Fierro and Sur. In addition to documenting the creation of regionally specific Latin American modernist voices, the texts in this section highlight the simultaneity of vanguard developments in the region and the predominance of multilateral transatlantic and Pan-American cultural exchange and collaboration. This section also showcases the work of figures who have not always received sufficient attention within the English-speaking world, and in doing so offers insights into the vibrant debates that shaped this era, highlighting key themes of indigeneity, gender, and the new. CS

FURTHER READING Gallo, Rubén. Mexican Modernity: The Avant-Garde and the Technological Revolution. London: MIT Press, 2005. Geist, Anthony and José B. Monleón, eds. Modernism and Its Margins: Reinscribing Cultural Modernity from Spain and Latin America. New York: Garland Publishing, 1999. Hedrick, Tace. Mestizo Modernism. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003. Madureira, Luís. Cannibal Modernities: Postcoloniality and the Avant-Garde in Caribbean and Brazilian Literature. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005.

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Montgomery, Harper. The Mobility of Modernism: Art and Criticism in 1920s Latin America. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2017. Rosenberg, Fernando J. The Avant-Garde and Geopolitics in Latin America. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006. Schelling, Vivian, ed. Through the Kaleidoscope: The Experience of Modernity in Latin America. London: Verso, 2000. Sullivan, Edward J. Making the Americas Modern: Hemispheric Art 1910–1960. London: Laurence King, 2018. Unruh, Vicky. Performing Women and Modern Literary Culture in Latin America. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006. Unruh, Vicky. Latin American Vanguards: The Art of Contentious Encounters. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

I. NEW POETRY César Vallejo Originally published as “Poesía Nueva” in Favorables París Poema 1 (July 1926) 14. Also published in Amauta 1, 3 (November 1926) 17; and Revista de Avance 1, 9 (August 1927), 225. Translated from the Spanish by Joseph W. Mulligan. César Vallejo (1892–1938) was a Peruvian poet and journalist who is central to considerations of modernism within the region. Spending the late teens as part of the bohemian Grupo Norte in Trujillo, Northern Peru, Vallejo published his first collection of poetry, Los heraldos negros, in 1919. In 1923, the year after the publication of his second and most critically acclaimed work, Trilce, he left for Europe and never returned to live in Latin America. Being based in Europe resulted in him being somewhat of an outsider within Latin American vanguard circles; however, he continued to publish widely throughout the continent until his death and his lasting impact upon the region’s literature cannot be underestimated. His experiments with language—exemplified in Trilce—revolutionized Latin American poetics, and to this day his work is considered some of the most radical produced in the Spanish language. “New Poetry” was first published in the debut issue of Favorables París Poema—an avant-garde magazine founded and edited in Paris by Vallejo and his friend Juan Larrea (1895–1980), a Spanish writer. The lifespan of the magazine was short, with a total of only two numbers appearing in July and October 1926. Despite its ephemeral nature, Favorables París Poema published key works by Vallejo and Larrea alongside central figures of both the Latin American and European vanguard, such as Vicente Huidobro, Pablo Neruda, Tristán Tzara, Juan Gris, and Pierre Reverdy. Vallejo’s short essay was subsequently widely reproduced throughout Latin America, appearing in seminal vanguard journals such as the Peruvian Amauta and the Cuban Revista de Avance. In it he speaks of the necessity of developing a modern “sensibility” within poetry, one that will allow writers to capture the nature of contemporary life beyond a simple resort to stock images of modernity. CS

New poetry has been used to classify verses whose lexicon is made up of the words “cinema,” “jazz-band,” “motor,” “radio,” and in general all terms of science and contemporary industry. It doesn’t matter whether or not the lexicon corresponds to an authentically new sensibility. It’s the words that matter. But this isn’t new poetry, or old poetry, or anything else. The artistic materials offered by modern life must be assimilated by the artist and transformed into sensibility. The radio, for example, is destined to awaken a newly nerve-stricken mentality, a more profound sentimental perspicacity, proof, and understanding that amplify an ever-denser love, rather than just making us say “radio.” So it is that anxiety builds and one takes the breath of life. This is the true culture that makes progress. That is its only aesthetic purpose: not to fill our mouths with newly coined words. There’s often a lack of new words. A poem may not say “airplane” and still possess the emotion of aviation in an obscure and tacit, yet effective and human way. This

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is the real new poetry. Otherwise, there’s barely enough to combine such and such artistic materials, and, accordingly, a more or less beautiful perfect image is produced. In this case, it’s no longer a matter of “new” poetry based on new words, but on new metaphors. Yet this too falls into error. There may be a lack of new images in truly new poetry—its function being one of ingenuity and not genius—but in a poem the creator relishes and suffers a life in which new relations and rhythms of things and men have become blood, cell, something anyway that’s been incorporated vitally and organically into sensibility. “New” poetry by means of new words or new metaphors is distinguished by its novel pedantry, its complications, and its baroqueness. New poetry by means of new sensibility, on the contrary, is simple and human and, at a first glance, could be taken as ancient or doesn’t call into question whether it’s modern or not.

II. PLATFORMS FOR LIVING by Magda Portal Originally published as “Andamios de vida,” in Amauta 2 (January 1927): 12. Translated from the Spanish by Melvin S. Arrington Jr. Magda Portal (1900–89) was a prolific Peruvian writer and activist. She was a leading participant in Peru’s vanguard movement of the first half of the twentieth century, and was known during this time principally for her contributions in the fields of poetry and journalism. Portal demonstrated her political convictions from early on in her career, refusing to accept the prestigious Juegos Florales poetry prize in 1923 due to the fact that Augusto B. Leguía, the then dictator of Peru, would present the award. It was due to her political engagement that Portal spent large portions of her life in exile and at times imprisoned; she was a founding member of the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) and whilst initially resistant to conventional feminism, Portal went on to become APRA’s National Secretary of Women’s Affair and a fierce campaigner for women’s rights throughout her lifetime. She contributed frequently to the pioneering Peruvian literary journal Amauta, where her essay “Platforms for Living” was first published in 1927. This piece is a meditation on “New Art.” Contextualizing this art as a response to the First World War, Portal underlines the centrality of modern technology to contemporary aesthetics. It is an essay in praise of dynamism, a dynamism that Portal presents as particularly necessary to the Latin American cultural scene. Fiercely rejecting the notion of art for art’s sake embodied by Spanish-American modernismo, Portal, in line with broad tendencies throughout the region, insists that the “New Art” be a socially committed art. CS

1 Amauta and Vanguard Art Amauta’s view of art is eclectic; it subscribes to all of art’s credos so long as Beauty is allowed to illuminate the patches of darkness that emanate from deep below the surface. But Amauta is a forward-looking publication, and as such it has the obligation, as Haya de la Torre1 says, to examine values and align its whole moral structure with the winds of aesthetic and ideological renovation, in order to strengthen its position as an organ of the vanguard. It is, thus, on this basis that the new art, as we the youth of America understand the term, will find in Amauta its rightful home. It must be reiterated that for us the moribund European “-isms”—of which there remains only what has been recorded in the pages of history—these movements mean nothing more than the first warning cries in the artistic revolution.

Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre (1895–1979), Peruvian politician and philosopher who in 1924 founded the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), now the oldest surviving politic party in Peru. APRA campaigned on a platform of anti-imperialism, Pan-Americanism, and economic nationalism and counted Magda Portal as one of its active members.

1

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It is not uncommon to hear, among those not a part of the proletariat, statements of disbelief and derision regarding the triumph of the new ideological creeds, which signal the dawning of a new day for the brotherhood of humankind. Likewise, among the intellectual bourgeoisie and in the spurious journalism of the Americas the new aesthetic manifestations are being angrily fought against, and they are even being called products of perversion.

2 The New Art and the Pre-War Generation The phenomenon can be explained in this way: the new art—the child of an age of formidable eruptions (the European war, the Russian Revolution, hunger in Germany, China, and Russia, and, lastly, the Chinese Revolution), of great scientific triumphs that have multiplied human activity, erasing mileage markers from the map, confounding common sense and creating a new philosophy—this new art was an inevitable and undelayable outcome of all these occurrences. Like all the new philosophical, sociological, and scientific outbursts that barely grazed the consciousness of the pre-war generation, the persistence of the new clarions—be they called jazz band, burlesque, etc.—mortifies its listeners accustomed to the monastic bells of Romanticism and decadence.2 But the new man, born in the midst of these cataclysmic events when the world was going through its greatest hour of stormy unrest, fatally charged his brain with photographic plates of rapid comprehension and synthetic creation, like the moment, the only time in which we live—atom and eternity. The new art undoubtedly emitted its newborn cry in the cabin of an airplane or on the concentric waves of a radio signal.

3 The Vital Meaning of the New Aesthetics This, which for us has its most perfect expression of meaning in terms of humanity and life itself, becomes something overly subtle, obscured by forced cerebrations for the intellectual diversion of the generation immediately prior to the war. It is precisely for us that this new art has its formidable symbolic meaning: ITS DYNAMISM. The new art tunes up the cerebral motor, which, being composed entirely of nerves in motion, is a stimulant of energy. The new art always sings of the reality of ACTION—be it of thought or movement—and for our Latin peoples, idle dreamers, there is such a great need for a propellant of energy that will awaken the creative forces of the great future that awaits us.

4 The New Art and the New Ideological Currents In all the ages of HUMANKIND, art has been a logical outgrowth of the various sociological and philosophical tendencies. It has not been an anarchical, disconnected product, even though art more than any other field has a right to anarchy. Directly linked to the most representative bases of the age, art has been, rather, a mirror forecasting the total panorama that is about to unfold. And this notion, which falls within the strictest bounds of logic, has not been violated this time, in spite of the fact that common logic has been violated.

Here Portal makes reference to the vanguard’s rejection of the aesthetics of the Spanish-American modernistas who drew heavily upon Romanticism.

2

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The new art—truth, synthesis, the human joy of life, power, and creation—responds to this great postwar age of ours, marked by uncommon triumphs of science and humankind’s cry of freedom. A whole parade of cadavers was necessary for this, as well as millions of hungry ghosts. Art divested itself of the worthless pomp and circumstance of Darío’s poetry3—Beauty in and of itself is sterile, whereas art should be creative—and by penetrating to the root of life it began its human labor. Before the war art was decadent, totally sterile and lifeless, an enervating and degenerative blight on all life except the world of artificial paradises. The war with its gashes of blood added more humanity and a greater feeling of life to artistic manifestations, and, as in every chaotic age, art endured its own chaos to escape from literary decadence, finally arriving at the broad, sun-drenched steppes of liberty, which signify the new art, an art not bound to any particular school, an art fraternally linked in thoughts and action to the Social Revolution whose seeds bear fruit in the real world. It is unimportant that the first ones to fulfill this mission—the precursor poets—deny art’s ties to the social movement and disclaim what it is obscurely carrying out. Those who come afterwards and who have already been born into the full HUMANIZATION OF ART are the ones who are consciously fulfilling their double mission of BEAUTY and LIFE.

5 The New Art and the New Artists But with what right do the “bourgeoisie of literature” demand of this heroic and singularly brave art—I do not wish to repeat the reasons—an absolute product of sincerity and talent? We, the soldiers of the social revolution, are surrounded by a great number of false soldiers, who at any one time may be traitors and dissidents or simply those who are useless for action. All schools of art have had their mischievous pupils: D’Annunzio, Santos Chocano, etc.4 The new art is not obliged to cover the earth with lighted billboards calling attention to its wayward satellites. The pseudo-intellectual journalists and other artistic rabble have no right to demand an absolute selection in an art that has just recently pushed its happy plant upward toward the oxygen of Reality. And to deny this movement in art is to act like a frightened and, for that very reason, incredulous petit bourgeois who refuse to acknowledge the still-distant but unstoppable march of the soldiers of the Social Revolution.

Rubén Darío (1867–1916), Nicaraguan poet credited with initiating the fin-de-siècle literary movement of modernismo.

3

Gabriele D’Annuzio (1863–1938), Italian writer associated with Decadence and Symbolism; José Santos Chocano (1875–1934), polemical Peruvian poet and political activist associated with Spanish-American modernismo.

4

III. CANNIBALIST MANIFESTO Oswald de Andrade Originally published as “Manifesto Antrópofago” in Revista de Antropofagia 1:1 (São Paulo, May 1928). Translated from the Portuguese by Leslie Bary. Translation originally published in Latin American Literary Review 19.38 (1991). Oswald de Andrade (1890–1954) was a Brazilian poet, playwright, and polemicist. A key figure within São Paulo’s vibrant avant-garde scene, Andrade formed part of the Grupo dos Cinco (Group of Five) alongside the painters Anita Malfatti and Tarsila do Amaral and the writers Mário de Andrade (no relation) and Menotti del Picchia. Born into a wealthy family, Andrade traveled extensively in Europe during his youth and had first-hand experience of avant-garde developments emerging in France and Italy. Having taken an active role in the São Paulo Week of Modern Art in 1922, Andrade focused his writings on a quest for isolating the uniqueness of Brazilian cultural expression. His 1924 literary manifesto, Pau-Brasil (Brazil Wood), stands as a firm rejection of sterile Portuguese literary and social models and an affirmation of what he sees as the spontaneous vibrancy of indigenous culture. It is in this earlier manifesto that we see the seeds of what will later develop into Andrade’s seminal theory of cultural anthropophagy. A vehicle for the exploration of these ideas of cultural anthropophagy was the Revista de Antropofagia, founded by Andrade, Raul Bopp, and Antônio de Alcântara Machado. Ten issues of the magazine were published in its first incarnation between May 1928 and February 1929, with the “Cannibalist Manifesto” appearing in its debut issue accompanied by an illustration by Tarsila do Amaral. This now-canonical piece calls upon Brazilians and Latin Americans more broadly to move away from the reproduction of European cultural forms, advocating, by way of its cannibalistic metaphor, the digestion of European culture with the aim of ultimately transforming it into something uniquely Brazilian and uniquely Latin American. All notes to this text are the work of the translator. CS

Cannibalism alone unites us. Socially. Economically. Philosophically. *** The world’s single law. Disguised expression of all individualism, of all collectivisms. Of all religions. Of all peace treaties. *** Tupi or not tupi, that is the question.1 *** I want to thank Margaret Abel Quintero, Wilton Azevedo, Aloísio Gomes Barbosa, José Niraldo de Farias, Dalila Machado, Sonia Ramos, and Lisa Fedorka-Carhuaslla at Latin American Literary Review, who read and commented on earlier versions of this translation. LB In English in original. Tupi is the popular, generic name for the Indigenous people of Brazil and also for their language, nheengatu.

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Down with every catechism. And down with the Gracchi’s mother.2 *** I am only concerned with what is not mine. Law of Man. Law of the cannibal. *** We’re tired of all the suspicious Catholic husbands who’ve been given starring roles. Freud put an end to the mystery of Woman and to other horrors of printed psychology. *** What clashed with the truth was clothing, that raincoat placed between the inner and outer worlds. The reaction against the dressed man. American movies will inform us. *** Children of the sun, mother of the living. Discovered and loved ferociously with all the hypocrisy of saudade,3 by the immigrants, by slaves and by the touristes. In the land of the Great Snake.4 *** It was because we never had grammars, nor collections of old plants. And we never knew what urban, suburban, frontier and continental were. Lazy in the mapamundi of Brazil.5 A participatory consciousness, a religious rhythmics.6 *** Down with all the importers of canned consciousness. The palpable existence of life. And the pre-logical mentality for Mr. Lévy-Bruhl to study.7 ***

A student of Greek and Latin literature, Cornelia is said to have been virtuous, austere, and extremely devoted to her sons. In the Manifesto she is the bad mother who (in contrast to the mother-goddesses Jaci and Guaraci) brings her children up as subjects of a “civilized” culture.

2

Saudade or yearning, homesickness, nostalgia, is a sentiment traditionally associated with the Portuguese national character.

3

In his annotated French translation of the Manifesto, Benedito Nunes points out that the sun is a maternal deity here. As Nunes points out as well, the “Great Snake” (Cobra Grande) is a water spirit in Amazonian mythology, and is the theme of Raul Bopp’s Cobra Norato (1928). See Oswald de Andrade, “Le manifeste anthropophage,” trans. Nunes, in Surréalisme périphérique, ed. Luis de Moura Sobral (Montréal: Université de Montréal, 1984): 180–92, esp. 181, n. 3.

4

Nunes writes, “Oswald establishes an analogy between the absence of grammatical discipline and the absence of a split between Nature and Culture [in Brazil]. [As they were] so close to nature, [Brazilians] did not need to gather herbs, (collections of old plants) as Rousseau and Goethe did” (“Le manifeste anthropophage,” 182, n. 4). “Old plants” (velhos vegetais) also seems to allude to the entrenched, inactive, vegetative attitude of the Brazilian literary and cultural establishment Oswald wants to displace.

5

References to the work of Lévy-Bruhl on the structure of “primitive” thought. See below, n. 8.

6

Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, French philosopher and ethnologist (1857–1939). Among his publications are Les fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures (1910), La mentalité primitive (1927), and La mythologie primitive (1935). The “primitive” mentality, according to Lévy-Bruhl, is not a deformation of the “civilized” one, but rather a completely different structure of thought. The primitive mind is mystical, collective and pre-logical.

7

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We want the Carib Revolution. Greater than the French Revolution. The unification of all productive revolts for the progressive of humanity. Without us, Europe wouldn’t even have its meager declaration of the rights of man.8 The Golden Age heralded by America. The Golden Age. And all the girls. *** Heritage. Contact with the Carib side of Brazil. Où Villegaignon print terre.9 Montaigne. Natural man. Rousseau. From the French Revolution to Romanticism, to the Bolshevik Revolution, to the Surrealist Revolution and Keyserling’s technicized barbarian.10 We push onward. *** We were never catechized. We live by a somnambulistic law. We made Christ to be born in Bahia. Or in Belém do Pará.11 *** But we never permitted the birth of logic among us. *** Down with Father Vieira.12 Author of our first loan, to make a commission. The illiterate king had told him: put that on paper, but without a lot of lip. The loan was made. Brazilian sugar was signed away. Vieira left the money in Portugal and brought us the lip. *** Neil Larsen writes, “The Manifesto itself plays ironically on the ‘theory’ that the Enlightenment discourse of natural right, leading from Locke through Rousseau and ultimately to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Bourgeois Revolution as such, has its origins in Montaigne’s ‘noble savage,’ based on the first reports from Brazil of ‘cannibalism’ among members of the Tupinamba tribal aggregate.” Modernism and Hegemony (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990): 80.

8

In Montaigne’s essay “Des cannibals,” “où Villegaignon print terre” is Antarctic France (the French mission in Brazil). Montaigne argues in this essay that ritual cannibalism is far less barbaric than many “civilized” European customs.

9

Count Hermann Keyserling, German philosopher, world traveler and Orientalist, (1880–1946). His works propose the (Spenglerian) ideas that the Western world must be compenetrated with Eastern philosophy and that Latin America will rise as a world power while Europe declines. Nunes informs us that Keyserling, whose “visit to São Paulo in 1929 was welcomed by the Revista de antropofagia, set forth the idea of technical barbarism in his book Die neuentstehende Welt” (“Anthropophagisme et surréalisme,” in Surréalisme périphérique, ed. Luis de Moura Sobral (Montréal: Université de Montréal, 1984), 159–79, esp. 173, n. 15). Oswald inverts Keyserling’s idea that a soulless “technical barbarism” is the sign of the modern world. In Oswald’s utopia, primitive man enjoys the fruits of modernization.

10

The Brazilian city of Belém, or Bethlehem (state of Pará). Christ is thus not brought to the New World in Oswald’s text, but born in His own Bethlehem.

11

Antonio Vieira (1608–97), Portuguese Jesuit instrumental in the colonization of Brazil. He came to be known as “the Judas of Brazil.” In the war between Portugal and Holland over Pernambuco, Vieira negotiated a peace treaty by which Pernambuco was given to Holland so that Portugal would not have to pay Holland to end the war (with money made in Brazil). A noted orator and writer, Vieira is associated with formal, elegant rhetoric—a language directly opposed to the poetic idiom Oswald is forging for Brazil. Nunes writes that Vieira “is for Oswald the strongest of all emblems of Brazilian intellectual culture …. Oswald refers to Vieira’s 1649 proposition to organize a company to exploit the sugar produced in the state of Maranhão” (“Le manifeste anthropophage,” 183, n. 11).

12

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The spirit refuses to conceive a spirit without a body. Anthropomorphism. Need for the cannibalistic vaccine. To maintain our equilibrium, against meridian religions.13 And against outside inquisitions. *** We can attend only to the orecular world. *** We already had justice, the codification of vengeance. Science, the codification of Magic. Cannibalism. The permanent transformation of the Tabu into a totem.14 *** Down with the reversible world, and against objectified ideas. Cadaverized. The stop of thought that is dynamic. The individual as victim of the system. Source of classical injustices. Of romantic injustices. And the forgetting of inner conquests. *** Routes. Routes. Routes. Routes. Routes. Routes. Routes.15 *** The Carib instinct. *** Death and life of all hypotheses. From the equation “Self, part of the Cosmos” to the axiom “Cosmos, part of the Self.” Subsistence. Experience. Cannibalism. *** Down with the vegetable elites. In communication with the soil. ***

According to Nunes, “meridian” religions are religions of salvation. See “Antropofagia ao Alcance de Todos,” in Oswald de Andrade, Du Pau-Brasil à Antropofagia e às Utopias (1972) (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1978): xxxi. Meridian as a dividing line seems, in the context of the Manifesto, to connote the divisions between body/soul, native/foreign, and so on, which Oswald is attempting to dismantle.

13

In Totem and Taboo (1913, tr. 1918), Freud argues that the shift from “totemistic” to “taboo” systems of morality and religion consolidated paternal authority as the cornerstone of culture. Subjects of the taboo system are “civilized” because they have internalized the paternal rule. Oswald’s advocacy of totemistic cannibalism, then, constitutes a rejection of patriarchy and the culture of the (Portuguese) “fathers.” See also Nunes’ more detailed explanation in “Anthropophagisme et surréalisme,” 169–70.

14

The original roteiros (from rotear, to navigate) can also signify ships’ logbooks or pilots’ directions. Oswald can thus be construed here as referring to a rediscovery of America.

15

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We were never catechized. What we really made was Carnaval. The Indian dressed as senator of the Empire. Making believe he’s Pitt.16 Or performing in Alencar’s operas,17 fully of worth Portuguese sentiments. *** We already had Communism. We already had Surrealist language. The Golden Age. *** Catiti Catiti Imara Notiá Notiá Imara Ipejú.18 *** Magic and life. We had the description and allocation of tangible goods, moral goods, and royal goods.19 And we knew how to transpose mystery and death with the help of a few grammatical forms. *** I asked a man what the Law was. He answered that it was the guarantee of the exercise of possibility. That man was named Galli Mathias.20 I ate him. *** Only where there is mystery is there no determinism. But what does that have to do with us? ***

William Pitt, (1759–1806), British statesman influential in the formation of colonial policy for India.

16

José de Alencar, Brazilian writer and conservative politician, (1829–77). His Indianist novel O Guarani (1857) was turned into an opera, with music by Carlos Gomes (1836–96), which opened in the Teatro Scala, Milan, December 2, 1870. Nunes points out that “Peri, the hero of O Guarani, [has] civilized manners, imitating the great Portuguese lords” (“Le manifeste anthropophage,” 186, n. 18).

17

In a footnote, Oswald provides a Portuguese translation of this Tupi text, running “New moon, oh new moon, blow memories of me into [the man I want].” The note gives the source of this text as O Selvagem, an anthropological work by Couto de Magalhães, the politician and anthropologist (1836–98). Nunes quotes Couto de Magalhães’ complete translation of the Tupi text: “Lua Nova ó lua Nova! Assoprai em … lembranças de mim; eisme aqui, estou em vossa presença; fazei com que eu tão somente ocupe seu coração.” [New moon, oh new moon! Blow memories of me into …; I stand here before you; let me and no other fill his heart. “Le manifeste anthropophage,” 186, n. 19].

18

The original here reads “dos bens físicos, dos bens morais, dos bens dignários.” Oswald is playing with legal terms for various kinds of property, so as to ridicule “civilized” European institutions and show that they are superfluous to Brazilian culture. Bens físicos are probably the land and natural resources of Brazil, and bens morais the native culture. Bens dignários, property granted by the king, suggests both the aspects of Brazilian culture held in common with Portugal and also property “granted” by the Portuguese king that was in fact originally Brazilian.

19

“Galli Mathias” is a pun on galimatias, or nonsense.

20

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Down with the histories of Man that begin at Cape Finisterre. The undated world. Unrubrified. Without Napoleon. Without Caesar. *** The determination of progress by catalogues and television sets. Only machinery. And blood transfusers. *** Down with the antagonistic sublimations. Brought here in caravels. *** Down with the truth of missionary peoples, defined by the sagacity of a cannibal, the Viscount of Cairu21:—It’s a lie told again and again. *** But those who came here weren’t crusaders. They were fugitives from a civilization we are eating, because we are strong and vindictive like the Jabuti.22 *** If God is the consciousness of the Uncreated Universe, Guaraci is the mother of the living.23 Jaci is the mother of plants.24 *** We never had speculation. But we had divination. We had Politics, which is the science of distribution. And a social system in harmony with the planet. *** The migrations. The flight from tedious states. Against urban scleroses. Against the Conservatories and speculative tedium. *** From William James to Voronoff.25 The transfiguration of the Taboo into a totem. Cannibalism. *** José de Silva Lisboa, Viscount of Cairu (1756–1835), Brazilian politician. After Dom João VI established his court in Rio de Janeiro (1808) in the wake of Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal, the Viscount of Cairu convinced him to open Brazilian ports to “all nations friendly to Portugal.”

21

Tortoise of northern Brazil; in the popular culture of the Indians, he is a trickster figure. The jabuti is astute, active, comical, and combative.

22

Tupi sun goddess, mother of all men.

23

Tupi moon goddess, creator of plants.

24

William James, American philosopher (1842–1910), is the author of Principles of Psychology (1890), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), and A Pluralistic Universe (1909). Serge Voronoff, Russian-born

25

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The paterfamilias and the creation of the Morality of the Stork: Real ignorance of things + lack of imagination + sense of authority in the face of curious offspring. *** One must depart from a profound atheism in order to arrive at the idea of God. But the Carib didn’t need to. Because he had Guaraci. *** The created object reacts like the Fallen Angels. Next, Moses daydreams. What do we have to do with that? *** Before the Portuguese discovered Brazil, Brazil had discovered happiness. *** Down with the torch-bearing Indian. The Indian son of Mary, the stepson of Catherine of Medici and the godson of Dom Antonio de Mariz.26 *** Joy is the proof of nines. *** In the matriarchy of Pindorama.

27

*** Down with Memory as a source of custom. The renewal of personal experience. *** We are concretists. Ideas take charge, react, and burn people public squares. Let’s get rid of ideas and other paralyses. By means of routes. Believe in signs; believe in sextants and in stars. ***

biologist (1866–1951), is the author of Etude sur la vieillesse et la rajeunissement par la greffe (1926) and La conquête de la vie (1928), a method of rejuvenation by the grafting of genital glands. James’ demystifying interpretation of religion can be contrasted to the catachesis Oswald rejects, and Voronoff’s interest in grafting, as well as the return to youth and defiance of death, has affinities with Oswald’s project. Nunes writes that “one could consider [Voronoff] to represent a biological pragmatism, towards which the Anthropophagy Manifesto leans” (“Le manifeste anthropophage,” 188–9, n. 26). Nunes writes that this is a “[s]uperimposition of three images: that of the sculpted Indians of the chandeliers of certain Baroque churches, that of the Indian Paraguassu, who went to France in the 16th century, accompanied by her husband, the Portuguese Diogo Álvares Correia, and [that of] D[om] Antonio de Mariz, the noble rural lord, father of Ceci, with whom Peri falls in love, in O Guarani. Paraguassu was baptized as Saint-Malo. A false version [of the story], spread through schoolbooks, made Catherine of Medici the godmother of this native” (“Le manifeste anthropophage,” 189–90, n. 28).

26

Pindorama is the name of Brazil in the Tupi language. It may mean “country or region of palm trees.”

27

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Down with Goethe, the Gracchi’s mother, and the court of Dom João VI.28 *** Joy is the proof by nines. *** The struggle between what we might call the Uncreated and the Creation—illustrated by the permanent contradiction between Man and his Taboo. Everyday love and the capitalist way of life. Cannibalism. Absorption of the scared enemy. To transform him into a totem. The human adventure. The earthly goal. Even so, only the pure elites managed to realize carnal cannibalism, which carries within itself the highest meaning of life and avoid all the ills identified by Freud—catechist ills. What results is not a sublimation of the sexual instinct. It is the thermometrical scale of the cannibal instinct. Carnal at first, this instinct becomes elective, and creates friendship. When it is affective, it creates love. At times it is degraded. Low cannibalism, agglomerated with the sins of catechism—envy, usury, calumny, murder. We are acting against this plague of a supposedly cultured and Christianized peoples. Cannibals. *** Down with Anchieta singing of the eleven thousand virgins of Heaven,29 in the land of Iracema30—the patriarch João Ramalho, founder of São Paulo.31 *** Our independence has not yet been proclaimed. An expression typical of Dom João VI: “My son, put this crown on your head, before some adventurer puts it on his!”32 We

Dom João VI, King of Portugal (reigned 1816–26). As Prince Regent, he fled the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal (1807) and installed the Portuguese court in Rio de Janeiro (1808–21). He made Brazil a kingdom (1815), equal in status to Portugal, and was Brazil’s last colonial monarch before independence (1822).

28

Father Anchieta (1534–97), Jesuit missionary among Indians, known as “The Apostle of Brazil” and generally considered to be the first Brazilian writer. He helped found São Paulo in 1554, after founding a Jesuit school at Piratininga (São Vicente). Anchieta is the author of a long Latin poem to the Virgin Mary, which he composed and committed to memory while a captive of the Indians, and a dramatic poem in Portuguese about the arrival of a relic of the Eleven Thousand Virgins (legendary companions of St. Ursula, martyred at Cologne in the early fourth century, after whom the Virgin Islands are named) in Brazil. Anchieta thus embodies the catechesis, importation of culture, and inscription of Brazil as colony that Oswald rejects.

29

Indian heroine in Alencar’s novel of the same name (1865).

30

João Ramalho was one of the first Portuguese colonizers of Brazil. Shipwrecked off the coast near São Paulo in 1512, he made friends with the Tamoia Indians, married the daughter of a chief, had many children by her and other Tamoias, and created a small empire. He founded what is now Santo André and also the village of Piratininga. He was opposed to the Jesuits’ founding of São Paulo, and organized the Indians’ resistance against the missionaries.

31

Dom João VI’s son, Dom Pedro I, became Emperor of Brazil when Independence was declared in 1822. According to tradition Dom João, already sensing that Brazil would separate itself from Portugal, had given Dom Pedro the directions Oswald quotes here before returning to Lisbon in 1821.

32

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expelled the dynasty. We must still expel the Bragantine spirit,33 the decrees and the snuff-box of Maria da Fonte.34 *** Down with the dress and oppressive social reality registered by Freud—reality without complexes, without madness, without prostitutions and without penitentiaries, in the matriarchy of Pindorama. OSWALD DE ANDRADE In Piratininga, in the 374th Year of the Swallowing of Bishop Sardinha.35

The Portuguese kings of the period were of the Bragança dynasty.

33

The legendary figure Maria da Fonte became the symbol of a popular rebellion in the Minho (1846) against higher taxation to finance the improvement of roads and reforms in public health. The uprising strengthened conservative forces in Portugal, associated with absolution and colonialism. In the context of the M A, Maria da Fonte is an emblem of the allegiance to Portuguese tradition and a patriarchal woman, parallel to the Gracchi’s mother and opposed to Jaci and Guaraci.

34

Sardinha was Bishop of Bahia from 1552 to 1556, when he was killed and apparently eaten by the Caltis Indians, into whose hands he fell when the ship that was taking him back to Lisbon sank in the São Francisco River. Sardinha had favored punishing Portuguese settlers who, enraged at the Jesuits’ opposition to the enslavement of Indians, attacked the school at Piratininga in 1554.

35

IV. FROM “REVOLUTION AND RENASCENCE” Anita Brenner Originally published in English in Idols Behind Altars: Modern Mexican Art and Its Cultural Roots (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1929). Anita Brenner (1905–74) was a Mexican journalist and intellectual fully immersed in the country’s post-revolutionary artistic scene. The daughter of a Latvian-Jewish émigré, Brenner’s father moved the family between Mexico and the United States during the Revolution, giving her a unique bilingual and dual cultural perspective that came to shape her professional identity. Brenner returned to live in Mexico in 1923 and was initiated into a community of cosmopolitan artists and intellectuals. She pursued a career in journalism whilst also acting as translator for anthropologist Manuel Gamio (1883– 1960) who encouraged her to pursue a doctorate in anthropology, which she received from Columbia University in 1930. Throughout the 1930s Brenner promoted the work of many pivotal Mexican artists, among them Diego Rivera (1886–1957), Dr. Atl (1875– 1964), David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974), and José Clemente Orozco (1883–1949); Brenner was committed to establishing contacts between Mexican artists and US gallerists such as Alma Reed (1889–1966), who provided many with their debut exhibitions in the United States. She would later come to travel widely throughout Europe where she wrote articles for The New York Times and served as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War. The present piece is an extract from Brenner’s seminal work Idols Behind Altars, first published by Harcourt Brace in 1929. Having received funding for the book project from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, in 1926 Brenner contracted her friends the photographers Edward Weston (1886–1958) and Tina Modotti (1896–1942) to travel through Mexico with her documenting pre-Columbian, folk, and contemporary artistic developments. The book represents the first English-language account of Mexican art history and charts the unique interactions between indigenous and colonial forms and the traces that this artistic syncretism has left in modern Mexican art. Moving chronologically from pre-Columbian through colonial to later folk art forms, Brenner dedicates the third and final section of her work to the impact that the Revolution had upon Mexican arts. Offering sensitive written portraits of the central artists shaping the contemporary scene, this extract sees Brenner build upon the key notion of the “Mexican Renaissance”—a term she coined in an earlier 1925 article for the journal Arts with reference to the flourishing of the arts in post-revolutionary Mexico. Brenner’s work captures the unique interplay between national and artistic regeneration that defined Mexico during the early twentieth century. CS

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In the span of one generation Mexico has come to herself. Her first and definitive gesture is artistic. While the government shifts and guerrillas still battle for Cristo Rey1 and other interests, the builders, necessary as the destroyers, re-found the nation. It is a nation which establishes a school for sculpture before thinking of a Juvenile Court, and which paints the walls of its buildings much sooner than it organizes a Federal Bank. Sanitation, jobs, and reliably workable laws are attended to literally as a by-product of art; for the revolution is a change of regime, because of a change in artistic style, or, if one wishes a more usual description, of spirit. In goods of this world the nation is poor. It is uncomfortable, exposed to many diseases, hungry, and generous to death. Its scenic and racial beauties and dangers are largely unmapped, unexploited, unlinked to western civilization except by an occasional aeroplane. On the east coast adventurers, gun-men, oilmen and natives clutch at each other’s throats; farther south in the forests many Indians die of overwork for chicle2 and lumber and fruit interests, or die underfed, or retreat still farther; in the plateau often mines once rich are deserted, and others are flooded or boycotted by restless peons demanding a higher wage and less disastrous conditions than those traditional since the conquest; in the cities the governments wrestle with all these evils, and with the murder and lust in their own personnel. Ancient Greece at grips with the barbarians and before that torn in class conflict and family disputes, the Italian city-states rising and breaking by battle and treachery, had no more desolate and painful a social panorama than this. But one cannot admire Greek thought and maintain a relationship with the Renaissance at all cordially intimate if one prudishly requires of each, Protestant virtues. The greatness of these civilizations lies in achievements that were the results of all their conditions and aptitudes. They were organic, consistent with themselves. The beauty of Mexico lies in precisely the same quality of unified culture; in the flowering of culture at the crossing of many threads, with great pain. And what else than consistency is beauty? Insistently Mexico has died and killed for a phrase: Land and liberty.3 Never does it open interested eyes to the slogan Prosperity. The cult of health, wealth, and happiness is meager for people who practice the three heroisms that they preach: of emotion, and thought, and expression. Zapata was murdered, and the lands are not yet completely restored to his people, as he visioned4; Carrillo Puerto was betrayed, and his Mayas are not much better in health or in wealth since his death5; Orozco’s critiques of social disasters have had no measurable practical result; the Syndicate disappeared without having created an economic niche for the artist.6 But in all of these things are embodied the three heroisms, and that is enough. Here Brenner refers to the Cristero Wars that were ongoing at the time of this work’s composition. This civil conflict saw violent uprisings initiated by Catholic leaders and their followers in reaction to harsh anti-clerical laws imposed by post-revolutionary President Plutarco Elías Calles.

1

Chicle is the Spanish for gum and here refers to natural tree sap or resin.

2

¡Tierra y libertad! (Land and liberty!) was a central slogan of peasant leaders and fighters during the Mexican Revolution (1910–20).

3

Emiliano Zapata (1879–1919), key peasant leader during the Mexican Revolution. His ideas on agrarian reform, laid out in the 1911 Plan de Ayala, continue to inspire revolutionary movements in Mexico to this day.

4

Felipe Carillo Puerto (1874–1924), Mexican journalist, politician, and campaigner for indigenous rights. Famed for his role in negotiating reconciliation between Yucatan Mayans and the state after the Caste War (1847–1901).

5

Sindicato de Obreros Técnicos Pintores y Escultores (Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors) was a union formed by Mexican muralists David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and their fellow artists in 1922. The 1923 manifesto of the Syndicate urged artists to reject easel painting and dedicate themselves to forms of monumental public, socially committed art.

6

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Yet these ideas and images with a life of their own reproduce others similar. They travel to other arts, to music, literature, government; and to other places. Their seepage to practical matters eventually bursts old dams. Thus material changes come sudden and enormous as floods.

II. When the Syndicate disappeared several men had already made permanent influential records in murals: Siqueiros, Orozco, Rivera, Charlot.7 Fermin Revueltas8 had decorated a hall in which machines were to be kept, in an abstract manner appropriate to machines and reminiscent of pulquerías.9 This was an original and personal contribution to the art of pure decoration. Merida had adorned a children’s library in a charming and simple style, which was followed by other painters on the walls of primary-school classrooms.10 Many painters who sighed for walls and never received them, were on canvas increasing the volume of “revolutionary art” which has changed metropolitan taste. Recently a building (Headquarters of the Police and Fire Department) went up which is neither European nor colonial. It is re-enforced concrete with an angularly tiered cornice, broad arched patios, and for single decoration a large carving of the native god of fire in lava rock. This building was much admired. The architect was asked what style he had followed. He said that it was smelted of native pre-Spanish and native post-Spanish lines, and designed in the modern spirit which the material implies, and therefore it could be called modern Mexican. The open-air schools of painting,11 multiplying to date, have been followed by craft centers, groups of woodcut students, tapestry and embroidery classes, a sculpture workshop where the carving is done by young boys directly on hard rock from living animal models, and groups of mural students in the primary schools, who decorate the walls of their classrooms. Dolores Cueto embroiders on fine tapestries motifs borrowed from children’s work, from popular art, and from the work of the modern painters.12 Potters and weavers from nearby villages “take samples” from their friends among the painters to copy in their own materials. They lend these patterns to other villages, or send them already woven or worked in clay, assimilated to popular tradition. On the sixteenth of September, the Day of the Dead, Christmas or Easter week, when the villages bring their wares to the capital, one may discover, in one of the many booths filled with “Aztecistic” ceramics, lacquers, and textiles designed for the foreigners who buy them, patterns of modern metropolitan origin. However their modernity is no more strikingly Jean Charlot (1898–1979), French painter of Mexican heritage who spent a predominant part of his life based in Mexico contributing to the country’s flourishing modernist art scene.

7

Fermín Revueltas (1901–35), Mexican painter associated with the Estridentista movement and commissioned in 1923, alongside five other artists, to produce murals for the National Preparatory School of Mexico City.

8

Pulquerías are traditional Mexican bars that specialize in pulque, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented agave sap.

9

Guatemalan painter Carlos Mérida (1891–1984) was commissioned in 1923 to paint a mural entitled Caperucita Roja y los Cuatro Elementos (Little Red Ridinghood and the Four Elements) in the Children’s Library of the Mexican Ministry of Education.

10

The Escuelas de pintura al aire libre (Open-air Schools of Painting) were a cornerstone of the state-sponsored arts program that emerged in post-revolutionary Mexico under the leadership of Minister of Education José Vasconcelos (1882–1959). The aim of the schools was to provide artistic education to a broad sector of society, with particular emphasis on children of indigenous and working-class families.

11

“Lola” Cueto (1897–1978), as she is more commonly known, was a Mexican artist who specialized in folk-art with a particular emphasis on children’s theater and puppeteering.

12

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evident than is the antiquity of certain forms and designs whose counterparts are found under lava. Folk-art influence is in turn now common in the work of metropolitan artists, sometimes because these artists came to the city from towns and villages whose art, they discovered, was much admired in the capital, and sometimes, as in the case of Manuel Rodriguez Lozano,13 deliberately courted. Rodriguez Lozano was bred in Paris. When he returned to Mexico he was made head of the department of drawing in the Secretariat, under Vasconcelos.14 He changed the Best-Maugard tradition15 because he was interested in the folk-art of the city. The results in the classrooms, pulquería art, and miracle-boards, together with the work of Abraham Angel16 which was likened to these arts, helped to determine the course of Lozano’s own style. Steadily it has become simpler, more solid, less apparently sophisticated. Younger men learning from him develop under his influence painting which is at once learned and naive. One of the more interesting among them is Julio Castellanos.17 Of other painters in Mexico City who consider themselves the next generation, and who have worked in the wake of the Syndicate, Rufino Tamayo and Agustin Lazo are to be watched with critical interest.18 Lazo, influenced by Rivera, later in Paris developed his original tendency toward the abstract and the intellectual, not without affectation. Tamayo has been original and industrious. His rich and delicate water colours imply at once the tropics from which he came, the fruits odorous in his house. Tamayo least the cerebral, most the intuitive whose improvisations fall sensual and skillful as the ballads he sings with his famous guitar. After Covarrubias,19 Tamayo captivated blasé New York, but he returned to Mexico.

IV. […] Precisely as Mexican plotters against Diaz fled to the United States to escape “fugitive justice” and life sentences in under-sea dungeons,20 Venezuelans who breathe against Gomez21 and are injected with arsenic, Peruvians who organize labour or write of its

Manuel Rodríguez Lozano (c. 1894–1971), Mexican painter associated with the Contemporáneos group. Co-founder of the Teatro Ulises (Ulises Theater) and later director of the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas.

13

José Vasconcelos (1882–1959) was the Mexican Minister of Education and an important figure in the development of state-sponsored culture in post-revolutionary Mexico.

14

Refers to the influential text Método de dibujo: Tradición, resurgimiento y evolución del arte mexicano (Drawing Method: Tradition, Resurgence, and Evolution of Mexican Art) published in 1923 by Mexican painter Adolfo Best Maugard (1891–1964).

15

Abraham Ángel (1905–24), Mexican painter and protégé of Rodríguez Lozano.

16

Julio Castellanos (1905–47), Mexican painter and engraver who studied under both Rodríguez Lozano and Best Maugard.

17

Rufino Tamayo (1899–1991) and Agustín Lazo (1896–1971) are two key Mexican painters of this period whose works distinguish themselves in their eschewal of the overtly political subject matter of contemporaries such as Rivera and Siqueiros.

18

Miguel Covarrubias (1904–57), Mexican artist known principally for his work as an illustrator. He gained substantial attention in the United States, with his celebrity caricatures featured frequently in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair.

19

Brenner refers here to those such as Francisco Madero (1873–1913) who aimed to bring an end to the 35year reign of dictator Porfirio Díaz (1830–1915) in 1910—events that eventually sparked the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution.

20

Juan Vicente Gómez (1857–1935), military dictator of Venezuela from 1908 to 1935.

21

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benefits and are jailed, Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, race if in political danger to the Mexican Embassy and from thence exile themselves to Mexico City. These revolutionaries for any of the four reasons Pater recognizes, find an ideological form already cast for their sentiments, and for their energies. They find it because they speak the same language in Mexican literature, and because they are similarly minded and moved, in Mexican pictures. Then they write and they whisper lyrically: “My dreams, brewed in your soil, my America, race of my grandfathers; my dreams, brewed in your soil, perfumed and steaming as barbecues, I place in the prow, in the hands of your Mexico, which protects my country with its body; I leave them in those paws, dark and robust, learned in caresses, brushes and guns.”22 Except to believers in miracles, pictures and verses are no shield against bullets. As shields and as symbols however they are taken by persons who hope to re-duplicate the Mexican miracle, and the Mexican heroisms. The assistance that Mexico gives them is moral: Vasconcelos protests against Gomez’ murder of students,23 and Mexico breaks diplomatic relations with the country he rules; labor unions in Mexico send votes of adherence to strikers in Cuba, Peru, and Colombia; Mexican papers and magazines reflect sympathetically on Sandino.24 But the greatest protection that Mexico means farther south, is a matter of spirit. So long as that country paints and sings because it has fought, continues consistently itself, its unhappy neighbors can also sing and hope to fight. The drama unfolds in the grace that ennobles the Mexican day. It is a conflict of unmaterial values, of attitude, in the end, and the concrete determinants which on the one hand push for more goods of this world, and on the other struggle for grace, are attributes of two disparate viewpoints. Geographical factors distribute these viewpoints racially; economic factors also; but each of the racial groups numbers allies to the predominant spirit in the other. It is drama because it is conflict of two incompatible powers. In its course it unfolds the rise of America.

Luis Cardoza y Aragón, Carlos Mérida (Madrid: Ediciones de La Gazeta Literaria, 1927).

22

Refers to the violent protests launched in 1928 by Venezuelan students—collectively known as the Generación del 28—against the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez.

23

Augusto César Sandino (1895–1934), Nicaraguan revolutionary and leader of revolts against US occupation of the country between 1926 and 1934. Sandino’s legacy is seen in the later Sandinista uprisings in Nicaragua that overthrew the longstanding dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza (1925–80) in 1979.

24

V. WILL TO CONSTRUCT Joaquín Torres-García Originally published in French as “Vouloir Construire” in Cercle et Carré 1 (15 March 1930). Translated into Spanish by Jorge Schwartz in Las vanguardias latinoamericanas. Textos programáticos y críticos. México: FCE, 2002. pp. 428–430. Translated through a comparison of the French and Spanish texts by Stephen J. Ross and John Steen. Joaquín Torres-García (1874–1949) was a Uruguayan painter, sculptor, and art theorist who pioneered the development of abstract art in Latin America. He received his formal training in Spain where his family had moved in 1891. His time in Europe led to important collaborations, such as his work with the famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí on the stained glass windows of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the cathedral of Palma de Mallorca (1903–7). In 1929, while based in Paris, Torres-García, Piet Mondrian, and Michel Seuphor founded a collective of abstract artists named Cercle et Carré (Circle and Square). The group went public in 1930 with a journal of the same name and an exhibition of works by forty-six Constructivist artists at Galerie 23, Paris. In 1934 TorresGarcía returned to Uruguay with the aim of disseminating modernist and constructivist aesthetics amongst his peers. In Montevideo he founded the Asociación de arte constructivo (Association of Constructivist Art) and began republishing the journal he had founded in Paris under the Spanish name Círculo y cuadrado. In February 1935 he released his first Latin Americanist manifesto entitled “Escuela del Sur” (“School of the South”) which had a lasting impact upon the trajectory of the visual arts in the region. The early decades of twentieth-century vanguard artistic production in Uruguay had been dominated by figurative works influenced by the school of Mexican muralism, what Torres-García proposed was to incorporate pre-Columbian forms with modernist abstraction to create a new, distinctly Latin American, visuality. Originally published in French in Cercle et Carré, “Will to Construct” lays out Torres-García’s conceptualization of Constructivism, highlighting the primacy of form, unity, and rejection of mimetic modes. CS

If we think we must come together it is because all around disorientation and disorder reign. It is to find a base, to have certainties. And our reasoning showed us that this base is construction. Being in agreement, we all start from this sign. What is construction?— when a person abandons the direct copying of nature and makes an image in the manner of nature, without desiring that it agree with the visual deformation imposed by perspective. That is to say, once you sketch the idea of a thing more than the thing in measurable space, a certain construction begins. If you give those images an order as well, seeking to harmonize them rhythmically so that they might belong more to the whole picture than that which they want to express, you have already touched on a high level of construction. But this is not yet construction, as we understand it. Before coming to this, we still have to consider form. As a representation of things this form has no value in itself and we cannot call it plastic. But when this form has a value in itself—namely, through the abstract

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expression of its contours and qualities—it acquires a plastic importance and it could be said of a work conceived in this way that it already partakes of certain construction. We can go further and consider it the unity of surface. This surface is divided, these divisions will determine spaces; these spaces must be in relation: there must exist an equivalence among them so that the unity of the whole remains complete. Ordering would already be something, though not much. We set out to create an order—we can arrange, for instance, a naturalist landscape. All painters compose their canvases in more or less this way. They are in nature just like when they are on a walk. But he who creates an order, establishes a blueprint, passes from the individual to the universal. Whence its importance. Now it is necessary to clarify something. Not all people possess nature equally. Without a doubt, they have within them the same elements, but the proportions of those elements vary. From this emerges a diversity that determines the corresponding works, without meaning that each one’s diverse composition presupposes a more or less higher level of evolution. Let us try to make a parallelism of two tendencies between which there are always gradations: intuition—intellect; the present—time; tone—color; tradition—the new spirit; the spiritual—material reality; the fixed—the relative; emotion—reason; the personal—the impersonal; the concrete—the abstract; the felt—the mediated; faith— belief; the romantic—the classical; synthesis—analysis; prescience—physical science; metaphysics—philosophy; the artist—the sculptor. Well now, if the sculptor leans on pure ideas of the mind, he can construct; the artist, too, can do so by leaning on his intuitions. We should be indifferent as to whether there is emotion or reason at the base of a construction: our only objective is to construct. Representation is the polar opposite of the constructive sense. To imitate an already-made thing is not to create. Why imitate caverns, it is better to construct a cathedral! Construction must be above all the creation of an order. Outside of us lies pluralism, unity lies within us. We can consider the pure concepts: time and space. All of our representation of the phenomenal world is inscribed in these pure forms of thought. If we base a sculpture on these principles we will have a pure sculpture. All form will be prohibited to us. But if we base construction on intuitive facts, we will be artists and our art will have a certain relation to metaphysics. In the opposite direction, our art will draw near to philosophy. We have in mind the totality of an object, but visually we only see one of its parts. This part changes appearance if we change position. This means that visually we never possess a complete object. The complete object only exists in our mind. If we have in mind the complete object, in order to give a graphic idea of it, we will choose, almost without noticing it, the essential parts and we will construct a sketch that, if it were in agreement with the laws of perspective, would be, on the other hand, much more illustrative. That is the spirit of synthesis. The thing has been so standard that in all periods, except during the Renaissance, drawing was always done in this way. And, spontaneously, all those not initiated in the Academy draw in this way. That’s fine. The greater the spirit of synthesis in the one who draws, the greater the possibility she will give us a constructed image. The drawings of all primitive peoples, Black, Aztec, etc., and Egyptian, Chaldean1 drawings, etc., are good examples. This spirit of synthesis, I believe, leads to the construction of the whole painting, of the sculpture, and to the determination of proportions in architecture. This spirit alone makes it possible to see the work in its totality, in a single order, in unity. What wonders this law has accomplished across time! Why overlook it? This law is an Chaldea was a nation in ancient Mesopotamia from approximately the ninth to the sixth centuries BC; it later became assimilated into Babylonia.

1

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anonymous thing, it belongs to no one. Everyone can use it in their way, it ought to be the true path of all sincere people. But if this law has been used in all ages, how can it be used in a modern way? Regarding form, we already said: what is useful to us is the absolute value that we give to form independently of what it might represent. The same happens with structure or construction: which goes from simple skeleton for ordering forms to assuming its place and to constituting the work in itself. With this a duality disappears that always existed in the painting: the background and its images; where structure takes the place of superimposed images there will no longer be duality between the background and the images, and the painting will have recovered its primary identity, unity.

VI. PROLOGUE TO SÓNGORO COSONGO Nicolás Guillén Originally published as “Prólogo” to Sóngoro Cosongo (Havana: Talleres de Ucar, Garcia y Cia., 1931). Translated from the Spanish by Stephen J. Ross and John Steen. Nicolás Guillén (1902–89) was a Cuban poet, journalist, and political activist. Part of the vanguard circles of Havana, he participated in the activities of the Grupo Minorista, publishing in key journals such as the revista de avance. His first published collection of poetry, Motivos de son (1930), was born out of Guillén’s meeting with US poet Langston Hughes (1902–67). Hughes, by Guillén’s own admission, opened the Cuban poet’s eyes to a new kind of racial consciousness, one that moved beyond simply a protest against racial inequality and into a concerted exaltation of African culture. In the work of Guillén this manifested in poetry that incorporated folkloric musical forms, dislocated rhythms, and renderings of Afro-Cuban speech. These works lead Guillén to become a leading figure in the Négritude movement. The present work was written as the prologue to Guillén’s second volume of poetry Sóngoro Cosongo (1931) that saw him build upon the experiments with Afro-Caribbean rhythms and vernacular initiated in Motivos de son. In the prologue, Guillén advocates for the creation of a Mestizo poetics, one that accounts for and venerates the legacy of African influences in the Hispanic Caribbean. It likewise stands as a crucial theorizing of the plural nature of Cuban identity. CS

Prologue? Yes. Prologue … But nothing too serious, since these first pages should be fresh and green, like young branches. Actually, I’m in favor of putting prologues at the end, as if they were epilogues. And in any case, of leaving epilogues for books that do not have prologues. On the other hand, a separate prologue has a certain provisional status of something borrowed. After the book is published, the author who puts a few lines from his friend at the beginning should be able to live with the shock of his asking to see them: —Menéndez says that when you finish the prologue, send it to him … And best of all is using them in another work. To lend it out to another friend. My prologue is mine. Well, I can say—having clarified the above—that I have decided to publish a poetry collection by virtue of having already written the poems. In this regard, I am a bit more honorable than certain authors who announce their works without having drafted a single line. Almost always, said announcement appears in the first book, with a totally elastic title: “works in progress.” And right away, a list that comprises several volumes of poetry, criticism, drama, novels … An entire world of aspirations, but with very short wings for flight.

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I’m not unaware, certainly, that these verses are repugnant to many people, because they deal with the affairs of negroes and of common people. I don’t care. Or better yet: I’m happy. What I mean is that such prickly spirits are not included in my lyric agenda. Besides, they are good people. They have painfully entered the aristocracy from the kitchen, and tremble no sooner than they see a pot. I will say, finally, that these are mulatto verses. Perhaps they partake of the same elements that make up the ethnic composition of Cuba, where everyone has some of the níspero in them.1 Does it hurt? I don’t believe so. In any case, it must be said before we go and forget it. The African injection in this land is so profound, and such capillary currents cross and crisscross in our irrigated social hydrography, that it would take a miniaturist to disentangle the hieroglyph. I’d argue, therefore, that a creole poetry in our midst will not be completely such if it forgets the negro. The negro—in my estimate—mixes in a strong essence to our cocktail. And the two races that bloom from water on the Island, different as they might look, are hooked together underwater, like those deep bridges that secretly unite two continents. For the moment, the Cuban spirit is mestizo. And the definitive color will come to the skin from the spirit. Some day they will say: “Cuban color.” These poems want to bring that day closer.

Here Guillén refers to the brown colour of the níspero fruit.

1

VII. FROM WOMAN AND HER EXPRESSION Victoria Ocampo Originally given as a radio address in August 1935 (some sources give 1936). First published as “La mujer y su expression.” Sur, 11 (1935): 25–40. Translated from the Spanish by Patricia Owen Steiner.

Victoria Ocampo (1890–1979), Argentine writer and editor, played an active role in shaping the Buenos Aires vanguard scene. Ocampo’s cultural activities converged and culminated in the founding of the literary journal Sur in 1931. The magazine (alongside the associated Sur publishing house) went on to become a cornerstone of Argentine literary culture, showcasing the works of Alfonso Reyes, Virginia Woolf, Martin Heidegger, Jorge Luis Borges, James Joyce, Ricardo Güiraldes, and many others. The magazine ran consistently between 1931 and 1966 and published its final issue in 1992. Although it is undoubtedly as the founding director of Sur that Ocampo is best known, she was a prolific essayist and cultural commentator, producing ten volumes of published Testimonios and a six-volume autobiography, alongside literary translations, journalism, and extensive correspondence; 1977 saw Ocampo become the first woman to be elected a member of the Argentine Academy of Letters in recognition of her contribution to the Argentine cultural field. Originally composed as a radio address broadcast simultaneously in Argentina and Spain in August 1935, “Woman and Her Expression” stands as an impassioned call for greater visibility of women within the arts and society more broadly. This extract, drawn from the middle section of the essay, sees Ocampo advocate the need for women to create a unique form of self-expression, alongside a meditation on gender relations and the tensions inherent to women’s relationship to the act of creation. In its original context, it appears between an opening analysis of monologic and dialogic forms of communication, framed specifically within the context of gender, and a closing comparison of the position of women in South America and Europe. Ocampo ends her piece with a fervent defense of true self-expression and dialogue between the genders. CS

Women, according to their environment, their talent, their calling, in many fields and in many centuries—and even in those that were most hostile to women—are trying today, and each time trying harder, to express themselves. And each time they are meeting with greater success. One cannot contemplate contemporary French science without referring to Marie Curie; nor can one think about English literature without bringing up the name of Virginia Woolf, or about Latin American letters without mentioning María de Maeztú,1 an admirable woman who has accomplished for young Spanish women, thanks to her authentic genius as an educator, what I would like to see her do for our young women.

María de Maeztú (1882–1948) was a Spanish feminist and educator who in 1915 founded the Residencia de Señoritas in Madrid, the first institution officially dedicated to promoting women’s participation in higher education.

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I am totally convinced that women are also expressing themselves outside the realm of science and the arts and that they have already expressed themselves marvelously in these fields. I am also convinced that this expression has enriched human existence through all of time and that it has been as important in the history of humanity as the expression of men, although it is of a hidden quality, subtle and less flamboyant than man’s, in the way the plumage of the hen pheasant is less flamboyant than that of her mate. The most complete expression of women, the child, is a work that demands, in those who are conscious of it, infinitely more care, scrupulousness, sustained attention, delicate righting of wrongs, intelligent respect, and pure love than the work that goes into the creation of an immortal poem. This is because it not only involves carrying the child for nine months and giving birth to a being who is sound of body, but it also implies giving birth spiritually. That is to say, not only living beside them and with them, but before them. I believe, above all, in the power of example. There is no other way to persuade either adults or children. There is no alternative means to convince them. If that fails, there is no recourse. The child, then, by presence alone, has demanded that the conscientious woman express herself and that she do so in the most difficult way: by living before him as an example. The essential importance of early infancy is one of the points on which modern science has recently insisted the most. You could almost say that it has just discovered this fact. At this precise moment in life the child is exclusively in the hands of the woman. It is the woman, then, who leaves her indelible and decisive mark on the still-soft clay; it is she who, consciously or unconsciously, shapes it. Man’s resistance to recognizing that woman is a being as perfectly responsible as he is himself seems absurd and comical when one becomes aware of the tremendous contradiction that it encompasses; that for centuries, no doubt through ignorance, the greatest responsibility of all has been borne by an irresponsible being. I am talking here about the responsibility of molding a human being at the moment when he is impressionable and of leaving her stamp on him. The principle difference between great artists and great saints (apart from other differences) is that artists strive to put perfection into a work that is exterior to themselves and therefore outside their lives, while saints endeavor to put it into a work that is interior to themselves, and that consequently cannot be separated from their lives. The artist tries to create perfection outside himself, the saint in his own being. For this reason, I would dare to say that the artist who is sensitive to saintliness always runs the risk of losing his gifts as an artist. As the zeal to put perfection into his own life grows, the desire to give it life in a work of art diminishes. It is conceivable that the child has often made woman into an artist tempted by sainthood. Because in order to strive to put perfection in the work that is hers, the child, she needs to begin by trying to put perfection into her own self and not outside herself. She needs to take the path of saints and not the one of the artists. The child does not tolerate her trying to impose the perfections on him that he does not see in us. At this moment in history that is given us to live, we are witnessing a weakening of the power of artists. You might say that at this present time the world has more need of heroes or saints than of aesthetes. The temptation to sainthood, which, it would seem, is fatal to the perfection of the object, stands out all around us. And for this reason men today are becoming more like women; they are beginning to sense that, in our times, it will no longer be possible for them either to create perfection (which remains beyond human reach) or even the sense of that perfection, at least as they

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themselves approach it. They begin to feel that every form of art that does not embrace the same requirement of perfection that the child demands is today obsolete. The work of art, like the child, will be able to correspond, more or less, to our desires, will go, more or less, beyond ourselves, but it will need to be created in the same sense as we strive to raise the child. God keep me from demeaning artists, whatever might be their defects; their past, present, or future vices; whatever might be their weaknesses. They have been, are, and will be as necessary to us as heroes or saints. Their way is also the way of heroism and sainthood. Even when the beauty of their work, as often happens, is a compensatory beauty (that is, condemned to be realized outside themselves, because it can not be realized within themselves), it is profoundly necessary to humanity. Whatever may have been their personal miseries, what we owe to great artists is some of the best of our inheritance. Take away the contributions of Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Bach, Leonardo da Vinci, Goya, Debussy, Poe, Proust—just to give the first names that occur to me—and how impoverished we would feel! That some of these men personally may have been poor wretches who might be reproached for such and such a defect—what does it matter? They have bequeathed to us what they had of an extraordinary nature. Perhaps they have known no other happiness than suffering for their work. Their work was for them the only way of fitting into an orderly sense of the world. And this means of fulfillment, among other things, is what men have unjustly taken pleasure in, or have been stubborn in denying to women. For there are certain women, just as there are certain men, who can know no other happiness than suffering for a work of art. One of these women, who is one of the most gifted beings I know, a celebrated novelist who writes with a wonderous style, said to me, “I am not truly happy except when I am alone, with a book or paper and pen. Beside this world—so real to me—the other one vanishes.” However, this woman, born into an intellectual atmosphere and whose vocation, right from the beginning, was absolutely clear, went through some atrocious years of torment and doubts when she was young. Everything conspired to prove to her that her sex was a terrible handicap in a career of letters. Everything conspired to magnify for her what she had inherited, what all we women inherit: an inferiority complex. We should struggle against that complex, since it would be absurd not to comprehend its importance. The spiritual state it inevitably creates is one of the most dangerous. And I see no other way of struggling against it than by giving women as solid, as carefully conceived an education as men, and to respect women’s freedom exactly as we respect the freedom of men. Not only in theory, but in practice. In theory, most civilized countries accept this idea. And in this sense Spain, since the revolution, has progressed rapidly. Unfortunately, Argentina has not advanced that far. Among our people women have not attained, either in theory or in practice, the position they ought to have attained. Men keep on saying to them, “Don’t interrupt me.” And when women assert their rights to freedom, men, judging no doubt from themselves and putting themselves in the woman’s place, interpret this as “licentiousness.” By freedom, we women understand absolute responsibility for our actions and selfrealization with no holds barred, which is very different. Licentiousness has no need to lay claim to freedom. One could be a slave and also be a libertine. As to self-realization, it is, in brief, intimately linked to expression, whatever form that may take. One does not express oneself except by understanding perfectly what one wants to express; or, rather, the need for expression always derives from that understanding.

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Well, then: the understanding most important to every human being is the one that concerns the problem of his or her self-realization. That this woman realizes herself by caring for the sick, that one by teaching people how to read and write, another one by working in a laboratory or writing a first-rate novel matters little: there are many different ways to find self-realization, and the most modest ones, just as the most eminent examples, have their own meaning and value. Personally, what interests me most is written expression, and I believe that here women have a field for conquest and a harvest in the making. It is easy to demonstrate that until now women have spoken very little about themselves directly. Men have talked at great length about women, doubtless out of the need to compensate, but consequently, and inevitably, as a way of talking about themselves. Out of the gratitude or deception, the enthusiasm or bitterness this angel or demon left in his heart, in his flesh, in his spirit. Men could be praised for many things, but never for a profound impartiality on this subject. Until now, then, we have listened principally to witnesses for women. Women as their own witnesses, a thing the law would not allow since it classified them as suspicious witnesses whose statements are biased, have hardly said a word. It is now women’s turn not only to discover this unexplored continent that they represent but also to speak out about men, in their turn, as suspect witnesses. If she succeeds, world literature will be incalculably enriched, and I have no doubt that she will.

VIII. HOW I WRITE Gabriela Mistral Originally delivered as part of a roundtable discussion entitled “Como escribo” in January 1938 in Montevideo, Uruguay. Translated from the Spanish by Stephen Tapscott. Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957) was a poet, journalist, and educator who in 1945 became the first Latin American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Serving as Latin American representative to the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations and as Chilean consul throughout Europe and the Americas, from 1922 until her death Mistral led an itinerant existence, embracing the role of public intellectual, giving frequent lectures and amassing a large body of published journalistic writings on both literary and socio-political themes, alongside her collections of poetry. Between 1914 and 1954 Mistral published five collections of poetry, and a substantial number of her additional poetic works have been collected since her death in 1957. Despite never returning to live in the country, within her native Chile Mistral underwent a form of canonization that was both literary and verging on the hagiographic. Chilean critics emphasized the themes of nurture and childhood in her poetry, transforming Mistral into an idealized mother figure for the Chilean nation. Recent scholarship has, however, begun to reframe Mistral as an increasingly radical and unconventional figure, reading her biography and works through the lens of queer theory, and repositioning her within the context of the Latin American vanguard and global modernism. In this piece, Mistral offers a candid insight into her writing process, one that demonstrates a rootless and cosmopolitan perspective that is common to many Latin American writers of her generation. “How I Write” is a transcript of Mistral’s contribution to a roundtable discussion at the January 1938 “Curso sudamericano de vacaciones [South American Summer School]” at the University of Montevideo; speaking alongside her were Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni (1892–1938) and Uruguayan poet Juana de Ibarbourou (1892–1979)—the most well-known women poets of their generation. Woven into this text are two themes that prove central to not only Mistral, but also other writers of the region during this period: first the primacy and uniqueness of the American landscape and second the desire to capture a poetics of “ordinary speech.” CS

We women don’t write solemnly, like Buffon,1 who for the crucial moment would dress up in a jacket with lacy sleeves and arrange himself, with all solemnity, at his mahogany desk. I write across my knees. The writing desk has never been useful to me, not in Chile, or Paris, or Lisbon. I write at morning or at night. The afternoon has never inspired me; I don’t understand why it seems sterile or passionless to me …

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–88), French author and naturalist.

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I believe I have never written a poem in a closed room, or in a room with windows facing the blank wall of a house. A piece of the sky always steadies me; what Chile offered me in all its blueness, Europe offers scribbled-over with clouds. My mood improves if I voluntarily focus my old eyes toward a grove of trees. As long as I was a settled creature, living among my people and my country, I wrote about what I saw or about what I had at hand. Ever since I have become a vagabond, in voluntary exile, I seem to write only amid phantoms. The landscape of America and my people, alive or dead, come back to me in a wistful but loyal procession, which rather than surrounding me, contains and presses in on me; it only rarely allows me to observe the new terrain, the foreign peoples. I’m usually in no hurry when I write; at times, though, I write with the vertical momentum of stones rolling down the Andes. Either way, it annoys me when I have to stop. Because I’m lazy, I always have four or five sharpened pencils at hand; I’ve developed the spoiled habit of having everything ready at the same time, except the lines … When I used to do battle with the language, demanding intensity from it, I tended to hear within myself an angry gnashing of teeth: a furious, sandy whetting across the blunt blade of words. Now I don’t fight against words, but rather with something else … I’ve grown dissatisfied with and distant from those poems of mine whose tone isn’t my own because it’s too emphatic. The only things that justify me are those poems where I recognize my ordinary speech, what Don Miguel (“The Basque”)2 called “conversational language.”3 I revise more than people would believe, revisiting some poems that even in their published versions still feel unpolished to me. I left a labyrinth of hills behind me, and something of that untangleable knot survives in whatever I create, be it poems or prose. Writing tends to make me happy; it always soothes my spirit and bestows on me an innocent, gentle, childlike day. It is the feeling of having spent a few hours in my true homeland, in my habits, in my unfettered impulses, in full freedom. I like to write in a neat room, although I’m very disorganized. The order seems to give me space; my eyes and my soul crave space. Sometimes I’ve written following the rhythm I’ve absorbed from a rill of water running down the road beside my house, or I’ve followed natural sounds. It all melts within me and forms a kind of lullaby. On the other hand, I still do admit the poetry of anecdote, which younger poets disdain these days. Poetry comforts both my senses and what is called “the soul,” although other people’s poems do this more than my own do. Both make my blood flow better; they protect the childlike elements of my character; they renew me and make me feel a kind of aseptic purity toward the world. Poetry lives simply within me as a remnant, as the vestige of a submerged childhood. Although it may turn out bitter and hard, the poetry I make washes the world’s dirt from

Miguel de Unamuno (1864–1936), Spanish poet, philosopher, novelist, and essayist.

2

In his 1936 analysis of the work of Spanish writer Ramón del Valle-Inclán, Unamuno highlights and praises the unique form of habla (speech) employed in Valle-Inclán’s work—one that is defined by its individual, conversational nature and yet achieves a simultaneously universal perspective. See: Miguel de Unamuno, “El habla de Valle-Inclán,” Ahora, January 29, 1936. 3

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me, and even the inscrutable, essential impurity that resembles what we call “original sin.” I do carry that with me; I carry it grievously. Perhaps original sin is nothing more than our fall into the rational, anti-rhythmic mode of expression into which the human race has descended, and that hurts us women more because of the bliss we’ve lost, the grace of a musical intuitive language that was intended to be the language of the human race. This is all I know how to say about my experience. Don’t pressure me to reveal more …

IX. PROTEST AGAINST FOLKLORE Yolanda Oreamuno Originally published as “Protesta contra el folklore” in Repertorio Americano 40.6 (1943). Translated from the Spanish by Janet N. Gold. Yolanda Oreamuno (1916–56) was a Costa Rican writer, perhaps best known for her experimental novel La ruta de su evasión (1948, The Route of Their Evasion), which is considered by critics to have been uniquely ahead of its time. While her first published works were short stories, Oreamuno was also a prolific essayist, with pieces appearing frequently in leading Costa Rican literary journals between 1936 and 1948. Her work most often entailed uncompromising critiques of Costa Rican life and culture, with a particular focus on the role of women in Latin American society. The present piece was originally published in Repertorio Americano, a cultural journal founded and directed by Joaquín García Monge from 1919 to 1958. The journal became an important nexus for cultural exchange and debate throughout the Latin American region, with key figures such as Gabriela Mistral (see essay 1.viii), Victoria Ocampo (see essay 1.vii), José Vasconcelos, and Pablo Neruda publishing within its pages. Oreamuno was a frequent contributor to Repertorio Americano, and enjoyed a close working relationship with García Monge whom she considered both a mentor and friend. In “Protest against Folklore” Oreamuno addresses a central tension that defined cultural production in Latin America in the first half of the twentieth century: how to best account for and incorporate indigenous presences within national and continental forms of expression. Alongside the emergence of vanguard activities, the 1920s also saw the development of important works of Realist fiction classified as novelas de la tierra or regional novels, which prioritized agrarian themes and aimed to faithfully capture rural values and customs. Oreamuno’s “Protest against Folklore” fiercely questions the continued relevance and efficacy of such works of “local colour,” advocating for literature and art that showcases the diversity and challenges of the Latin American region within the modern age. CS

For days I have been trying, with the very best intentions, to finish a novel—a very good one, many say, the critics describe it as marvelous—which has definitely exhausted my patience. In the ranks of those books that attempt to get to the heart of the American agrarian problem—the suffering of the Indian and the exploitation of the peasant—this book is not only true, it is complete and, at times, brilliant. In spite of finding in it some literary absurdities such as the presence of a Lady of the Camelias,1 plump and consumptive, and a crudely drawn Robin Hood, if I examine calmly the aesthetic expression, I can recognize that the book is … good.

Reference to French writer Alexandre Dumas’ 1848 novel La Dame aux Camélias—the eponymous character of which is a courtesan.

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Nevertheless, to arrive at this conclusion I have had to suppress something powerful in me, a definite and tenacious opposition that prevents me from finishing it happily and exhaling at the end an exclamation of satisfaction or sympathy. So I have searched patiently within myself to determine the source of this violent reaction, and I believe I am able to articulate it. The cycle of American folkloric literature scales heights of unsuspected magnitude, it extends powerfully through many decades and leaves engraved, in luminous letters, names that I will not repeat, since they are so well known. Every nationality has felt the historic imperative to make known the painful truth of the suffering of, respectively, the Indian, the decultured Indian, the peasant farmer, the half-breed, and the native of Spanish blood. The lexicon is swollen with words peppered with the indigenous atl, iztl, and chua2; we learn turns of phrase and feel the suffering as if we too were barefoot, with calloused palm and primitive mind. Geniuses work at drawing from the shadows humble figures that become realistic and colorful at their touch. And thus it has been for a very long time, through numerous artistic renderings. From every American ethnic group come one or more magnificent voices. The efficacy and good will of this work, whether spontaneous or deliberate, is indisputable. The intensity of this rending cry has shaken consciences, it has given birth to generous initiatives, and various wonderful realities have subsequently taken shape. American folkloric literature, energized through suffering, replete with individuality, is a done deed. But I hold that the climax of saturation has arrived, and I accuse folkloric literature of being one-sided. I believe that more folklore, seen as the only artistic current possible in America, signifies decadence. If, when they write, our authors feel the impulse to redeem, they have before them industrialization, which arrives with giant steps with its following of penury, crisis, and abundance; they have the cruel adaptation of our multifaceted and fantastic mestizo population to a scientific, mechanized reality. In what other flesh can the change from languor to forced activity, from a dream state to unexpected knowledge, come about with more rending than in our American flesh? The revolt against the anonymous face of merciless progress must be more cruel than that against the palpable presence of the criollo3 exploiter or the half-civilized overseer. This reality exists for those who find suffering a literary inspiration. And if we surrender before beauty, the urban landscape—at times situated in the heart of a voluptuous world of primal vigor and ferocity—attains visual forms of inconceivable brilliance. The civilized life of our continent, not separate from the Indians, the peasants, or the natives of European blood but hand in hand with them, is as rich and worthy of attention as the panorama offered by an exclusionary folklore. Our writers, with very few and usually unworthy exceptions, won’t condescend to get out of the valley that, for being so frequented, has become literarily and emotionally secure. In the modern asentimental environment, it is very hard to squeeze a tear from an audience desensitized by the proximity of tragedy. But the remote, distant portrait of the peasant, in which readers from the city have no direct participation and for which they hardly feel guilty, inspires sympathy without remorse and therefore more readily. By now all this ought to be so simple as not to tempt us.

Suffixes present in the indigenous languages Nahuatl (Central America) and Quechua (Andean region).

2

Here, the term criollo denotes those of European ancestry born in Latin America.

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On the other hand, the city, the office worker, the growing bureaucracy, the semioriental sybaritic life of our bourgeoisie, the way our respective nationalities have adopted tendencies and fashions previously very European and now very Yankee, cry out for a voice, an accuser, a rebel, and someone to discover new beauties and old suffering. The very particular idiosyncrasy of our worker—so sadly molded to the factory and innately ill-equipped to assimilate to rhythm—demands, with all the force of an existing reality, a powerful, faithful, and talented hand to portray it. With the “excess of folklore” factor we advertise one element of our society that, although very powerful, is not the only one, and we feed the myths of the dominating foreigner and his traditional greed. Speaking of literature, I confess that personally I am fed up, in capital letters, with folklore. From this corner of America I can say that I am quite familiar with the typical agrarian lifestyle of almost all the neighboring countries, yet I know little of their other urgent problems. The local-color devices of this kind of art are worn out, the aesthetic agitation they used to produce no longer occurs, the scene is repeated with numbing synchronicity, and emotion flees before the inevitable boredom of what is seen time and again. We must end this calamity: the cheap devotion to the local-color writer, the abuse, the sloppiness, the one-sidedness and one-way vision that are the equivalent of artistic blindness. I think that from now on I will refuse to review poems, paintings, and books that foolishly insist on this theme. I will make a final effort to finish the book that was the source of these conclusions in the hope that it will be the last I encounter, at least for a while, whether it be good like this one or bad like the rest. I would hope with this to encourage some questioning and to fortify the protest that perhaps others like myself have considered but not dared to articulate. I am grateful to folklore for what it has contributed, I salute it as a past glory, and I look forward to the renovating breath of works in step with the modern American movement, so I may pay homage to them from a better literary future. San José,4 March 1943

Refers to the capital of Costa Rica.

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CHAPTER TWO

Modernism in the Caribbean EDITED BY ALYS MOODY AND STEPHEN J. ROSS

In the 1968 appendix to his study The Black Jacobins (first published 1938), C. L. R. James offers a reading of the Caribbean sugar plantation as the first harbinger of modernity, characterized by the global circulation of goods, capital, and labor; the industrial organization of production; and the incipient conditions for a workers’ revolution. “The Negroes,” he argues, “from the very start lived a life that was in essence a modern life.”1 Thirty years later, Sidney Mintz developed this claim, arguing that the social and economic organization of the Caribbean between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries represented an instance of a precocious modernity, an unanticipated (even unnoticed) modernity— unnoticed especially, perhaps, because it was happening in the colonies before it happened in the metropolises, and happening to people most of whom were forcibly stolen from the world outside the West. No one imagined that such people would become “modern”—since there was no such thing; no one recognized that the raw, outpost societies into which such people were thrust might become the first of their kind.2 With these arguments, James and Mintz turn the questions about priority and derivation that plague debates over modernity on their head, arguing that the Caribbean, not Europe, was the site of the first truly modern society. Moreover, they do so in a way that reposes not on a theory of multiple modernities, but on a vision of a singular modernity—the capitalist world-system—of which the Caribbean is taken as the first crucible. This claim, which has animated Caribbean thought in the twentieth century, seems to hold out the possibility of an account of modernism that also avoids the pitfalls of belatedness. Perhaps for this reason, the Caribbean was one of the earliest sites at which scholars theorized the relationship between decolonial literature and modernism, beginning in the 1990s with Simon Gikandi’s landmark study, Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature. Nonetheless, the Caribbean’s precocious modernity tended to be seen as finding its outlet, not in an early flourishing of modernist art or literature, but in the cultural forms of dance and music. On the terrain of the more individualist “high”

C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, 2nd ed. (New York: Vintage Books, 1989): 392.

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Sidney W. Mintz, “Enduring Substances, Trying Theories: The Caribbean Region as Oikoumenê,” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2.2 (1996): 298.

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arts with which modernism is conventionally associated, there arises a gap between the experience of modernity and the expression of modernism in the Caribbean, even as writers such as Kamau Brathwaite return to the cultural forms produced by the region’s early modernity as inspiration for their writing. More work remains to be done on how to think about the gap between modernism and modernity in the region, although certainly questions of class, literacy, and leisure time must factor into this analysis. Broadly speaking, the gap is instructive in helping us to theorize the disjuncture, as much as the relation, between social and economic modernity, on the one hand, and cultural and aesthetic modernism, on the other. For the fact remains that from the 1920s to the 1940s, the common refrain among writers across the Caribbean was not a sense of dynamic modernist innovation but rather a repeated lament over what they commonly saw as the underdevelopment or even nonexistence of their literary and artistic culture, or its overreliance on British or French models. In this context, Caribbean modernism is best understood not directly as a response to their brutal “precocious modernity”—although this experience certainly underlies all the writing and art in this region—but as an attempt to found a more affirmative modern identity on the ruins of this experience. As such, modernism in the Caribbean, like modernism in other colonized parts of the world, is usually taken to evolve as part of the project of decolonization, and takes its cues from projects of national and racial affirmation. While this project was often characterized by a concerted attempt to think the Caribbean collectively, in practice the region might be better understood as having at least three modernisms, corresponding to the three major colonial languages of the region—that is, French, English, and Spanish. Modernist journals from the 1920s onwards frequently sought to break down these divides, seeking to publish work from across the Caribbean and often actively cultivating their publications as sites of cross-linguistic exchange. Nonetheless, the principal coteries and governing intellectual and aesthetic orientations of these writers and artists typically remained divided along linguistic lines. Within and across these linguistic groupings, the exchange between local and regional commitments, and an orientation toward the African diaspora elsewhere, was an enduring one. Hispanic modernism of the Caribbean, which shared a language and a literary tradition with much of Latin America, was as often oriented toward its fellow Spanish speakers on the southern continent than its island-dwelling neighbors. We have incorporated Cuban modernism, therefore, into the previous section, but encourage readers to read Nicolás Guillén’s piece (1.vi) as part of the present section as well. At the same time, much Caribbean writing in French and English often sought greater dialogue with Latin America, drawing on a shared experience of New World colonization, contemporary threats from US imperialism, and projects to reclaim indigenous art. For examples of writers seeking a rapprochement between Caribbean and Latin American perspectives, see our first and last entries in this section—Normil G. Sylvain’s introduction to La Revue indigène (2.i) and Aubrey Williams’ “The Artist in the Caribbean” (2.ix)—which together suggest the enduring attraction of greater exchange between the continent and the islands. Francophone modernism in this area is further divided between the poles of Haiti and Martinique. Haiti, which achieved independence from France in the world’s first successful slave revolt in 1804 but spent the years from 1915 to 1934 under US occupation, was both an anomaly in the region and a model of decolonization and revolution in which many colonized nations invested their hopes and fears. Haiti had a relatively early modernism, inspired by Latin American literary developments and French

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far right politics, in the late 1920s, driven by intellectuals and writers who positioned themselves against the US occupation. Less than five years later, an alternate—and more widely known—modernist tradition sprung up among left-wing black Francophone expatriates in Paris. In this context, radical short-lived magazines such as Légitime défense and L’Étudiant noir provided a site that married anti-colonial and revolutionary Marxist political thought, in a context that took literary production as a key site of struggle and revolt. This is the milieu from which ideas such as negritude arose, and it shaped not only Caribbean, but also African, African American and black British writing throughout the twentieth century. This tradition returned to the Caribbean with figures like Aimé and Suzanne Césaire and René Ménil during and just before the Second World War, joined briefly by French intellectuals fleeing the war, most famously and influentially the French surrealist, André Breton. Back in Martinique, this circle produced a transformative modernist poetics around the Martinican journal Tropiques in the early 1940s. Anglophone modernism in the Caribbean tended to be more cohesive across national lines, but distended over a longer historical timespan, beginning as early as the 1930s and extending through to the 1970s. Looking back on the development of (implicitly Anglophone) Caribbean literature in the introduction to issue 14/15 of Savacou, in 1979, Kamau Brathwaite provides a periodization that still reflects in broad terms the consensus of the field. Brathwaite suggests the first phase entailed a “nativization of consciousness,” animated by the anti-colonial consciousness of journals such as The Beacon, which began in the 1930s. This was eventually superseded by a “rapprochement of the formerly anglican artist with the people … resulting in the alienation of the artist/people from the Establishment,” from the mid-1950s onwards, a process that might be linked to the evolution of the long-running Barbadian journal Bim. Finally, the late 1960s heralded “the revelation of the word,” a process in which “The language, as Bongo Jerry predicted, had been unwhitened,” most commonly associated with the experimental oral poetics of Brathwaite’s own Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM) and its journal Savacou.3 While scholars would surely want to challenge various aspects of this tripartite division, the narrative of radicalizing formal experiment, as part of a consistent project of anti-colonial and decolonizing cultural politics, is a consistent theme of Anglophone Caribbean literature, as is the sense that such a development divides roughly into three periods, focused in the 1930s, the decade or two post-Second World War, and the late 1960s and 1970s. What Brathwaite does not add, but what is clear from his own and others’ trajectories, is that this movement also maps onto an orientation away from Britain and toward the United States, in line with global shifts in power across this period. Cutting across these traditions are a number of structural impulses that shape modernism across the Caribbean, as they shape the modernisms of many other parts of the world. On the one hand, modernism in the Caribbean is unthinkable without the mass expatriation of intellectuals, writers, and artists toward colonial centers. In the pre-war period, the movement toward Paris of French intellectuals produced negritude and generated the conditions in which Caribbean writers’ and artists’ long-standing engagement with surrealism flourished. After the Second World War, the mass migration of Caribbeans to England as part of the Windrush generation shaped Anglophone Caribbean culture from the 1940s through to the 1970s, as writers and artists moved between London and their home islands, ultimately culminating in the transnational Caribbean Artists Movement.

Kamau Brathwaite, Untitled Introduction, Savacou 14/15 (1979): n.p.

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On the other hand, little magazines and literary journals played a crucial role in forming coteries and networks of writers and artists, and in forging and maintaining links among people who were often geographically dispersed. In recognition of the centrality of such little magazines to modernism in the region, this section assembles introductions to many of the key little magazines: the Haitian Revue indigène (1.i); the Francophone expatriate journal Légitime défense (1.ii); the Martinican publication Tropiques (1.v); and the longrunning Barbadian journal, Bim (1.vii). Taken together, these introductions highlight the programmatism of many Francophone Caribbean journals, as well as the significance of little magazines as an engine for literary and artistic production, debate, and discussion across the period. AM

FURTHER READING Arnold, James A. Modernism and Negritude: The Poetry and Poetics of Aimé Césaire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981. Brown, J. Dillon. Migrant Modernism: Postwar London and the West Indian Novel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013. Emory, Mary Lou. Modernism, the Visual, and Caribbean Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Etherington, Ben. Literary Primitivism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017. Gikandi, Simon. Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992. Kalliney, Peter. Commonwealth of Letters: British Literary Culture and the Emergence of Postcolonial Aesthetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Kaussen, Valerie. Migrant Revolutions: Haitian Literature, Globalization, and US Imperialism. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008. Noland, Carrie. Voices of Negritude in Modernist Print Culture: Aesthetic Subjectivity, Diaspora, and the Lyric Regime. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. Pollard, Charles. New World Modernisms: T. S. Eliot, Derek Walcott, and Kamau Brathwaite. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004.

I. LA REVUE INDIGÈNE: PROGRAM Normil G. Sylvain Originally published in French in La Revue indigène 1.1 (July 1927): 1–10. Translated by Alys Moody. La Revue indigène was a Haitian literary magazine that ran for six issues in 1927–8. Despite its short run, it exerted a significant influence on Haitian and Caribbean literature, acting as one of the earliest vehicles for Caribbean modernism. Produced during the US occupation of Haiti, which lasted from 1915 to 1934, it positioned itself against US imperialism by seeking to create a new Haitian national literature, one that, as its title declares, would be indigène, or native, to Haiti. In this sense, it develops a specifically Haitian form of indigenism, a term that is more commonly linked to Latin American art that draws on pre-Columbian indigenous traditions. In the Haitian context, however, the assertion is rather that the post-slavery culture of the nation was itself an indigenous culture, in contrast to the occupying US power. Although these forms of indigenism understand indigeneity quite differently, La Revue indigène’s commitment to this concept nonetheless generated a turn toward Latin America, again as part of their attempt to develop a counter-imperial American culture that would resist US hegemony. In terms of both the appeal to indigenism and the turn to Latin America, this essay is productively read alongside Aubrey Williams’ “The Artist in the Caribbean” (2.ix). This essay, written by editorial board member Normil G. Sylvain (1900–29) and opening its first issue, was the journal’s founding manifesto. Sylvain, who died young and also trained as a doctor, is a relatively unknown figure, but he played a key role as the chief theorist of La Revue indigène. Sylvain was the son of Georges Sylvain, the founding editor of La Ronde (1898–1902), an influential Haitian aestheticist periodical, and in this essay he seeks to position La Revue indigène as carrying on his father’s literary and cultural project. Insisting on the need to develop a literary culture in the context of what he took to be Haiti’s relative isolation and paucity of aesthetic production, Sylvain lays out an ambitious project for a Haitian literature that will take inspiration from their Latin American neighbors, then in the full bloom of modernism. At the same time, Sylvain insists on the need to draw on the island’s French heritage, most notably—and surprisingly, from a contemporary vantage point—through the essay’s persistent undercurrent of support for the proto-fascist, anti-semitic and monarchist group, Action Française, and especially its chief theorist Charles Maurras. In this sense, this essay underscores the forgotten but disturbing fact that interwar black diasporic modernism, like European modernism in the same period, was as often seduced by the “blood and soil” politics of the proto-fascist right as it was by the promises of leftist revolution. In this sense, Sylvain’s essay intersects with Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo’s Malagasy modernism (3.i and 3.ii), which shares Sylvain’s sympathies for Action Française, and serves as an important counterpoint to the more well-known leftism of Francophone Caribbean intellectuals such as Étienne Léro (2.ii) and Aimé Césaire (2.iii). This translation seeks to preserve Sylvain’s misspellings and idiosyncratic punctuation and capitalization as far as possible. A digitized version of the journal in its original French is freely available online through the Digital Library of the Caribbean. Although this is,

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to our knowledge, the first English translation of this essay, several other important texts from this periodical have appeared elsewhere in English: a selection of poems, translated and with a commentary by Kevin Meehan and Marie Léticée, appeared in Callaloo 23.4 (2000): 1377–90; and Jean Price-Mars’s essays Ainsi parla l’Oncle were published as So Spoke the Uncle, trans. Magdaline W. Shannon (Washington, DC: Three Continents Press, 1983). AM

Georges Sylvain’s Dream During a lecture tour that he undertook in the south of the island, Georges Sylvain wrote to his collaborators at La Ronde of his impressions of the various towns he passed through.1 He concluded by giving his ideal of a Haitian journal that could serve as a link and a place of encounter for all the kindred souls haunted by the same dream of art and beauty. “To find a ground of understanding and of union for all Haitians of good will outside Politics; to make all the intellectual forces of the Nation work towards the civilization of the common Homeland; to make them aware of themselves by teaching them to know themselves better; to show new generations, who have come into the world at a moment of transition, their special mission, which is to prepare the future; to improve the people through the revelation of the artistic ideal of educating them through a gradual initiation into knowledge of the French language and culture, acquired with the aide of our Creole dialect; to save us, finally, from ourselves, by diverting in the direction of the Good all these unsettling activities that demand something to feed on, all these latent energies that wilt and sink in idleness. “There is one fact that none of us, if we pause to reflect, can avoid being struck by: the absence of cohesion in our society. We lack a sense of the whole, of the continuity of effort, because we do not know one another. The present lacks all knowledge of the past, and, even stranger, from one town to the next, we do not know each other. By spreading the taste for a national culture throughout the country, we will repair the broken tradition, unite the past with the present, and prepare the future. “The love of literature will therefore be a tie that binds hearts, a kind of religion that brings on the future of this Brotherhood that until now has only found room in official acts and newspaper columns. To popularize the work of our best authors, to help deserving young people become known to the public. Who can be blind to the hope that it is legitimate to conceive of such an enterprise … !” This will serve enough of a program, and will save my having to keep you longer, but it still remains to clarify our sympathies and to add some new thoughts to the old ideal.

Why we devote so much space to Poetry They said to me: “Are you joking? a journal of art and literature, now? what are you thinking? these are games and distractions for happy times, tasks for fortunate days, we have no heart for joy, you won’t rouse an echo, who reads verse in our busy time but Georges Sylvain (1866–1925) was a Haitian poet, lawyer, and politician, and the father of Normil G. Sylvain. The elder Sylvain was a militant activist who campaigned strongly against the US occupation of Haiti. He was also a key member of the aestheticist literary group La Ronde, which was influenced by French Symbolism and close in its sensibility to the Latin American modernismo movement.

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young, romantic women and adolescents in love, come on it’s not serious, I don’t suggest you try it.” It’s true that it is not the time for laughter. And yet, don’t you think that, in the whirl of our existence, it might be pleasant to pause, to take a break in the shade to listen to the poets sing, before taking up the chains of our daily suffering2 again? Don’t you think that the burden will be lightened, that the road will seem less long, the sun less scorching? The song isn’t just a pretty tune that speaks of your joys and gives form to your miseries; it helps us to get to know the scene that we stare at with a distracted glance that glides over the surface of things, without trying, for a minute, to possess them. It allows us to better see inside ourselves, to enjoy the interior landscape, to enter into the mysterious domain of souls … Isn’t that the whole point? Poetry is a tool of knowledge. Bread isn’t all that you hunger for! The circle grows, we have become more human, more fraternal. Our hearts went like apostles Towards the shy and paralyzed hearts of others3 The fingers knotted for la Ronde. La Ronde around the world! … We want voices to answer from the whole country. Singers from the north and those from the south: they sing the Haitian country. They help us to know it, to love it by knowing it. They reveal us to ourselves and give us grounds for national pride. The ideas that we have about a country, true or false, are given to us by the poets, the novelists, the painters, and the sculptors, by their faithful images or deceptive scenes. The japonaiseries of Loti, the miniatures of Hokusai, have revealed a heroic and galant Japan …4 Kikou Yamato let us enter this Japanese soul as a woman and a sensitive poet, and the country of cherry blossom trees and blooming apple trees now lives in the imagination of thousands of readers.5 The people need advertisements: “A good name, says the old saying, is better than all the riches in the world.”6 The propaganda office was run during the war by respected writers. The greatest talents of the countries at war presided over this moral offensive of press releases. It was Giraudoux, I believe, one of the best and most subtle young French writers, who was in propaganda and foreign affairs.7 Literature is the unfailing expression of the soul of a people. “des peines quotidiennes.” Sylvain is punning on the religious phrase “notre pain quotidien,” our daily bread.

2

These lines are taken from poem XXVIII of Émile Verhaeren’s Les Heures Claires (The Sunlit Hours). Verhaeren (1855–1916) was a Belgian Symbolist poet who wrote in French.

3

Pierre Loti (1850–1923) was a French naval officer and writer. His novel Madame Chrysanthème (1887) is a foundational text of late nineteenth-century japonisme. Hokusai Katsushika (1760–1849) was a Japanese artist, known for his woodblock series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (1831).

4

Kikou Yamata (1897–1975), which Sylvain misspells Yamato, was a Franco-Japanese writer, born in Lyon to a Japanese father and raised in Tokyo before returning to Paris in the 1920s, where she became a well-known literary figure. She published translations, poems, and articles in French, rising to fame with her novel Masako in 1925.

5

“Bonne renomée dit le vieux dicton vaut mieux que ceinture dorée.”

6

Jean Giraudoux (1882–1944) was an important French playwright and novelist who served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the First World War, becoming the first writer to be awarded the Legion of Honor in 1915.

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What we want.—These are the testimonies of our era, of our generation. As we say in medicine or chemistry, they are our reactions, the reflexes of our sensibility as it comes into contact with things. We carry forth our message, regardless of whether anyone hears it, convinced that another age will come that will receive it; before entering into the night of oblivion, we want to hurl forth our true cry. One stormy evening, the waves stir a frenzy, the wind blows in gusts, the boat drifts having lost its mast. In his cabin the telegraph boy at his post sends his customary calls, calm amongst the tumult and the disarray. The captain at his command post takes the ship’s logbook, records his final observations and throws a bottle ashore into the sea. Our stubborn hopes send out a signal … this is our bottle in the sea … Together we want to try to rediscover reasons to love ourselves in the reasons to believe. To reunite in unanimous agreement all souls of good will who are looking for their path and groping around in the darkness, to reunite them through art, in Beauty. To rediscover the time when Haitians loved one another, when living was sweetness in our country, sweetness wrapped up in our calm countryside, between our blue mornes and the singing sea.

Our public … The reader that we choose, who is dearest to us, is the young man, twenty years old, transported by a noble and generous enthusiasm, who still has a mad and heroic soul, who is haunted by the summit, who is tortured by the desire for excellence, who dreams of the absolute … oh you, beautiful seed of future harvests, young man in whom our hopes are wrapped, I have faith in you.8 And you worried mothers, you fathers concerned that his pensive look is upsetting, that his fever and his exaltation are frightening—console yourselves that he has been born in order to accomplish great things. The young girls who do not yet worry about the painful problems of our oppressed existence, the mothers of tomorrow who will have to knead the soft clay, the fragile dough of unborn children’s souls, we want them to listen to us. We will try to hold their attention, to move them, to make them reflect with us on our collective tasks.

Our ideas: a doctrine.— Our country is sick, not only at heart but in the head. The problem is first one of Intelligence, and then one of sensibility. We must attempt a cure at home—a national renaissance—helping ourselves with a valiant effort, parallel to that carried out in France. There are currently too many false ideas on the market. We must reestablish the notion of order, a necessary hierarchy of foundations, a healthy logic, more just criteria. First establish the library of a gentleman, turn out the merchants of cheap trash, the fortune-tellers, the acrobats and the jugglers, get to know the respectable writers, the serious thinkers, who lay the groundwork in France for a healthy and vigorous youth.

The text here reads “j’ai con-/en vous,” as though the second half of the word beginning “con,” which ought to have followed the line break, has been inadvertently omitted. I have read this as “j’ai confiance en vous.”

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The work of someone like Auguste Comte,9 with commentary provided by Maurras,10 Valois,11 Galéot,12 Daudet,13 Renan’s Intellectual and Moral Reform,14 Taine,15 Fustel,16 Barrès,17 Le Play,18 … I could go on. From these thinkers we will take their methods of reasoning and their modes of action. They will serve as models for us, allowing us to build an original doctrine.

Latin America and us In this Spanish and English America, we have the glorious destiny of maintaining, with Canada and the French Caribbean, French traditions and the French language—a fatal and perilous honor, for it has earned us a century of isolation … The Dominican Republic, which shares our territory, does not participate in this misfortune. It belongs to a Latin America of eighteen republics. Its writers speak to a public of 90 million men; their joys and their sufferings are recognized. We must get to know the literature and the soul of Latin America. These peoples have lived a life as difficult as our own. They have known the same trials and errors, the same vicissitudes, the era of caudillos19 and pronunciamientos,20 the period when the forces of anarchy and the forces of cohesion and order confronted one another, the difficult times of a young nation’s puberty. The historians who search for causes for their unhappiness attempt, like us, to explain race, this simple phenomenon of social physics, this game of antagonistic forces which collide with one another before balancing in a perfect equilibrium. They say we “have acted thus because Indians.”

Auguste Comte (1798–1857) was a French philosopher and the founder of positivism.

9

Charles Maurras (1868–1952) was a French philosopher who founded the right-wing, anti-semitic, monarchist political group Action Française. He was influenced by Auguste Comte’s thought. All subsequent writers in this list are either contemporary writers associated with Action Française and the French far right, or earlier writers who had been enlisted as their precursors.

10

Georges Valois (1878–1945), like Maurras, was a French thinker linked to L’Action Française.

11

Antoine-L. Galéot (1884–?) was a French economist who advocated eugenicist policies.

12

Probably Léon Daudet (1867–1942), a member of Action Française and a vocal opponent of democracy, who would become a supporter of the Vichy regime during the Second World War. Sylvain could also have in mind Léon’s father, Alphonse Daudet (1840–97), a novelist who, like his son, was a monarchist and an anti-semite.

13

Ernest Renan (1823–92) was a French thinker, known for his theories of nationalism and the nation. His Intellectual and Moral Reform (1871), written in the aftermath of the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, advocates for national regeneration through discipline and meritocratic hierarchy.

14

Hippolyte Taine (1828–93) was a literary critic and a sociological positivist, whose notion of “race, milieu et moment” in the study of literary works helped to found literary historicism.

15

Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges (1830–89) was an ancient historian. The Action Française group considered him an important precursor.

16

Maurice Barrès (1862–1923) was a French writer and politician, who popularized the term nationalisme. He was close to Maurras and an important influence on the French interwar monarchists, including Action Française, although he himself was a republican.

17

Frédéric Le Play (1806–82) was a French sociologist and engineer. His conservative, counter-revolutionary politics made him a favorite with the Action Française group.

18

Personalist, authoritarian leaders in Spain or Latin America.

19

A form of coup d’état in which dissident members of the armed forces publicly declare no confidence in the government. Such coups were common in Latin America, especially in the nineteenth century.

20

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We say, “because Negroes.”21 This is not the case at all. If we have suffered, if we have known the same agonies, placed under the same skies, in almost identical circumstances, it is neither because Indians nor because Negroes, but because men. All men, whatever they are, placed in the same climate, struggling with the same difficulties, will without doubt have acted or reacted the same … as men. Paul Morand, returning from a long trip, cried “nothing but the earth.”22 And another great traveller, asked for his opinion on what he had seen, answered, “I met men and women.” We must hold ourselves to account for our ignorance of Latin America, because our origins are similar and we are threatened by a common danger. The fight, first, between the Spanish Creoles of former vice-royalties and provinces of South America who want a less stifled civic life, and a metropolis having excessively reactionary methods of government, and then, with a youth burning with the impassioned declarations of humanitarian French thinkers of the eighteenth century, waited on by the naturally warlike indigenous masses: such is, in broad outline the history that repeats itself throughout the Americas. At first, just a revolt; then a war of emancipation. The Haitian adventure certainly acts as an object lesson, and it is all the more meaningful because it is not just one class claiming its share of the profits, but the irresistible push of an oppressed race, claiming and obtaining its right to a free life; like a flood bursting its dam. An episode in the struggle that carries humanity towards greater Justice … Its meaning for Latin America was as an object lesson, which, when it was put into action, became the daydreams of philosophers … The relationship between Miranda23 and Pétion,24 and then the great Bolivar,25 demonstrates the truth of this claim. “Brothers of the other race,” Latin American writers sometimes say, speaking of us, and the inherited prejudices set themselves against it. The language difference isolates us more than an Ocean. The pathos-filled and moving, mystical and amorous body of work of San Juana Inés de la Cruz, the Mexican nun whose impassioned strophes resemble Saint Thérèse.26

Sylvain writes “parce qu’indiens” and “parce que nègres,” breaking with standard grammar here (in French, “parce que” is always followed by a clause, and never just by a noun or nominal phrase, much like “because” in English). He seems to have in mind here most obviously the Dominican Republic, which has a long history of denying the African ancestry of its population and instead identifying with the extinct Taino people—hence, attributing their experience of race to their supposed American Indian heritage. Dominican racism against Haitians is built on maintaining a distinction between their supposed Amerindian heritage and the Haitians’ African heritage.

21

Paul Morand (1888–1976) was a French author, most prolific during the 1920s and 1930s. His travelogue of a trip through America and Asia, Rien que la terre (translated into English at Nothing But the Earth), appeared in 1926.

22

Francisco de Miranda (1750–1816) was a Venezuelan military leader, who campaigned for the independence of the Spanish American colonies.

23

Alexandre Pétion (1770–1818) was the first president of Haiti. Under his government, he provided substantial support to the Spanish American campaigns for independence, including to Miranda and Bolívar.

24

Simon Bolívar (1783–1830) led the military campaign for the independence of Spanish America, and served as president of a number of states post-independence. He is regarded as El Libertador (the Liberator) by many in South America.

25

Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648–95) was a baroque poet. Although Sylvain makes her a male saint here (“San”), she was never canonized and her proper title is “Sor” (Sister). The Saint Thérèse alluded to here is probably Thérèse de Lisieux (1873–97), a Carmelite nun hailed for her simplicity, whose collected poems were released in 1908 and again in a paperback edition in 1914.

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Sarmiento, the great Argentinian poet, polemicist, man of action, having lived certain of his works, of which “Facundo o Civilisacion y Barbarie” does a wonderful job of explaining the beginnings of the great republic of La Plata.27 Lugones, Enrique Larreta present us with various aspects of Argentina’s multi-faceted soul.28 The Ecuadorian Montalvo, too often the biased adversary of Garcia Moreno, master of Castilian prose, vigorous polemicist.29 Amado Nervo, Alfonso Reyes gave unforgettable testimonies of Mexico.30 José Asuncion Silva, Santos Chocano, names that evoke wild lyricism and harmonious cadences.31 I know them too little myself. It’s my own fault, the meetings were brief, whenever I happened to read them in the captivating Revue de l’Amérique Latine,32 which all Haitian intellectuals should read, in the Revue de Génève,33 and in several journals from over there, El Hogar, Caras y Caretas, Nosotros,34 which kind friends send me. I was therefore able to appreciate the wonderful fecundity of a body of work and a spiritual life that is too poorly known here. Three names in the literary history of Brazil have stayed with me. Gonçalves Diaz,35 whose exquisite sense of nature—a certain tropical pantheism—has led to him being described as being “like one of these trees in the tropical forest, in which the beauty of the flowers mixes with the scent of the fruit, the coloring of the leaves, the song of the birds, and the muted music of the winds in a careful balance of unexpected correspondences.”36 Castro Alves, precocious genius, penniless in the full bloom of youth, ardent defender of the liberation of black slaves.37 Magalhaes, religious poet.38 Machado

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811–88)’s Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism (1845), one of the major works in Latin American literature, denounces strongman governance as part of a larger exploration of the relationship between civilization and barbarism in Argentinian history. The Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata (United Province of the Río de la Plata) is an older name for Argentina.

27

Leopoldo Lugones (1874–1938) was one of the founding figures of Argentine poetry. Enrique Larreta (1875–1961) is best known for La gloria de don Ramiro, an historical novel that is an important work of Latin American modernism.

28

Juan Montalvo (1832–89) was an Ecuadorian essayist. Gabriel García Moreno (1821–75) was a caudillo who twice served as the president of Ecuador. Montalvo’s writings against Moreno led to his exile to Colombia, and are sometimes credited with playing a part in Moreno’s assassination during his second term.

29

Amada Nervo (1870–1919) and Alfonso Reyes (1889–1959) were Mexican writers.

30

José Asunción Silva (1865–96) was a Colombian poet, sometimes described as modernist. José Santos Chocano (1875–1934) was a Peruvian poet.

31

A French-language periodical, published in Paris from 1922 to 1932, which sought to introduce a French audience to Latin American literature, culture, and politics.

32

A French-language Swiss literary magazine, with a Europeanist outlook, published in Geneva from 1920 to 1930.

33

El Hogar, Caras y Caretas, and Nosotros were popular weekly Argentine magazines, which played an important role in the dissemination of Argentine literature, both domestically and internationally.

34

Antônio Gonçalves Dias (1823–64) was a Romantic poet, associated with Brazilian Indianism, which takes the American Indian as the representative of the Brazilian nation.

35

Revue de l’Amérique latine 3 (1922): 62.

36

Antônio Frederico de Castro Alves (1847–71) was a Brazilian poet and playwright, whose abolitionist poems won him the sobriquet “the Poet of the Slaves.”

37

Domingos José Gonçalves de Magalhães (1811–82) was a Brazilian Romantic poet, whose writing is often concerned with religious themes.

38

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de Assis,39 Nabuco,40 Ruy Barbosa,41 undertaking many activities as philosophers and men of state, are known as such. The “Profane Prose” of Ruben Dario, the inspired Nicaraguan, has not had its echo among us.42 The revelation that the bard of “Ariel,” José Enrique Rodo, was to Latin America, like a dream made flesh.43 “The noblest mind of the continent,” as Francis de Miomandre recently hailed him44—the leading representative of this continental spirit, which, overflowing the bounds of these little homelands, would create and wish for the Latin homeland. Against Anglo-Saxon utilitarianism, he believed in the comprehension of the beautiful, in order to allow the practice of the good, an ethics and an aesthetics inherited from ancient Greece and revived by Christian virtue. “Motivos de Proteo” and “El Micador de Prospero”45 are successive developments of the same literary and social doctrine, exalting the virtues of the race and underlining the importance of an autochthonous literature. A personality of considerable charisma, hailed as a “master” throughout Latin America, he is without a doubt a “continental” on the level of ideals, like Goethe, Henri Heine, Nietzsche were “Europeans.” He dreams of a “spirit” and a literature that would be open to all Latin America; and in the political realm, of vast recovered brotherhoods, as imagined by Bolivar’s “stormy heroism.”46 Ventura Garcia Calderon, although he sometimes fights it, represents another aspect of this spirit, and even the divisions of his “Democracies of Latin America” show how he understands the problem47: Gran Colombia: Equatorial Colombia, Venezuela. Peruvian Confederation: Peru, Bolivia, Confederation of La Plata: Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay,

Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839–1908) is widely considered one of Brazil’s greatest writers. He founded and was the first president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

39

Joaquim Aurélio Barreto Nabuco de Araújo (1849–1910) was a Brazilian writer and statesman, and one of the country’s leading abolitionists.

40

Ruy Barbosa de Oliveira (1849–1923) was a Brazilian writer and politician. He was an important voice in the abolitionist movement, and also served as a senator for the Brazilian state of Bahia and as the Minister of Finance in the Brazilian government.

41

Rubén Darío (1867–1916) was a poet and the leader of the modernismo literary movement. Prosas profanas (1896) is one of his most famous collections.

42

José Enrique Rodó (1871–1917) was a Uruguyan essayist. Ariel (1900) draws on Shakespeare’s The Tempest as an allegory for Latin American nationhood. It is associated with the modernismo movement.

43

In his essay on Rodó in Le Pavillon du Mandarin (1921), Miomandre praises him as “un des hommes les plus nobles qu’ait produits, depuis la grande poussée de l’Indépendence, la sève du continent astral, et d’un de ceux qui ont eu la plus parfaite conscience de ses hautes destinées” (one of the most noble men that the sap of the astral continent has produced since the great thrust of Independence, and one of those who has had the most perfect consciousness of these great destinies): Miomandre, Le Pavillon du Mandarin (Paris: Émile-Paul Frères, 1921): 165. In the rest of this essay, Miomandre praises Rodó for his aestheticism, his love of aristocracy, and his commitment to hierarchy. Francis de Miomandre (1880–1959) was a French novelist who translated many works from Spanish into French, including Rodó’s Pages choisis (1918), which assembles a number of the Uruguyan’s most important essays.

44

Motivos de Proteo (1909; The Motives of Proteus) and El Mirador de Próspero (1913; Prospero’s Balcony), which Sylvain erroneously writes as El Micador … are essays by Rodó.

45

The quotation is from Rodó’s essay “Bolivar,” originally published in El Mirador de Próspero, and translated into French by Miomandre in the Pages choisis, where the line is rendered “héroïsme tempétueux,” not “héroïsme oragueux,” as Sylvain’s French has it. Rodó, Pages choisis, trans. Miomandre (Paris: Alcan, 1918): 109.

46

Ventura García Calderón (1886–1959) was a Peruvian writer who lived much of his life in Paris. Sylvain seems to be confusing him here however with his brother, Francisco García Calderón Rey (1883–1953), whose Les Démocraties de l’Amérique latine was written in French and published in 1912. Both brothers were associated with the Generation of 900, a group of Peruvian nobility, and Francisco also moved in Action Française circles in Paris. Francisco was a young disciple of Rodó.

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Chile, Brazil, Central America, Mexico, the Antilles, international groupings of those that share common interests, vast communities as demanded by our age, which tends towards synthesis, towards the confederation of little nations, in order to resist the appetites of predatory powers. The dream of the historian and the thinker is the reality of tomorrow! All Haitians should be required to know and to ponder Manuel Ugarte’s beautiful and terrible book, “El destino de un continente.”48 The series of studies by José Vasconcellos, in which he denounces yankee hypocrisy, the rising tide of imperialism.49 Gabriela Mistral, the magnanimous Chilean, whose “Cry” rings through all the South American press, cry of the Latin race, justifiably scared of the Anglo-Saxon rush.50 Juana I barbouron, sensitive and quivering, “who writes on flowers with ink of dew.”51 Closer to us: Amerigo Lugo, Fabio Fiallo, the Henriquez family,52 and so many others of whom I remain ignorant, whose brotherly messages remain forever lost to us. We must make them aware of our contribution, no doubt still very slight, to the works of Latin civilization, which it would nonetheless be wrong to play down too much or to deny outright. It is up to us to show our qualifications, to prove ourselves. More human. — Finally, we must work to create the man to come,53 the citizen of the future, the citizen of humanity, of a renewed humanity. I hear the cries and the commotion of the Pharisees—for whom the restricted borders, the differences of race, the geographical positions are only necessary accidents, limiting the field that we can till, but who in no way seek to bring about the painful unification of consciousnesses. Here is what we are looking for: the man to come, which Massillon Coicou—friend, brother, for whom we have a ready-made affection—heralded and awaited.54 We try to create it in ourselves, around ourselves. But do not mistake our intentions and our thoughts; do not misrepresent us when you interpret us: the diversity of homelands is necessary. “Happy are those who died for earthly cities, for they are the body of the city of God,” said Manuel Ugarte (1875–1951) was an Argentine writer who campaigned strongly for the unification of Latin America and against US imperialism. His El Destino de un continente (Destiny of a Continent) was published in 1923, roughly the time he began turning away from his long-standing commitment to socialism and democracy.

48

José Vasconcelos (1882–1959), whose name Sylvain misspells here, was an influential Mexican writer, politician, and educator, who contributed to the development of the Latin American indigenismo movement and who sought to resist US cultural influence.

49

Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957) was a Chilean poet and stateswoman. See her essay, “How I Write,” (1.viii) for more information. Her prose poem “El Grito” (1922; The Cry) calls for Latin American unity in the face of US imperial aggression.

50

Juana de Ibarbourou (1892–1979), whose name is misspelled in the original, was a Uruguayan poet and feminist, who wrote extensively about nature.

51

Américo Lugo (1870–1952), whose name is misspelled in the original, Fabio Fiallo (1866–1942), and the Henríquez family of Francisco Henríquez y Carvajal (1859–1935), his brother Frederico Henríquez y Carvajal (1848–1952), son Pedro Henríquez Ureña (1884–1946), and daughter Camila Henríquez Ureña (1894–1973) were all Dominican writers. Francisco Henríquez was the president of the Dominican Republic prior to US occupation.

52

“l’homme qui vient.” The phrase is a reference to Georges Valois’s 1906 book L’Homme qui vient: philosophie de l’autorité. Written as he was joining Action Française, this book argues for the necessity of authoritarian rule and suggests that the chef d’industrie is the figure best suited to wield this power in modern society.

53

Massillon Coicou (1867–1908) was a Haitian poet, known for his poems about Haitian national heroes. He was executed in 1908 after announcing that he intended to overthrow the government.

54

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Péguy.55 These are chosen lands, domains fated for the wonderful flowering of different yet closely related plants. What we aim to do with our journal. A faithful and lively picture of the varied manifestations of contemporary Haitian life and thought. Intellectual and artistic life, economic and commercial life. The Haitian perspective on certain questions, the way in which we see things, and—since the word indigène has been turned into an insult, we reclaim it as a badge of honor—the perspective of the indigène.56 A return to sincerity and to the natural, to the live model, to direct description, a scent more strongly accented with Haitianness—this is what seems to characterize our young poetry. Mr Thoby-Marcelin and Mr Roumer, whose work seems to us to become significant through different means; whose particular artistic temperaments render the landscapes of our home each in their own manner: one, Roumer, in vigorous painting; the other, our fragile Phito, in delicate miniaturism.57 We will rediscover, in Punch’s comedy, the echo of its good humor.58 The laughter in the fog, Dekobra called it; there is no fog in the soul of our friend.59 In our next installment, one of us will give a panorama of contemporary French poetry, in order to initiate the public of our homeland and to introduce this poetry into this chosen patch.60 We have selected the stories, and especially sought out those of our storytellers who knew how to see and understand Haiti. We start with an episode of peasant life, deliciously chewed over by this tender philosopher, this charming man of wit by the name of PriceMars.61 It is an extract of substantial tastiness, and a profound work by our friend, about Haitian folklore, old legends, and old customs, inherited from the African past and the colonial epoch. Stories by Marcelin, Hibbert,62 and others … we’re not getting ahead of ourselves … will help to fix the face of Haiti, its true face. Charles Péguy (1873–1914) was a French poet and essayist, who was committed to nationalism, socialism and, later in life, Catholicism. These lines come from his 1913 poem “Ève,” a theological account of civilization, written on the eve of his death in the First World War.

55

The closest approximation to indigène in English is probably “native,” with its derogatory and colonial connotations, rather than the more neutral “indigenous.”

56

Philippe Thoby-Marcelin (1904–75) was a Haitian poet and novelist, known in particular for the peasant novels that he co-wrote with his brother Pierre Marcelin. Émile Roumer (1903–88) was a Haitian poet and the director of La Revue indigène. Both writers have poems published in this issue, and Sylvain also has a short poem that he addresses to Thoby-Marcelin.

57

Given the reference to an anthology of British and American humor in the next line, the Punch referred to here is most likely the long-running British humor magazine. Planters’ Punch was also a Jamaican literary journal, although on the whole it was less humorous than the British publication.

58

Maurice Dekobra (1885–1973) was a French writer. In 1926 he edited Le Rire dans le brouillard: anthologie des meilleurs humoristes anglais et américains (The Laughter in the Fog: An Anthology of the Best English and American Humorists).

59

This article never eventuated, although subsequent issues carried short essays by contemporary French writers and critics Georges Duhamel (1884–1966) and Henri Brémond (1865–1933), as part of a series called “Quelques définitions de la Poésie” (Some Definitions of Poetry).

60

Jean Price-Mars (1876–1969) was a Haitian writer, politician, and medical doctor. His “Ainsi parla l’oncle: la famille paysanne” (So Spoke the Uncle: The Peasant Family) appears on pp. 31–41 of this issue, and was reprinted in the book Ainsi parla l’oncle, which appeared in 1928.

61

Frédéric Marcelin (1848–1917) and Fernand Hibbert (1873–1928) were two of the founders of the Haitian novel. It is not clear whether Sylvain is promising to publish their work in future issues, but no such stories ever eventuated.

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Historical synthesis; the philosophy of events, their hidden reasons. The study of causes already undertaken by the great seers of the past—such as Edmond Paul,63 Justin Dévot,64 and Léon Audain65—will be continued with perhaps less joy, but with an equal good faith and the most complete frankness. We want to continue, to take our place in the series of those who toiled so that there would one day be a prosperous, happy, free Haiti.

Edmond Paul (1837–93) was a Haitian writer and politician, who advocated for Haiti’s economic selfsufficiency in his writings.

63

Justin Dévot (1857–1920) was a Haitian writer and lawyer, who shared many of Paul’s views on the desirability of Haitian autarky.

64

Léon Audain (1863–1930) was a conservative Haitian writer and politician who advocated for national renewal under a strong leader.

65

II. LÉGITIME DÉFENSE: DECLARATION Étienne Léro, Thélus Léro, René Ménil, Jules-Marcel Monnerot, Michel Pilotin, Maurice-Sabas Quitman, Auguste Thésée, and Pierre Yoyotte Originally published in French in Légitime défense 1, 1932. Translated by Krzysztof Fijałkowski and Michael Richardson.

The first and only issue of Légitime défense (Self Defense) appeared in Paris in 1932. Despite its very brief existence, limited print run, and poor circulation (the publication was apparently banned by colonial authorities and all but ignored by the Martinican people, as René Ménil explains in his preface to the 1979 reproduction of the magazine), it would exert an outsized influence on black diasporic writing and thought to come. Initiated by the charismatic and brilliant Étienne Léro (1910–39), who is renowned as the first black surrealist, Légitime défense is an important link in the chain connecting the bilingual French-English Revue du monde noir (1931–32) to later Francophone black diaspora little magazines such as L’Étudiant noir (1935) and Tropiques (1941–45).1 The explosive “Declaration” to this little magazine, co-authored by eight Martinican students, all under the age of 25, announces an anti-racist revolutionary program that merges Marxism, surrealism, and psychoanalysis. While there is a substantial archive of work by the eight signatories of the Légitime défense “Declaration,” and while many of them were involved with the Surrealists Group, we still know very little about the specific activities of the group. The “Declaration” that we do have provides a tantalizing glimpse of a strikingly assured and mature clique—self-identified as issuing from “la bourgeoisie de couleur française”—that considers itself “totally committed” to anti-capitalist and anti-bourgeois struggle through whatever means necessary. SJR

This is just a foreword. We consider ourselves totally committed. We are sure that other young people like us exist prepared to add their signatures to ours and who—to the extent that it remains compatible with continuing to live—refuse to become part of the surrounding ignominy. And we’ve had it with those who try, consciously or not, with smiles, work, exactitude, propriety, speeches, writings, actions, and with their very being, to make us believe that things can continue as they are. We rise up against all those who don’t feel suffocated by this capitalist, Christian, bourgeois world, to which our protesting bodies reluctantly belong. All around the world the Communist Party (Third International) is about to play the decisive card of the “Spirit”—in the Hegelian sense of the word. Its defeat, however impossible it might be to imagine that, would be the definitive end of the road for us. We believe unreservedly in its triumph because we accept Marx’s dialectical materialism freed of all misleading interpretation and victoriously put to the test of events by Lenin. In this respect, we are ready to accept the discipline such conviction demands. In the concrete realm of means of human expression,

Note, for instance, that Suzanne Césaire adopts the title of her essay, “Poverty of a Poetry” (2.iv), from Léro’s essay in Légitime défense which analyzes why “[i]t is profoundly incorrect to speak of Antillean poetry.”

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we equally unreservedly accept surrealism with which our destiny in 1932 is linked. We refer our readers to André Breton’s two manifestos and to all the works of Aragon, André Breton, René Crevel, Salvador Dalí, Paul Eluard, Benjamin Péret and Tristan Tzara. We consider it to be one of the disgraces of our age that these works are not better known wherever French is read. And in Sade, Hegel, Lautréamont and Rimbaud—to mention just a few—we seek everything surrealism has taught us to find. We are ready to use the vast machinery that Freud has set in motion to dissolve the bourgeois family. We are hellbent on sincerity. We want to see clearly into our dreams and we are listening to what they have to tell us. And our dreams allow us to clearly perceive the life they claim to be able to impose on us for such a long time. Of all the filthy bourgeois conventions, we despise more than anything humanitarian hypocrisy, that stinking emanation of Christian decay. We despise pity. We don’t give a damn about sentiments. We intend to shed a light on human psychic concretions similar to that which illuminates Salvador Dalí’s splendid convulsive paintings, in which it sometimes seems that lovebirds, taking wing from assassinated conventions, could suddenly become inkwells or shoes or small morsels of bread. This little journal is a provisional tool, and if it collapses we shall find others. We are indifferent to the conditions of time and space which, defining us in 1932 as people of the French Caribbean, have consequently established our initial boundaries without in the least limiting our field of action. This first collection of texts is devoted particularly to the Caribbean question as it appears to us. (The following issues, without abandoning this question, will take up many others.) And if, by its content, this collection is primarily addressed to young French Caribbeans, it is because we think it opportune to aim our first effort at people whose capacity for revolt we certainly do not underestimate. If it is especially aimed at young blacks, it is because we consider that they in particular suffer from the effects of capitalism (apart from Africa, witness Scottsboro2) and that they seem to offer—in having a materially determined ethnic personality—a generally higher potential for revolt and joy. For want of a black proletariat, from which international capitalism has withheld the means of understanding us, we are addressing the children of the black bourgeoisie. We are speaking to those who are not already branded as killed established fucked-up academic successful decorated decayed provided for decorative prudish opportunists. We are speaking to those who can still accept life with some appearance of truthfulness. Determined to be as objective as possible, we know nothing of anyone’s personal life. We want to go a long way and, if we expect a lot from psychoanalytical investigation, we do not underestimate (among those initiated into psychoanalytic theory) pure and simple psychological confessions which, provided that the obstacles of everyday conventions are removed, can tell us much. We do not accept that we should be ashamed of what we suffer. The Useful is that convention constituting the very backbone of the bourgeois “reality” we want to dissect. In the realm of intellectual investigation, we oppose this “reality” with the sincerity that allows man, through his love, to disclose the ambivalence

The Scottsboro Trials were a notorious series of legal trials in the United States of the pre-Civil Rights 1930s. The “Scottsboro Boys” were nine African American teenagers and young men (ages 13–20) falsely accused in 1931 of raping two white women aboard a train near Scottsboro, Alabama. Their cases drew attention to the systemic racism of the US legal system and to the need to safeguard the rights to a fair trial and to an impartial jury. 2

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that tolerates the elimination of that contradiction decreed by logic by which we are forced to respond to a given affective object either with the feeling defined as love or else with the feeling defined as hate. Contradiction is one of the tasks of the Useful. It does not exist in love. It does not exist in dream. And it is only by gritting our teeth horribly that we are able to endure the abominable system of constraints and restrictions, the extermination of love and the confinement of dream, generally known under the name of Western civilization. Emerging from the French mulatto bourgeoisie, one of the most depressing things on earth, we declare (and we shall not retract this declaration) that, faced with all the administrative, governmental, parliamentary, industrial, commercial corpses and so on, we intend—as traitors to this class—to take the path of treason so far as possible. We spit on everything they love and venerate, on everything that gives them sustenance and joy. And all those who adopt the same attitude, no matter where they come from, will find a welcome among us.3 Étienne Léro, Thélus Léro, René Ménil, Jules-Marcel Monnerot Michel Pilotin, Maurice-Sabas Quitman, Auguste Thésée, Pierre Yoyotte 1 June 1932

If our critique is purely negative here, if we put forward no positive proposals against what we irrevocably condemn, we apologize for the necessity to make a start, something that has not allowed a certain maturity. From the next issue, we hope to develop our ideology of revolt. [original authors’ note]

3

III. THE TIME HAS COME Hugh Stollmeyer Originally published in English in The Beacon 3.4 (November 1933): 85–6. Modernism in the Anglophone Caribbean is often traced to the publication of The Beacon, a short-lived literary magazine, which was published in Trinidad from 1931 to 1933. Edited by Albert Gomes (1911–78), who later went on to become Trinidad and Tobago’s first chief minister in the years leading up to the country’s independence, it understood literature as part of a larger anti-colonial and nationalist project, allied to left politics. Its literary sensibility took inspiration from both British modernists—and through C. L. R. James, was linked to the Bloomsbury set in London—and social realism, although the texts that it published were eclectic. Its essays were often pugilistic in tone, and it had a galvanizing and polarizing effect on Trinidadian society and literary culture, attracting much hostility and consternation. This poem, published in The Beacon’s correspondence pages, was part of a debate about the value of Trinidad’s literary clubs. In the 1920s and 1930s, literary clubs became an important vehicle for intellectual and cultural life on the island, embodying an Arnoldian view of culture and an Anglophilic and Victorian sensibility. While for their proponents, these clubs represented an attempt to civilize and bring culture to the island, to the editors of The Beacon, they embodied the worst of the country’s Anglophilia and Victorianism. The editors and their friends mounted a sustained campaign against these clubs, in a series of editorials and essays that appeared across several of their issues, provoking a letter to the editor from Levi A. Darlington (d. 1938), a black Tobagoan and vociferous defender of literary clubs. Darlington was responding to an earlier article by Hugh Stollmeyer (1912–82), a Trinidadian artist with literary and poetic inclinations, who was affiliated with The Beacon group; the editors accordingly gave Stollmeyer a right of reply. His response, written “curiously enough,” as the editors remarked, as a free verse poem, shows how modernist formal innovations, such as free verse, were here allied to a nationalist vision of Trinidad as a multicultural, multiracial society, affiliated not with its European but with its African and Indian roots. The ironies and discomfort that attend an Anglophilic black man debating a white man who calls on black and Indian people to embrace their heritage also reflect both the centrality and the complexity of racial politics in The Beacon group’s vision of modernist nationalism. AM

I hear it was said of me in the town That I criticised harshly, on false grounds Clubs of literary endeavour, art, And appreciation of the arts. It was said I did not know of what I spoke; That I was prejudiced, unkind, Unsuspecting of good works,

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Promotions of appreciation, uplift, Betterments, benefits, improvements Of artistic understanding, Freedom, love among the people Arisen by these clubs. But, my friends, you do not understand. It goes deeper than that: It is nearer and further than that. It is the entire spirit of your clubs— The sentiment, purpose, The fundamental idea Mistaken, sadly mistaken. I grieve. I see peoples enslaved, Dragged from their homes; Mother from son, Daughter from father, Brother from sister, Lover from lover torn; Forceful abduction, chains, The long, herded journey across the sea; The wailings, hearts wrung, Cruel strokes, Fetters cutting flesh, Starvation, nakedness; And the arrival at islands, Again the chains, the cruel strokes, And then the sale of human spirits at the mart; The depths of degradation, the filth The utter lack of love, kindness, humanity; The bleeding herd, the chains, again the chains— Chains of the brain, the spirit. A people Utterly enslaved. And then emancipation came. But you are not free, my people! Still do the fetters burn your brain, Your spirit—cutting deep, Biting your very being. You are not free! I see the stalwart, Lightly-clad bodies of African men in Africa; Their strong, stern, masculine culture; The tribal tradition, training, Free as the wind, untamed, Forceful, unyielding; I see the living sculpture, The tribal arts and crafts,

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The images, the ornaments, Perfect in aesthetic beauty, Reflecting clearly, radiating Nature’s primal energy: Life at its strongest, purest, Most splendid countenance— The strength of perfect spirit And truest human culture Dead! O, dead in you, my people! I see before me plains of India, The high Himalayas, rugged, snow-capped; The pure, cold mountain air; The ancient seat of sages, philosophers, artists, sociologists unequalled, kings; The love of man for man and man for Nature, The freedom, peace, the understanding; The bursting forth in song, shattering silences; The deathless Epics, handed onward And sung, ecstatic, generations down; The ancient, undying carvings, Paintings, temples, music; Conceptions, unsurpassed, of intellect and poetry Of Cosmos: Buddha, Brahma, Nataraja, Shiva And the Nelli fruit,1 the symbol of clear insight, Which is India’s own proper signature Of her past greatness. All these I see, and more. O, you West-Indian man of India, Where is your strength and rightful pride In the sense of this honour of thine— The honour of your own great race And country’s famous heritage? I do not see it, and I know it is not there! And now I see the subject-races Indian and African West-Indian, Self-despising, hating, spurning, Seeking, yearning to re-earn their lost prestige And self-esteem; fighting hopelessly, they drown, The inferior-feeling dragging down And further down still in the vast morass Of false, vain pride, assumed to hide Their suffering for their lost pride of race. O, people, not in the unreal utterance

Also known as the Indian gooseberry or, in Trinidad and Tobago, the sour cherry, the Nelli fruit is a tart fruit found across South Asia, which was brought to the Caribbean in the late eighteenth century and is now grown in Trinidad and Tobago.

1

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Of high sounding phrases, names, knowledge, Not in the aping, monkey-like, of outward show, The Maya,2 the false appearance, The efflorescent poison Of alien culture, manners, customs, ideas; Cloaking your sin in ceremony And in rhetoric disguising emptiness of truth; Not there, but in your homes. O people, Lies your battlefield for freedom; There to teach the truth to little children, Bidding them ever reject false standards And despise loud drums of insolent, crushing might; Suspecting perfidious Britain’s false mirage Of empty glory. Teaching them to spurn The cruel master, and to serve the slave, Nor bend the knee to any save Those only whom they truly love. Be not deceived! The time has surely come! Arise! Rise up and learn to love Yourselves. Yourselves and others Of your race—to love them more, Not less, than those who seem above you, And who, you know well, crush you underfoot!

A Buddhist and Hindu concept that describes the outward appearance of the world.

2

IV. RACIAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND SOCIAL REVOLUTION Aimé Césaire Originally published in French in L’Étudiant noir 1.3 (May–June 1935): 1–2. Translated by Alys Moody. This essay was originally published in L’Étudiant noir, a journal edited by three young black students in Paris: Aimé Césaire (1913–2008) of Martinique, Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001) of Senegal, and Léon Damas (1912–78) of French Guiana. This essay is believed to contain the first-ever appearance of the word “négritude,” providing the intellectual foundation of a movement that would have profound political, cultural, and intellectual consequences for Africa and its diaspora throughout the twentieth century. Whereas most accounts of negritude understand it as a kind of early identity politics—an attempt to develop an affirmative theory of blackness and a black essence around which peoples throughout the African diaspora might rally—this essay grounds its concern with black identity in an explicitly Marxist framework, and shows the concept arising from the attempt to ally revolutionary and anti-colonial politics. In this essay, as throughout negritude thought, culture becomes a crucial site for political mobilization. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that this essay should double as an early source for Césaire’s famous long poem Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land), which was drafted between the mid-1930s and the late 1940s and which reprises several of this essay’s turns of phrase. Until early in the twenty-first century, this essay was considered lost and possibly fictive. It has since been recovered and reprinted in a facsimile copy in Christian Filostrat, Negritude Agonistes, Assimilation against Nationalism in the French-Speaking Caribbean and Guyane (Cherry Hill, NJ: African Homestead Legacy Publishers, 2008): 123–6, and in a clean transcription, with very minor variants, in Les Temps modernes 676 (2013): 249–51. This translation, the first full translation in English, relies primarily on the facsimile of the 1935 text, but notes textual variants in the annotations. For a detailed account of this essay and how it revises our understanding of negritude, see Chrisopher L. Miller, “The (Revised) Birth of Negritude: Communist Revolution and ‘the Immanent Negro’ in 1935.” PMLA 125.3 (2010): 743–9. AM

The materialists do not claim that thoughts are devoid of practical consequences; they merely point out that neither the cause nor the effect of any thought is another thought. (Nizan, The Watchdogs).1 What revolution was ever made by a people innocent of curiosities?2 Who ever made a toy rise up against its owner? And yet, this is the feat that our black revolutionaries want

See Paul Nizan, The Watchdogs: Philosophers of the Established Order, trans. Paul Fittingoff (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971): 111.

1

This line is opaque in the original. The French reads, “Quelle révolution fut jamais faite par le peuple innocent des curiosités?” It probably involves a pun across different meanings of the word curiosité. In context, the

2

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to achieve when they ask the Negro to revolt against the capitalism that oppresses him.3 What else could we possibly call an assimilated people,4 if not a toy? Dostoevsky said it already, or something like it: every race that believes that it has nothing to say to the world is only an “ethnic curiosity,” and every individual a toy, who believes that, at the place of exchange, his people arrive with empty hands.5 “Act,” we say to the Negro. But since to act is to create, and since to create is to knead his natural substance and make it rise, our Negro at home6—who is distracted from himself and who lives within himself7—will not act. A strange evil gnaws at us in the Antilles: a fear of oneself, a capitulation of being before appearing, a weakness which pushes an exploited people to turn their backs on their nature, because a race of exploiters makes them ashamed of it, with the treacherous aim of abolishing “the consciousness of the exploited.”8 The white exploiters gave us—we exploited black others—a culture, but a white culture; a civilization, but a white civilization; a moral code, but a white moral code, paralyzing us within invisible nets, in case we liberated ourselves from the more tangible material slavery that they impose on us. And they weave their web, patiently, tirelessly, by a diligent ruse, until we die to the knowledge of ourselves. Consequently, if it is true that the revolutionary philosopher is the one who develops techniques of liberation, if it is true that the work of the revolutionary dialectic is to disrupt “the myriad false ideas which prevent men from realizing how they have been enslaved,”9 must we not denounce the deadening culture of identification, and place, under the prisons that white capitalism erects for us, each of our racial values, like so many liberating bombs? Those who tell the Negro to revolt without first bringing him to

“peuple innocent des curiosités” carries implications of a people who are unable to revolt due to their lack of curiosity (although in French, as in English, curiosité would usually only be used in the singular in this sense); a people who are unable to revolt because they have been defined as curiosities, that is, as fetishes or trivial objects of (Western) interest; and a people who, as curiosities, are innocent of their own status as such, and so lack the self-knowledge that Césaire takes as necessary for the formation of revolutionary consciousness. As such, this line condenses the major themes of the essay in an elegant but knotty sentence whose dominant reading shifts as the logic of the essay unfolds. There is a debate among translators of Césaire about whether the term nègre is best translated as “Negro” or “nigger.”

3

“un peuple d’assimilés”: assimilation was a much-debated policy of the French empire, which suggested that colonial subjects could become French by adopting French culture and customs. In this context, an assimilé—an assimilated person—suggests someone who has not just assimilated culturally, but who has thereby become eligible to attain the rights of a French citizen.

4

Compare this article to Dostoeyvsky’s nationalist writings. See, for example, “Two Camps of Theoreticians (Apropos of Day and A Bit More),” trans. James P. Scanlan, Studies in East European Thought 59.1–2 (2007): 141–57, which shares Césaire’s claim that national or racial development is a necessary prerequisite to human universalism, arguing: “humanity will live a full life only when each nation develops on its own principles and brings from itself to the common sum of life some particularly developed aspect. Perhaps only then, too, may we dream of a full universal human ideal” (pp. 142–3).

5

“le nègre de chez nous.”

6

“vit à part soi” means to keep to oneself, but “à part” in other contexts means apart from or separate to. In this context, Césaire seems to be playing across these two meanings, to suggest an introversion that is also an alienation from oneself.

7

Nizan, The Watchdogs, 139.

8

Nizan, The Watchdogs, 139.

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consciousness of himself, without telling him that it is beautiful and good and legitimate to be a nigger10—these people have therefore forgotten the most important thing. They have forgotten to speak to the Negro in the only language that he could legitimately hear, since, in contrast to “the clerk in Mr Gradgrind’s office,”11 the “Negro slave” still has blood rich with human affections, and it is out of his human affection, as Chesterton has noted, that he will love loyalty or freedom.12 The truth is that those who preach revolt to the Negro do not have faith in the Negro, and that, in their pride at being revolutionaries, they forget that they are Negro, first and always: slavery still, and of the most sterile kind. Paul Morand’s hero, the “assimilated” Occide, is also himself a revolutionary: thanks to him, Haiti has its Soviets, Port-au-Prince becomes Octoberville.13 What a great advantage, if he remains the whites’14 prisoner, a sterilely derivative monkey! Too bad for those who content themselves with being Occides, out of distrust of what they call “racism.” As for us, we want to mine [exploiter] our own values, to get to know our strengths through personal experience, to dig our own racial domain, certain that we will encounter, in the depths, the surging sources of the universal human.15 So, before launching the Revolution and in order to launch the revolution, — the real one —, the destructive tidal wave and not the trembling of surfaces, one condition is essential: to break the mechanical identification of the races, to tear up superficial values, to seize in us the immediate Negro [le nègre immédiat], to plant our negritude like a beautiful tree until it bears its most authentic fruits. Only then will we have consciousness of ourselves; only then will we know how far we can run alone; only then will we know when we are short of breath, and because we will have seized our particular difference and we “will loyally enjoy our being,”16 we will be able to triumph over all forms of slavery born of “civilization.” To be a revolutionary is good; but for we Negro others it is insufficient. We must not be revolutionaries who happen to be black, but genuinely Negro revolutionaries, placing the emphasis equally on the noun and the qualifier.

Cf, Césaire’s Cahier d'un retour au pays natal, where the speaker summons “the it-is-beautiful-and-goodand-legitimate-to-be-a-nigger dance.” See, Césaire, The Collected Poetry, trans. Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983): 82, 83.

10

Thomas Gradgrind is a character in Charles Dickens’s novel Hard Times (1854). He is a businessman, politician, and schoolmaster, known for his rationalism and his promotion of a fact-based educational system that Dickens believed produced emotionally stunted and amoral adults. Here, he becomes the embodiment of rationalist capitalism.

11

“It is true that the negro slave, being a debased barbarian, will probably have either a human affection of loyalty or a human affection for liberty. But the man we see every day—the worker in Mr. Gradgrind’s factory, the little clerk in Mr. Gradgrind’s office—he is too mentally worried to believe in freedom.” G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (London: Bodley Head, 1908): 180.

12

See Paul Morand, “The Black Tsar,” in his collection Magie noire (1928), translated into English as Black Magic.

13

“White” is capitalized in the Les Temps modernes edition, but not in the original L’Étudiant noir text.

14

Cf. Senghor’s account of the relationship between humanism and negritude in “Negritude and the Concept of Universal Civilization” (3.iii).

15

“jouirons loyallement notre être.” Cf. Michel de Montaigne, “De l’expérience” (Of Experience), Essais III: “C’est une absolue perfection, et comme divine, de savoir jouir loyallement de son être.” (‘Tis an absolute and, as it were, a divine perfection, for a man to know how loyally to enjoy his being.)

16

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This is why, to those who want to be revolutionaries only in order to be able to look down on the Negro with the “well-flattened” nose,17 and to those who believe in Marx only in order to cross the line,18 we say19: Let us work to take possession of ourselves for the sake of the Revolution, by outclassing the official white culture, the “spiritual rigging” of conquering imperialism. Let us harness ourselves courageously to the cultural task, without fear of falling into a bourgeois idealism, the idealist being the one who considers the idea to be the daughter of the Idea and the womb of ideas,20 whereas we—we see there a promise which can only bloom in a flourishing of actions. Yes, let us work to be Negro in the certainty that we are working for the Revolution, for he who brings about the Revolution will be in full strength, and he who is in full strength is in possession of his true character.

The idea that Africans deliberately flattened the noses of their children was a mainstay of racial pseudo-science for several centuries. The idea can be found as early as Jean-Baptiste du Tertre’s Histoire générale des Antilles habitées par les François (1667–71), and persists in modified form into the work of influential race theorists, such as Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–88), and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840). Césaire reprises the image in the Cahier: “I accept … the determination of my biology, not a prisoner to a facial angle, to a type of hair, to a well-flattened nose, to a clearly Melanian coloring, and negritude, no longer a cephalic index, or plasma, or soma, but measured with the compass of suffering.” Césaire, Collected Poetry, 76, 77. 17

i.e., the color line, presumably.

18

The paragraph break appears only in the L’Étudiant noir text.

19

“Ideas” is capitalized in the Temps modernes text, but not in the L’Etudiant noir one.

20

V. TROPIQUES: PRESENTATION Aimé Césaire Originally published in French in Tropiques 1 (April 1941), 5–6. Translated by Alys Moody. Aimé Césaire co-edited eleven issues of Tropiques with Suzanne Césaire and Réne Ménil from 1941 to 1945. Conceived as a bulwark against the encroaching nightmare of European fascism and Vichy rule on Martinique, this literary and cultural review elevated French Surrealism’s notion of psychological liberté totale into an anti-colonial and antiracist program of art and thought. It was the preeminent modernist little magazine of the Francophone Caribbean, if not the entire world, during the Second World War. After the war, Tropiques’ editors and contributors were able to shift their “cultural combat” onto the political arena; in 1945, Aimé Césaire was elected mayor of Fort-de-France and deputy to the French National Assembly for Martinique.1 In his “Présentation” to the first issue of Tropiques, Césaire defers the usual programmatic statement of aims and intent typical of modernist little magazines in favor of a more subtly ironized poetic prose decrying the “mute and sterile land” of a Caribbean plagued by colonialism. Césaire ingeniously evokes the entanglement of European, African, and Asian peoples and cultures in the Caribbean at the same time that he gestures toward the fascist occupation of these continents. If this text laments the fallow silence of Martinique among the nations of the world, it also revalorizes the empty spaces as the potential seeding ground of resistance: “Yet we are those who say no to the shadow. We know that the salvation of the world depends on us as well. That the land needs each of its sons, whoever they are. The most humble.” SJR

A mute and sterile land.2 It’s ours that I am speaking of. And through the Caribbean my ear gauges the frightening silence of Man. Europe. Africa. Asia. I hear the steel screeching, the tam-tam in the bush, the temple praying among the banyan trees. And I know that it is man who talks. Again and again, and I listen. But here: the monstrous atrophying of the voice, the ancient despondency, the prodigious muteness. No town. No art. No poetry. No real civilization—by which I mean the projection of man onto the world; the modelling of the world by man; the striking of the image of man onto the universe. A death more terrible than death, where the living drift. Elsewhere, the sciences progress; philosophy renews itself; aesthetic ideas replace one another. And on this land of ours, the hand sows the grain in vain. No town. No art. No poetry. Not a seed. Not a sprout. Or else the hideous leprosy of forgery. Truly, a mute and sterile land …

For a detailed account of this “cultural combat” as it relates to Tropiques, surrealism, and négritude, see Katerina Gonzalez Seligmann, “Poetic Productions of Cultural Combat in Tropiques,” South Atlantic Quarterly 115.3 (July 2016): 495–512. 2 This phrase crystallizes much of Césaire’s thinking about his homeland in this period. He reprises the description of the Antilles as “mute” at several points in the Cahier, and describes the condition of its people as “sterile” there and in “Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution” (2.iv). 1

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But it is no longer the time to be a parasite on the world. It is, rather, a question of saving it. The time has come to gird one’s loins like a brave man. *** Wherever we look, the shadow is gaining. One after another the hearths are extinguished. The circle of the shadow tightens, among the cries of men and the yells of wild beasts. Yet we are those who say no to the shadow. We know that the salvation of the world depends on us as well. That the land needs each of its sons, whoever they are. The most humble. The Shadow is gaining … “Oh! all the hope in the world would not be enough to look the century in the face.” Men of goodwill will make a new light for the world.

VI. POVERTY OF A POETRY: JEAN-ANTOINE NAU Suzanne Césaire Originally published in French in Tropiques 4 (1942): 48–50. Translated by Alys Moody. Suzanne Césaire (1915–66) was a Martinican teacher, writer, and feminist. Born in Poterie, on the south coast of the Fort-de-France Bay, she moved to France to study literature in Toulouse as a young woman, pursuing a degree at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure in Paris from 1936 to 1938. In Paris, she met Aimé Césaire, whom she would marry in 1937. The pair would go on to have six children. In Paris, she worked with Césaire and Senghor on the magazine L’Étudiant noir, where the first declaration of negritude was published (see 2.iv), but her most significant contribution to Caribbean modernism came through her involvement with the journal Tropiques, published between 1941 and 1945 in Martinique. Césaire served as one of the journal’s chief theoreticians and as its editor, contributing significantly to both its intellectual development and its administration (a particularly crucial matter, given the political and practical difficulties of publishing during the war years). The journal ceased publication in 1945 and Césaire’s writing stopped along with it. After the war, as Aimé’s political career and status as a major intellectual of the African diaspora grew, Suzanne worked as a teacher and mother, while continuing to work as an activist with the feminist organization, Union des femmes françaises. This essay, drawn from the fourth issue of Tropiques, introduces many of Césaire’s key concepts. It is a polemical attack on what she calls doudou literature, a style of writing that sentimentalizes and idealizes the tropics. Her key example of this style is Jean-Antoine Nau (1860–1918), a French poet whose travels in Martinique and the West Indies in the 1880s furnished a career-long interest in the island. Césaire argues that this mood has infiltrated Martinican writing and calls instead, in a much-quoted closing line, for a new poetry, a poetry that “will be cannibal or it will not be.” This new form incorporates both the cannibalist aesthetics of Oswald de Andrade’s Brazilian modernism of 1920s (1.iii), and the strategic primitivism of Aimé’s own negritude, as expressed most influentially in his Cahier d'un retour au pays natal, which he was then writing. This essay should be read against Suzanne Césaire’s other key theoretical contributions to Tropiques, which are collected in the volume, The Great Camouflage: Writings of Dissent (1941– 1945), ed. Daniel Maximin, trans. Keith Walker (Wesleyan University Press, 2012). For a recent reappraisal of Césaire’s contributions to the journal, see Anny Dominique Curtius, “Cannibalizing Doudouisme, Conceptualizing the Morne: Suzanne Césaire’s Caribbean Ecopoetics,” South Atlantic Quarterly 115.3 (2016): 513–34. AM

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The Martinicans have not forgotten him. No one has described our landscape more lovingly. No one has sung the “charms” of Creole life more sincerely: languor, sweetness, sentimentality too. Saint Pierre.... the volcano1... “the loftiness,”2 “the mornings of blue satin,” “the mauve evenings.”3 “Dressed in flashes of a red or smaragdine sun Winged djinns and dwarves pecked at bananas, Sweets heavy with ambrosia, And all the air was heavy with ambrosia, under the web Of long and sinuous vines.”4 and again, this sonnet, which delights idiots: The clean and floral sky, aware how it delights, A dome in ruby crystal, which rings to the song of bells, Sparkles, soft and luminous: at the foot of the rocks The blacks dive into the pink tide, which will turn blue. Fronds quivering in the tamarind trees: The clear throats of birds form semiquavers like pearls; The stiffened palms unfurl their listless feathers; The mother-of-pearl of Morning melts into sapphire. The good Negroes [nègres] sowed on the water like flies, A merry dark swarm of swift Skirmishes,— jeering at the flight of the long pointed canoes. The lammbi5 calls with the clamour of wild beasts; And the fishermen in the blue of the mad lost spray Watch, heavy-hearted, the dying mauve outcrops.6 This poem is called Antillean Dawn. And it has attracted followers—Naturally. See Soand-so. And So-and-so. And So-and-so. All “Martinican bards.” Are they talented? Of course, for people who are interested in that kind of thing. But what a pity! Saint-Pierre is a town on Martinique’s north-west coast. In the nineteenth century, it was Martinique’s cultural center and most important city, known as “the Paris of the Caribbean.” In 1902, the city was totally destroyed and 28,000 people killed when the nearby volcano Mount Pelée erupted. Jean-Antoine Nau’s “Choses mortes,” (Dead Things), published in his 1904 collection Hiers bleus, laments the city’s demise. Nau, Hiers bleus: poésies (Paris: Librairie Léon Vanier, 1904): 157–8.

1

Original reads, “la hauteur.” Cf. Jean-Antoine Nau, “Sur la hauteur (Martinique),” in Hiers bleus, 154–6, from which the next few quotations are drawn.

2

“Par les matins de satin bleu et les soirs mauves/Des formes d’une brune pâleur/Hantaient la tiédeur mystérieuse des allées.” Nau, “Sur la hauteur,” 155.

3

Nau, “Sur la hauteur,” 155.

4

Usually spelt “lambi,” this is a term for the conch, used throughout the French-speaking Caribbean.

5

Césaire reproduces this poem in full. In the original text, it is dated, “Martinique 1885.” Nau, “Aube antillaise,” in Hiers bleus, 20–1.

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It passes him by. He looks. But he does not “see.” He pities the Negro. But he has not known the Negro soul: Under the dark pecan trees, mirrored In the glassy water of the bayous, edged with huts, Lily, were you the piccaninny from the South, A luminous black, almost golden with such shine, Black sun with a white sun for a smile? Were you the little prey, tracked, forced By the old white hunters, obscene and hairy, The favourite animal, cuddled then beaten, The exciting doll soon broken That is buried one night, poor slender thing, Near a jade swamp where7 the tree frogs sing Under the grinning moon?8 And he evokes the mornes9: … O the white laughter of the mornes In the fragrant night of vegetation The soft swell of the coconut trees on the shore, — The rhythmic flowering In the breeze, — night of the multicoloured Madras10 On the stalks of beautiful balanced bodies!11 But the “marvellous”12 of the morne? Its malefic aura? Its harsh promise? The dynamite of the morne?13 Instead of that: swoons, shades, style, words, soul, blue, golds, pink. It’s nice. It’s polished. Is it literature? Yes. Hammock literature. Sugar and vanilla literature. Literary tourism. Guide Bleu14 and C. G. T.15 Not poetry. Nau’s original has “où,” but Césaire’s text omits the accent, making it “ou” (or), which is almost certainly an error.

7

Nau, “Lily Dale,” in Hiers bleus, 152.

8

A word of Creole origin, used to describe the volcanic hills in Martinique and other parts of the French Caribbean.

9

The Madras is the national dress for women across much of the French-speaking Caribbean, named for the brightly colored madras fabric from which it is made. The headscarf that is part of the outfit can be folded to reflect the woman’s sexual availability.

10

Nau, “Courants Antillais,” in Hiers bleus, 101.

11

“Merveilleux.” “Courants antillais” continues: “Et les formes et les coleurs/Ne voguent pas seules au devant de ma pensée:/Le fleuve de saphir roulant la vie en sa tiédeur/Victorieuse des colères de l’abîme/Paraît dégager l’atmosphère merveilleuse …” (And the shapes and the colors/Do not sail alone to the front of my thought/The sapphire river rolling life in its balminess/Victorious in the rages of the depths/Seems to clear the marvellous atmosphere.)

12

Compare Césaire’s treatment of the mornes here with Aimé Césaire’s account of them in the opening sections of his Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, where they similarly appear as a threatening and ominous presence on the island.

13

A series of French travel guides.

14

Several translations and glosses give this as the Confédération générale de travail, a French trade union, but given the context, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (also known in English as the French Line) seems much more likely. The latter CGT was a French shipping company, famous in the interwar years for its ocean liners, which ran ships between France, the Caribbean, and the United States.

15

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And I’m talking about Nau! I have not said anything about one Leconte de Lisle!16 about a José Maria de Hérédia!17 about a Francis Jammes.18 The colonial professors continue to find them rather good. Poor ninnies! the “jaguar,”19 the Manchy,20 the Trophées21 … And this: “ Oh father of my father, you were there before my soul which was not born and, under the wind the dispatch boats glided in the colonial night…”22 Come on, real poetry is elsewhere. Far from the rhymes, the laments, the trade winds, the parrots. Bamboos,23 we declare the death of doudou literature.24 And damn the hibiscus, the frangipane, the bougainvilleas. Martinican poetry will be cannibal or it will not be.25

Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisle (1818–94) was a French poet, born in La Réunion and associated with the Parnassian movement. His second collection, Poèmes barbares (1862), in particular, focuses on exoticist and Orientalist topics.

16

José María de Heredia (1842–1905) was a Cuban-born French poet. Like Leconte de Lisle, he was a Parnassian who wrote exoticist poems about the tropics.

17

Francis Jammes (1868–1938) was a French poet, known for his lyrical verse and pastoral themes. Although he never travelled to the Caribbean, he was a significant proponent of a symbolist, exotic vision of the islands through his poetry.

18

Leconte de Lisle has two poems about jaguars, both of which appear in Poèmes barbares: “Le Jaguar” and “Le Rêve du Jaguar.”

19

Leconte de Lisle’s poem “Le Manchy,” from Poèmes barbares, is one of his best-known poems. Set in Madagascar and strongly orientalist in tone, it describes his cousin’s journey on the eponymous “manchy,” a Malagasy sedan chair, on her way to Sunday mass.

20

De Heredia’s 1893 collected poems Les Trophées (Trophies) consist mostly of sonnets. Among sections on nature and classical Greece and Rome, he also includes a section of poems on “The Orient and the Tropics.”

21

Francis Jammes, “Quand verrai-je les îles?” (When will I see the islands?), in De l’Angelus de l’aube à l’Angelus du soir (1898).

22

“Bambous.” Apparently used here as an address to her fellow Martinicans, by way of a stereotyped image of the tropical exoticism.

23

Doudou is a diminutive term in French, used to describe a child’s stuffed toy or security blanket—the kind of thing that becomes a “transitional object” in Donald Winnicott’s psychoanalytic thought. In the Caribbean, doudou is also a slang term for a woman. In dismissing this writing as “doudou literature,” Césaire suggests that it is infantile and infantilizing, feminized in a derogatory way, and overly sappy and sentimental.

24

Cf. Oswald de Andrade, “Cannibalist Manifesto” (1.iii).

25

VII. BIM: AN INTRODUCTION George Lamming Originally published in English in Bim 6.22 (1955): 66–7. Bim was a Barbadian little magazine, established in 1942 under the editorship of Frank Collymore (1893–1980). During the 1940s and 1950s, Bim provided one of the most influential sites for the publication of Anglophone Caribbean literature, and is generally regarded by scholars either as one of the key venues for Caribbean modernism in the immediate post-war years, or as a key precursor to a slightly later flourishing of modernism in the region (or both). Bim’s initial focus was firmly local, as its name—a local Bajan term for Barbados—suggests, and its house style was eclectic. Publishing throughout the period of the Windrush generation, characterized by significant Caribbean emigration to the UK, it gradually came to publish many expatriate writers, as well as those from across the Caribbean. Throughout its run, however, it remained a firmly Barbadian publication, supported by large numbers of advertisements for local businesses and household goods, as well as by subscriptions from an increasingly international readership. This introduction to the journal was written by Barbadian novelist George Lamming (1927–) on the invitation of the editors. As the introductory “Notebook” which precedes this introduction declares, “Editors by force of circumstance rather than by persuasion, we have thus far consistently avoided the writing of any foreword which might be termed ‘editorial.’ We have preferred to let the contents of Bim speak on our behalf.”1 By inviting Lamming, a regular contributor who did not serve on the editorial board, to write this introduction, the editors continue to avoid programmatic statements (and indeed, Lamming’s own text emphasizes the journal’s heterogeneity and lack of programmatic direction). Lamming’s essay reflects many of the journal’s own preoccupations: an orientation that is at once local, regional, and cosmopolitan; and a vision of literature and the little magazine that takes its inspiration more from the tradition of T. S. Eliot (a towering presence in post-war Anglophone Caribbean literature) than from the polemicism and programmatism of the avant-gardes. AM

This issue of Bim, Vol. VI, No. 22, appears in the twelfth year of the magazine’s existence. It has been an odd and unpredictable survival: odd, because of the circumstances of its birth, and the gradual, unsuspected changes of emphasis and direction which have followed; unpredictability is part of the heritage it shares with any literary review of its kind. It started as a club magazine which would provide members and their friends in Barbados with a typical afternoon of entertainment.2 It was an easy, unproblematic paper without any claim to a serious purpose. There was no conscious intention behind it; and in the nature of the circumstances its contributions were drawn invariably from the life and interests of that club. On the whole, the writers would have been the members. Bim was, indeed, Bim.3

“Notebook,” Bim 6.22 (1955): 65.

1

Bim was initially founded as the publication of the Barbados Young Men’s Progressive Club. Bim is a term for Barbados used in the local Bajan language.

2 3

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To-day after fairly consistent appearances over twelve years, it astonishes the visitor and the editors themselves by the scope and diversity of its contributions. These have been coming, in recent years, from almost every territory in the Caribbeans—British, French, and Spanish—as well as from countries which are not directly involved in the interests and problems of the Caribbean. Writers from Germany4 and East Africa have sought publication in these pages, and shown both by letters and subscriptions their personal concern for the future of Bim. And what is really odd about this story is the curious accident of change and evolution which it symbolises. It has not been the result of any change of policy or of editors, and there has never been any desire on the part of the editors to forget or abandon their original benefactors. And yet this diversity has not disturbed the underlying pattern of the magazine, for what emerges from the varied contributions of prose and verse is a certain unity of concern which an American or a European intelligence would immediately recognise as regional. It is clear that Bim has its roots in a particular region, and that the change which has evolved and which has increased its range and significance is a part of the changes which have come abut in the West Indies during the last ten years. The magazine has been a kind of barometer which registered through its writers the climate of feeling and opinion which occurred in a particular place at a particular time. In that sense it is a regional magazine, and it is precisely that fact which ensures its authenticity. But the editors have never supplied their contributors with prescriptions. Themes have never played any significant part in their consideration of a writer’s work. They have always regarded the magazine as an occasion for bringing together a collection of the best writing they could attract. And it is this consideration, more than anything else, which has helped to protect Bim from the inhibiting provincialism of the intentional and consciously purposeful review. It has been my intention to point, so to speak, to the social implications of a magazine whose emphasis was never on social analysis or political prediction, and I have tried to emphasise the point of that unconscious change and development because of the tendency of groups among us to plan and organise what they call their culture. And an obsession, on the level of the individual or the group, with that kind of undertaking is always likely to be a threat to a particular and concrete activity. It is the business of the novelist, for example, to write novels, just as it is the business of the painter to paint pictures, and of the critic to make an evaluation of the work under consideration. Each must function in his own way and leave the meaning and the significance of the total result to people who are concerned with analysing such things. The meaning of Bim, in other words, is, for every writer, simply the unconscious background which he, through his particular contribution, has helped to make. But Bim has a direct literary value which we can see more clearly if we take a look at T. S. Eliot’s stated conception of the function of a magazine. In his introductory message to the editors of the new literary review, The London Magazine, he writes: “The first function of a literary magazine is, surely, to introduce the work of new or little-known

Janheinz Jahn (1918–73)’s essay, “The Contribution of the West Indies to Poetry,” appeared in the previous issue: Bim 6.21 (December 1954). Jahn was a well-known critic of African literature, and here extends his interest to the Caribbean.

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writers of talent ….. and the new writers, whose work it introduces should be writers who deserve the attention of writers and of readers of literary magazines in other countries.”5 There are not many West Indian writers to-day who did not use Bim as a kind of platform, the surest, if not the only avenue, by which they might reach a literate and sensitive reading public, and almost all of the West Indians who are now writers in a more professional sense and whose work has compelled the attention of readers and writers in other countries, were introduced, so to speak, by Bim. But in a community like ours, a community which has not developed to a satisfactory degree the habit of reading, writers will find themselves caught in a disturbing isolation, and one of the ways of refreshing their energy and reinforcing the validity of their work is to carry on a free, easy and continuous dialogue among themselves. They should get to know, not only each other’s names, but each other’s thought and concern. In this respect, correspondence is invaluable. To those who are primarily readers of the magazine as wel as to those who have only got as far as feeling a vague inclination to read it, Mr. Eliot’s judgment, expressed in the introduction I mentioned earlier, should seem at once heartening and severe: “Without literary magazines the vitality of the world of contemporary letters is very gravely reduced. If our society cannot provide for such a magazine, a circulation large enough to justify its existence—and a subscription, it must be remembered, is not merely an act of financial support but a declaration of moral support—then the outlook for our civilization is all the more sombre.”6

T. S. Eliot, “A Message,” The London Magazine 1.1 (February 1954): 16. Eliot, “A Message.”

5 6

VIII. JAZZ AND THE WEST INDIAN NOVEL, I L. Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite Originally published in Bim 12. 44 (1967): 275–84. Kamau Brathwaite (born Lawson Edward Brathwaite, 1930) is a Barbadian poet and scholar whose work is foundational to the fields of postcolonialism, Caribbean studies, and African diaspora studies. In his scholarly essays and monographs, Brathwaite has established himself as a world authority on creolization, nation language, and AfroCaribbean folk culture, subjects he has explored and synthesized within his magisterial poetic oeuvre. After graduating from Cambridge University in the early 1950s, he worked for eight years as an Education Officer in Ghana and saw it gain independence from the UK in 1957. He returned to England and co-founded the London-based Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM) in 1966, the same year he earned his doctorate from the University of Sussex. In 1967, he published Rights of Passage, the first volume of his “new world trilogy,” The Arrivants (1973), a poetic masterpiece that inaugurated a lifelong project of traversing the times and spaces of the African diaspora in the vernacular and musical forms of the diaspora itself. Brathwaite first published “Jazz and the West Indian Novel” in three installments between 1967 and 1969 in the influential Barbadian little magazine Bim (see also George Lamming’s introduction to the magazine, 2.vii). In this essay, Brathwaite attempts to delineate an “alternative” mode of Afro-Caribbean art-making that can be understood apart from the hegemonically imposed European cultural tradition. Taking American jazz as his archetype, Brathwaite theorizes the emergence of “New World Negro” art forms that draw from a double African and Euro-American inheritance. In part one, Brathwaite begins by inquiring into the peculiar absence of West Indian jazz, which he ascribes to several factors, including the majoritarian status of black people in the Caribbean, the differences between Caribbean and American slavery, and the lack of major cities like New York and Chicago. At the same time, he asserts the “correspondence” between American jazz music and the “words” and “rhythms” of modern West Indian literature, especially fiction. The essay is notable not only for its use of Cambridge-style practical criticism to advance its argument about the common African elements in “New World” art but also for its transvaluation of Western high modernism through that element. The text below reproduces part one as it first appeared in 1967. A reprint of “Jazz and the West Indian Novel” in Brathwaite’s essay collection, Roots (1986), restructures the essay to be a continuous thirteen-section text. Brathwaite also revises the text in places, notably by inserting two pages at the end of the fourth section distinguishing between E.M. Forster’s concept of “rhythm” and Brathwaite’s own, as observed in George Lamming (Barbados), Gabriel Okara (Nigeria), and James Baldwin (US). All notes to this essay are Brathwaite’s, drawn from the 1986 Roots edition of the essay. SJR

The blues is a special kind of music which, although it uses more or less accepted musical conventions and can therefore be more or less generally understood, cannot, however, be fully appreciated and felt unless listened to within the context of Negro American music. It is, in other words, the artistic expression of a particular kind of Negro—the Negro

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slave and his descendants under the geographical and social conditions of the American South. It is, furthermore, a specialized kind of expression, since the Negro slave had several other forms of musical expression available to him: the shout, the holler, the worksong, not to mention the spiritual and other sorts of European-derived Church and secular music which, in a sense, had an equal, if not a more general application to his conditions as a slave. Jazz, on the other hand, is not ‘slave’ music at all. It is the emancipated Negro’s music: hence its brash brass colouring, the bravado, its parade of syncopation, its emphasis on improvisation, its swing. It is the music of the freed man who having left the countryside of his shamed and bitter origins, has moved into the complex, high-life town. The first music originating in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of New Orleans and the towns of the Mississippi delta, contains that original shout of joy, mixed with the disappointment and the growl of protest of the liberated, urbanized Negro of the United States coming into contact with a new, exciting, mixed and mixed-up society of Latin and Anglo-Saxon influences which he had up till then been taught to regard as ‘superior’ and which was now receiving and rejecting him. Jazz, in fact, started as a brilliant amalgam of late 19th century New Orleans musical culture: the French quadrille, the tango tinge, Catholic liturgical harmonies, brass band and military music, boat songs, shanties, sankies, traditional Euro-American fiddle tunes, all superimposed on African rhythms and the Afro-American slave musical scale. It was, and in many ways continues to be, the perfect expression for the rootless, ‘culture-less’, truly ex-patriate Negro. Unlike the spiritual which was quickly absorbed, sentimentalized and capitalized upon by white American musicians and composers, jazz retained its essential negritude, and is now being increasingly recognized as the one peculiarly Negro contribution to Western music and culture.1 There is however nothing suggestive of racial exclusiveness or of esotericism about jazz. Many white musicians play jazz, an increasing number play it well, and a few have contributed, in many ways, to aspects of its development. But its accents, its rhythms, its treatment of notes, expressing as they do certain sociological factors that Negroes in America are involved with, have been transformed through their particular African genius and heritage into modes of expression best interpreted by Negro artists. And the importance of this sociological-aesthetic background becomes more meaningful when it is understood that jazz is one of those forms where creation and performance are simultaneous. The jazz man composes as he plays. What he plays—based on some basic chord structure or agreed-on theme—is peculiar to himself and to each performance. Each performance is different in some way because of its improvisational character; and each successful improvisation is a true creation and is an expression not only of the individual artist or artists, but of the group of which the artists are part. Aesthetically, in other words, we are speaking of ‘folk’ culture: the group, the individual-in-the-group, the group-individual improvisation: these are common features of the majority of folk music and arts. The ‘modern’ movement back to folk music, painting, poetry, ‘the happening’, serve to underline this, and perhaps help to explain the world-wide widening interest in jazz. But while ‘modern folk’ is mainly cerebral, a Among the best books on jazz are Andre Hodeir, Jazz: Its Evolution and Essence, trans. (New York, 1956); Henry Pleasants, Death of a Music? (London, 1961). Leroi Jones, Blues People (New York, 1963). For the spiritual, see N. N. Fisher, Negro Slave Songs in the United States (New York, 1953) and for black folk music generally, Harold Courlander, Negro Folk Music, U.S.A (Columbia University Press, 1963).

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desperate effort of the over-urbanized to escape ‘civilization,’ a conscious neo-primitivism; jazz is an example of a living, active folk expression on easy terms with all the world. While retaining its basic blues idiom, it is also, at the same time, capable of exploiting the extremes of contemporary sophistication. In fact it has contributed to the development of certain areas of our contemporary tastes. It was no accident that Norman Mailer (‘The White Negro’) and the Beats, beautified the Negro and especially the Negro jazz musician into ikons of the modern world. The ‘secret’ lies in the origin of the music: cry/laugh, slave/free, country/urban, Africa/Europe, and the resolution of the swing. So that the jazz musician of today will use the serial technique of Boulez (say), the drone of Indian ragas, while at the same time freeing (at last) his rhythm section from the 4/4 traditions of the military drum into something more nearly approaching African complexities. We have with this, also, a philosophical and moral correlation: a music which expresses something of the modern ‘problem’ of the individual personality vis-a-vis the group; and at the same time a collective effort which expresses the individuality of the group—and in American terms an oppressed minority at that—within the context of a wider society. Jazz has been from the beginning a cry from the heart of the hurt man, the lonely one. We hear this in the bass and drums, piano comping, and in the full ensemble which hints sometimes at chaos, sometimes at anarchy. But the chaos is always resolved into order. The social sense retains its grip on anarchy. The individual, it says, still has his place within the whole, even if, for now, it is a minor segment of that whole. So the trumpet calls, the ensemble answers, comforts, screams out its tight collective protest against the (white) withholding world.

II Jazz then is a music of protest. It is also in many ways a music of comfort and protection: a shield of sound behind which the individual and the group have been able to protect their spirit. As expressed, say, in Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, it is also, often, the sheer affirmation of the joy of living. It is, in other words, a music of remarkable range and resilience expressive not only of Negro problems, but of the problems of the whole civilized complex of living in the post-Faustian, post-Freudian world. Because of this, we would expect that other great creolized and Negro society of Americas—the Caribbean—also to have its jazz. But there is no West Indian jazz. The urban emancipated Negro musical forms in the West Indies, where they appear at all—the calypso in Trinidad, the ska in Jamaica, and the similar, related forms in some of the Spanish and French islands—are concerned with protest only incidentally. They are essentially collective forms, ridiculing individualism, singing the praises of eccentricity, certainly; more often celebrating their own peculiar notions of conformity. The West Indian musical form, where it has any general area of application at all, is basically a music for dancing: a communal, almost tribal form.2 There is no suggestion of alienation, no note of chaos in calypso. This is no longer (1983) the case. Jamaican reggae, emerging out of the cultural revolution of the ’60s, especially under the aegis of its ikon, Bob Marley, has transformed Caribbean musical expression and nativized it in form, content, and symbolization. Similar, if less dramatic developments also took place in the calypso, not only in the nature of the lyrics, but in the intensifications of musical form. See for instance, Sparrow’s “How you jammin’ so?” (1976). These developments have profoundly affected Caribbean literary—and popular—aesthetics (see my “History of the voice” (below) and “The love axe/1,” in Reading Black (Cornell, 1976): 20–36, reprint Bim 61, 62 (June, December 1977), 63 (June 1978) and the work, generally, of the Guyanese literary critic, Gordon Rohlehr). “Brother Mais” (below) is a look at this material from the perspective of these developments.

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There are no doubt several explanations for this. In the first place, the general sociological position of the Caribbean Negro is very different from that of his American cousin. He is simply not, in the West Indies, part of a minority group. Also the scale and nature of slavery in the West Indies differed in many important ways from slavery in the American South. And unlike the American, the West Indian Negro had no New Orleans, Chicago or New York to mix with, learn from, be hurt by, or protest against during the critical post-emancipation years. This isn’t to say that there was (or is) no protest tradition in the West Indes. The history of the area from Tacky, Toussaint to the political ferment of the 30’s is available in the archives and the books. But West Indian post-emancipation protest, being not concerned like the American with ‘civil rights’, the place and status of a black minority in a white world, but rather with subtleties of caste and colour, of West Indian against West Indian, has achieved little or no liberating, self-creative expression. There has been, it is true, with the increasing urbanization of Kingston and Port-of-Spain, a growing element of protest (and comfort) in the calypso and the ska. But it is still too early to see this as a positive contribution; and the development here has been mainly literary: in the words, the lyrics, not in the impulse of the music itself; not, that is, in the beat, the notes, the harmonies (though even here, now, one could present a few exceptions.)3 And yet it is here, in the new literary elements in the calypso and ska, and of course in the more sophisticated and elaborate structures of West Indian poetry and novels, that we can find a connection, (or rather a correspondence) between jazz (the American Negro expression based on Africa), and a West Indian Negro expression based on Africa. It is not of course quite as simple as this. Jazz is one medium; literary expression another. And not all West Indian artists are Negro. But to make ‘sense’, they have to write about their society, which is predominantly Negro. And taken all together, we can, I think, begin to discern certain fundamental elements and essences these different media—jazz and literature—and this will also include that produced by American Negroes—have in common. We will, in other words, be looking for some mode of New World Negro cultural expression, based on an African inheritance, no matter how unconsciously; but also (and this goes without saying), built (increasingly firmly?) on a superstructure of Euro-American language, attitudes and techniques. Jazz, for instance, is played in an Africanized manner on European instruments. An awareness of this double inheritance may or may not set up tensions within the New World Negro artist, depending on his degree of awareness of it as a ‘problem.’ The jazz musicians have, on the whole, been content simply to ‘play’, despite recent talk from some moderns about ‘the black music’. And this talk is really to do with American civil rights politics, not with the music itself.4 James Baldwin, also aware of the dichotomy, has appeared able, so far to integrate it into his vision of the American Society. LeRoi Jones, on the other hand, in his more recent work, has been concerned to stress the Negro (but American) aspects of his art, while Aimé Césaire, from the southern French Caribbean introduced with his concept of negritude, a rejection of European civilization and an

See Gordon Rohlehr’s “Sounds and pressure”, … and listen to the ska “007” for instance, and “Everything crash” and a great deal of recent Rastafari and Sufferers music. In the 1970 Carnival in Trinidad on the eve of the February Revolution, there was a resurgence of the African drumbeat and the militant calypsos. See also note 2, above. 4 I would say now (1970) that “black music” is no longer exclusively concerned with civil rights. It is now an aspect of black consciousness—an important departure from and development out of “protest”. 3

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affirmation of Africa, and poets from the Spanish Antilles like Guillen and Palos Matos did the same.5 For Derek Walcott, however, the double inheritance has, so far, remained just that. Writing about the Kikuyu/European conflict in Kenya, he asks: I who am poisoned with the blood of both, Where shall I turn, divided to the vein? I who have cursed The drunken officer of British rule, how choose Between this Africa and the English tongue I love? Betray them both, or give back what they gave? How can I face such slaughter and be cool? How can I turn from Africa and live?6 But my concern, at this point, is not with the problems of New World Negro expression, but with the (British) West Indian contribution to the general movement of New World creative protest of which I regard jazz as the archetype. I am asking here whether we can, and if it is worthwhile attempting to, sketch out some kind of aesthetic whereby we may be helped to see West Indian literature in its (it seems to me) proper context of an expression both European and African at the same time. And if in this essay I stress the African aspects of this literature, it is not, I submit, because I am not aware of the other, but because in most of the critical work so far available on this subject ‘Africa’ has been neglected in a way which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to view the West Indian contribution in a meaningful, West Indian way. The West Indian writer is just beginning to enter his own cultural New Orleans. He is expressing in his work of words that joy, that protest, that paradox of community and aloneness, that controlled mixture chaos and order, hope and disillusionment, based on his New World experience, which is at the heart of jazz. It is in the first place mainly a Negro experience; but it is also a folk experience; and it has (or could have, depending on its own internal integrity, as we have seen with jazz), a relevance to the ‘modern’ predicament as we understand it today.

III Words, then, are the notes of this New Orleans music. As George Lamming put it at the First International Conference of Negro Writers in Paris, in 1956: For the writer, his private world is his one priceless possession. It is precisely from this point that everything else will proceed…Nothing can take its place. It is his initial capital. He may gain by it, or lose by it; but without it he cannot function. Why he should be possessed in this way is a matter one does not wholly understand. We must accept it as part of his experience. But it is this possession which is responsible for his relation to words…7

See G. Coulthard, Race and Colour in Caribbean Literature (London, 1962): 40–50. LeRoi Jones (now called Imamu Amiri-Baraka) has also moved into an Afro-American negritude form of expression in his latest poetry. See Black Magic Poetry (Indianapolis, 1969). It’s Nation Time (Chicago, 1970). Baldwin, in Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone (New York, 1968) also appears to be moving in this direction.

5

Derek Walcott, “A Far Cry from Africa,” in In a Green Night (London, 1962).

6

George Lamming, “The Negro Writer and His World”, Presence Africaine XVIII–XIX (1956): 330–1.

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This is an ‘obvious’ statement and at the same time one which must be desperately repeated. It concerns Lamming at a Conference of Negro Writers, and it is applicable also to craftsmen everywhere. William Carlos Williams, for instance, says very much the same thing: For everything we know and do is tied up with words … It’s the words, the words we need to get back to, words washed clean. Until we get the power of thought back through a new minting of the words we are actually sunk. This is a moral question at base …. but a technical one also and first.8 Selected Essays But there is a crucial difference here. For Carlos Williams it is above all a technical problem. The concern is with discarding trying to get back to Eden. ‘Trying to learn to use words’, in Eliot’s phrase. For Lamming, starting from scratch, the word is Logos, a possession; and is connected with: “The word is for all in this world; it must be exchanged, so that it goes and comes, for it is good to give and receive the forces of life’ (from the Bantu philosopher Ogotommeli)’9; with passages in Tutuola and Camara Laye’s The Dark Child, on the one hand; and with passages in Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain, and Ellison’s Invisible Man,10 also celebrating the mystique of the word. Derek Walcott, faced with the harsh, hopeless fact of peasant impoverishment in St. Lucia cried out: All that I have and want are words To fling my grief about …. And Frank Collymore,11 in Barbados, more gently touched the need with: Words—words are the poem, The incalculable flotsam; That which bore them vanished beneath The hurrying drift of time. How shall they speak, how tell Of the ship and the lost crew …. It is the folk imagination that reminds us that ‘In the beginning was the Word.’

IV Words, then, are the notes of this new New Orleans music. The ‘personal urge for words’, the West Indian writer’s trumpet. But the ‘jazz’ sound of these novels is not expressed in words alone. There is a strong rhythmic element in much West Indian—as indeed there is in a great deal of Negro writing generally, and in the work if people like Faulkner and

William Carlos Williams, Selected Essays …

8

See Conversations with Ogotemmeli, trans. Marcel Griaule (Oxford University Press, 1965): 204.

9

“Choc Bay,” Caribbean Quarterly 3.2 (1953): 89.

10

“Words Are the Poem,” in Collected Poems (Bridgetown, 1959): 13.

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Paton (of Cry, the Beloved Country) for instance, whose work is clearly influenced by a Negro environment. One wonders too about Ernest Hemingway. Is not one of the great attractions of his style, for West Indians, his sense of rhythm? ‘Don’t look that way, Harold,’ his mother said. ‘You know we love you and I want to tell you for your own good how matters stand. Your father does not want to hamper your freedom. He thinks you should be allowed to drive the car. If you want to take some of the nice girls out riding with you, we are only too pleased. We want you to enjoy yourself. But you are going to have to settle down to work Harold. Your father doesn’t care what you start in at. All work is honourable as he says. But you’ve got to make a start at something. He asked me to speak to you this morning and then you can stop in and see him at the office.’ ‘Is that all?’ Krebs said. ‘Yes. Don’t you love your mother, dear boy?’ ‘No,’ Krebs said.12 (In Our Time). In While Gods are Falling, Earl Lovelace does something very similar, based on his own Trinidadian speech-rhythms: ‘Three years now I living here and this is the worst time I’m seeing now. I don’t know what’s wrong.’ ‘Too many things,’ the one-legged one says. ‘Mr. Cross, it’s like nothing is nothing …. Like – I mean – like there’s no meaning to anything.’ ‘You’re not wrong, Castle. But it’s so all over the world. I hear is the same thing in London and the States. Is the way of the world. It’s progress. Is this kind of living like there’s no tomorrow. It’s this great hurry, this feeling that the world going to blow itself to pieces any minute, any day. Many things involved, Castle.’ ‘It’s damn sickening, though. You paying rent and you can’t have a moment peace in this place.’ ‘You telling me, Castle. Is fifteen years now I here.’ ‘And, Mr. Cross, the trouble is a man like me can’t do anything about it. Only one thing – run. Pack up an’ leave the place. Leave it to the hooligans.’ ‘Castle, I have one foot. A man can’t run with one foot.’13 There are connections here, also, with the by now familiar passage in Selvon’s Lonely Londoners: ‘Under the kiff-kiff laughter, behind the ballad and the episode …14; and this, from My Girl and the City: All these words that I hope to write, I have written them already many times in my mind. I have had many beginnings, each as good or as bad as the other. Hurtling in the underground from station to station, mind the doors, missed it! there is no substitute for wool: waiting for a bus in Piccadilly Circus: walking across Waterloo bridge …15

Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time (New York, 1925, 1953 ed.): 99.

12

Earl Lovelace, While Gods Are Falling (London, 1965): 11.

13

The Lonely Londoners (1956): 170. The entire sequence is on pp. 164–71. Samuel Selvon, Ways of Sunlight (London, 1957): 181.

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The movement of the rhythm here, based on the cadence and intonation of Trinidadian speech, is subtle and inevitable. Wilson Harris, whose ear for dialect has not yet been noticed in critical assessments and appreciation of his work, is equally effective: His mother was sadder still. “Is best you go,” she said. Her lips were torn and they looked burnt with the sun. “I don’t want to leave she,” Carrol cried. “I can tek she with me and tek care of she and she tek care of me.” He cried to her louder than ever. “Your stepfather would forbid it,” his mother said passionately. “I can carry she and look after she,” Carroll said sullenly. “You think life so simple’? his mother pleaded with him. “You got to earn your fortune, lad. Sometimes is the saddest labour in the world.” “You mean if I mek a million dollar and come back I can claim she as me wife?” Carroll said. “If you mek a million dollar you think you can fool the living and bring the dead alive?” His mother spoke strangely. “Is not money make me flesh and fortune.”16 Not only the rhythms here, but the quiet repetition of word and variation of rhythm, take us straight back to jazz and establish correspondences. Even the word ‘lad’, in the fifth paragraph, though perhaps ‘wrong’ for Guyanese speech, fits correctly into the pattern and so passes along. But not all west Indian rhythm passages are so successful. When the folk speech is left too far behind, and the writer attempts inventions of his own, a certain strenuousness may arise, as for instance in Vic Reid’s early (1950) experiments in New Day: Tomorrow I will go with Garth to the city to hear King George’s man proclaim from the square that now Jamaica-men will begin to govern themselves. Garth will stand on the high platform near the Governor and the Bishop and the Chief Justice, and many eyes will make four with his. Garth will stand proud and strong, for mighty things ha’ gone into his conception. This is nearer in its rhythmical insistence to, say, Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country, than it is to any of the passages so far quoted in this essay. Also in Edge up yourself sharp, Coney Mount tenor-man! Roll it out, big-bone bass man from Cedar Valley! Roll it out for the girls from Morant fishing beach must ha’ something solid to pour molasses from their throats on. Sing, my people, for good this is …17 the rhythm and the strong imagery of ‘solid’ and ‘pour molasses from their throats on’, seem to collide, setting up ripples of distraction.18 In The Leopard (1958), there is much greater rhythmical control, though still, because of the insistent images that go along with this, a continuing hint of strain: His head was filled with the hills, light green hills and dark ones, hills were buttercups blazed like yellow fires at dusk; hills that were long-drawn-out shrieks on whose slopes

Wilson Harris, Palace of the Peacock (London, 1960): 87–8. Since this piece was written, Harris’ use of dialect has been noticed by one other critic, Kenneth Ramchand, The West Indian Novel and Its Background (London, 1970): 106–7, 112–14. [K.B. note in Roots]

16

New Day, p. 14. [K.B. note in Roots]

17

For a good look at Reid’s language in New Day, see H. P. Jacobs’ “The Dialect of Victor Reid,” West Indian Review 1 (May 1949): 12–15, 19. [K.B. note in Roots]

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the best would buckle; and the wrinkled, mean, nut-brown ones that would twist your ankle and your soul. Still, it is not without significance that The Leopard is set in (East) Africa even though, at the time, it was an African of imagined landscape. Reid, when he wrote this book, had not yet, it appears, visited Africa. Nor had George Lamming when he created this rhythmic evocation: …. time was I see by the sun how the season sail and the moon make warning what crops to expect. Leaf fall or blood stain by the edge of the sea was a way of leaving one thing for another. Wood work in the morning and the tale at night was the way we walk the world, and no one worry what wonders take place on the top of the sky. Star in the dark and stone in the shine of the sun sideways speak nothing but a world outside our world and the two was one. Fire heat in the daytime and the colour that come later to take light from the eye make small, small difference to my people. The children was part of the pool ….19 (In the Castle of my Skin). But the connections are there with this, for instance, from the Nigerian Gabriel Okara’s: When Okolo came to know himself, he was lying on a floor, on a cold cold floor lying. He opened his eyes to see but nothing he saw, nothing he saw. For the darkness was evil darkness and the outside night was black black night …. (The Voice) and Baldwin’s: And a voice, for the first time in all his terrific journey spoke to John, through the rage and weeping, and fire, and darkness, and flood: “Yes,” said the voice, “go through. Go through.” “Lift me up,” whispered John, “lift me up. I can’t go through.” “Go through,” said the voice, “go through.” Then there was silence. The murmuring ceased. There was only this trembling beneath him. And he knew there was a light somewhere. “Go through.” “Ask Him to take you through.”20 (Go Tell it on the Mountain)

V But word, image and rhythm are only the basic elements of what, within the terms of my definition, would go to make up a jazz aesthetic in the Caribbean novel. What determines the shape and direction of a jazz performance, given the basic elements, is the nature of its improvisation. And pursuing our correspondences in this matter, it is to this, we must now turn in our examination of the West Indian novel. (To be continued)

George Lamming, In the Castle of My Skin (London, 1953): 209–10.

19

James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain (New York, 1952, 1954 ed.): 174–5.

20

IX. THE ARTIST IN THE CARIBBEAN Aubrey Williams Originally presented in English at the First Caribbean Artists Movement conference, University of Kent, 1967. This text was first published in Savacou 2 (1970): 16–18. The Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM), founded in London in 1966, represented a momentous event for Caribbean modernism. A diasporic and transnational movement, it produced some of the most distinctively experimental and innovative works of the long history of Caribbean modernism. As Kamau Brathwaite writes in his essay “Timehri,” which also appears in this issue of Savacou, “The object of CAM was first and foremost to bring West Indian artists ‘exiled’ in London into private and public contact with one another.”1 It was a self-consciously multi-arts movement, and over time it extended to encompass artists, writers, and intellectuals still resident in the Caribbean, as well as those who returned, becoming a multi-centered movement with bases in London and Kingston, Jamaica. Aubrey Williams (1925–90), a Guyanese painter, was one of the central figures of this movement. Resident in London since 1952, Williams had studied at St Martin’s School of Art before establishing himself as an important Caribbean painter. From the 1970s on, he moved frequently between the UK, Jamaica, and the United States. This essay is drawn from the second issue of Savacou, the publication of the Caribbean Artists Movement, as part of a special issue collecting papers delivered at the First Caribbean Artists Movement conference, held at the University of Kent in 1967. This important meeting helped to consolidate the movement, with contributions from writers including Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, C. L. R. James, and many others. Savacou itself began publication in 1970 and ran for fifteen issues until 1979. A larger and more luxurious publication than earlier periodicals, it eschewed the local advertisements (or indeed, any advertisements) of the earlier texts, and was far more carefully and intentionally curated than a publication like Bim. Its masthead, which advertised its location as “Kingston and London,” reflected CAM’s transnational orientation. The issue following the one in which this essay appeared, no. 3–4, “New Writing 1970,” is its most famous, publishing a selection of highly experimental poetry that played with oral forms and rhythms in dazzlingly (and controversially) new ways, building on the affinity between music and literature that Brathwaite develops in “Jazz and the West Indian Novel” (2.viii). Williams’ essay was printed in issue 2, which collected papers from the first CAM conference and which in some ways serves as a manifesto or statement of purpose for the movement as a whole. Over Savacou’s run, the journal became increasingly academic, and by the late 1970s read as something between a literary magazine and a scholarly journal. This essay, “The Artist in the Caribbean” (which takes its name from a C. L. R. James lecture of the same title), offers an innovative approach to modernism in the Caribbean. Echoing both the indigenism and the Latin American orientation of La Revue indigène (2.i), it links the emphasis in European and American modernism on abstraction and antinarrative to the specificities of the Caribbean and Latin American landscape. Williams, whose work takes inspiration from Amerindian designs and crafts, sought to implement this approach in his own distinctive Caribbean modernist art. AM

Edward (Kamau) Brathwaite, “Timehri,” Savacou 2 (September 1970): 41.

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I was very disturbed, intellectually, by Professor Elsa Goveia’s talk this morning.2 She made it clear that we have just done a very difficult thing in breaking out of one phase of our development and entering the new freedoms of the different islands and countries in the Caribbean. We will also at the same time have to move from colonialism into the 20th century in one jump, and we will have to do this in our creative arts first. It always seems in the history of man that the arts give the direction for the technology, the philosophy, the politics and the very life of the people. Art is always in the foreground; it is the true avant garde. The visual arts, being the simplest and the most direct, should be a little ahead of literature, because with emerging peoples you have the problem of illiteracy, and direct contact is the natural level of communication in this society. We have considered the strength of folk lore in emerging societies. We know that this is direct contact. It is one man or one person sitting in front of a group of other persons. Painting is this kind of direct contact in that the artist must see the object before he can contemplate it, and before it can enter his state of being. Writing will be less effective until we achieve a higher level of literacy. Now, I am worried about a prevalent conception that good art, working art, must speak, it must be narrative.3 I do not see the necessity for art to be narrative, in that in thinking about the past and man, art has never been “narrative” to any great extent. I would not call primitive art in any sense directly representational or figurative. The arts of past civilisations were to a great extent non-figurative. One does not question the validity, or the strength of impact, of so-called primitive abstract designs on shields, on houses, in pottery in the weave of fabrics; one just accepts them. But strangely in the West today, one makes demands upon the visual artist, demands that I think are not warranted in many cases. (It was a bit sad for me to see that it was our elder statesman in letters, C. L. R. James, who has turned over the past two years, into being a champion for the more advanced and adventurous avant garde in the visual arts.4 I would have thought that our young writers would have footed the bill far easier as they should be involved in the tensions that would produce an avant garde art in the Caribbean.) If our intellectuals have not got an automatically functioning visual chain reaction going yet, what must we hope for from our people at home? When I was last in Guyana

Elsa Goveia (1925–80) was a historian of the Caribbean, and the first female professor at the University College of the West Indies (now the University of the West Indies). Her talk, “The Social Framework,” also published in this issue of Savacou, discussed how the history of race relations still structured West Indian society. She concluded by calling on artists and writers to play a key role in dismantling what she calls the “inferiority/superiority ranking” of racial hierarchy in favour of a more fully democratic and egalitarian society, effectively making a case for socially and politically engaged art and literature.

2

The dominant interpretation of modernism in the visual arts follows Clement Greenberg’s account of modernism as the attempt to purge painting of “literature,” by which he usually means narrative. In his rejection of figuration and narrative, Williams initially allies himself to Euro-American modernism, although he complicates this perspective and challenges Greenberg’s anti-representationalism later in the essay.

3

C. L. R. James (1901–89) was a Trinidadian writer, known for his prodigious influence on Caribbean and black diasporic literature and for his life-long commitment to Marxist socialism. Given his enormous and wideranging output, his contribution to art criticism is often neglected, but he was a strong supporter and perceptive analyst of the visual arts. Williams likely has in mind James’ lecture “The Artist in the Caribbean,” from which Williams takes his title. James’ lecture was delivered in 1959 at the University College of the West Indies, Mona, and has been reprinted in The Future in the Present: Selected Writings (Westport, CT: Lawrence Hill, 1977) and in Caribbean Quarterly 54.1–2 (2008): 177–80. James was also present at the CAM symposium, and the paper he delivered there, “Discovering Literature in Trinidad: The Nineteen-Thirties,” about the Beacon group (see 2.iii), appears in this issue of Savacou.

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at the celebration of Independence,5 I was stopped in the street by a man driving a dray cart that was loaded with people who had come all the way from a village named Buxton on the east coast of Demerara. They had come to Georgetown. And this man came up to me. I was taking photographs, and he made himself known. I did not know him and he told me how glad he was to meet me and he told me of a new function in his life, one that gave him great pleasure. He said to me “You see that dray cart there. One day every month I load it up with people from my village and I bring them down to look at your paintings.” I felt very crushed and humble, and I just didn’t know what to say. I said to him, “They are abstract, people say they are abstract.” He used a very strong Guyanese cussword. He said “Abstract, what is that? I don’t understand abstract. When I look at your paintings I can think about my days in the bush.” And I thanked him and I went up to the dray cart and I shook everybody’s hand and I spoke to the children for a while. And it was one of the most touching episodes of my visit back home. I am not trying to ask Caribbean intellectuals to consider abstraction as “high art”, or the “art of the future” or anything like that. As a matter of fact I don’t even think of my paintings as being abstract. I can’t really see abstraction. Abstraction to me would be two colours on a surface, no form and no imprint of the hand of man. I do not think that painters paint abstraction, nor do I think that sculptors sculpt abstraction. I am not very sure that I understand the meaning of the word. Another much abused term is “modern art.” We should see to it that this awful virus does not get a foot hold in the Caribbean — the attitude to the visual arts that automatically attaches labels to what we see when we look. Much of my work has come out of a long contemplation and a search into the pre-Columbian civilisations in the New World — primarily, the Aztec, the Maya, the Toltec and the Inca. Also, a long immersion in the work of our South American Indians in Guyana. I firmly feel that such art should be automatically appreciated by people from the Caribbean and from Guyana because they share the same environment. The South American and the Caribbean environments as compared with the ordered environments of much of the rest of the world, appears naturally ‘abstract’. It is yet, thank Heavens, not rearranged too much by the hand of man. We are losing it fast, but we are lucky to have our roots still in the earth of the Caribbean. We are still in a position to contemplate terrestrial reality. Ours is a beautiful landscape; unbelievably beautiful in some cases; but, as compared with the ordered landscapes in the countries that have been over-lived in, bizarre, unreal, incongruous. It is a very strong landscape and the primitive art that came out of this landscape remains unique. We should be proud of our non-figuration. We should be proud of the essences of human existence that the people from that neck of the woods has produced in the world. We should be very proud of people like the Tamayo from Mexico.6 We should be proud of people like the Matta from Peru.7 We must become more involved with the visual

Guyana achieved its independence from Britain on May 26, 1966, the year before this talk was given.

5

Rufino Tamayo (1899–1991) was a Mexican painter and printmaker. His works draw on pre-Columbian forms as well as European modernist influences. Williams adds a definite article to his name (and to Matta’s in the next sentence), creating the impression that he is speaking about an indigenous people, although there are no such groups in Mexico.

6

Williams is probably referring here to Roberto Matta (1911–2002), one of Chile’s best-known artists, who, like Tamayo, drew on both European surrealism and pre-Columbian Andean textiles in his work. Although Matta travelled to Peru, he was not however Peruvian.

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output of our artists in the Caribbean, because they are going to change the real seeing of the world. They are going to do it just as the politicians and the writers will do it. And I would be far happier if I could see a greater interchange between all the arts in the Caribbean. Caribbean art seems to me up to now terribly isolated. Everybody is in his niche, using up endless energy working alone without the help of his colleagues. We should have more interchange, we should have dialogue between the novelist and the painter, the musician and the dancer, the potter, the weaver; even the artisans should be included in this. And the dialogue with the people would then be automatic. We come from this environment, we came out of this environment, and we produce the things that belong back to the environment. If our painters must grope and search and forge ahead, we do not as yet know the language they should speak. We will have to grow into this language and it is a movement from a great state of frustration into one of a growing norm. I hope that we will eventually reach what can be called a norm visually, but we must not be too impatient, and I would hope that the interchange between all the arts would promote an atmosphere in which the Caribbean people will find a greater intimacy with the visual arts.

CHAPTER THREE

Modernism in Sub-Saharan Africa EDITED BY ALYS MOODY

The question of whether modernism exists in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, has been one of the most hotly debated controversies in the field of global modernism. Conventionally, the controversy is traced to Ghanaian novelist Ayi Kwei Armah’s blistering attack on critic Charles Larson who, in his 1971 study, The Emergence of African Fiction, purported to show the influence of James Joyce on Armah’s writing. In a scathing review of this study, Armah retorted that Larson’s attempt to read him as a modernist sought “to annihilate whatever is African in me and my work,” reflecting a political imbalance within which “Africa is inferior; the West is superior. As African Literature develops, the best of it must become less African, more Western.”1 Armah’s outrage at what he punningly calls Larson’s “Larsony” gives voice to a still-widespread anxiety in global modernist studies: that by applying the term “modernism” to times and places outside the West, we are enforcing a Western template on non-Western literatures, inevitably casting those outside Europe and the United States as belated and derivative, and reinforcing a view of literature within which the West is the gold standard to which other cultures aspire. Armah’s polemic reflected a widespread skepticism in African literature toward both Western scholars who sought to find “modernism” in Africa and African writers whose literary affiliations hewed more to European than African sources (Chinweizu’s essay in this section, 3.vii, encapsulates the terms of this latter debate). In this context, scholars of African literature have been hesitant about the application of the term “modernism” in the African context. With the rise of global modernist studies, scholars have begun to revise this position, albeit with considerable caution. While Western modernism did have a certain purchase on some African writers in the 1960s and 1970s, the force of Armah’s position continues to generate a widespread skepticism of influence studies or formalist accounts as a way of understanding African modernism. Instead, scholars who suggest that modernism is a useful frame for the analysis of African literature typically do so on the basis of accounts of modernism that take the term to suggest a set of literary or artistic responses to modernity, either from a world-systems theory perspective, as in the work by the Warwick Research Collective, or by examining the institutional structures by which modernism

Ayi Kwei Armah, “Larsony, or Fiction as Criticism of Fiction,” Asemka 4 (1976): 9, 12.

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was disseminated globally.2 For most of these scholars, modernism arises as the literature of African decolonization in the 1960s and 1970s, in tandem with the emergence of new African nations. This volume broadly follows this accepted periodization, and the majority of the texts in this section were published between 1963 and 1973. To this, however, we also add an important earlier outlier from the colonial period: Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, a Malagasy poet, active in the 1920s and 1930s, who is often described as Africa’s first modernist poet. For Rabearivelo, as for his later heirs, modernism in sub-Saharan Africa remains intrinsically bound up with the problem of tradition in the context of colonization and its aftermath, and with the dilemma of how to produce or register a specifically African modernity in literature or art. One of the effects of the later periodization of modernism in Africa is that the institutional landscape is markedly different than it is for pre-Second World War modernisms. Much African modernism takes place in the context of the twin pressures of the cultural Cold War and the exigencies of nation-building. As a result, institutions— from state-sponsored art organizations and national universities, to transnational organs for the global dissemination of modernism, such as the CIA-funded Congress for Culture Freedom (CCF)—play a central role in the development of African modernism. The importance of institutionalized conferences and arts festivals, as well as the centrality of journals such as the CCF-funded Transition and Black Orpheus, and, in French, the tremendously influential Présence Africaine, reflects the role that modernism played in both African nation-building and Cold War geopolitics. While in places such as Nigeria, Senegal, and Zaire, modernism was part of a nationbuilding project, even these projects developed within a larger pan-African worldview, which tended to dominate African cultural production in this period. The legacy of negritude was particularly important to the development of African literature and art, especially in the Francophone world. The idea was far more controversial among Englishspeaking writers, but even there, modernism developed as a regional undertaking, often in conversation with the African diaspora in the United States and the Caribbean. As a result, modernism in sub-Saharan Africa most frequently understood itself as a regional— if not always a fully diasporic—project, in which individual national concerns formed part of a larger project of African cultural realization. The dominance of the term “African” over that of specific nationalities or ethnic groups reflects this categorization, and has determined the shape of this section. Nonetheless, African modernism was not a monolith. As this section reveals, language and colonial history presented a major point of cleavage within African literature in this period, although the visual arts—no doubt for obvious reasons—tended to be less divided on these grounds. Francophone and Anglophone Africa not only spoke different languages, but developed quite different theories of the role of culture, influenced above all by the disagreement over the role of Senghorian negritude in decolonial African consciousness. Many of the major conferences and some of the journals in this period actively sought to bridge this divide, and did so with a more concerted effort than occurred in, say, the Caribbean. Nonetheless, Francophone and Anglophone modernisms developed as,

Neil Lazarus, “Modernism and African Literature,” in The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms, ed. Mark Wollaeger (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012): 228–45; Warwick Research Collective, Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015); Peter Kalliney, Commonwealth of Letters: British Literary Culture and the Emergence of Postcolonial Aesthetics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

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to some extent, parallel projects. This section includes examples from both traditions, allowing readers to trace the parallel but intertwined evolution of these two approaches. Senghor’s essay (3.iii) provides a brief account of their divergence. In addition to language, there were also substantial regional differences within Africa itself. The most marked is the break at the Saharan desert, a cleavage that this volume follows. North African writing is discussed in more detail in the next section, on modernism in the Arab world, reflecting the increasing orientation of literary and artistic circles in North Africa over this period toward the Middle East, as well as the usual scope of “African” conferences and journals in the period, which tended to focus on sub-Saharan Africa. But even sub-Saharan African literary and artistic culture was divided amongst itself. It tended to be dominated by work from West Africa: in the Anglophone world, by writing and art from Nigeria; in the Francophone world, by the towering figure of Léopold Senghor, who as Senegal’s first president set the intellectual agenda for Francophone African modernism throughout the continent. Despite the fact that Transition, one of the major periodicals of the period, was based in Uganda until the late 1960s, East African writers and artists worried about what they often described as their literary and artistic underdevelopment in this period. Kenyan/Tanzanian artist Elimo Njau’s essay (3.iv) in this volume discusses this concern, and provides representation from the East. Southern Africa produced a different set of problems again, reflecting a different colonial history. During the colonial period, both East and West African nations had had only small white settler colonial populations, and most countries from these regions achieved independence during the 1960s: Nigeria, Senegal, and Congo in 1960; Tanzania in 1961; Uganda in 1962; Kenya in 1963, and so on. In southern Africa, however, the situation was quite different. Larger white minorities in first Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and then South Africa declared independence unilaterally without ceding any power to their indigenous populations. Instead, they instituted highly oppressive segregated systems of apartheid, designed to ensure the continued grip of the white population on power. In this context, the majority of indigenous African writing and art in southern Africa during this time was highly politicized, and explicitly framed in opposition to modernism, which was increasingly seen as self-indulgent and irresponsible under the oppressive political conditions that prevailed in these countries. Conferences of African writing regularly discussed South Africa as developing along a different trajectory, and depicted its writers and artists as engaged in a quite distinct set of struggles that left far less space for the more explicitly literary or artistic questions about the emergence of national culture that preoccupied the rest of the continent. In South Africa, the most influential nation to follow this trajectory, modernism was associated almost exclusively with the writing of white South Africans, such as André P. Brink and his Sestigers group in Afrikaans (3.v) or J. M. Coetzee in English. For this reason, although this volume reflects both East and West African writing, it omits black southern African literature, which has not normally been a major part of discussions about modernism in Africa. Readers who wish to pursue this, however, might investigate journals such as South Africa’s Staffider magazine, or Zimbabwean writers such as Dambudzo Marechera (omitted here simply for the lack of available writings suitable for this volume). The texts that we have assembled here together suggest the viability—even the productivity—of modernism as a concept for analyzing literature and art in sub-Saharan Africa. Chinweizu’s essay, which calls for “modernists of Africa” to replace the derivative “modernists of the West” that his essay rails against, articulates a sentiment that runs

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throughout this volume. Across the geographical and linguistic differences that separate the writers here, the central preoccupation of this section is how literature and art can respond to the demands of a modernity that has been forcibly produced through the travails of colonialism, in terms that do not reproduce the West’s cultural dominance. The answers provided here are varied, but each gravitates around a problematic of how to reconstitute a disrupted tradition, a problematic that has been central to an influential strand of modernism that unites European and American conservatives like T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound with writers as diverse as Lu Xun in China, Rabindranath Tagore in India, and Albert Wendt in the South Pacific. In this sense, sub-Saharan African modernism emerges as the decolonial modernism par excellence, and one of the central traditions of post-Second World War modernism. AM

FURTHER READING Brown, Nicholas. Utopian Generations: The Political Horizon of Twentieth-Century Literature. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005. Harney, Elizabeth. In Senghor’s Shadow: Art, Politics and the Avant-Garde in Senegal, 1960– 1995. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004. Jaji, Tsitsi Ella. Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music, and Pan-African Solidarity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Kalliney, Peter. Commonwealth of Letters: British Literary Culture and the Emergence of Postcolonial Aesthetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Kalliney, Peter. “Modernism, African Literature, and the Cold War.” MLQ 76.3 (2015): 334–68. Larson, Charles. The Emergence of African Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1972. Lazarus, Neil. “Modernism and African Literature.” In The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms, edited by Mark Wollaeger (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012): 228–45. Okeke-Agulu, Chika. Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015. Van Beurden, Sarah. Authentically African: Arts and the Transnational Politics of Congolese Culture (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2015). Van Beurden, Sarah. “The Zairian Avant-Garde: Modes of African Modernism.” Radical History Review 131 (2018): 151–8.

I. IN SEARCH OF THE LOST! Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo Originally published in Malagasy in Ny Fandrosoam-Baovao, Nouvelle Série, Vol. 2, no. 28, Antananarivo, February 24, 1932. Translated by Matthew Winterton. Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo (1903–37) is sometimes hailed as Africa’s first modernist. Born in 1903 just north of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, he was an illegitimate child born into a royal but impoverished family. After leaving school at 13, he taught himself French and from his late teens regularly wrote and published poetry and other writing in both French and Malagasy. Although he never left Madagascar, his work circulated widely in his lifetime, and his short but prolific career had a profound impact on both Malagasy and Francophone African literature. His reputation as a writer is reflected in an invitation to contribute an essay on the history of Madagascar to Nancy Cunard’s Negro anthology (a contribution that was translated from the French by Samuel Beckett). In the Francophone world, he was an important influence on Léopold Senghor, and featured in Senghor’s influential 1948 Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache de la langue française, to which Jean-Paul Sartre’s important essay “Orphée noir” (Black Orpheus) served as an introduction. Rabearivelo’s suicide in 1937, at the age of 34, has been widely mythologized, construed, especially in the decades after the Second World War, as a tragic act of anticolonial defiance. In fact, Rabearivelo’s politics—like those of the Revue indigène group in Haiti (2.i)—are difficult to reconcile with contemporary understandings of anti-colonial resistance. Like Normil G. Sylvain and his peers in Haiti, Rabearivelo was strongly influenced by Charles Maurras and his monarchist, anti-semitic, and proto-fascist group Action Française. His somewhat ambivalent attitude toward French colonialism was paired with his nostalgia for a lost royal line, to which he saw himself to be the tragic heir. This attempt to balance a Malagasy heritage with the French colonial influence, which he understood as a given of the modern world, underpins the ambivalent nostalgia of the two texts published here and the complex negotiations that Rabearivelo seeks to perform between tradition and modernity, and between Malagasy poetic heritage, and French and Western influence. The title of the first piece foregrounds this ambivalence, evoking Proust in its nostalgia for a lost Malagasy culture.1 These texts, translated into English from Malagasy for the first time, are Rabearivelo’s most well-known and widely quoted manifestos. The first, published in 1932, sets out a project that the 1934 reply suggests has been achieved. Both first appeared in Ny Fandrosoam-Baovao, a Malagasy opinion newspaper that was published from 1931 to 1959, and which was known for its relatively accommodating attitude toward the French colonial powers. The notes to this essay are the translator’s. AM

Our translation of this title takes its warrant from a letter to Pierre-Louis Flouquet, dated February 27, 1932, in which Rabearivelo proposes translating the title into French as: “À la recherche de l’Enfant perdue, en l’espèce la Poësie” (In Search of the Lost Child; in this case, Poetry).

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We have neither sufficiently questioned nor examined ourselves, with regard to poetry. Yet within each poem lies a portion of ourselves; therein lies the true mirror image of our hearts and what is concealed by the soul. Perhaps the reason is that we still focus on its exterior, searching only for lullabies within the stanzas of the poetry we read. The significant yet unfortunate consequence is that we neither make progress nor fall behind but are as the kankafotra2 year-round. Decades ago, models and rules from abroad were instilled within our poetry. These were adopted wholeheartedly and followed indiscriminately. Too eager to fit in,3 we did not fully consider whether the new styles would harmonize or clash with the music of our words, or whether they would benefit or destroy them. And so ours were left behind, forgotten even, mocked for their age, criticized as archaic. Our ears began to change, and our hearts also; ultimately came the loss4 of simple poetry, replaced with nonsensical rhymes. *** It is these foreign models and rules that we believe (along with Ny Avana and Ch. Rajoelisolo5) to be the source of the disappearance6 of real poetry. But we will arm ourselves with proverbial muskets7: using this same foreign poetry we will seek and restore it again! Those of you who have lent your ears away and no longer perceive the mellifluous voices8 of the poems of our forebears, we invite you: open the Bible and read from Paul and the Psalms and the Hymns—these are true poems even if the verses do not rhyme.

From the Malagasy proverb, “Volan-kankafotra ka ny omaly tsy miova ihany” (lit., “Like the call of the cuckoo; [that which was] yesterday has not changed at all”). The kankafotra, or Madagascan cuckoo (Cuculus rochii), is known for its characteristic unchanging and punctual call (at the beginning of spring and fall). Thus, volan-kankafotra, or “words like the kankafotra” signifies monotonous, repetitive, or uninteresting speech.

2

Miova randrana (lit., “to change hairstyles” or “to change braids”). Malagasy hairstyles are unique among the eighteen or more different ethnic groups found around the island. Thus, changing one’s hairstyle here is akin to turning away from one’s cultural roots.

3

At the time of Rabearivelo, fahaverezana conveyed not only loss but also a sense of enslavement.

4

Ny Avana Ramanantoanina (1891–1940) and Charles Rajoelisolo (1896–??) were other Malagasy writers, sympathetic to Rabearivelo’s project. Their names are signed to the companion piece, “The Lost Is Found” (see below).

5

Again, the reference to the enslavement of real poetry is also implied here.

6

The original Malagasy text, “Hataonay vavabasy” comes from “manao vavabasy,” an abbreviated form of, and allusion to, the Malagasy proverb, “Toy ny vavabasy: ka izay idirany no ivoahany” (lit., “As the rifle: that which enters also comes out”). This proverb refers to muzzle-loading rifles, i.e., the shot that is loaded [entered] is also that which is expelled upon firing. Thus, to manao vavabasy is to use the original object or idea to counter itself. Here, Rabearivelo indicates that he will capitalize on the foreign influence which prevailed among his contemporary Malagasy poets to expose and counteract its effect.

7

The original Malagasy text is a play-on-words; mandre feo manga is “to hear a beautiful voice”; manga feo is the native adjectival phrase which literally characterizes one’s [usually singing] voice as euphonious.

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In addition, we intend to translate and showcase9 selected poems from those written around the world. We will not publish them by year or country, but we will intermix them to appreciate the various visages of the man Poetry. And if you let your ears return to their natural state, we are sure you will find that which has been lost. J. J. Rabearivelo

The original Malagasy text is a play-on-words; tapia-tononkira is the possessive compound of tapiaka and tononkira. Tapiaka is a word that describes a harsh noise, often paired with the colloquial description of “nails on a chalkboard.” Here, continuing the theme of music and sounds, Rabearivelo purposefully describes foreign poetry as cacophonous.

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II. THE LOST IS FOUND Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo Originally published in Malagasy in Ny Fandrosoam-Baovao, Nouvelle Série, Vol. 4, no. 141, Antananarivo, June 13, 1934. Translated by Matthew Winterton. When we previously spoke of poetry here in F.B.1 we used the words: In Search of the Lost. We insinuated that real poetry had become lost due to the intrusion of Western versification. We no longer search for what has been lost as true2 poetry has begun to appear: the reveries of the heart stirring the hearts of others, the songs of the soul quaking the souls of others. It has been some time since we have shown ourselves. We sowed the ideas and allowed them to germinate a little. We are happy to see that our seeds have now begun to sprout, and that the first to introduce versification here, M. J. Rainizanabololona, publicly declared that mere rhyme is not poetry. He wrote in Antananarivo (no. 96 F page 3 column 3): “In my opinion, it is better, by far, to have poetry with real substance which moves the heart, even if it does not follow the rules, than verses which rhyme but lack a deeper meaning, leaving one empty3 like those who try to fetch water with woven baskets.” In fact, this is exactly our opinion too. Poetry in and of itself by definition is the essence of poetic art. The prosody of rhyme is merely the clothing that adorns it. We simply peeled back the layers so as to give clarity to those minds acclimated to seeing its clothing as its body; we laid bare the real poetry for those seeking the truth. We have found the genuine poets, that is to say, those people who have the poetic soul and spirit, and who share our opinion. And we are thrilled to show the reader some of their works. Here is one that we will demonstrate which will prick the hearts of those who wish to lift all real poetry and together spread their wings to soar through the spacious skies of the reveries of the heart, limitless and free. Ny Avana Ramanantoanina, Charles Rajoelisolo, J. J. Rabearivelo

Abbreviation of Fandrosoam-baovao, the name of the journal in which Rabearivelo was publishing these pieces.

1

Rabearivelo makes use of wordplay again, using tapiaka to allude to the cacophony of foreign poetic influence as described in his first passage. Here, however, he characterizes the “sound” of Malagasy identity (true poetry) as tapiaka, but gives it the opposite sense. Thus, Rabearivelo implies he has fulfilled his intent to manao vavabasy through his use of foreign poetry to expose and counteract its deleterious effect on the Malagasy identity.

2

Another wordplay: miala maina is “to leave dry,” which phrase figuratively means “to be unsuccessful” or “to leave empty-handed.” Here, the phrase is used literally in describing one who seeks to fetch water using a woven basket riddled with holes between the weaves.

3

III. NEGRITUDE AND THE CONCEPT OF UNIVERSAL CIVILISATION Léopold Sédar Senghor First presented in French as the opening address of the Seminar on African Literature of French Expression, University of Dakar, March 26, 1963. Originally published in French as “Négritude et Civilisation de l’Universel” in the French edition of Présence Africaine, nouvelle série, no. 46 (2e trimestre, 1963): 8–13. This uncredited English translation first published in the English edition of Présence Africaine, no. 18 (2nd quarter, 1963): 9–13. Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001) was a poet, literary and cultural critic, and the first president of Senegal. In these roles, he became the dominant figure of Francophone African literature and culture for much of the twentieth century. While studying in Paris in the 1930s, Senghor and fellow students Léon Damas and Aimé Césaire edited the short-lived student newspaper, L’Étudiant noir, in which the principles of negritude were first developed (see Césaire’s essay in this volume, 2.iv). Like Césaire and Damas, Senghor went on to develop a reputation as both an influential poet and a leading political figure in the independence struggle and post-independence government of his home country. His volumes of poetry, including Chants d’ombre (1945), Hosties noires (1948), and Éthiopiques (1956), for which he is credited in the byline to this essay, seek a poetics of negritude. As president of Senegal after the country’s independence in 1960, he made culture a central component of the African republic. This speech reflects the state-sponsored, institutional forms that negritude took under the leadership of Senghor in post-independence Senegal. It was delivered as the opening address of the Congress of African Writers of French Expression, an influential conference that was sponsored by the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom. The proceedings— including this essay—were subsequently published in both French and English translation in Présence Africaine, likely the most important Francophone literary magazine of the African diaspora. We reproduce here the uncredited English translation of this text, alongside notes that indicate where the English diverges in significant ways from the French. The translation loses much of Senghor’s linguistic playfulness and stylistic elegance, but is itself an important document, reflecting the role of translation practices in the development of an African literature. This essay is fruitfully compared both to the earlier articulations of negritude in, for instance, Aimé Césaire’s founding document of the movement, “Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution” (2.iv), as well as the contemporaneous debates in Anglophone Africa, including Chinweizu’s (3.vii) and Enwonwu’s (3.vi) essays published here, around the role of colonial languages and state-sponsored arts in post-independence Africa. This essay reflects the emergence of negritude as a significant line of demarcation between French- and English-speaking African modernists in this period; the proceedings of the twinned conferences of African writers of French and English expression, to which this essay is a contribution, frequently reflect this cultural and ideological divide. AM

Once again in Dakar, men and women of various continents, races and civilisations are arriving to keep a rendez-vous. For what reason have they come except to consider their human condition and through this to bring their own contribution to the building of the

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world — the new world? This gathering to study African literature written in French can have no other interpretation. I realise that many people1 will unthinkingly speak of exoticism, for here it is a question, not of any French literature, not even of Negro literature, nourished by the sap and juices of Negritude. I have used this word which you did not want to include in the title of this seminar, and I understand why. You did not want to attract the tourists with their pith helmets and their dark glasses. The intention was praiseworthy and it met our need. Once again in Dakar, where the winds blow from all points of the compass, in this crossroads open to the sea and the land, we have to build and realize the concept of Universal Civilisation.2 If we speak of building we must consider the raw materials; since it is a question of literature it is also a question of Man. And if Man is concerned, the Universal conception can only be universal if it is coloured by humanity and rooted in Man. Not Man as he exists in categories, outside Time-Space, but the living man,3 made of blood and bone, thoughts and passions. Man from a continent, from a race, if not from a nation, placed exactly in Time-Space. This is the object of my speech. The Universal trend of the literature which is the subject of this Seminar is best proved by its being written in French. Paradoxically, its new humanism is proved by its Negritude. This needs explaining. The Anglo-Saxons, above all, have criticized us for having chosen French as the means of Negro-African expression.4 It is a case of being more royalist then the king. I say that we did not choose, and if it had been necessary to choose, we would, perhaps, have chosen French, not as a result of sentiment but of reason. I repeat, we did not choose. It was our situation as a colonised people which imposed the language of the colonisers upon us, or rather their policy of assimilation.5 This policy based on the “immortal principles” of 1789 was not all bad.6 The pity was that these principles were not applied completely and without hypocrisy. Fortunately, they were applied in sufficient measure so that their virtues, among which can be numbered the French language, could bear fruit. For Negritude is a fruit of the Revolution, through action and reaction. As Jean-Paul Sartre said, we have taken up the weapons of the coloniser and turned them against him.7 “Miraculous weapons” as Aimé Césaire calls them.8 “les distraits” (the absent-minded)

1

The French reads simply: “la Civilisation de l’Universel,” and does not specify “the concept of,” either here or in the title, although its treatment of the adjective “universel” as a noun implies that it is the concept that is in question. 2

“l’homme concret, vivant” (the concrete, living man).

3

“On nous a reproché, singulièrement du côté anglo-saxon d’avoir choisi le français pour exprimer le Négroafricain.” (We have been reproached, above all from the Anglo-Saxon side, for having chosen French in order to express the Negro-African.)

4

Assimilation was the official French colonial policy, which aimed to turn colonized peoples into French people through education in French and adoption of French culture and values.

5

The phrase “immortels principes de 89” often appears in French literature with a heavy dose of irony. See, for example, Charles Baudelaire, “The Mirror,” in Paris Spleen: Little Poems in Prose, trans. Keith Waldrop (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2009): 79; Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, trans. Geoffrey Wall (London: Penguin, 2003): 72.

6

“Léro was the precursor; he invented the exploitation of surrealism as a ‘miraculous weapon’… … In Césaire, the great surrealist tradition is realized, it takes on its definitive meaning and is destroyed: surrealism—the European movement—is taken from the Europeans by a Black man who turns it against them and gives it a rigorously defined function”: Jean-Paul Sartre, “Black Orpheus,” trans. John MacCombe, The Massachusetts Review 6.1 (1964–5): 32, 34.

7

Les Armes miraculeuses is the title of Aimé Césaire’s 1946 poetry collection. It was published by Gallimard and assembled most of the poetry that he had published in Tropiques.

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This is why if we had the choice we would have chosen French. Firstly it is a language which has enjoyed a far-reaching influence and which still enjoys it in great measure. In the eighteenth century French was proposed and accepted as the universal language of culture. I know that today it comes after English, Chinese and Russian in the number of people who speak it, and it is the official language of fewer countries than English. But if quantity is lacking, there is still quality. I am not claiming that French is superior to these other languages, neither in beauty or richness, but I do say that it is the supreme language for communication: “a language of politeness and honesty”,9 a language of beauty and clarity. I will not develop this point which I have already dealt with in an issue of the review Esprit, and to which I refer you.10 It is a fact that French has made it possible for us to communicate to our brothers and to the world, the unheard-of message which only we could write. It has allowed us to bring to Universal Civilisation a contribution without which the civilisation of the twentieth century could not have been universal. This warmth, which forms a part of the true soul of Man would have been lacking. Others, from Rimbaud to Breton, have said it before me that European civilisation which was presented to us as the civilisation was not yet worthy of the name, since it was a mutilated civilisation deprived of the dormant energies of Asia and Africa. In fact, it could not be called humanism, since it excluded from participation in the Universal two-thirds of Humanity — the “Third World”. Since the beginning of the century this gap has been narrowed progressively as the result of three factors: the extension of European colonisation, the intensification of inter-continental relationships, and the independence of former colonies. The cumulative action of these three factors has thrown the races closer together, showing them their brothers in a new light, and the complementary values of their different civilisations. It is in this context that we must study Negritude, so that we may understand its values and measure its strength of renovation. This, to me, should be the object of this Seminar. I know that the word frightens delicate souls who are as afraid as microbes of pure air and who confuse vulgarity with authenticity. As if literature was a manual of cookery recipes, and not the living expression of living men! Once again, Negritude is not racialism11 or vulgar contortions. It is, quite simply, the synthesis of all the values of civilisation in the Negro World. Not the values of the past, but of authentic culture. It is this spirit of Negro-African civilisation, based on the earth and Negro hearts, which

“une langage de gentillesse et d’honnêteté.” This line is drawn from Jean Guéhenno’s article “Si j’avais à enseigner la France..…,” published in La Nouvelle Nouvelle Revue Française in 1954. Drawing on his travels in Africa in the early 1950s, the essay writes against negritude and tries to find a pedagogy appropriate for black African students. He advocates teaching them the French language, “qu’ils ne pourraient plus se soustraire à ce que mille années d’usage ont inscrit de gentillesse et d’honnêteté dans la langage de mon pays” (so that they could no longer escape from the politeness and honesty that a thousand years of usage had inscribed in the language of my country). Senghor was obviously taken or troubled by this phrase, and he returned to it on numerous occasions, beginning in a postface to his 1954 collection Ethiopiques. Jean Guéhenno, “Si j’avais à enseigner la France… …” [If I had to teach France… …], Nouvelle Nouvelle Revue Française 10 (1953): 585, rept. Guéhenno, La France et les noirs [France and the Blacks] (Paris: Gallimard, 1954): 139.

9

10 Esprit, November 1962 (Le français, langue universelle). [note in original] Senghor returns again to the line on the “gentillesse et honnêteté” of the French language on p. 842 of this article. Esprit is a French literary magazine, associated in the post-war period with the New Left.

“racisme.”

11

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is offered to the world — both beings and things — to unify it, to understand and to show it.12 This spirit of civilization, this culture, will be found ex-pressed13 in all the works presented here, with greater or lesser success, and greater or lesser talent. You will also find it expressed in the works which we shall present in Dakar in 1965, at the Festival of Negro Arts.14 I come back to a persistent misunderstanding in order, I hope, to clear it up permanently. To call Negro Art — and good literature is art — reactionary or revolutionary, as has been done, is to delight in confusion. Every culture is revolutionary in the sense that it is, in Time-Space, the integration of Man and the world, and of the world and Man.15 But Negro Art does not lie within the realm of ideas and feelings but with their expression.16 One has only to listen and look at the Guinean National Ballet, who sing and dance the Guinean revolution.17 In this measure they are works of beauty, they bring to life the virtues of millenary Negro art; they are living, rhythmic, singing images. Once again I want to illustrate my point with a reference to European literature, or more generally, to European art. In contrast with African art which is permanence, European art is change, at least since the Renaissance, which freed the mind from rigid forms. On one side France, on the other Egypt. The French artist or writer sets out to create “what can never be recreated”.18 This leads to an incessant renewing of ideas, feelings and forms [des sentiments-idées et des formes], which explains the renovated borrowings from abroad, which represent France’s main contribution to Universal Civilisation. In another sphere — the industrial sphere — the same development can be seen in North America, the daughter of Europe. The example of France typifies Europe. In this case therefore, permanence, stemming from repetition is condemned as antiart. Here, the ideal of the poem, like that of the novel, with the originality of ideas and

“C’est cet esprit de la civilisation négro-africaine, qui, enraciné dans la terre et les cœurs noirs, est tendu vers le monde—être et choses—pour le com-prendre, l’unifier et le manifester” (bold in original, rendered as italics in this translation). “Com-prendre,” translated here as “understand,” also contains a pun on the prefix “com-” which, in French as in English, signifies togetherness or combination, with the verb “prendre,” to take. It implies that understanding is also an act of unification or bringing together. “Esprit” can be translated as mind or spirit.

12

“ex-primée.” “Primée” is the feminine past participle of “primer,” to prevail over, take first place, dominate. The emphasis is omitted in the translation. The translation breaks “expressed” across a line and it is not clear whether this is an intentional attempt to preserve the pun or not.

13

See Ben Enwonwu’s essay (3.vi), which was first presented at this festival.

14

“l’intégration de l’Homme au monde et du monde à l’Homme” (integration of Man into the world, and the world into Man).

15

“Mais l’art nègre ne se situe pas dans le domaine du sentiment–idée; il est dans l’ex-pression du sentiment– idée.” Senghor uses the compound “sentiment-idée” (feeling-idea) frequently in this essay; it is always rendered by the translator as “feelings and ideas.” Subsequent uses marked in the text.

16

Les Ballets Africaines, Guinea’s national dance company, was founded by Fobéda Keita in 1948, and toured Europe and the United States in the 1950s. After Guinean independence in 1958, it became the national ensemble of the new state.

17

“ce que jamais on ne verra deux fois” (what will never be seen twice). The quotation is from “La Maison du Berger,” an 1844 poem by French Romantic poet Alfred de Vigny, which exhorts readers to “Aimé ce que jamais on ne verra deux fois.”

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feelings [des sentiments-idées], is the dramatic progression of rhythm, and ultimately, the lack of rhythm. Here the poem becomes a discourse.19 The Egypt of the pharaohs presents a perfect example of African art and literature which preserved an impassive face for four thousand years. This is not in the least surprising because Negro blood circulated in the veins of the Egyptians. However we have no need of Egypt to support our thesis. If we review ten thousand years of Negro art,20 from the frescoes of Tassili21 to the canvases of Papa Tall,22 we shall discover the permanent features which typify the originality of Negro literature in the French language. I said earlier that Negro art does not lie in the sphere of ideas and feelings [des sentiments-idées], but this is only partly true. In the works considered here you will discover a remarkable permanence of themes: beyond the revolt of the colonised peoples, the call of man to Man, to the major elementary needs of Justice, Brotherhood and Love. The “immortal principles” are only the popular expressions of man’s timeless aspirations to human dignity; to Life. It is remarkable that anger is neither hatred nor a grimace; that the racial feeling is anti-racial.23 But it is true that this is not the essence of literature or of Negro art, even of French expression. It lies in the forms, or, more precisely, in the spirit of the forms; in the participation of the man and the artist, of man and the world, of the subject and the object; in this identification through analogous imagery and symbolism, but in a sung and rhythmic form.24 For the Negro conception of forms is tightly bounded by emotion,25 a loving confusion of the boundaries between You and Me. There is no need to develop this theme which I have already treated in an article which appeared in the review Diogène several years ago.26 In a word, the Negro poem, the Negro novel, even Negro speech is not a monologue but a dialogue, not a lesson but a tension, not a distance. I would call it a presence and a caress. From this springs the concept of communication27 through rhythmic imagery. Negro work is music, a lasso, a knot of an image, which, as in a symphony, unites the complementary themes and bodies in a rhythmic dance, a dance of love. And the poet sings amant alterna Camenae.28 For the food of the soul lies in these primordial rhythms of the Lover Earth, which, at regular intervals, joins like to like and gives fullness and eternal joy. “Ici, le poème est dis-cours.” “Cours” in French is a course or a class. As in English, “dis-” is a prefix signalling negation. “Dis” is also the first and second person (singular/informal) present, and the informal imperative conjugations of “dire,” to say.

19

“les œuvres de la Négritude” (the works of negritude).

20

Tassili n’Ajjer is a national park in the south-east of Algeria, in the Sahara Desert. It contains some of the world’s most important prehistoric rock art, dating to the Neolithic era.

21

Papa Ibra Tall (1935–2015) was a Senegalese artist, whose bright, surreal paintings were influenced by negritude.

22

“que le sentiment racial soit antiraciste.”

23

“Dans cette identification par l’image analogique, par l’image-symbole, mais chantée, rhythmée.”

24

“Car l’esprit nègre des formes est étreinte.” “L’esprit,” translated here as “conception,” means mind or spirit. “Etreinte,” translated here as “tightly bounded by emotion,” means “embraced.”

25

Léopold Senghor, “L’Esthétique négro-africaine,” Diogène (October 1956). An English translation was published soon thereafter: Senghor, “African-Negro Aesthetics,” trans. Elaine P. Halperin, Diogenes (December 1956): 23–38.

26

“com-préhension.” See note 12.

27

“The Muses love alternating verses.” See Virgil’s Eclogue 3.59.

28

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Now you can understand why this Negro literature is a major contribution to generalized literature; to Universal Civilisation. By communicating through French, it forms a symbiosis of the two extreme aspects of human genius and therefore is integral humanism. In this way it enriches French literature while enriching universal literature. In this way it is animated by revolutionary dynamism. Its revolution consists in breaking down sterile opposition, or, more precisely, in transcending false dilemmas; in resolving fertile contradictions by not avoiding them but by integrating them. To put it into political jargon, it corrects deviations, clears scleroses, and restores man to Man. It restores him to his human nature, by giving him, with his vital needs, the archetypal images29 and the primordial rhythms, which alone are capable of calming the hunger of spiritual starvation. Every true revolution is a return to the sources, to the living Man. To paraphrase André Gide, the most nationalist and the most racial literature is at the same time the most universal literature.30

“les images-archétypes”

29

The French has “la littérature la plus nationale,” not “nationalist.” Cf. André Gide’s argument in “Nationalism and Literature,” where he writes: “What is more national than the work of Aeschylus, Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Molière, Goethe, Ibsen, Dostoevsky? What is more broadly human? And also more individual? For it should be clear by now that the three terms can be superposed and that no work of art has a universal significance if it does not have first of all a national significance; nor a national significance if it does not have first of all a personal significance.” Gide, “Nationalism and Literature,” trans. Angelo P. Bertocci, in Gide, Pretexts: Reflections on Literature and Morality, ed. Justin O’Brien (London: Routledge, 2011): 109.

30

IV. COPYING PUTS GOD TO SLEEP: SOME THOUGHTS ON THE TRUE AFRICAN AND ART Elimo Njau Originally published in Transition 9 (June 1963): 15–17. An earlier version was presented at the first Congress of Africanists held in Accra, Ghana in December 1962. Elimo Njau is an influential East African painter. Born in 1932 in Tanzania, he studied at Makerere Art School in the 1950s, and has lived and worked in Kenya and Tanzania in the years since. As an artist, he is best known for the Murang’a Murals (1959) in the Church of Saint James and All Martyrs Memorial in Murang’a, Kenya. These murals were commissioned by the Anglican church during the Kenyan Emergency to commemorate those killed during the Mau Mau Uprising. They depict scenes from the life of Jesus, in an African context. In addition to his role as an artist, Njau is also an important gallerist, establishing Kobi Gallery in Moshi, Tanzania, in 1965, and serving as the director of the Paa Ya Paa Art Centre in Nairobi, Kenya’s longest running art gallery. This essay, written on the eve of Kenyan independence, reflects the ongoing anxieties about the relationship between the artist and the community in Africa in this period, while engaging two of the central debates of decolonial African modernism: debates about East African art and the role of religion. Throughout the 1960s, East Africans worried that their artistic and literary cultures were underdeveloped with respect to those on the west of the continent, a position exemplified by Taban Lo Liyong’s influential essay “Can We Correct Literary Barrenness in East Africa?” published in the East Africa Journal in 1965. In this essay, Njau offers a more optimistic account of what East African culture can bring to the table. At the same time, he intervenes in the ongoing debates about the relationship between religion and modern art. In the debate between Chinweizu and Soyinka in the 1970s (3.vii), for instance, Christianity was a point of contention, with Chinweizu and his co-authors calling for the expulsion or indigenization of Christianity, while Soyinka, embracing the abolition of Christianity as an ultimate goal, nonetheless defended its role in contemporary African culture. Njau offers a strikingly original perspective on this debate, wholeheartedly embracing Christianity as the source of an African modernism. This essay was published in Transition, a central periodical for the development of postcolonial African literature and culture. Established in 1961 by Rajat Neogy and published in Uganda, it was funded by the Congress for Cultural Freedom until the revelation of the CCF’s CIA links in 1967. It published articles on politics, culture, and the arts, as well as original literature and art from the continent. After Neogy’s arrest on sedition charges related to the magazine in 1968, it moved to Ghana. From 1973 to its demise in 1976, it was edited by Wole Soyinka. It has since resumed publication, and the full back catalogue of the magazine can now be accessed through JSTOR. AM

As an artist and teacher I see African arts and music today in two levels. First the past that has been and is still being lived and recorded and, secondly, the present that is projecting itself outwardly into the future and has yet to be lived by us as true Africanists. By true

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Africanists I mean African realists embracing the ideology of the living God and His creative power through the mind, souls and bodies of real people in present Africa. I must confess, I am chained to the present. I cannot escape it. As a realist and a true Africanist by the above definition I must also confess I have very little reliable knowledge of the arts and music of the other parts of Africa apart from East Africa. The reason for this is threefold. First it is a problem of communication and contacts with other parts of Africa. Secondly, the scarcity of reliable literature on these subjects. With most of the available literature it is difficult to discriminate between truth and speculation. I am much too good at speculating to trust other people’s speculations. The third reason is the fact that the arts and music must be lived to be believed. It seemed from my first visit to West Africa that there was a tremendous wealth of the past African heritage, which is still part of the present-day life, and there seems to be a much stronger movement towards unearthing the past than there is in East Africa today. This is a great gift and I can foresee great future African historians, collectors and curators of museums, librarians, great custodians of African symbolic art and music in West Africa. But there is one thing we mustn’t forget lest we turn a gift into a curse. And that is this: In digging and proving our past contribution to world culture we must not forget to live our own present life and make our own unique contribution to the modern world. This is what concerns me very much and I believe that if we face it, the new African culture may be the salvation of the rest of the world today. This is where East Africa comes in, I think. East Africa has not yet got much of the recorded past African heritage. We have had more of teachers and politicians and not enough of research fellows. There is plenty of material still to be unearthed from the past but true African research is just beginning in the field of music and arts. The one great gift to the East Africanist as compared to West Africa is that in East Africa we are challenged to accept the fact that cultures must mix in order to grow. Preserve a culture and you offset its decay. Cultures must mix but people must be real and always open minded. This may superficially appear to be a contradiction to the Africanist movement. But I want us to see this as a truth and a major part of the wisdom of the true Africanist. In East Africa nationalism is also asserting the Africanists pride in his past. But the Western and Eastern cultures have also made their mark and this we cannot deny or escape. As East Africanists what we are doing is to make our own new and most powerful mark out of the natural intermarriage of cultures. Some people may say that this sort of thing will produce a diluted form of Africanism. On the contrary, this natural intermarriage of cultures will produce a more powerful and really contemporary Africanist. His power will lie in his unity and range of thought and feeling. He will not be a second-class African, or third class European or third class Asian.1 The fact that I love and cherish the directness, simplicity and rhythm of past African patterns in art does not necessarily make me a robot of my African past. The fact that I love a Rembrandt painting of Christ and the woman taken in Adultery does not necessarily turn me into a Flemish painter. The fact that Omari2 loves the Prophet Mohammed does “Asians” refers to the significant South Asian population in East Africa. Many Indians came to the region during the British colonial period, as workers helping to build the railways, as soldiers suppressing African rebellions, and as merchants and traders. By the decolonial period, they held positions of economic and social power relative to many black Africans, and they suffered considerable persecution after independence, including the expulsion of Indians from Uganda in 1972.

1

A talented young sculptor. See Transition 6/7 [Note in original] Omari Athamani (1945?–) was a student of Njau’s at the Makerere Demonstration School. His sculpture “Interdependence” is reproduced in Transition 6/7 (October 1962): 8.

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not necessarily turn him into a native of Mecca. The truth of the matter is that what I love and admire from my past African Heritage is what I share with my great grandfather, and perhaps what I also share with true fellow Africanists elsewhere in the continent. What I love in a Rembrandt painting is not just the paint; it is the fact that we share a common faith in Christ and in the human being. Let us face it, the human spirit tends to go closer to the unity of mankind while the human body retards this tendency. The arts and music of Africa are becoming more and more accepted as part of this unity of mankind. I must confess again I am chained to the present. I am a child born of the present cultural conflicts and frustrations, the present challenges and hopes. That is why I want us to ask ourselves as realistic Africanists in the field of arts and music the following question: Where are we now and where are we going? If the subject matter of what I say does not convince you of the need for urgent and drastic change in our educational philosophy and system, as well as a change of outlook towards our African arts and music, at least, I will have succeeded in presenting myself as a case study to the distinguished scholars of “the new African personality.”3 Before African art was known as art in its own right, before African music was known as music in its own right, African art and music were the true cement of the African community. It was so much part and parcel of the daily life of the Community that when you talked about art and music you actually talked about the people themselves, their daily activities, their day to day aspirations as a community, their joys together, the enemies they fought together and the tears they shared together. When you talked of African art and music you talked about a common language that expressed the body and soul of an African Community as well as a language that expressed their faith in the God that made them, the God that gave them fertility and food, the God that protected them from the cruel forces of nature which were mysterious and frightening. It expressed their faith in man as a component part of his small community and proved the inadequacy of the individual by himself. What of the present Arts and Music of Africa? Other cultures of the world have come to Africa. As might be expected, they have exploded the community which was the foundation of the past. The past community was basically founded on a common faith largely inspired by fear of the fierce Gods and the devils that surrounded it. Today these fears that held the community together are no longer there. Today this community has exploded into free individual units. These are the Artists and Musicians of Africa today. They have been detribalised into a bigger tribe. But, alas, it is a big tribe of a chaotic people who have not yet found a new philosophy to bind them together. But being the children of Africa, they inevitably share a common sense in physical form, rhythm and the direct ruthlessness of the African sun. Most of them appreciate the past The concept of the “African personality” was first coined in 1893 by Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1912), a West Indian writer and politician who emigrated to Liberia and is known as an early proponent of pan Africanism. It was revived during the period of decolonization by Kwame Nkrumah (1909–72), a Ghanaian revolutionary and politician who served as Ghana’s first prime minister and president. Nkrumah’s “new African personality” understood African identity as arising from socialist, Christian, and Islamic sources (Nkrumah was himself a staunch socialist and a Christian). He distinguishes this idea from negritude, which he casts as more emotional and literary.

3

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African Heritage in the arts and music. But they refuse to see the religious or spiritual background and the faith that brought these works of art into being. They refuse to see, or cannot see, this because they don’t believe in God. They believe in themselves and individual freedom without direction. They create their works at random. There is hardly any sense of direction in them: you can see suffering, conflict and a division of personality. For want of a common faith to reunite the new tribe they seek and believe in slogans and transient art movements. They are afraid of reconstructing their new God because superficially they believe that new scientific knowledge has displaced their God of fear and unity. In fact, to them the word God is superstitious. So they don’t believe in God. Yet they pretend to believe in their past African heritage which was religiously inspired. They pretend they are scientific. They see a dew drop on a leaf. They say, this is H2O. They dismiss the mystery and wonder which is embodied in this dew drop — and as a result they throw away inspiration. Some of them, like some art students, believe that to be an artist you only have to learn about composition, techniques, design, a good knowledge of history of art, know all the art values that have existed in the past, and you simply have to put two and two together and make your four. As a result of this kind of thinking we have quite a lot of artists but not as many real people. And, we have a lot of successfully executed masterpieces of technique but very few real and inspired works of art. When you question these artists about their work they hide in their borrowed or concocted art slogans. Some of them in selfdefence dismiss a questioner by saying this is “Art for art’s sake” you cannot understand it, this is “surrealism”, this is futurism”, this is “cubism,” this is “abstractionism.” They take the details of art and magnify them imagining these aspects to be the whole of life itself. They forget that in the works of our ancestors there was just as much surrealism, abstractionism, cubism and even futurism. But all these aspects were part of a whole, and not entities in themselves. I do not believe in art for art’s sake when it means the pursuit of “isms” and movements. I believe in art with meaning and purpose. To me art is a direct enrichment to human life and as such art must communicate. Our art is dead if it doesn’t communicate. As artists we must never escape the call to live more fully and truly in our local surroundings. True art grows from the soil and the full community that we live in. But where is the community? This is what we must create. Before we can create it we must create a new philosophy and a new understanding of God. This will be the new cement and unifying force to our community. We remember that our old small community was inspired and bound together largely by fear of fierce surroundings. Our new community is inspired by freedom and love of our new surroundings which we no longer fear. When I finished my studies at Makerere College,4 5 years ago, I was puzzled by the present artistic chaos in East Africa and the world at large. I said to myself: “Here I am with all my qualifications both as an artist and teacher but I don’t know where I am. How can I teach my pupils if I don’t know where I am going? I must look for some concrete

Makerere College in Kampala, Uganda, established in 1922 as a technical school, became the University College of East Africa in 1949. It served students from across East Africa, and from 1950 granted degrees from the University of London. Njau studied in the Art Department, also known as the Makerere Art School, which had been established by Margaret Trowell in 1937. Under Trowell, the Makerere Art School provided training that saw art and religion (she was a devout Christian) as intimately connected, and that sought to blend African and European artistic sensibilities.

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philosophy to guide me both as an artist and as a teacher.” I looked for this philosophy in the modern Western art, in vain, I looked for it in the past African art and I only found part of it. I found a sense of purpose and a powerful symbolism related to African way of life. I looked for it in the contemporary Asian artists in East Africa, I found the artists just as confused as myself. At last, one day, I saw that the pumpkins in my mother’s garden were never exactly alike. At the same time I remembered twins who were at school with me, I realised they were not exactly alike. I looked at my sister, she was not like my mother. I examined myself in a mirror, I found that I was not identical to my father or grandfather. I looked at the young babies being born. I found that every baby was a new creation, Then why should I copy anybody? I discovered God’s creative secret. God is omnipotent as well as omnipresent. Then he must be in me and his power must be in me because he did not create me in the image of anybody else but Himself. In all my creative efforts therefore I must keep Him alive. I believed that as time went on, He would be so much part of me that I would be able to fill up Africa with vigorous and fertile young artists who would prove to the world, God’s full presence in Africa. For my own guidance and as a warning to my pupils I formulated the following policy, “do not copy. copying puts god to sleep”. With this policy I started my career as an artist and teacher. I felt the new gate was opening for Africa. The new African child can no longer be locked up in small traditional huts. Tribal fears have been dispelled. All the tribes now belong to the child. All the insects, birds, the wild animals of Africa, the varied plants, savannahs, forests, the beautiful earth colours and all the African landscape and life, are his own. These are his new sources of inspiration. His motto is “Freedom, Exploration, and Love of my New African Surroundings.” As a result of this new approach school children ranging from the age of 13 to 18 have produced original works of art that have astounded grown artists. The children, by trying to explore their surroundings have discovered for themselves original techniques and methods using banana fibre, bark cloth, natural earth colours, feathers, local clays, bead-work, seeds, gourds and various other tactile materials in their local surroundings. When studying qualities of sculpture they looked at old tree trunks, ant hills, rocks and shells of the sea. When studying pattern they also turned to African natural surroundings, feathers, patterned snakes, leaves, seed-pods, etc. This approach has given the children a growing knowledge, understanding and love of local forms, hand in hand with a vitality and confidence in their free expressions of life. Their awareness is growing sharper, and sharper each day. Their observation is not just confined to the class-room and school compound. They are excited not only by the colourful sight of a casual butterfly or a convolvulus chamelion but by the sounds, the smells and textures of life from the dust as well as from their local city. Some children have even attempted making pictures for the blind. Why not! The blind can read with their hands. They should also enjoy pictures through their hands. The topics depicted in their works range from the African insects, plants, shells, politicians, the clergy, religion, the poll-tax defaulters, thieves, folk stories of the ordinary day to day activities of the people in their homes today. All the children’s emotions can be seen clearly in their work — their fears, joys, sorrows, anger and even their love. They are ruthless in their expression.

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I believe that if we want a new integrated African personality our educational policy must be revised. We must place a greater emphasis on the things that build the soul of man and not just in technology and economics. Politics and Economics today are ahead of wisdom. They are ahead of the human spirit that is why there is so much discord in the African personality today. The African artist and the musician is the only true symbol of the African Soul or the African personality. That is why we must pool all our resources to restore the soul of this vital man — the artist. If he has no soul, Africa has no soul, if he has a split personality the African personality also gets split.

V. ON THE THRESHOLD, VIII André P. Brink Originally published in Afrikaans in Sestiger 1.3 (1965): 14–21. Translated by Klara du Plessis. André P. Brink (1935–2015) was a white South African novelist who wrote in English and his native Afrikaans. He received masters degrees in Afrikaans and English at Potchefstroom University before moving to France to study comparative literature at the Sorbonne in 1959–61. On his return to South Africa, Brink, along with a number of other Afrikaans writers, including Breyten Breytenbach, Jan Rabie, and Etienne Leroux, founded the Sestigers (Sixties) movement, which drew heavily on European modernist form and aesthetics to rejuvenate Afrikaans literature. In the aftermath of 1968 (which he spent in France) and in light of the growth of the apartheid state, Brink—like almost all of his peers—turned away from the autonomous aesthetics of the Sestigers. By the early 1970s, his novels reflected the growing political engagement of the South African literary field as a whole. His 1973 novel, Looking into Darkness, which dealt with apartheid, was the first Afrikaans novel to be banned in South Africa. This text is the last of eight sections of Brink’s essay “On the Threshold,” which appeared in the third issue of the journal Sestiger in 1965. The essay responds to attacks on modern art in parliament and the press, especially the accusation that modern art represents an outrage against the South African nation in its critical attitude toward Christianity and its embrace of sexual themes. In response, Brink argues that it is the artist’s role to be an “enemy of the people” declaring, “We want to be free in our art.” His essay is one of the most influential defenses of the European modernist-influenced autonomous art for which the Sestigers are remembered. This final section distills the essay’s argument in a poetic form that displays its surrealist influences and avant-garde tendencies. It appears here in Klara du Plessis’ new translation. AM

We have duly waited for something to “happen” in Afrikaans prose writing, but nothing did. A new era has dawned. And whether the “nation” likes it or not, we are the new generation. We aren’t “anti” the nation or “anti” anything at all. In fact, we are deeply aware of our connection to both nation and time (“no man is an island entire of itself”1). We emanate from the nation; as does, in a sense, our art. But we don’t write “for” the nation. Art is not a way to address people: it is a way of life. And the murky mélange of the masses (the so-called “scorned bourgeoisie”) and the process of making art, have always been separate entities. For those who knock mindfully and with honesty, the door of art

John Donne, “Meditation XVII,” Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624).

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will always swing open. But those who beat at the door with sticks, and shout like the throngs in front of Lot’s home, will remain blind.2 What are we looking for? Art. Art is a breeze that blows through a musty house and knocks down an ornamental urn and playfully ruffles the curtains. Art is a muttered incantation in a primeval cave. Art is a scream: of birth, and of copulation, and of death. Art is a young woman who walks bare-breasted through a temple. Art is the clay shard with which Job scratches his wounds.3

Cf. Genesis 19:4 – 11. Cf. Job 2:8.

2 3

VI. THE AFRICAN VIEW OF ART AND SOME PROBLEMS FACING THE AFRICAN ARTIST Ben Enwonwu Originally presented at the First World Festival of Negro Arts, in Dakar, Senegal, April 1–24, 1966. Published in the proceedings of this conference. Ben Enwonwu (1917–94) was one of Nigeria’s most important modern painters and sculptors. Educated in Nigeria and the UK, he held degrees in art from the Slade Art School and in anthropology from the University of London. From the 1940s onwards, he exhibited widely in Nigeria and internationally, representing Africa at the 1946 UNESCO-affiliated International Exhibition of Modern Art in Paris. Already a wellestablished artist at Nigerian independence in 1960, Enwonwu became a major figure in the post-independence art world, holding a number of influential governmental positions and speaking and writing extensively about the future of Nigerian and African art. This piece was delivered as a speech at the First World Festival of Negro Arts, in Dakar, Senegal, in 1966. Organized by Léopold Senghor (see 3.iii) and supported by UNESCO, this festival was a major event in African arts, bringing together leading cultural figures from across the African diaspora. A state-funded event, it gestures toward the importance of the relationship between arts and the state for the development of modernism in post-independence Africa, a topic that Enwonwu takes up in this talk. In the course of this piece, Enwonwu carefully positions himself within the key debates raging about art, both nationally and in the diaspora as a whole. At the national level, his talk offers a rebuke to his younger colleague, Uche Okeke, another influential artist of post-independence Nigeria, who advocated for a modernism of “natural synthesis” that would bring together old and new. Enwonwu argues that any such synthesis must be intellectual and conceptual before it is practical. At the same time, he nods repeatedly to the influence of the negritude of Aimé Césaire, who attended the conference, and, especially, Senghor, its organizer. His arguments, however, reject the deliberate embrace of irrationalism and emotion that he believes characterizes negritude, instead insisting on the logic of the African mind, and arguing for an African modernism that would cleave more closely to realism than abstraction. AM

The role of art in Negro-African society is an important one for all who are concerned with the advancement of African Culture, African Thought and The African Personality. It should also concern the present generation of Africans whether they are interested in Art for art’s sake or not. In fact, no emergement African State today, can afford to ignore the urgent role of Art. We march towards renaissance.1 For the Art of Africa is no longer

Cf. Uche Okeke, a fellow Nigerian artist, whose influential 1960 manifesto, “Natural Synthesis” declared, “Nigeria needs a virile school of art with a new philosophy of the new age—our renaissance period.” Okeke, “Natural Synthesis,” in Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa, ed. Clémentine Deliss and Jane Havell (Paris: Flammarion, 1995): 208.

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looked upon as “fetish”, as it had been during the early days of European exploration of the Continent; it is longer treated with the patronising attitude that was the case when the first missionaries, anthropologists, and travelers collected old pieces of “objects d’art” and mixed them up with what was genuine; nor does African Art only enjoy the reputation of its influence as a result of its historic impact upon modern art. The terms African Negro Art, African Traditional Art, Primitive Art, Tribal Art, and all such aesthetic cliches which have become the currency of aesthetic evaluation of works of African Art must now be reconsidered in the light of the present African view. These cliches, together with the influences they exert on the critical mind, should now be regarded as part and parcel of the evangelical, educational, social, economic, and even the political chapters of the Colonial past; because Art in present day Africa is seeking a new role, and this role that must be given to it by the Africans themselves, will determine the form that it should take as the mirror of the aspirations of Independent African people. Art is not sattic. Like Culture, Art changes its form with the times. It is setting the clock back, to expect that the art-form of Africa today, must resemble that of yesterday otherwise, the former will not reflect the African Image. African Art has always even long before western influence, continued to evolve through change and adaptation to new circumstances. And in like manner, the African view of Art has followed the trends of cultural change up to the modern times. But it now appears that the young African painter and sculptor distorts his work deliberately so as to achieve Africaness, or else, that if he does not do so, his work will be imitative of European art. The craftsman cum artist on the other hand struggles between reality only with what he possesses of the old technique. This situation represents the psychological effects of Colonialism. It has no African Directive. In the passing African social context, the African view of his art was a view which was identified with other aspects of the African life. It was not an objective or an analytical view of Art. The realities of life were expressed in the symbolic structure of the work of art, Image, being the link. Artistic view did not spring from Art itself but from the totality of religio-social significance of the art functioning in the group-mind. For this reason, the African view of Art was an inner knowledge, and a spiritual participation rather than a result of a critical or analytical attitude. One is inter-related with Art, while the other is detached from it. A Western art critic writes of Art, of which he may not be a participant in the creative process of representational Image; but the African is an observer as well as a participant or even the creator of his Image for the group. What we accept as Art in the western sense is not the same as what Art is in the African sense. As a result of Western contact, those most keen as well as most influenced by the works of African Art adapted their own view and centred it mainly on the features of African traditional sculpture particularly, the images of ancestral gods, and went onto press and exploit the “Image—Form” which has become an enviable revitalising primitiveness sought after by the highly developed civilisations. It seems absurd that present-day African painters and sculptors should support and sustain this psychology of the Western view by imitating an attitude derived from the influence of African art works upon the Western aesthetic tradition. Many books have been written about the type-form of African Art as acceptable to the West. Although this view has the highest respect for African Sculpture it is also in itself the central focus of Western aesthetics of African Art and, furthermore, has remained unchallenged in spite of the rapid developments in Africa today. In the most part, such books together with articles, journals, magazines and illustrations, have followed more

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or less the trend of thought engendered through the memoirs and the reports by some explorers, travelers, and missionaries, in thus stabilising an aesthetic cannon for Art in Africa which is alien to the realities of African Culture. Except for the more erudite and scholarly writings of such men as Leo Frobenius2 and some protest African writers of today, it might have been very difficult to challenge even the writing by such men as Levi Bruhl who treated the subject of the African Mind as though it was a strange question of homo sapiens.3 While others like Burton4 carried the colonialist theory that “never the twain shall meet”5 much too far. The rest were blind to the unique differences that do exist. I believe in the difference between Black and White, but it should be complimentary and not opposed to each other. No books to my knowledge have appeared on great issues about the Art of Africa by Africans. The reason may be due to the problem of thought translation of such an abstract subject as Art, from one language to another. Or else, that the question of writing on the subject of African Art by Africans is a subject of writing about Creative Imagery. African Art is so identified with socio-religious concept that it spontaneously exercises the fullest measure of its view point through recreative activities. Even story telling in a family group was socio-educational. It was handed down orally rather than written. But until the necessity for the African to write fully about his Art made itself felt, it would amount to forcing an analytical approach in a cultural milieu that does not require it. But to speak about the Art of Africa today automatically means The Traditional; The Ancient; The Tribal and The Primitive as characterised by the Western view of African Art. This must not be the African view today. The first time we Africans received the word ”ART” as applied to the Creative Imagery of our Ancestors, was at the beginning of European colonisation of the African Continent. Through the teaching of the English language by the British, the word ”ART” was adopted, as were indeed many thousands of other English words, by use of the language. The word ”ART” has its limitations when defined, to mean the same sense as for instance the Ibo word ”NKA”. Art is defined in the English Dictionary as ”human skill as opposed to nature; skillful execution of an object in itself; skill applied to imitation and design as in painting etc.; thing in which skill may be exercised; certain branches of learning serving as intellectual instruments for more advanced studies as Batchelor, Master of Arts, one who has obtained a standard of proficiency in these; black magic; practical application of any sciences; industrial pursuit, craft, guild; company of craftsmen; Fine—s. those in which the mind and imagination are chiefly concerned; knack; cunning; stratagem”. Art so defined, provides divergent meanings none of which is the same thing as the world ”NKA”.

Leo Frobenius (1873–1938) was an influential German ethnologist. His sympathetic appraisal of African culture, at least compared to his European contemporaries, made him an important influence on the negritude of the Césaires and, especially, Senghor.

2

Lucien Lévy-Bruhl (1857–1939) was a French anthropologist, sociologist, and philosopher. He developed a theory of the “primitive mind,” which he took to be superstitious and irrational, in contrast to the “modern mind,” associated with logic and reason.

3

Richard Francis Burton (1821–90) was an English explorer and Orientalist who, as part of the British army, travelled widely in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. His record of his travels in Africa tends to see the Africans as a natural laboring class.

4

Cf. Rudyard Kipling’s “Ballad of East and West” (1889), which opens with the refrain, “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

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”NKA” may be understood to mean “making”; of which doing; the making of; doing; of a particular kind; the object of which is specifically artistic; and making; is personified i.e., the professional of ”NKA”; and so particularised; the object of ”NKA” is specific, and so does not refer to any other kind of making, or doing; it is strictly art, only by professional competence; again, ”NKA” bears a traditional significance as an art handed down from generation to generation—thus it is inheritable of family or even village groups such as in the known case of Benin6; ”NKA” does not mean human skill as opposed to nature, but does imply identification with the nature of doing, or of Image. Art is subjective and therefore infinite. ”NKA” is an objectification of Image more through the senses than through cunning of hand. Such definitions of Art as the art of running, swimming, black magic, of photography, stratagem, or as the art of doing anything do not refer to ”NKA”. The prefix ”OME” further explains the identification of a second person i.e., OMENKA—he is the maker of Nka. Both the maker of, and the art of what is being made. NKA, strictly speaking, has traditional and religious associations. Thus the field of socalled African Art is really the realm of the Ancestral world of Images so confined as it were to creativity in a spiritual sense. In terms of reference then, African Art is not really Art in the Western context, but an invocation of ancestral spirits through giving concrete form or body to them before they can enter into the human world. An illustration of this idea can be summarised in a short story, but which may be taken from the end of it. “Juwa took away the spiritual body of his dead father with which the father performs the traditional act of transforming his spiritual body into the human body and vice versa. When his father returned on his way to go back to the spiritual world in which he dwelt, he could not find his spiritual body. Then he sang a song—Juwa Juwa Oh, Nyem Ofo Mo, Ofo’n ji eje Uwa, Onye eji mia elu Mmuo, Uwa dede!7—his father calling Juwa, to give him his spiritual body, the body with which he comes into the human world; because he who has not got it, cannot return, to the spiritual world”. The word ART is therefore only a classic term. When we Africans speak of Art, therefore, we are thinking of its manifestations from the Western view. We are not thinking of ”NKA”, and what it includes. ”NKA”, which is an Ibo word, satisfies the African meaning and the purpose of ART. The problem of translating the word ART into a neo-African concept is primarily a linguistic one. So that some research and study are necessary into the diverse African languages and dialects to collect from every region or tribe the words that can mean the same thing as ”NKA” with the prefix, ”OME”. Depending of course on the tribal groupings, and the possibility of unification, we can begin to translate Art into an African term as signifying more, or less the same thing. Since those of us who have come under

The Kingdom of Benin was a kingdom in what is now southern Nigeria. When it was invaded by the British in 1897, they looted huge quantities of art from the city, including exquisite ivory carvings and, most famously, brasscastings, known today as the Benin Bronzes. The Benin Empire was a subject of considerable scholarly interest in this time. Enwonwu may have in mind the work of R. E. Bradbury, an ethnographer who did extensive work on pre-colonial Benin in this period. Note that the Benin Empire should not be confused with the present-day country of Benin, which was not named such until 1975, and which has no connection to the precolonial empire. 7 Nkiru Nzegwu gives the following translation: “Juwa Juwa O,/Give me my ofo/Ofo by which I travel to the world/Without it one cannot enter the Spirit/The world.” Nzegwu, Contemporary Textures: Multidimensionality in Nigerian Art (Binghamton, NY: International Society for the Study of Africa, Binghamton University, 1990): 165. 6

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British rule have become accustomed to the use of the word ART, so have those of us who have come under France, Belgium, Germany and other European countries, become accustomed to their equivalent term for Art. So, at least, we can begin by laying the foundation upon common regional linguistic translations. However, this is mainly a problem for the students in languages to tackle first. It is necessary therefore that the creative art of Africa today, should be practiced with well defined means and aims so as to reflect, not spurious effects of the very vital qualities of the old vision and cunning of hand of our ”OME-NKA” but the trends of African changing situations as a result of our assimilation of Western culture. This means that more than a synthesis of old and new is to be achieved if a new concept is to follow.8 It is to be regretted that the African painter and sculptor today are not facing the realities of the African situation in their artistic expressions. While they must derive inspiration from the old art of ”NKA”, they must also make use of the inner knowledge so as to arrive at the meeting point between inspiration and ideas. They should neither imitate western Art, nor copy their old Art. The opinions expressed by European anthropologists, collectors of old African sculptures, and the critics may be valid aesthetic considerations. But the concept and philosophy of these opinions are so remote from the African concept that they can no longer serve as the aesthetic cannons or judgement of what Art is, or should or should not be, in the present African situation. Nor can much of European interpretation of African Art today be valid anymore. The colonial status imposed such authority as civic or educational, which are conditions for the existence of art in any country. The Independence of African countries should now remove such conditions even by exercising political power. Self-appointed art critics whether they are Europeans or Africans by either political or civic authority can influence the trend of artistic change in African countries. Their opinions matter, and can encourage or discourage artistic output, and even artistic thought, that may depend for its growth upon Government generosity.9 The press serves as a medium of publishing the works of the present-day African painter and sculptor as opposed to the communal use of the masks and figures of ancestors in the dance and the shrines of the old society. This borrowing of Western media of publicity can be highly effective as a means of communicating as well as disseminting artistic thought and appreciation of the functions of art in contemporary African society, but at the same time, it can, and has been misused to play politics Art. Where artistic opinions are fallacious or prejudiced, this medium of the press can only do great harm. Dennis Duerden, an English art critic of African modern art, who was once Art Master in Norther Nigeria, writes a great deal about the current trends of aesthetic manifestations in the art works of Africa today.10 In the Times Literary Cf. “Our new society calls for a synthesis of old and new, of function art and art for its own sake.” Okeke, “Natural Synthesis,” 208.

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In the wake of Nigerian independence in 1960, the government was an important source of financial support for the Nigerian visual arts. As a major cultural figure at independence, Enwonwu himself was a significant player in the state-funded arts, acting as art supervisor to the federal government, serving on the Nigerian Arts Council, and, in 1968, becoming a cultural advisor to the federal government.

9

Dennis Duerden (1928/29–2007) lived in Nigeria in the 1950s, first as an Education officer in the British colonial service in Nigeria and then as assistant curator at the Jos museum. On his return to the UK in the 1960s, he worked for the BBC World Service, and established the Transcription Centre, a Congress for Cultural Freedom-funded enterprise that produced and distributed radio programs in Africa. Throughout this time, he wrote about African art and culture. His first book on this topic, African Art, was published in 1968.

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Supplement of September 13th. 1965, Mr. Duerden described Art in Africa Today as ”Art That Does Not Conform”. He did not explain further as to what the art does not conform with. Mr. Duerden writes from London without keeping in close touch with the rapid social, economic, educational, and even religious changes that have been taking place in the African countries since he left Nigeria. Valid artistic criticisms must be based on philosophical ideas. For this to be feasible, speculative methods of approach must precede what contentions an art critic may hold, upon the appearance of works of any kind in Art since the appearance of art works must serve as what the eye can see, the perception of which depends on many social, economic and other cultural forces. The critic must know the mind of the artist whose works he writes about. If we should take such art critics as Mr. Duerden to task, we would first be reminded of Levi Bruhl’s contention, when wrote that the ”Mind of the Primitive”—meaning the African Mind—was incapable of logic. That it was pre-logical, meaning that the African mind works in a different orbit from that of the European by arriving at conclusions illogically.11 Research in the science of biological evolution has since proved that the races of mankind are basically the same. The African Philosophy of Negritude, with due deference to President Senghor and Aimé Césaire,12 has defined the kind of “knowledge” that characterised the African spirit and mind. It is a capacity to identify self with object which has advantage in the preservation of “the mystique”, or the vital force in the creative exercise of Art—especially in ”NKA”. This has nothing to do with Mind in so far as the human mind is free to exercise action by receiving and giving its attributes in the process of analysis of matter and objects, or of identification with these. The integration of many aspects of the African life made coexistence of mind and matter possible, in the preservation of the vital force of the inner mind or the Inner Klang.13 That does not mean that the human mind, of any particular race of man is so characterised to be capable of doing only one kind of exercise on matter, but incapable of extending into other things outside its orbit. Analysis of matter depends on objectivity or a detached outlook, and time is one of the means of effecting change in the human outlook whether in the early stages of the human existence or now. Once the human is involved in emotional problems of expression, whether in sorrow, grief, or joy, the reaction is spontaneous. Spontaneity carries with it the spiritual force with which man is endowed by the divine power. Change can only affect the human mind, and at all times, whenever objectivity is a necessity for self-preservation, the preservation of history of Art, or of any matter as a result of the manifestation of the human Mind on things of the outer world. The identification of persons with inanimate objects particularly in the creative exercise of Art or ”NKA” gives to the art works the “mystique” and vital force otherwise known as Magic. Such great African scholars as President Senghor have explored the subject of African Negro Inspiration, Religion, and Ontology that this subject must be left to particular fields of studies in African Culture.

See Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, How Natives Think, trans. Lilan A. Clare (New York: Washington Square Press, 1966 [1923]).

11

See Césaire, “Racial Consciousness and Social Revolution,” (2.iv); Senghor, “Negritude and the Concept of Universal Civilisation” (3.iii).

12

Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) uses the term “innerer Klang” (inner sound, or inner resonance) in his booklength essay on art, Über das Geistige in der Kunst (Concerning the Spiritual in Art) to describe the way a work of art achieves a spiritual resonance.

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What concerns the African artist today who is facing the dual responsibility of his needs, is to find a new aesthetic creed or philosophy as a guide to his revolutionary ideas. Artistic revolutions do not occur merely by the capacity to adapt one form of art to another, but through revolutionary ideas. First, there must be a protest period, when the artists of a generation reject an aesthetic principle as a guide to their creative exercise. Then speculations and arguments. A revolution must be an intellectual rather than a practical solution. The well sought after synthesis between the old and the new, between the indigenous and the effects of western civilisation in African Art today must depend for its realisation, not upon imitating works of any kind that come to the mind of the artist, but through discussions of ideas. In this way, a new school which will allow for individualism can emerge. At the present stage of change in African Art, it is a common experience to find that all so-called progressive African artists are expressing, not a concept of the European school of thought which resulted from ideas as well as the influence derived from the old African works of art. Practically every progressive African artist today has a tendency towards abstractionism. And this looks more like modern European expression both in ideas and technique. It is not African. African art of today does not have to conform to non-representation in order to maintain the name African. It should, in fact, become a startling realism since the problems of the African locale today are realistic and are faced from the most logical and realistic manner. Political meetings in African countries reflect the state of the African mind. They show a balance of thought and a maturity that are typical of an old people. When African countries are described as “young”, it can only mean in the sense that science and technology have just begun to find their way into the schemes for rehabilitation and advancement along modern lines. This does not mean that what had existed in Africa had not reached stages of advanced sophistication; it would also be wrong to condemn African aristocracy because it does not resemble that of Europe. Alien concepts must be sorted out and analysed before they can be acceptable in our new societies. The African must find a solution to the economic problems facing his present-day art, for that has a tremendous influence on the process of change. If art is not used, it cannot go on. The educated or the intellectual African today must equate the financial value of art to the monetary system of the West. To say that a work of art is too expensive is not only to give a higher value to mass products of Western science, such as motor cars having mose importance than Art, but also to negate the very intellectual assessment of art of which he is either convinced, or else dabbling in, so as to appear highly educated. If the comparison of money and art presents a difficult problem to the African intellectual, then his convictions are no realistic or honest. Here the importance of the economic aspect of African art today must also be considered along the civic importance of art. African Independent Governments must seek the proper place for artistic manifestations, not merely by the use of art or the teaching of it in Colleges, but by realising the connection between political Independence and Cultural Freedom. Political Freedom in Africa particularly must clothe itself with the colours of culture so as to present the true Culture of the African peoples in pagentry, buildings, and other means by which the prestige of Government makes itself felt. Apart from the problems of the African artist today being primarily connected with artistic matters and their dependence on outside forces, which means that he must first retain some of the ideas of the old art namely, the sub-realism of Image, Rhythm and

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Form—African Governments must see African Art as part of the political matters which concern them. To do nothing about imitating Western or colonial pageantry inherited by the African Independent Governments is to perpetuate Colonialism. Since no African Government apes Western democratic systems, it should now be possible for them all to carve out a place of honour for the African Art of today so that it will mirror our political, social, civic, educational, religious, and cultural aspirations and in this way serve the artists of Africa with some of their greatest needs for the solution of these problems in independent African countries.

VII. PRODIGALS, COME HOME! Chinweizu Originally published in Okike: An African Journal of New Writing 4 (December 1973): 1–16. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, debates about the relationship between contemporary African writing and pre-colonial African languages and cultural traditions structured the Anglophone African literary field. This essay, by Nigerian writer Chinweizu (1943–), launches the most famous exchange on this topic, between Chinweizu (later joined by several co-authors) and the Nigerian poet and playwright, Wole Soyinka (1957–). Chinweizu was at this time a graduate student in American studies at SUNY Buffalo— his dissertation would be published in 1975 as The West and the Rest of Us: White Predators, Black Slavers, and the African Elite—and had already been living and studying in the United States for several years, having attained a bachelor in mathematics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967. As a Nigerian who lived in the United States through the civil rights movement and the Biafran war, his thinking accordingly reflects the influence of the US black power movement, as well as the debates about African literature raging on the continent itself. The essay printed here is a forerunner to the critical intervention for which Chinweizu is most well-known, the polemic, Toward the Decolonization of African Literature, which he co-wrote with Onwuchekwa Jemie (1940–) and Ihechukwu Madubuike (1944–). This book, completed as early as 1972, was published by Fourth Dimension Publishers in Enugu, Nigeria in 1980, and achieved an international audience with its publication in 1983 by Howard University Press in the United States. An earlier essay of the same title and with the same co-authors was serialized in Okike 6 and 7, in December 1974 and April 1975, and reprinted in full in Transition 48 in 1975, alongside a response by Wole Soyinka. Further responses by Chinweizu, Jemie, and Madubuike were published in the misnumbered Okike 14 and 13, which appeared in September 1978 and January 1979, respectively. Together these essays are often taken as the key debate in African modernism in English. In “Towards the Decolonization of African Literature,” Chinweizu and his coauthors polemicize against difficult, European modernist-influenced poetry—Soyinka’s is taken as a prime example—arguing that “An African poetics must be grounded in an African sensibility, and the incontestably uncontaminated reservoir of African sensibility is the African oral tradition.”1 Soyinka’s response, “Neo-Tarzanism: The Poetics of a Pseudo-Tradition,” argues against what he takes to be the construction of an artificial African tradition, and defends the right of African writers to reflect a modern Africa of “precision machinery, oil rigs, hydro-electricity, my typewriter, railway trains (not iron snakes!), machine guns, bronze sculpture etc., plus an ontological relationship with the universe including the above listed [in a quote from Chinweizu] pumpkins and iron bells.”2 “Prodigals Come Home!” reflects many of the convictions that animate

Chinweizu, Onwuchewka Jemie, and Ihechukwu Madubuike, “Towards the Decolonization of African Literature,” Transition 48 (1975): 36.

1

Wole Soyinka, “Neo-Tarzanism: The Poetics of a Pseudo-Tradition,” Transition 48 (1975): 38.

2

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Chinweizu’s co-written polemics, but seeks to think them through more explicitly in terms of an “African Modernism,” which he contrasts with “Modernism in Africa.” As such, this essay suggests that the Chinweizu/Soyinka debate, often framed as a debate between Soyinka’s modernism and Chinweizu’s traditionalism, might best be understood as a debate between two different forms of modernism. This essay and several of the others in the debate were first published in Okike, an important Nigerian literary journal founded by Chinua Achebe in 1971 and still publishing through the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where Achebe worked for many years. Early issues were supported by Ulli Beier, a German Jewish critic and editor who founded Black Orpheus and played a key role in the development of African and later Papua New Guinean literary culture. Key writers of the African diaspora, including Wole Soyinka and Kamau Brathwaite, were listed as part of its early editorial board, and Chinweizu served the journal as associate editor throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The key later essays in this debate have been digitized as part of the full run of Transition by JSTOR and can now be read online with an institutional subscription. For a recent treatment of the debate, see Neil Lazarus, “Modernism and African Literature,” in Mark Wollaeger, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012): 228–45. AM

Consider the following questions: should we have Modern Art in Africa or Modern African Art? Modern Poetry in Africa or Modern African Poetry? Should we import Modernity into Africa, or create an African Modernity? Are we committed to the erection of Modern Culture in Africa or to the Modernization of African Culture? If one should ask: “But what is the distinction? Isn’t this merely a semantic exercise?” one would be confessing to unawareness of this widespread danger of cultural servitude masquerading as cultural development; this danger of cultural death wearing the mask of “civilization”; this danger from which we all are already half dead. But how do we make clear this distinction loaded with consequences of life and death for African Culture? Beier and Moore have, correctly, given the title “Modern Poetry from Africa” to their anthology of poetry written in European languages by contemporary Africans.3 One thing this anthology is not: it is not an anthology of poetry written, spoken or sung by Africans working today on extended seams of the African poetic tradition, tuning their voices to echoes from our tradition in order to sing of our world of now and here. And that they are written in European languages is not even the point! For their forms, as well as the sensibilities and the attitudes that inform their treatment, remain, for the most part, outside the African tradition. For exemplars of Modern African Poetry, poetry written today in styles informed by traditional African poetics, for poetry written today that

Ulli Beier and Gerald Moore’s anthology Modern Poetry in Africa was first published by Penguin Books in the UK in 1963 and was republished in 1984 as The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry. Beier (1922–2011) and Moore (1924–) were both influential white critics and editors, living and working in Africa and engaged in the promotion of African literature. Beier was a German Jew who moved to Ibadan in 1950, having lived in Palestine and London. In 1957, he founded Black Orpheus, the first Anglophone African literary journal. He moved to Papua New Guinea in 1966, and also played an important role in the development of Papua New Guinean literature (see Albert Wendt’s essay 14.v for more information about this literary field). Moore is a British scholar and editor, who taught at a number of universities in Nigeria and Uganda. His writing about contemporary African literature was very influential in the development of the field.

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continues and develops the African tradition we must look to Ahmad Nassir’s Gnomic Verses (Swahili),4 to p’Bitek’s Song of Lawino (Acoli and English)5 and to Okigbo’s “Path of Thunder” poems (English).6 No matter in what language they are written, these poems stand as prototypes of what a Modern African Poetry might be like.7 Unlike Modern Poems from Africa, these Modern African Poems, even when they are written in English, are within the poetic traditions of indigenous African cultures. Though Modern Poetry from Africa is poetry written by Africans, it is poetry dominated by modern European sensibility. Modern African Poetry, on the other hand, is poetry written by Africans, and, above all else, dominated by a sensibility derived from the African tradition. And to get a flavor of that tradition we might consult Beier’s Yoruba Poetry,8 his African Poetry,9 and Andrezjewski and Lewis’s Somali Poetry.10 In them we find translations of traditional African poetry. These traditional works, whether handed down from antiquity or written and collected in the past century, distinctly convey the

Ahmad Nassir bin Juma Bhalo was a Kenyan poet. His Poems from Kenya: Gnomic Verses in Swahili was published in a bilingual edition with Lyndon Harries’ English translations by the University of Wisconsin Press in 1966. Swahili is the first language of the East African Swahili people, and is used as a lingua franca through large parts of eastern and south-eastern Africa.

4

Okot p’Bitek (1931–82), a Ugandan poet, was one of the most important East African writers of the period. Song of Lawino is an epic poem, initially written in the Southern Luo dialect of Acoli, spoken in northern Uganda. It depicts a debate between the eponymous Lawino and her husband Ocol, and in so doing stages the debates about tradition and modernity in decolonial Africa. As Chinweizu indicates here, it was influential not just for its content, but also for its innovative use of Acoli oral traditions and performance. Its publication in the author’s English translation in 1966 as part of the East African Publishing House’s Modern African Writers series was a major event for East African literature. It was subsequently published in an American edition in 1969 by the World Publishing Company. The original Acoli version, which had been refused publication repeatedly in the 1960s, first appeared in 1971.

5

Christopher Okigbo (1932–67) was a major Nigerian poet and a towering presence in the African literary field of the 1960s. Known for his opposition to negritude, his poetry remains some of the most important of this period and is often discussed as one of the key exemplars of African modernism. The “Path of Thunder” sequence, written between 1965 and 1967, was published in his posthumous collection Labyrinths, which appeared as part of Heinemann’s African Writers Series in 1971. At the outbreak of the Biafran war in 1967, in which the eastern, predominantly Igbo provinces of Nigeria attempted to secede and form the new nation of Biafra, Okigbo joined the Biafran military. He was killed in battle in the same year.

6

Debates about whether African literature should be written in colonial or indigenous languages had raged in Africa since the early 1960s, finding its most canonical expression in the debates surrounding the 1962 Congress for Cultural Freedom-sponsored Conference of African Writers of English Expression at Makerere College in Kampala, Uganda. Obiajunwa Wali’s 1963 review of this conference, “The Dead End of African Literature?,” published in Transition 10, offers a canonical account of the case for writing African literature in the continent’s indigenous languages. It is available online as part of JSTOR’s digitization of Transition.

7

Beier was active as a translator and collector of Yoruba poetry. With Bakare Gbadamosi, he published the collection Yoruba Poetry in 1959, which was billed as a “special publication of Black Orpheus” and published in Ibadan. Yoruba is the language spoken by the Yoruba people of West Africa. It is one of the four official languages of Nigeria.

8

Beier’s African Poetry: An Anthology of Traditional African Poems was first published by Cambridge University Press in 1966. It assembles poems—mostly transmitted orally—from East, West, and South Africa, as well as ancient Egypt. The texts are drawn from a range of sources, including German anthropological texts, collections of poetry assembled and translated by poets and scholars, texts published in contemporary literary journals such as Black Orpheus or Présence Africaine, Beier’s own translations, and oral exchanges with African poets.

9

B. W. Andrzejewski's and I. M. Lewis’s collection Somali Poetry: An Introduction was published by Oxford’s Clarendon Press as part of the Oxford Library of African Literature series in 1964. This scholarly text includes an extensive introduction, followed by facing page translations in Somali and English, and facsimile copies of a number of Arabic religious poems.

10

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traditional African voice. And even these English translations cannot but convince us that the mark of un-Africanness is not simply language, but rather the form, the attitude and the sensibility that go into the treatment of a poem. Lest the language or the sheer talent of the poet confuse this issue of sensibility, I shall use poems written in English by one distinguished African poet to illustrate the vast distance between Modern Poetry in Africa and Modern African Poetry. Okigbo’s poem “Watermaid,” a section of his five-part “Heavensgate,” begins as follows: Eyes open on the sea, eyes open, of the prodigal; upward to heaven shoot where stars will fall from.11 But by the time Okigbo gets to his “Path of Thunder” poems, the anemic modernity of his early “Heavensgate” is abandoned. One result is his “Elegy for Slit-drum.” And it begins: Condolences ... from our swollen lips laden with   condolences: The mythmaker accompanies us The rattles are here with us Condolences from our split-tongue of the slit drum condolences one tongue full of fire one tongue full of stone — condolences from the twin-lips of our drum parted in     condolences12 The tired syntactic jugglery of “Watermaid” is gone. Vanished! And in its place? Stirring sequences of rhythmic lament; the towncrier’s clear and unambiguous declaratives, each short line a complete and telling expression, firm in tone, ending on a highlighting stress; each stanza of short lines followed by one long line, an echoing variation anchored on the rhythms of condolences. And to anyone familiar with the recurring chorus lines of African folk tales, children’s stories and songs of lamentation, familiar with the rhythmic phrasings of Ikoro drumming,13 the basic African influences on “Elegy” are not mysterious. (To determine the tradition to which “Elegy” partly belongs one should re-examine various popular recordings of the ‘50s and early ‘60s in which deceased notables were lamented. Onwu Nwapa and Odoemezina are two Igbo laments that come to my mind right away. The declarative lines, the one-or-more-line refrains are all there in these Igbo songs of lamentation). One could use Okigbo’s “Elegy” at a wake, the short declarative lines going to a lead singer, the long “Condolences” lines going to the assembled mourners! Here is Christopher Okigbo, Labyrinths (London; Ibadan; Nairobi: Heinemann, 1971): 10.

11

Okigbo, Labyrinths, 68.

12

The ikoro is a slit drum used by the Igbo people of south-eastern Nigeria, to whom Okigbo belonged. It was typically mounted in the village square and used to send messages to the community over long distances.

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a powerful use of traditional form in a non-traditional poem in English; an enrichment as well as an extention of African poetry in English by elements from the African tradition. In considering Okigbo’s “Hurrah for Thunder,” another poem in his “Path of Thunder” sequence, the juvenescent influence is even more readily presentable. From “Hurrah for Thunder” we have: Whatever happened to the elephant— Hurrah for thunder— The elephant, tetrarch of the jungle: With a wave of the hand He could pull four trees to the ground; His four mortar legs pounded the earth: Wherever they treaded, The grass was forbidden to be there.14 Now compare that with the following lines from the Yoruba oriki “Erin”15: Elephant, a spirit in the bush. With his single hand He can pull two palm trees to the ground. If he had two hands He would tear the heavens like an old rag. ……………………………………………. With his four mortar legs He tramples down the grass. Wherever he walks, The grass is forbidden to stand up again. —Tr. by Ulli Beier & Gbadamosi Taken from 300 Years of Black Poetry Edited by Lomax and Abdul, Fawcett16 The blurb on the back cover of the African edition of Labyrinths says that Okigbo’s “Path of Thunder” sequence of poems “shows a new fierceness which held the promise of remarkable development.”17 That is an unavoidable impression. I have pointed out some of the African sources of this outbreak of new poetic power. This triumphant juvenescence is not a mere matter of rhythms. (It is that too!) It is not a mere matter of formal imitations and direct borrowings and close adaptations. It is far more a matter of his having abandoned what Okigbo, Labyrinths, 67.

14

An oríkì is a Yoruba praise chant, devised for children at birth and added to over the course of the individual’s life.

15

The citation here contains a misprint: the title of the anthology is actually 3000 Years of Black Poetry. It was edited by Alan Lomax, a white US ethnomusicologist and Raoul Abdul, a black US music critic and singer, and published in 1971 by US publisher Fawcett Publications.

16

The “African edition” referred to here is probably the Heinemann African Writers Series edition, which was published in London but widely distributed in Africa through Heinemann’s offices in Ibadan and Nairobi. This quotation appears on the back cover blurb of Labyrinths’s first edition in this series.

17

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Leroi Jones called the “meta-language and shallow ornament of contemporary academic British poetry,” (Leroi Jones, in Home).18 Okigbo abandons it for a language of African particulars; he accepts an African poetic landscape with its flora and fauna—a landscape of elephants, beggars, calabashes, serpents, pumpkins, baskets, towncriers, iron bells, slit drums, iron masks, hares, snakes, squirrels; a landscape that is no longer used as an exoticism for background effect, no longer used for exotic references sprinkled among anemic images, but a landscape which has been moved to the dramatic centre of his poetry; a landscape portrayed with native eyes to which aeroplanes naturally appear as iron birds; a landscape in which the animals behave as they might behave in African folk-lore, of animals presented through native African eyes.19 And “native” is not a pejorative! And this juvenescence is clearly a result of his consciously working within African traditions and of his bringing to his work valuable lessons he had learned from other traditions, Western Modernism not excluded. Whereas in “Heavensgate” we find … a Modern European poem made exotic, and find in “Hurrah …” an apprentice poem whose traditional models show too clearly through gaps in the stiches, in “Elegy …” we find a poem which, though written in English, owes nothing to modern European sensibility; a poem at the third transmuted corner of a cultural triangle at whose other corners stand the African Traditional and the Modern European sensibilities; but still a poem whose African lineage is beyond dispute. This distinction between Modern African Poetry and Modern Poetry in Africa, based as it is on continuities or discontinuities with the poetic traditions of Africa’s indigenous cultures, is a paradigm of the distinction between African Modernity and Modernity in Africa, (i.e. Western Bourgeois Modernity in Africa). A Modern African Culture, whatever else it is, must be a continuation of Old African Culture. Whatever else it includes, it must include seminal and controlling elements from the Old African tradition, elements that determine its tone, hold it together and give it a stamp of distinctiveness. The problem of an African Modernity is the obverse side of the problem of African

LeRoi Jones (1934–2014), known since 1965 as Amiri Baraka, was an African American writer. This quotation appears in his 1964 review essay, “A Dark Bag,” originally published in Poetry in 1964, and reprinted in Jones’ 1965 essay collection Home. The review laments the generally poor state of black writing globally, through a discussion of Arna Bontemps’ anthology American Negro Poetry, Langston Hughes’s Poems from Black Africa, John Pepper Clark’s verse play Song of a Goat, Christopher Okigbo’s collection Heavensgate, Léon Damas’s African Songs of Love, War, Grief, & Abuse, Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo’s 24 Poems, Jacob Drachler’s anthology of poetry and criticism African Heritage, and Lyndon Harries’ Swahili Poetry. This quotation is taken from a discussion of the Hughes anthology, where Jones compares Anglophone African writing unfavourably with its Francophone counterpart, writing, “Almost all the African poets writing in English included in this collection, with the general exception of the writers I mentioned [ie, John Pepper Clark, Christopher Okigbo, and Ezekiel Mphalele]—and their work is not entirely free of it—employ the meta-language and shallow ornament of contemporary academic British poetry with, a great deal of the time, the same dreary results.” Jones continues later in the paragraph—in a claim to which the rest of Chinweizu’s paragraph seems to respond—“But even so, many times these poems seem interesting for a time, if only because of the bright, sometimes exotic, backgrounds and references.” Indeed, Chinweizu’s opinions in this essay generally concur with Jones’s. Later in the essay, for instance, Jones offers a mixed review of Okigbo’s Heavensgate, which concludes, as Chinweizu does, that “at this moment, Mr. Okigbo’s reading is weakening most of his poems,” and praises instead writers like Clark, who he judges offer “an African experience.” LeRoi Jones, “A Dark Bag,” Poetry 103.6 (March 1964): 398, 399.

18

Soyinka quotes this passage at length in “Neo-Tarzanism,” taking it as reflective of “the troika’s [ie, Chinweizu, Jemie, and Madubuike’s] concept of the African poetic landscape with its flora and fauna.” Soyinka retorts: “I am not at all certain how this proves more acceptable than the traditional Hollywood image of the pop-eyed African in the jungle—‘Bwana, bwana me see big iron bird’”: Soyinka, “Neo-Tarzanism,” 38. These images, including the iron bird, are all taken directly from Okigbo’s “Paths of Thunder” sequence.

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traditions. Those who deny to African traditions—and traditional Africa—a controlling place in their consciousness have no alternative but to formulate African Modernity in Western Bourgeois terms. Echeruo’s discussion of Nigerian poetry is a case worth considering. He is a modernminded Nigerian, a poet as well as a critic. He discussed the problems of Nigerian poetry in a paper he read at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1966; a paper which was published in Nigeria Magazine#89 and has been acclaimed in African and Africanist literary circles. In this paper “Traditional and Borrowed Elements in Nigerian Poetry,” he contends that one of the problems facing the Nigerian writer today in transferring from indigenous to modern poetry is that of suppressing the over-explicit nature of traditional reflective poetry, and of encouraging a more subtle complicating of narration, reflection and resolution.20 Echeruo also contends that both modern European and modern Nigerian poetry shun explicit moral tags, “preferring for the most part to fuse setting and reflecting into one single poetic moment.” Let me point out, right away, that he misses the real problem of the contemporary Nigerian writer, be he modernist or traditionalist. The traditionalist, —such as the late Fagunwa who wrote in Yoruba,21 and Tutuola who writes captivatingly in English without abandoning his traditionalist imagination22—is content to work in his tradition, and is not transferring to anything, let alone to “modern poetry” if he is a poet. He cannot therefore be said to be faced with Echeruo’s problem. The modern Nigerian writer—such as Okigbo at the end of his career—is transferring from “modern poetry” to the tradition of indigenous poetry (i.e. if he is a poet). His problems are those of journeying in the opposite direction from that claimed for him by Echeruo. Whose problems then is Echeruo concerned with? They are precisely those of any Nigerian writer who seeks to abandon the indigenous tradition and write modern European poetry. In other words, the problems of a would-be “modern poet,” i.e. the would-be modern European poet, who happens to have been brought up in the African tradition and must overcome that “handicap”; the problems of the writer of African extraction who wants to abandon his tradition; the problems of the “de-tribalizing” African writer.

Michael Echeruo, “Traditional and Borrowed Elements in Nigerian Poetry,” Nigeria Magazine 89 (June 1966): 142–55. Echeruo (1937–) is a Nigerian literary critic, educated at the University College, Ibadan and Cornell University, where he received a PhD in 1965. He taught at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and the University of Ibadan, before becoming the William Safire Professor of Modern Letters at Syracuse University in 1990. Nigeria Magazine, whose epigraph advertises it as “a quarterly magazine for everyone interested in the country and its peoples,” has been published by the Nigerian government since 1960. In “Neo-Tarzanism” Soyinka defends Echeruo’s basic point while conceding the imprecision of his wording, arguing that African modernity “may result in a subtle complication in the ‘narration, reflection and resolution’ of these phenomena but emphatically denies the deliberate complicating of them. Echeruo alas, chose his wording most unwisely and Chinweizu & Co., can hardly be blamed for seizing that big stick to hit their unfavourite poets over the head”: Soyinka, “Neo-Tarzanism,” 38. 20

Daniel O. Fagunwa (1903–63) was a Nigerian writer, credited with writing the first Yoruba-language novel, Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irunmale (1938), which Soyinka translated into English as The Forest of a Thousand Daemons in 1968. He was known for his use of Yoruba folk tales and folk philosophy in his writing.

21

Amos Tutuola (1920–97) was a Nigerian novelist who, like Fagunwa, drew on Yoruba myth and thought in his work, but who wrote in English. His novel The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952) is among the most influential works of African literature.

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Echeruo’s usage of the expressions “modern European poetry” and “modern Nigerian poetry” is cause for alarm! These terms are wielded as if they denoted two animals, different and coequal. But what really is this “modern Nigerian poetry” of his but modern European poetry, alias modern poetry, written by Europeanized sensibilities in Nigerian skin? Poetry written by Nigerians who are disciples of modernist European poetry? But from the way Echeruo denotes them one could get the impression that they shun the same things because both are modern, though independent and different. Which is not the case. In actual fact one, the Nigerian, shuns whatever it is said to shun, not because it is “modern” in some culturally neutral way, but just because the other, the European mentor, shuns those things. The impression that they are two different but equal things, two things which by virtue of some common modernity share some common attitudes— that impression vanishes! The derivativeness and dependency of the Nigerian imitation now stands out to be dealt with. And once we have stripped modernity of its cultural commitment to the West, once modernity ceases to be an alias for Western Modernity, it becomes much easier to attack the substantive issue raised by Echeruo’s claims. Is there anything modern, in a culturally neutral non-Western sense, about a “subtle complicating of narration, reflection and resolution?” But first, let us detour and understand what Western Modernity is all about. A good reference for that would be The Idea of the Modern in Literature and the Arts, edited by Irving Howe.23 In his introduction to this anthology—an anthology in which outstanding Western critics and writers tell us what Modernity (or Modernism) is in the literature and arts of the west,—Howe lists some of the attributes of modernism. Now Howe, writing as he is for members of his Western culture, does not bother to say: the idea of the Modern in the Literature and the Arts of the West. But any non-Westerner who wants to keep his own cultural perspectives straight must supply for himself the appropriate modifiers. And in my recapitulation of what he has to say I shall supply such modifiers whenever necessary. Among the reasons why modernism emerged are: 1.  The Avant-Garde came into being as a special caste in Western society, a caste at its margins, a caste alienated from it and its traditions. 2.  This Avant-Garde criticised the classical Western idea of esthetic order and either abandoned or radically modifies it. In the process naturalism was out and 3.  Nature ceased to be a central subject and setting for Western literature. Also, 4.  in contradistinction to the classical western hero, a whole new sense of character, structure and the role of the protagonist or hero appeared in the Western novel. And foremost among the literary attitudes and values which emerged triumphant from all this are: 5.  Perversity – which is to say: surprise, excitement, shock, terror, affront 6.  Primitivism – which is to say: a fascination with what in Western tradition has been considered primal, decadent or atavistic (e.g. Negro art!) Irving Howe (1920–93) was a prominent US literary critic and democratic socialist politician. The Idea of the Modern in Literature and the Arts is an edited collection, published by Horizon Press in 1968, assembling essays on modernism and/or the modern by writers, critics, and philosophers, including Stephen Spender, Lionel Trilling, David Jones, José Ortega y Gasset, Evgeni Zamyatin, Marcel Raymond, Albert Camus, Theodor Adorno, and Jean-Paul Sartre. An earlier version of Howe’s introduction, “The Idea of the Modern,” was published in Commentary magazine in November 1967.

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7.  Nihilism – which is to say: a breakdown and accepted loss of belief in traditional values as guide to conduct, together with a feeling that human existence is meaningless. These became dominant motifs and central preoccupations of modern Western literature. And the kind of literature that these attitudes brought into being, the modern or modernist literature of the West, is almost always difficult to comprehend. “That is a sign of its modernity,” Howe assures us. That a literature of this kind should become dominant in the West at the time that it did can be accounted for by looking closely into Western literary and social history. There was a specific burden of tradition that Western modernism reacted against in its revolt. But however familiar we may be with all that; however familiar we may be with that tradition or with the various modernist revolts against it (Symbolism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism, etc.) they are not part of our history. They do not belong to our past. The individual African writer may school himself into all that knowledge (just like his Western contemporary), but the fact remains that (quite unlike his Western contemporary) none of that revolt affected and went directly into the constitution of our culture. But which culture? The African or the European? And this raises the question: who do our writers work for? Who are their audience, their listeners, the responding part of their cultural community? The Europeans—and the Europeanized—or the African? Which community and tradition do they elect to function in? Are they Africans or Europeans? Or more exactly, are they Africans influenced by Europe, or are the Black Europeans influenced by Africa? Which do they prefer to be? We must stop thinking that the past trajectory of Western history, literary or otherwise, is our own. We may have been hit over the head by the West; but that does not make us Westerners—at least not yet. It should be obvious by now that the attributes Echeruo considers “modern” are merely attributes of “modern Western literature”; are culturally determined by the history of the Western tradition, and cannot be regarded as modern in any culturally neutral nonWestern sense. Since their taste was cultivated on that modern Western tradition, our Nigerian “modernists” derive their attitude to explicitness and complex obscurantism wholly from the West. By becoming “modern” in the way of the West, any Nigerian or African writer would be inheriting the distinctly Western, as against the distinctly African, tradition. Since African society is far different today from Western society in its hallmarks, attitudes, and crisis, in its sense of problems and fulfilments; since our crisis of values consists in our having to make hasty choices while reeling from confusing blows from the West, blows that are dislodging us from the equilibrium of our traditions, would our communicators of values not be avoiding their responsibility to our community if they, rather than be clear and accessible, preferred to emulate the Western fashion and be perversely difficult and irrelevant? Let us assume (and is that an unwarranted assumption?) that these African poets are writing primarily for us Africans. Then, as regards most of the works of those “Western modernist” poets who happen to be African, I must join Ama Aidoo24 in saying:

Ama Ata Aidoo (1942–) is a Ghanaian writer, known for her depictions of the lives of African women and her commitment to a concept of African identity. Her best-known novels include her début Our Sister Killjoy (1977) and Changes (1991), which won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

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“We are waiting around for answers and praying that those who can see things will sometimes speak in accents which the few of us who read English can understand. For we are tired of betrayals, broken promises and forever remaining in the dark.” Ama Ata Aidoo entered this plea while reviewing Wole Soyinka’s Idanre in West Africa #2641.25 But that plea could have been, and still could be, entered with equal aptness in reviews of the many more Western modernist poets among us. Another reviewer of Idanre remarks in Nigeria Magazine that Soyinka is in that work “at once snobbishly detached from and convulsively involved with the goings on around him,”—as perhaps befits any disciple of Western modernism. He says the work is difficult, obscure and (perhaps therefore?) a work of genius! —a remark that might be expected from a reviewer unsure of his African responsibilities when faced with the glamour of Western modernist attitudes. (Which is not to say that Soyinka does not have genius— whatever that is. Look at his drama! Excellent and compelling. Look at his early poetry before he abandoned the transparency and humor of “Telephone Conversation”26 and chose to wallow in dense obscurities! It is just that “genius” is not a word I like to use. It is too damned up-cloud elitist for me. It sticks in my teeth. Art for me is craft, not a romantic wet-dream!) Whereas explicitness is a hallmark of African poetry, the obscurity we find in many of our poets, the obscurity they impose upon their poems out of that creed that demands a “subtle complicating of narration, reflection and resolution,” this obscurity is a badge of Western modernism. And while talking about explicitness, clarity and obscurity let me, in passing, note that there is a distinction between an obscurity, explicitness or clarity of surface and those of depth. And I am talking of the former. In this distinction lies, perhaps, the root of Echeruo’s error. Let me quote Pound against Echeruo. Pound warns: “Obscurities not inherent in the matter, obscurities due not to the thing but to the wording, are a botch… the work lives not by them but despite them.” (Italics mine) (In the essay “Early Translators of Homer.” See Literary Essays of Pound p. 268) And the vice of Western modernist poetry that Echeruo bids us cultivate is precisely this obscurity of surfaces. Joyce made a virtue of that vice; he pulled it off. How many others have, or can? Let it be noted then that when Echeruo encourages us to complicate and obscure our diction he is advising us to abandon the African tradition for the Western, and for what is not even the best in that Western tradition. He is inviting us to desert our cultural responsibility to speak intelligibly to our communicants in African culture and to instead speak to the communicants of Western culture. Echeruo again decries explicitness when he puts down the “ ‘responsible’ moral tag.” His example of this—“Fate is a fully determined thing”—is from an Old English poem called “The Wanderer.” The effect of Echeruo’s razor, were it to cut into Nassir’s poetry, would be to rob his fine stanzas of their last lines:

Idanre is a long poem, initially commissioned for the Commonwealth Arts Festival in 1965 and subsequently published in Idanre and Other Poems in 1967. It draws on Yoruba religion, especially the god Ogun. West Africa was a London-based weekly news magazine, which published news and cultural pieces about West Africa.

25

“Telephone Conversation” is an early poem by Soyinka, first published in Moore and Beier’s Modern Poetry from Africa anthology.

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The male lion is on the path listen, O babbler do not criticize me secretly while ostensibly supporting me it is better to master yourself so restrain yourself such behavior is like finishing up the firewood a bone is not cookable. Reflect and take measure of the world though you talk nonsense don’t do what is meaningless these things are not proper for a man don’t shame yourself I give you what is true though you put wood on the fire a bone is not cookable. — From “A Bone is not Cookable” Tr. by Lyndon Harries from Nassir’s Swahili. But, of course, Echeruo’s modernist temper would frown on this kind of writing altogether. Well, well, what shall Africa not hear from her learned children! The Western Modernists among us are firmly in the Western camp. They show little interest in the African poetic traditions; they disdain them, and make little effort to learn from them. If they have their way we must desert our habits and surrender ourselves at the alter of the West, there to be killed, skinned and repackaged under Western labels! To Echeruo and other African critics of his persuasion (and they abound in our universities and on our magazines—Echeruo is just a good example of a very bad thing!) I say: the problem of the Modern African Writer, trained as he usually is in the Western Modernist attitudes, is to reconnect with, to transfer back into, not transfer out of, his indigenous tradition. His problem is to understand his tradition, learn from it in humility, in order to become a true participant in African Culture; his task is to imitate Nassirs, p’Biteks and Okigbos of the continent and to cease to be a modern Western writer who happens to be born African. Nassir has not left home: p’Bitek has never wandered off a prodigal. Okigbo did. But after Pound and Mallarme, Lorca and Cowley and Tagore had left their imprints on his voice, he staggered towards home. And on the eve of his homecoming he asked: “And how does one say NO in the thunder?” (Lament of the Silent Sisters).27 And reaching home he sat at the feet of the Orikis, humbly sat and closely listened, and practised what he heard. When he got home he did not treat what was his own as curios; he did not treat them as exotica fit only to be delighted in after the fashion of the ethnologist. He treated them the way we should—as his mentors, as ancestral guides who would teach his feet to wander no more; as the dibia28 who would cure him of his long demonic “pursuit of the white elephant,”29 the pursuit which had taken him through “Heavensgate,” through “Limits,” and through “Distances.” He treated these embodiments of an African tradition as the masters from whom he would learn how to say NO in the thunder to those temptresses

Okigbo, Labyrinths, 39, 43.

27

In traditional Igbo religions, dibia are healers and teachers, said to act as intermediaries between the human and spirit worlds.

28

This quotation is taken from Okigbo’s discussion, in his 1965 “Introduction” to Labyrinths, of the poetic sequence “Siren Limits,” from the collection Limits: “‘Siren Limits’ presents a protagonist in pursuit of the white elephant.” This line is actually quite a literal description of the subject matter of “Siren Limits,” but Chinweizu repurposes it to describe the poet’s career as a whole. Okigbo, Labyrinths, xi.

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from another culture. He listened, he practised, and he was born again. And he became a true native, a true son; and he rejoined his kind and spoke in his voice of thunder. If the careers of Nassir and p’Bitek have nothing to teach our cultural exiles, Okigbo’s certainly does. For he had been one of them; had been foremost among them; yet he found a way home to his cradle. But if it is already too late for them to wander back home, let our prodigals stop masquerading. Let them declare themselves for what they are—modernists of the West, not modernists of Africa. Let them acknowledge what they are and cease and desist from influencing and advising us and our posterity in the wrong directions. If and when, like Okigbo, they return home, we shall gladly celebrate their homecoming. For we cannot reject our prodigals if they come home.

VIII. MANIFESTO OF THE ZAIRIAN AVANT-GARDISTS Les avant-gardistes zaïrois Published in French in Contribution à l’étude historique de l’art plastique zairois moderne by Badi Banga ne Mwine (Kinshasa: Editions Malayika, 1977). Translation by Sarah Van Beurden. In 1973, a group of artists in the Zairian capital of Kinshasa united under the name “AvantGardistes Zaïrois,” intending to create a new, national, modern art. The initiative came in response to critiques of modern Zairian art, which was deemed derivative. Members included sculptors Liyolo Limbe M’Puanga and Tamba Ndembe; painters Lema Kusa, Mokengo Kwekwe, Mayemba ma Nkakasa, and Mavinga ma NkondoNgwala; ceramicist Bamba Ndombasi; and art critic Badi-Banga ne Mwine. The artists situated their initiative in the context of the politics of authenticité (authenticity), designed by the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko1 to create a unifying national culture based upon so-called indigenous values and cultures. The work of these artists developed in interaction with other African modernisms of the era and circulated in the global south but they gained only limited success in the West. The movement itself was short-lived yet many of its members had a long-term influence on academic art in Zaire through their positions at the Fine Arts Academy in Kinshasa and the fact that their work was favored by the regime. SVB

The conditioning that surrounds the creation of art is intimately tied to the historical evolution a society undergoes politically, economically, socially and in terms of religion. We, modern Zairian visual artists, cannot neglect the inestimable values of our ancestral heritage which we must use not only as a solid foundation but also as a fertile source of inspiration. This means that, in a country like ours, where a complete revolution is desired, art must be at the forefront of the fight; this explains the need to channel [our] gifts and talents toward the nurturing of a new, avant-garde, revolutionary art. Furthermore, inspired by the teachings of Guide MOBUTU SESE SEKO, we believe that we are contributing more positively to the national cultural revolution by revolutionizing our art. Put simply, this means that Zairian art must present itself to the world as an art endowed with young blood and animated by a magical spirit. We would like our art to completely recover its autonomy and its intrinsic identity through a divestiture— brutal if needed—of all stereotypical formulas of foreign origin. We legitimately believe that Guide MOBUTU SESE SEKO’s philosophy of Authenticity will be the beacon that enlightens the artists, and thus, supports them in the very exhilarating mission that is theirs, namely: to enliven the hearts and sprits with the ideals of Zairian humanism, thanks to their creative genius.

Joseph-Désiré Mobutu gained power in Congo through a coup in 1965. (After an earlier coup in 1961 he had returned power to a civilian government.) The former Belgian Congo was renamed Zaire during his rule, which lasted until 1997 and was characterized by an increasing totalitarianism.

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CHAPTER FOUR

Modernism in the Arab World EDITED BY STEPHEN J. ROSS AND ALYS MOODY

Modernism in the Arab world has its origins in the nahḍah (“awakening,” “renaissance”) of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Beginning in Egypt and later spreading east to other Arabic-speaking Ottoman regions, the political and cultural transformations of the nahḍah signaled the emergence of Arab modernity and (pan) Arab nationalism out of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the incursion of Western imperialism. While the “Arab Renaissance”—and the related Ottoman tanzimat (“reorganization”) of 1839– 76—involved the fitful adoption of Western political ideals such as democracy, rationalized government, egalitarianism, and religious freedom, it also triggered the regeneration and renovation of Arab culture at every level. Nowhere were these energies more keenly felt than in the classical Arabic poetic tradition, a perpetually replenishing fund of formal rules and structures that has stood at the center of Arab culture since pre-Islamic times. This tradition would first be mobilized in the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth-century neo-classical revival to consolidate Arab identity and political self-determination, only to become ground zero of modernist renewal in the mid-twentieth century and after. Given poetry’s privileged place in the Arab cultural and political imaginary, this section’s selections emphasize poetry’s luminously compressed path to modernism and modernity (ḥadāthah), though we are also mindful to include representative statements from adjacent modernist practices, tied to internationalism and liberation struggle, in the visual arts. Stimulated by the renascent energies of the nahḍah, Arabic poetry rapidly evolved during the first half of the twentieth century.1 “Within a mere five decades or so,” Salma Khadra Jayyusi observes, “Arabic poetry had passed through almost all the phases of development which western poetry experienced over three centuries.”2 Arabic poetry became modern during this time by assimilating—in quick and overlapping succession— modes that Jayyusi identifies as neo-classical, romantic, symbolist, surrealist, and modernist. The neo-classical revival of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, spanning Egypt and Lebanon to Iraq, linked classical Arabic poetics to the struggle for modern Islamic and Arab self-determination. The turn to classical poetic grandeur and rigor was a “pointedly anti-colonialist” effort to summon “a glorious past to indict the The compressed timeline in which Arabic poetry “modernized” itself is a phenomenon mirrored elsewhere, as in the staggering emergence of Yiddish literature practically ex nihilo.

1

Salma Khadra Jayyusi, “Modernist Poetry in Arabic,” in The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature: Modern Arabic Literature, ed. M. M. Badawi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992): 138.

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present.”3 Egyptian poets such as Maḥmūd Sāmī al-Bārūdī (1839–1904) and Aḥmad Shawqī (1868–1932), among many others, were pioneering figures in the effort to recover Arab-Islamic political independence through the poetic tradition (al-Bārūdī also notably served, briefly, as Egypt’s fifth prime minister). The reaction against neo-classicism in the first half of the twentieth century entailed efforts to bring Arabic poetry down to earth and imbue it with modern reality and structures of feeling. Given the totalizing, perfected stasis of the classical poetic tradition, this reaction would also manifest as resistance to the perceived continuities between neoclassicism and political authoritarianism. The “romanticism” of the Dīwān School and the later Apūllū (i.e., Apollo) group, or of an influential figure such as the émigré Jibrān Khalīl Jibrān (i.e., Khalil Gibran, 1883–1931), brought new forms of feeling and desire into Arabic poetry. Against the backdrop of the neo-classical revival, Arabic poets of the early-mid twentieth century sought to bring everyday life and individual experience more emphatically into the poem. As Muhsin J. al-Musawi argues, “The modernist drive in the late 1940s to implicate the poetic into common life beyond the nineteenth-century revivalist rhetorical grandeur was part of a broad social and political consciousness,”4 one which linked the breaking of classical form with resistance to political domination. Indeed, along with the drive to bring “common life” into poetry, it was the revolution in poetic form itself—specifically free verse (al-shʿir al-ḥurr) but also prose poetry (al-shʿir al-manthūr) and the prose poem (qaṣīdat al-nathr)—that would mark the most significant modernist departure from the classical poetic tradition. “We are still gasping for air in our poems, shackling our emotions in the chains of the old meters and the creaking of dead expressions,” writes the Iraqi poet Nāzik alMalāʾikah (1923–2007) in the introduction to her collection, Splinters and Ash (1949). The free verse that al-Malāʾikah and fellow Iraqi contemporaries such as Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb (1926–64) and ʿAbd al-Wahhāb al-Bayātī (1926–99) began to compose from the 1940s onward signaled a break not only with neo-classicism but with Arab-Islamic traditionalism itself. Free verse innovation in Arabic poetry coincided with the broader historical and political rupture of the Second World War and the Nakbah in 1948, a period marked by Arab nationalist despair and the call for socialistic “engagement” (iltizām) in literature. At the same time, the Arabic free verse movement did not simply jettison the classical tradition, nor was a poet like Nāzik al-Malāʾikah untouched by romanticist mood and theme. Arabic free verse does not dispense with classical meters (Arabic “prose poetry” is a closer approximation of Western “free verse”) but varies the number of feet per line, constructing new poetic forms out of classical raw material. In doing so, it ventilates the poem and makes room for more nuanced personal expression, while remaining anchored in the classical tradition. The innovative break, therefore, lies in the assertion of a continuity with tradition to be determined not by that tradition’s changeless conventions (“the system created by al-Khalīl” in the eighth century CE, as al-Malāʾikah writes in her introduction) but by the poet herself. In this sense, the Arabic free verse movement was not merely a pivot away from neoclassicism but was also tied to the nahḍah project of Arab nationalist transformation and regeneration. These experiments would be published and theorized in important journals circulated (and censored) throughout the Arab world such as al-Ādāb (founded in 1953

Muhsin J. al-Musawi, Arabic Poetry: Trajectories of Modernity and Tradition (New York: Routledge, 2006): 8.

3

Ibid, 11.

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and published in various forms until 2012) and, slightly later, Shiʿr (1957–70). Where the former was a very influential platform for the discussion and dissemination of literature (all genres), culture, and political thought in the Arab world, the latter, started in Beirut by Yūsuf al-Khāl (1917–87) in collaboration with the Syrian poet Adūnīs (i.e., Adonis, born ʿAlī Aḥmad Saʿīd Isbir, 1930–), was an explicitly avant-garde organ of Arabic poetic experimentalism, notably associated with innovation in the Arabic prose poem form.5 Adūnīs, the guiding light of Shiʿr, would become one of the most consequential thinkers about Arab modernism and modernity. In his view, it is misleading to construe the importation/imposition of Western-style modernity on Arab political, economic, and cultural life as the whole of “Arab modernity,” since a deeper “modernity” (ḥadāthah) has abided within and propelled the Arab tradition for over a millennium. Thus, he argues in the final chapter of his Introduction to Poetics, poets of eighth- and ninth-century Baghdad such as Abū Nuwās and Abū Tammām are far more “modern” than neo-classical revivalists like al-Bārūdī and Shawqī, since the latter do not produce new knowledge within the matrix of the Arab tradition but instead merely imitate Western models of nationalistic poesis. We find a similar torqueing of familiar Western concepts and aesthetic modes elsewhere, as in the Egyptian visual artist Kāmil al-Tilimsānī’s (1915–72) “On Degenerate Art” (1939). In this text, al-Tilimsānī responds to a critic who had charged his group with being derivative of French by demonstrating the internationalist character of the surrealist movement and asserting the deep historical legacy of surrealism in Egyptian art and culture going back to the pharaohs. The post-war, post-Nakbah decades brought revolution not only to Arab literature and art but also to its politics. Between 1952 and 1962 Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, and Algeria decolonized and gained independence; it was a moment in which “the Arab imaginary was seized … by the imperatives of rapid anti-colonialism, modernization, and liberation and the advent of nationalist culture.”6 Out of this moment’s revolutionary optimism—which soon faded in the face of various disappointments and obstacles7— arose new forms of liberation struggle tied to nationalism, pan-Arabism, and Third Worldism. In this section we have included two texts that speak to the crisis in the social function of art which faced revolutionary artists of the period. Moroccan poet and activist Abdellatif Laâbi’s (1942–) prologue to the inaugural issue of Souffles (1966), a highly influential French-language journal of experimental literature and global LeninistMarxist and Third Worldist thought, makes the case for the “cultural decolonization” of Morocco and the Maghreb more generally. Laâbi’s inclusion in this section also speaks to the reconfiguration of geographies that attended this political crisis, as the countries of the decolonizing Maghreb sought to reorient themselves toward the Arab world as part of their resistance to Western colonialism. Although Laâbi’s contribution was written in French, within a few years, Souffles had reached a crisis and relaunched as Anfās, an The Arabic “prose poem” is more or less analogous to the Western concept (i.e., poetry usually formalized in blocks or paragraphs), while Arabic “prose poetry” roughly equates to Western free verse (i.e., poetic lines with varying and irregular syllables).

5

Ussama Makdisi, “The Making and Unmaking of the Arab World,” in Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents, ed. Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, and Nadia Shabout (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018): 32.

6

“The overtly anti-colonial regimes lost their way, faced with severe economic and social challenges of rapidly growing populations with rising expectations, the military threat of Israel (in the case of Egypt), the hostility of the Saudi-centric, conservative pro-Western petroleum order, and the insidious narcotic of power itself.” Makdisi, “The Making and Unmaking of the Arab World.”

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Arabic-language publication, cementing this configuration. At the heart of much of this turmoil in the Arab world in the 1960s is the contested political position of Palestine. The defeat of Arab nations fighting in the Six-Day War in 1967 marked a radicalization of Arab politics and with it literature. If Laâbi’s essay captures the moment immediately before this crisis, the final text in this section captures its aftermath. In “Art in the Time of the Palestinian Revolution” (1971), the last and most recent text in this section, Palestinian visual artist Kamāl Bullāṭah (1942–2019) foresees the coming of “Palestinian art in the revolutionary period … an art that nobody has seen, for it has not yet been born.” SJR8

FURTHER READING Badawi, M. M. The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature: Modern Arabic Literature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Bardaouil, Sam. Surrealism in Egypt: Modernism and the Art and Liberty Group. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2017. Bernard, Anna. “The Crisis of the Present: Literature in the Middle East and North Africa.” In The Modernist World, edited by Stephen Ross and Allana C. Lindgren. New York; London: Routledge, 2015. Jayyusi, Salma Khadra. Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry. 2 vols. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1977. LaCoss, Don. “Egyptian Surrealism and ‘Degenerate Art’ in 1939.” The Arab Studies Journal 18.1 (Spring 2010): 78–117. Meyer, Stefan G. The Experimental Arabic Novel: Postcolonial Literary Modernism in the Levant. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001. al-Musawi, Muhsin J. Arabic Poetry: Trajectories of Modernity and Tradition. London; New York: Routledge, 2006. Al-Tami, Ahmed. “Arabic ‘Free Verse’: The Problem of Terminology.” Journal of Arabic Literature 24.2 (July 1993): 185–98.

This section largely follows the Library of Congress transliteration guidelines for Arabic, with some exceptions.

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I. ON DEGENERATE ART Kāmil al-Tilimsānī Originally published in Arabic in al-Risālah, no. 321 (August 28, 1939): 1701–3. Translated by Mandy McClure. Art and Liberty (known as Art et Liberté in French and al-Fann wa-al-ḥurrīyah in Arabic) was an Egyptian surrealist group, formed in Cairo in 1938. Their manifesto “Long Live Degenerate Art!” released as a pamphlet in French and Arabic in Cairo in December 1938 was the first statement of their position, written as war approached in Europe.1 Developed in solidarity with André Breton’s and Diego Rivera’s anti-fascist group, the International Federation of Independent Revolutionary Art, and responding to the Nazi government’s suppression of so-called “degenerate art,” the manifesto positions modernist experimentation as the anti-fascist, internationalist response that a world on the brink of war demanded. In this sense, the members of Art and Liberty understood themselves to belong to an international milieu of revolutionary artists. They participated actively in debates in European, especially French, periodicals, and, as this essay shows, their thinking was shaped in dialogue with the latest developments in French, British, and other international artistic and political thought. In July 1939, the Egyptian periodical al-Risālah published an essay by ʿAzīz Aḥmad Fahmī, the journal’s arts critic, reporting the group’s demise and reflecting on its inevitability, given what Fahmī took to be the inherent contradiction in terms of “degenerate art.” This essay sparked a heated exchange that lasted three months, as members of the group and its critics engaged in a bitter back-and-forth. The group’s critics attacked them for their embrace of “degenerate art,” as well as for their movement’s commitment to what was portrayed as a foreign, mostly French, movement. In the essay reproduced here, Kāmil al-Tilimsānī (1915–72) seeks to defend the group’s position, explaining the connection between politics and art that underpins their thought, and refuting the accusations that they are merely replicating a French movement by emphasizing both surrealism’s own relation to Egyptian tradition, and surrealism’s internationalism. For a detailed account of the debate in al-Risālah, see Don LaCoss, “Egyptian Surrealism and ‘Degenerate Art’ in 1939,” The Arab Studies Journal 18.1 (2010): 78–117. For a book-length account of the Art and Liberty group, see Sam Bardaouil, Surrealism in Egypt: Modernism and the Art and Liberty Group (I. B. Tauris, 2017). AM

This pamphlet is available in English in Franklin Rosemont and Robin Kelley, eds., Black, Brown & Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the Diaspora (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009): 148–9; reprinted in Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, and Nada Shabout, eds., Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018): 94–5.

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We read in issue 319 of the esteemed al-Risālah an article titled “On Degenerate Art: A Final Word” a response to what a distinguished author had written about the Art and Liberty group, and a response to a dispute with Anwar Kāmil, a member of the group, who, in his response to [Naṣrī ʿAṭā Allāh Sūsah], purposefully avoided artistic details and any mention of names and dates.2 In this article of his, the distinguished gentleman [Sūsah] mentioned the name of author and poet André Breton, and translated an old passage of Breton’s on Surrealism, adding his own commentary to it. For this reason alone, I find myself compelled to correct his erroneous statements concerning Breton and his movement, so that the esteemed readers do not come away with a distorted and disfigured image of this international movement, which expresses the highest and noblest human feelings in the current century and, by its path of artistic civilization in poetry or modern painting, reached its highest level, thereby laying a foundation for the contemporary school of free verse and depiction based on intuitive thought and modern psychoanalysis. Perhaps the opponents among our colleagues will hereafter take pains to quote from more recent and credible sources on this rejuvenating moment, which even today is expanding and renewing itself, and before whose vigor no stagnant thought or indolent research and inquiry can stand. It is apparent from his writing that the distinguished author acquired all his information about Surrealism—“art far removed from apparent reality”—from a few paragraphs in [Sisley Huddleston’s 1928] book Bohemian Literary and Social Life in Paris. We believe that simply reading a few paragraphs such as these, written several years ago, does not give him the right to speak of that about which he spoke, and that this is an offense against both the thought and the author whom he mentions. It is also an offense against al-Risālah, given its influence and reach, which does not stop at Egypt, but extends to the entire Arab East! We must therefore have a “final word” here in response to his article. We will not return to the matter henceforth, except perhaps in detailed analytical publications or in public exhibitions and lectures that may be accommodated in the coming winter season. Over the past five years, Surrealism has undergone many essential and far-reaching developments. In this period, André Breton has published several successful statements about the movement, the innovations occurring in it, and the opinions and thought it has acquired. The most recent of these developments is Breton’s brilliant article in the latest issue of his journal Minotaure, which the gentleman in question must read, along with the articles preceding it.3 Breton’s article offers a lucid exploration of the most recent directions in Surrealist painting and writing by leading French and English critics, poets, and authors of the movement. Surrealism is not “a purely French movement,” as the gentleman claims. Rather, it is a movement whose most distinctive feature is the internationalism of its thought and means. Its character is not local or nationalist in any way, whether major or minor. It is truly strange and astonishing that the gentleman [Sūsah] permits himself to fall into such obscene error in his writing. I advise him here to read what the great English critic Herbert Read wrote in his book on Surrealism regarding the internationalism of this free movement,4 These essays are available in English translation in Modern Art in the Arab World, ed. Lenssen, Rogers, and Shabout, 95–100.

2

André Breton, “Des tendances les plus récentes de la peinture surréaliste,” Minotaure, 3rd series, 12–13 (Paris, May 1939): 16–17.

3

See Herbert Read, “Introduction,” in Surrealism, ed. Herbert Read (London: Faber and Faber, 1936): 19–91. Reprinted with some changes as “Surrealism and the Romantic Principal” in Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Modern Art: Collected Essays (London: Faber and Faber, 1952) and Herbert Read, Selected Writings: Poetry and Criticism (London: Faber and Faber, 1964).

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and [to consider] the utter improbability of the gentleman’s accusation that it is purely French. In fact, I would like to inform him that there is not a single Frenchman among the leading Surrealist painters. The painter Giorgio de Chirico is Greek-Italian; Salvador Dalí is Spanish, as is Picasso himself; Paul Klee and Max Ernst are from Germany5; Penrose is English, as is Henry Moore. As for Paul Delvaux, he is Belgian, and Chagall is a Russian national, and so on. These, my good sir, are the leaders of the movement, and it is ironic that there is not a single Frenchman among them! Art has no country, my friend. You erred when you wrote: “I believe that artistic currents cannot move so easily from one country to another, to say nothing of character and inspiration.” There are comparable movements in England, Mexico, Belgium, the United States, Holland, etc. Do you believe, sir, that it is a disgrace that some Egyptian paintings draw from or are influenced by this school? We want a civilization that moves with the world. We do not want to stand still while everyone else moves on. Concerning this same topic, I also advise you to read the editorial in the January 1939 issue of Clé, so that you can learn for yourself, in silence, how little understanding you have of this school.6 Have you seen, sir, the four-armed sugar mawlid doll? Have you seen the Karagöz shadow puppets? Have you listened to the stories of Umm al-shuʿūr, Clever Ḥasan, and others from local folk literature?7 All this, sir, is Surrealism. Have you visited the Egyptian Museum? Much pharaonic art is Surrealism. Have you visited the Coptic Museum? Much Coptic art is Surrealism. We are not imitating any foreign schools, but rather creating an art that arises from the brown soil of this country and has coursed in our blood from the first day we lived with our unrestricted thoughts up until this very hour, my friend. Concerning this supposedly French movement, you say, sir, that “its prime impetus is the theory of the scientist Sigmund Freud.” This is a generalization that contains much hyperbole and seeks, without basis, to draw plaudits from the public—presuming as it does that the public is largely ignorant of such matters. Such words are a far cry from accurate analysis. Freud is valued by the public and by the entire free democratic world, which enjoys freedom of thought. Is it a crime, sir, for analysis based on Freudian theories to enter into painting, just as it has already entered into literature and poetry in this free and democratic country of ours? Egypt is not yet part of Germany, and Italy has yet to colonize our country—so Freud’s works need not yet be burned in our public squares amid cries of joy and savagery!8 No sir, Egypt is still democratic, and you must suppress the influence of fascist, Nazi thought on your view of our art, and discern the straight way for yourself. Do you know, sir, that the paintings of Maḥmūd Bāy Saʿīd, the greatest of painters,9 are all

Klee was actually Swiss German.

5

Clé was the journal of the International Federation of Independent Revolutionary Art (FIARI). It was published in Paris and ran for only two issues, in January and February of 1939. The second issue, in February, carried an announcement of the launch of the Art and Liberty group, as well as an essay by Georges Henein.

6

Here, al-Tilimsānī is identifying toys, activities, and folklore characters from popular arts in Egypt—that is, cultural practices that exhibit qualities of free imagination and stylistic exploration. [Translator’s note]

7

Freud’s works were among those burned by German students during the Nazi book-burnings in 1933.

8

Maḥmūd Saʿīd (1897–1964) was a modern Egyptian painter (“Bāy” is an honorific title, traditionally appended to his name). His work is modernist and nationalist, although not terribly influenced by surrealism. By 1939, he already had a substantial reputation both domestically and internationally, in Europe and the United States.

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Freudian, as are most of the writings of Mr. Maḥmūd Taymūr Bāy,10 Tawfīq al-Ḥakīm,11 and others? That our art relies on Freud’s theories—if this is partly true for some of us—is no reason to call such art “degenerate” at the top of your lungs. Here I advise you, sir, to become acquainted with the material before writing that this is the relationship of these paintings to the scientist Sigmund Freud. On this relationship, I point you to an enjoyable section in the book Art and Society by the critic Herbert Read, or to what that same English Surrealist has recently written in issues of the London Bulletin.12 Among the things cited in your article, you mentioned “automatic writing.” Are you aware, sir, that the time of this automatic writing has come and gone already? A living thing is perpetually and spontaneously renewed. My friend, there is no need to mention, today, something that you’ve only learned a little bit about after those concerned have already abandoned it—the form of such writing has since changed. Have you read, my good sir, André Breton’s What Is Surrealism? I am sure you have not. Otherwise you would not have quoted the words you did today—which Breton spoke several years ago—without mentioning what he said to introduce those words, and without noting what he said after them. Perhaps you will find an image that will please you, sir, in a lecture given in French by the Egyptian poet Georges Henein, a member of the group, reproduced in the October 1937 issue of Revue des Conférences Françaises en Orient, which is published in Cairo.13 Finally, do you know, sir, that the leading critic in Egypt, Aḥmad Bāy Rassim—a man who has expressed his opinions on art ever since art was destined to emerge in Egypt— spoke of three members of the group, painters, in several articles?14 In the last of these, in the September 17, 1938, issue of al-Ahrām and the October 15, 1938, issue of al-Balāgh, he mentioned the influence of folk art and Eastern art on the works of these artists, who include Kamal William, Fatḥī al-Bakrī, and the author of these very lines. Some of the members of this group, such as Abū Khalīl Luṭfī and Ḥusayn Yūsuf Amīn, have reached a high degree of refinement in local folk art. Their art reveals both imagination and an individual thought that is by no means Surrealist, although it does share in some of the associations and fundamentals of Surrealism, particularly the engravings of the sculptor Abū Khalīl Luṭfī. As for the paintings of Yūsuf al-ʿAfīfī and Fuʾād Kāmil, they are straight from the heart: their lines are composed of their very nerves and blood. The art of both of them is strictly individual, with no one but themselves having any direct link to it in any way. I would like to answer you here with what our master Yūsuf al-ʿAfīfī once

Maḥmūd Taymūr (1894–1973) was an Egyptian novelist who, in the 1930s, wrote novels in the style of naturalism. 11 Tawfīq al-Ḥakīm (1898–1987) was an Egyptian playwright and novelist. His plays were influenced by the theater he encountered while studying in Paris in the 1920s, and left a particularly significant mark on Egyptian writing. 12 Art and Society was first published in 1937. London Bulletin was an influential English surrealist magazine, which ran from 1938 to 1940, to which Herbert Read was a regular contributor. 10

Georges Henein, “Bilan du mouvement surréaliste,” Revue des conférences françaises en Orient 8 (October 1937). 13

Aḥmad Rassim (1895–1958) was an Egyptian poet and diarist, as well as an art critic, who wrote in French and Arabic.

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said to a critic who opposed his theory: “Surrealism is nothing but a modern academic term for what we call imagination, freedom of expression, freedom of style. From time immemorial, the East has been home to all of this.” We shall not return to this again. Perhaps what I have briefly mentioned here will inspire the esteemed readers of al-Risālah to read some of these authors and critics.

II. INTRODUCTION TO SPLINTERS AND ASH Nāzik al-Malāʾikah Originally published in Arabic as the introduction to Shaẓāyā wa-ramād (Splinters and Ash), Beirut, 1949. Translated by Emily Drumsta. Nāzik al-Malāʾikah (1923–2007) was an Iraqi poet, credited as one of the pioneers of Arabic free verse. Born in Baghdad and raised in a wealthy family, she was trained in the classical Arabic tradition, publishing her first poem at the age of 10. As a young woman, she developed an interest in British and Arab Romanticism, nurturing her interest in the English literary tradition during two periods of study in the United States: as an undergraduate at Princeton in 1950–1, and as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she earned a masters degree in 1956. Her career as a poet spanned the late 1940s into the 1970s, and was bolstered by her significant contributions to the theorization of the poetic innovations that accompanied the flourishing of Arabic modernist poetry in this period. This text is the introduction to her second volume of poetry. In it, she lays out a program for writing free verse in Arabic, a form that, as this text makes clear, differs from English free verse in its continued commitment to a relatively strict metrical form. Instead of doing away with meter, al-Malāʾikah advocates for a form that keeps alive the traditional Arabic metrical foot, but that varies the number of feet in each line. In this way, she seeks to tread a line between the rich tradition of Arabic poetry, which had a continued popular resonance in Arab societies, and the desire to innovate and make new. This mediation between innovation and tradition characterizes al-Malāʾikah’s approach to poetry throughout her career, and would later attract criticism from writers like Jabrā Ibrāhīm Jabrā, who considered her too invested in meter. As a nationalist writer who was committed to pan-Arabism, however, al-Malāʾikah’s metrical decisions are also political ones, aimed at keeping the role of poetry alive as a popular, national form. This introduction too might be understood as part of that project, aimed—like texts of Anglophone modernist literary criticism, such as Laura Riding and Robert Grave’s A Survey of Modernist Poetry—not just at describing a new form, but at teaching its readers how to read this new poetry, and thus at producing a readership for modernist poetic innovation. This translation by Emily Drumsta brings this foundational text of Arabic free verse into English for the first time. All notes in the text are the translator’s. AM

In poetry, as in life, Bernard Shaw’s expression—“The golden rule is that there are no golden rules”—still holds true, and for good reason.1 Poetry is born from life’s events, and life’s events do not follow any specific rule of organization, nor are life’s objects and feelings arranged according to any particular color scheme. Still, this view does not contradict the tendency to divide poetry into schools and sects such as “Classical,”

George Bernard Shaw, “Maxims for Revolutionists,” in Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy (Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co., 1903): 227.

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“Romantic,” “Realist,” “Symbolist,” “Surrealist,” etc., which is common among many literary critics. These divisions do not, after all, represent rules; they are only judgments. Many might agree with my opinion that Arabic poetry has not yet stood on its own two feet, after the long slumber in which bygone centuries weighed heavily on it. For the most part, we are still prisoners, held captive by the rules our forebears established in the pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods. We are still gasping for air in our poems, shackling our emotions in the chains of the old meters and creaking, dead expressions. No sooner do some of us try to disobey than we are met with the resistance of a thousand jealous protectors of our language, a thousand guardians of the poetic traditions invented by one ancient man who understood what suited his time and whose invention we have since solidified and adopted as custom. It is as though language cannot be safe unless it is frozen in the state in which it existed a thousand years ago, as though poetry cannot be poetry if its metrical feet diverge from the system created by al-Khalīl.2 Some might ask: what’s wrong with al-Khalīl’s method? What’s wrong with the language our ancestors have used for centuries? The response to these questions is beyond the scope of a short introduction to a poetry collection such as this. What’s wrong with al-Khalīl’s method, you ask? Hasn’t it grown rusty from the palpations of so many pens and lips over the years? Haven’t our ears grown so accustomed to it, our lips so constantly repeated it, and our pens so thoroughly gnawed at it that they’ve finally spit it out? For centuries, we’ve been describing our emotions using the same style, and now that style no longer has any taste or color. Life has changed; images, colors, and feelings have been turned on their heads, and despite this fact our poetry is still variations on qifā nabkī and bānat Suʿād.3 If the meters remain, and the rhymes remain, won’t the general idea be the same as well? Some might ask: what is language? Why is it necessary to give it new horizons? They forget that if language doesn’t keep pace with life, it dies. The reality is that the Arabic language does not yet possess the life-giving strength necessary to confront the cyclones of fear and fire that fill our souls today. It was once an inspiring language: moving, laughing, weeping, and storming. Then generations of specialists embalmed and petrified its expressions, turning them into readymade facsimiles which they distributed to writers and poets without realizing that one poet can do for language what a thousand grammarians and linguists together could never do. The poet, with his sharpened sensibilities and careful linguistic ear, can stretch words to accommodate new and unheard-of meanings. Driven by his artistic sensibility, he might tear up a given rule, not to do harm to language, but to urge it forward. The poet or man of letters, then, is the one in whose hands language develops. As for the grammarian and the linguist, they have nothing to do with it. The grammarian and the linguist have one important duty: to notice things, and to extract general rules from the writers and poets with the sharpest sensibilities. The man of letters whose sensibilities we will agree to call “sharp,” however, must have a deep cultural education whose roots extend to the innermost core of his native literature, ancient and modern alike, and to some familiarity with the literature of at least one foreign country as well. This education should instill him such a strong linguistic sensibility that everything he creates will be beautiful and exalted. Whenever he tears up a Al-Khalīl ibn Aḥmad al-Farāhīdī (718–86 CE), an early Arabic lexicographer and philologist who is credited with standardizing Arabic prosody or ʿarūḍ.

2

These are the opening words of two pre-Islamic “hanging odes” or muʿallaqāt by Imrūʾ al-Qays and Kaʿb ibn Zuhayr, respectively. The odes are considered the oldest and most revered poems in the Arabic tradition.

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rule, adds new color to a word, or creates a new expression, we feel it is the best possible innovation, and we begin to treat it as a new “golden rule.” But the sharp litterateur’s occupation will not be limited to breaking a rule here and adding new meaning there. He will have a more specific responsibility than this—one which the nature of living human languages will impose upon him. He will have to insert a key change into the literary dictionary of his era. He will have to disregard many of the words used in past centuries and create in their place new words that have never been used before, because words grow old in the same way that everything touched by the fingers of use in this ever-changing life grow old. As the years pass, words can take on hardness through repetition and gradually lose their many-branching meanings. They come to have single, fixed meanings that paralyze the writer’s feelings and inhibit his freedom of expression. There is another important justification for this attempt to distance ourselves from frequently used words and expressions: the human ear is bored by familiar images and repeated sounds. Such repetition can strip words of their vitality and their multiple meanings. For example, we Arab poets now naturally avoid words such as “amber,” “camphor,” “benzoil branch,” “crescent moon,” “lovelocks,” “oud,” “narcissus,” “pearls.” These are words that, in certain previous eras, seemed refined and poetic. Perhaps at the time they were only used by the most innovative poets. Throughout my study of contemporary literatures, however, I’ve noticed the following curious thing: that we, in this era, have forgotten the specialized lexical meaning of the word badr (full moon), almost disregarding it completely. In its place, we use the word qamar (moon), and very few contemporary poets use the word badr except in rare instances. I confess that I myself sometimes go to great pains not to use badr, and there is a psychological explanation for this: my peers and I doubtless remember dozens of tone-deaf, distasteful verses left to us by the poets of a bygone era who used the word badr so much they stripped it of its beauty, extinguishing its flame and leaving behind little more than their own shadows. Perhaps this is what psychologists call “association” (and perhaps they have a different explanation for it)4 and has nothing to do with the reality of the situation. The important thing is that words rust and erode; they need to be replaced from time to time. And we have seen that this process of exchanging and replacing is the work of the litterateur, who carries it out while he is “half-conscious,” because complete consciousness rarely ever yields anything of value. *** Let us return to meter. In this collection of poetry, there is a simple kind of “departure” from the customary rules in poems such as “The Woman Who Gathers Shadows,” “Let’s Be Friends,” “Elegy for an Unimportant Day,” “Song of the Chasm,” and others. I should say here that I do not count myself among the poets with “sharp sensibilities” about whom I spoke earlier. I only feel that this new style of ordering al-Khalīl’s metrical feet can free the poet’s wings from a thousand restraints. In what follows, I will try to lay out the particularities of this style and why it is preferable to al-Khalīl’s style. The following lines belong to the meter that al-Khalīl called al-mutaqārib, “the tripping,” which contains only one foot: faʿūlun, repeated four times in each hemistich (eight times in each complete line): ‫يداك للمس النجوم‬ ‫ونسج الغيوم‬ The word “association” is written out in Latin characters in the original.

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‫يداك لجمع الظالل‬ ‫وتشييد يوتوبيا في الرمال‬ Your two hands touch the stars weave the mist Your two hands gather dark build utopia here in the sands.5 Now, if I had used the style of al-Khalīl, could I have expressed my ideas with such brevity and facility? Certainly not. I would have been forced to complete each line with a second hemistich, thereby fabricating meanings different from and extraneous to what I originally intended, simply to fill up space. Perhaps the first line would have gone like this: ‫يداك للمس النجوم الوضاء   ونسج الغمائم ملء السماء‬ Your two hands touch the stars shining bright and weave fabric from clouds in the sky The two-hemistich line does criminal injustice to the original image. Observe how we added the adjective “bright” (al-wiḍāʾ) onto “stars” without any reason dictated by the meaning, but simply to fill out the first hemistich with its four feet? See also how we replaced the expressive word “mists” (ghuyūm) with the heavy synonym “clouds” (ghamāʾim) even though it doesn't actually mean the same thing. Then there is this needless expression “in the sky” (malʾ al-samāʾ), which we have patched onto the image simply for the meter’s sake. Where our original intent was to create a gentle pause in the line's music, with this expression we have actually given it crutches! This is what happens if we work with the mutaqārib meter. If we choose the ṭawīl (“long”) meter, however, the travesty becomes even worse. This meter elongates the crutches and widens the patches, such that the general idea of the line shrivels up and withers away: ‫يداك للمس النّجْ ِم أو نسج غيمة   يس ِيّرها اإلعصار في كل مشرق‬ Your hands, when they caress the stars or clouds, blow them in tempests every day at dawn.6 The reader must notice the stupidity of the expression and the hardening of the image, as well as its distance from our first set of lines:

The lines in Arabic contain a single foot— faʿūlun, the base foot of the mutaqārib meter—repeated an irregular number of times in each line: line 1 = three feet, line 2 = two feet, line 3 = four feet, line 4 = four feet. I have tried to replicate the foot meter with the anapest in English. The Arabic lines rhyme aabb. 6 The ṭawīl or “long” meter is one of the most highly regarded and widely used in classical Arabic poetry (particularly in the pre-Islamic “hanging odes” or muʿallaqāt). Unlike the mutaqārib, the ṭawīl meter combines two feet in its pattern as follows: faʿūlun mafāʿīlun faʿūlun mafāʿīlun (caesura) faʿūlun mafāʿīlun faʿūlun mafāʿīlun. To replicate the social function and centrality of the ṭawīl meter in English, I have used iambic pentameter. 5

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Your two hands touch the stars and weave the mist Your two hands gather dark and build utopia here in the sands. We must also remember that this new style is not a departure from al-Khalīl’s way, but rather a modification of his method, necessitated by the way ideas and styles have developed throughout the ages that separate us from al-Khalīl. al-Khalīl made the pattern of the kāmil or “perfect” meter run like this: ‫كفاي ترتعشان أين سكينتي؟   شفتاي تصطخبان أين هدوئي‬ (‫)متفاعلن متفاعلن متفاعلن)    (متفاعلن متفاعلن متفاعلن‬ My hands are trembling, where is my stillness? My lips are clamoring, where is my silence? The meter is focused on the foot mutafāʿilun, which Arab poets are used to repeating three times in every hemistich. All we will do now is play with the number of feet and their arrangement in each line, such that the poem will sometimes follow the meter and sometimes not. Take, for example, this excerpt from the poem “Walls and Shadows:” ‫وهناك في األعماق شيء جامد‬ ‫حجزت بالدته المساء عن النهار‬ ‫شيء رهيب بارد‬ ‫خلف الستار‬ ‫يدعى جدار‬ ‫أواه لو هدم الجدار‬ Something solid lurks there in the deep and its apathy hides day from night something frightening and cold cloaked in veils called a wall how I wish it would fall If we metered these lines, they would run as follows:

Some/thing /so//lid lurks/ there// in/ the/ deep// and/ its/ a//pa/thy /hides// day/ from/ night// some/thing/ fright//ning/ and/ cold// cloaked/ in/ veils// called/ a/ wall// how/ I/ wish// it/ would/ fall//

‫متفاعلن متفاعلن متفاعلن‬ ‫متفاعلن متفاعلن متفاعلن‬ ‫متفاعلن متفاعلن‬ ‫متفاعلن‬ ‫متفاعلن‬ ‫متفاعلن متفاعلن‬ (3 rough anapests) (3) (2) (1) (1) (2)

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The significance of this new model is that it liberates the poet from the tyranny of the two-hemistich line which, with its six fixed feet, forces the poet to cap off his words when the sixth foot arrives, even if the idea he wants to convey could be expressed in four. The new style, by contrast, allows him to stop wherever he wishes. *** We must also speak about rhyme, this stone which clogs up every line of poetry composed in traditional prosody. It has been said that Arabic is a broad, rich language, and that this justifies its having been the only language that adopted mono-rhyme as a custom in its poetry. It is easy to forget, however, that no language, no matter how broad or rich, can create an “epic” that rhymes on a single letter, no matter which letter it is. Those who extol the richness of Arabic do not realize that this is one of the reasons why there are no epics in Arabic literature, unlike in the literatures of its neighbors, the Persians and Greeks. This is not the place to discuss the heavy losses that mono-rhyme has inflicted on Arabic poetry throughout the many eras of the past. What I do want to stress, however, is that this form of rhyme gives the poem a monotonous quality that bores the listener and makes him feel that the poet has overworked his lines in his desperate hunt for rhymes. Mono-rhyme has most certainly strangled many poets’ sensibilities and buried innumerable ideas (maʿānī) alive in their hearts. This is because in true poetry, “musicality is special, and Arabic poetry is almost all musical.”7 Poetry can only be born from the first burst of feeling in the poet’s heart, and this burst is likely to dry up at the first impediment to cross its path, like a dream from which a sleeper quickly wakes. Mono-rhyme has always been this impediment. No sooner has the poet felt the poetic state descend upon him, grabbed his pen, and begun writing some lines, than the fruits of his labor begin to calcify with stilted rhymes. He must divide his mind between the diametrically opposed tasks of expressing his feeling and thinking about rhyme. Soon the trance-state has left him, and its spontaneity is gone. The poet is merely sorting words into lines and arranging rhymes without feeling. This is why, in our ancient literature, we rarely find poems with a single, unifying meaning, or poems dominated by a single expressive atmosphere from beginning to end. The poet is forced to fabricate rhyme, and I know many poets who choose a rhyme first and then write lines in conformity with it—proof that rhyme, this jealous goddess, exercises a tyrannical rule over our work. Fortunately, our contemporary poets have lessened the power of rhyme and departed from it by using the quatrain and other forms. Such forms of versification have even become widely accepted, for the most part. There is no longer any objection to the rhymes in this poetry collection, for example, though I admit that I have sometimes played with my rhymes more than others. In the poem “Nails,” for example, the rhyme scheme is: aba bcb cdc ded efe … etc. In the poem “Ashes,” I have used the quatrain form, making the rhyme scheme abba. In “Strangers,” I have used the “stanza” form,8 so the rhyme in every stanza is as follows: aabbab. As for the poem “Cholera,” the stanzas in it are slightly longer than custom dictates, and they rhyme as follows: abbccbdbeeee. Elsewhere, I have liberated several poems from rhyme completely, as in “The Train Passed By,” “The End of the Stairs,” “Fairy Tales,” “Walls and Shadows,” and others. In these last poems, I have left the rhymes to repeat as the context dictates, rather than making them conform The quote is unattributed in the original.

7

“Stanza” is written out in Latin characters in the original.

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to a set pattern. Perhaps this is the last step separating this verse from “Blank Verse.”9 As for the poem “The Angry Wound,” I should point out that its novel way of arranging rhymes is based on the style of the American poet Edgar Allan Poe in his innovative poem “Ulalume.” *** I have said that the Arabic language does not yet have the power to give new life because its writers and its poets have only recently learned how to make the best use of the powers hidden behind words (alfāẓ). Throughout the many centuries of the “dark,” stagnant period, words were only used to denote their most common meanings (maʿānī). This may explain the Arab masses’ strong tendency to reject those poetic schools that rely on the revivifying strength of words—such as Symbolism and Surrealism—believing that these schools tend to overload language with denote symbols, ineffable emotions, detours of the subconscious, and dreams with hidden meanings. Such things can only be expressed in a language that has reached the pinnacle of its development. The reality is that the Arab reader flees from Symbolist poetry because when the language is faced with the prospect of expressing such obscure feelings, it resists at first, and it is not strange that it should hesitate. But to explain this situation by saying that the Arab mind, in its very nature, flees from symbols and finds no beauty in the tortuous corridors that wind behind the senses, or in hidden worlds that are difficult to apprehend—this is something that I personally do not believe. For the human soul in general is not clear; it is always wrapped in a thousand veils. And it often happens that the self expresses itself in indirect ways governed by thousands of half-effaced memories that have lurked in the depths of the rational mind, hidden for years and years. The soul might speak in hundreds of fleeting images that the conscious, rational mind dismisses, but that the hidden mind seizes upon and stows away like buried treasure, along with millions of other passing images it has locked up in hidden rooms. Then, when it senses a lapse in the conscious mind, it releases this treasure in a stream of formless, indistinct images. These strange feelings are not peculiar to any one person more than another; it is only the ability to express them that differs. A regular person sees them in his dreams. An artist, however, expresses them in his both his art and his dreams. It is not strange, for example, to wake up in the middle of the night having dreamed of running barefoot through an old tunnel that was part of a house you used to live in and haven't seen in person for eighteen years. Yet despite not having seen the house in all this time, in the dream you notice the same minute, trivial, half-effaced details that you saw in bygone years—like that crooked old nail in the wall with the same pale, old thread still dangling from it. And there, a few meters up, the water pipe that you used to climb as a child. As I said, we do not find these things strange in a dream, so why can't we accept them when a poet describes them in a poem? The true poet is one who observes himself attentively, as though he were monitoring a surging, limitless, bottomless sea. He cannot flee from such faint, faded images, because they follow him always and everywhere, and he must describe them in his poetry. Obscurity is essential to the life of the human soul; we cannot avoid confronting it if we want an art that describes and touches the soul in all its particularity.

“Blank Verse” is written out in Latin characters in the original.

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And yet obscurity is not an end in itself, but rather one of many forms that life can take. For this reason, it is rare to find a poet who writes exclusively complex, ambiguous verse. As for those who intentionally aim for complexity in their poetry, Aldous Huxley requested forgiveness for them when he said that contemporary writers and artists flee into obscurity in fear of the obviousness that is the fundamental characteristic of popular literature.10 In explaining Surrealist and Symbolist forms of expression in this way, I do not aim to say that a portion of the poems in this collection belong to this school or that. Rather, I want to clear space for the kinds of poems that deal with the states of the hidden self at times, and with the subconscious at others. These are states of mind into which Arabic poetry has ventured only very rarely in its long history, choosing instead to focus on the external behaviors of mankind. In my poem “The Thread That was Tied to the Cypress Tree,” I tried to paint a poetic image of the feelings and thoughts passing through the mind of a young man who has just heard news of his lover’s death. You will notice that the love story in this poem is secondary to the thread tied to the tree and the afflicted young man's distraction, in the state of internal chaos that has befallen him. The conflict of the poem is built around the state of mind that descends on a person who hears devastating, tragic, and unexpected news. He is deeply distracted, as though he hasn’t heard the news at all. He looks around, and his eyes fixate on the first trivial thing they see. He is submerged in thinking about it. The trivial thing in this poem is the thread tied to the cypress tree next to the door. The devastated mind is occupied with thinking about this thread, and it continues to be occupied until his conscious mind reawakens and brings home the gravity of the tragedy that has befallen him. The reader will also not find anything provocative in the poem “The Train Passed By” if he expects to find in it a description of a train or a journey by train. My main intention in writing this poem was to express the vague feelings of a person traveling in the third class car of a train at night. There is the state of utter exhaustion in which a person finds himself in that situation, mixed with a kind of languor and slackening. There is the monotonous sound of the train wheels that never changes, and the color of the dust that covers everything, suitcases, faces, and clothing. There is the sight of the other travelers, strangers whom the train car has gathered into rows. And the train whistles from time to time, causing strange feelings in the soul. And yet despite all of this, silence fills the train car, as most of the passengers sleep sitting up in their seats. And from time to time, a strange and unknown traveler suddenly yawns or asks coldly and distractedly, “What time is it?” or “When do we arrive?” or “Where are we?” or something similar. If the reader of “The Train Passed By” feels something of this environment, that is enough for me. In the poem “The Viper,” by contrast, I tried to express the occasional, vague feeling that one is being chased by a great, unfathomable power. This power is often an agglomeration of sad memories or regrets, or something we hate about ourselves, or a frightening image we have seen and cannot forget, or the soul with all of its desires and weaknesses and uncertainties, or anything else, depending on the reader. This doesn’t mean that I am describing my own personal “vipers” in the poem; this is a secondary concern. The important thing, rather, is the idea that this viper continually chases after

A reference to Aldous Huxley’s essay, “Sincerity in Art,” from the volume On Art and Artists (1960).

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us, and that it is futile to flee, such that we are driven into a “Labyrinth” of thought,11 that maze which a person enters and finds he cannot leave, so complex are its paths and so numerous its doors, until he begins to use the method of autosuggestion, as I wrote in the poem: ‫إنه لن يجيء‬ ‫لن يجيء وإن عبر المستحيل‬ ‫أبدا لن يجيء‬ No, it will not come. It will not come, even if it crosses the impossible it will never come. The final result is that the viper does indeed come in the end, and we quickly scream out, “It has come!” In the poem “Fairy Tales,” meanwhile, the reader will find what I feel, and what many other people also probably feel, whenever silence fills a place. When this happens, we begin to hear with the ear of the spirit, and the objects lying motionless around us tell a thousand stories. The fence speaks and revives all of its pale, dead memories, and “stories written on pages torn to shreds by ruin” tell moving tales of times long gone and forgotten. “Dust” and “chairs in ancient rooms” tell of a generation of people who lived among them for a day then moved on into distant, unknown horizons. And so on, such that a sensitive person cannot see anything around him without hearing its murmured, whispered speech. *** I believe that Arabic poetry today is on the brink of a decisive, powerful development that will leave nothing of the old styles in its wake. The rules of all of the old meters, rhymes, and schools will be shaken to their core, and language will expand to include new horizons with fuller powers of expression. Poems will delve quickly and directly into the interior of the soul, where before they tended to revolve around it at a distance. I say this after having carefully studied the trajectory of our contemporary poetry, and I say it because it is the logical result of our willingness to read European literatures and study the latest theories of philosophy, art, and psychology. The reality of the situation is that those who want to unite modern culture with the traditions of ancient poetry are like those who try to live a contemporary life while wearing the clothing of the first century of Islam. We are facing a choice: either we learn these new theories, allow ourselves to be influenced by them, and implement them for ourselves, or we don’t learn them at all. We would do well to remember that developments in the arts and humanities across history have almost always grown out of contact between two or more nations. The sensibilities of a specific nation can die out and lie dormant for many centuries as a result of specific circumstances. Subsequently, a vigorous and energetic time comes to wake that nation from its sleep, and it begins to move, bustle, and stir restlessly, staring at the world around it and starting to incorporate the cultures that have come into contact with it. It begins to benefit from the experiences of a nearby nation that remained productive and continued to add new, Written out in Latin characters in the original.

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illuminating chapters to the book of human thought. No sooner has a half century passed than the dormant nation has ended its period of assimilation and begun to pick up where the productive nation left off. It begins to augment the products of its neighbors. This is the way development has always worked in the history of nations, such that no school of thought, invention, or theory pioneered by one nation has not benefitted from the experiences of others. The last thing I want to say in this introduction is that I deeply and fervently believe in the future of Arabic poetry. I believe that it is pushing forward—with all the strength, inspiration, and possibility embedded in our poets’ hearts—to occupy a prominent place in world literature. A thousand greetings to the poets of tomorrow.

III. PROLOGUE TO SOUFFLES Abdellatif Laâbi Originally published in Souffles 1 (first trimester, 1966). Translated from French by Teresa Villa-Ignacio. In 1966, the Moroccan poet, novelist, playwright, translator, and activist Abdellatif Laâbi (1942–) founded the revolutionary literary and cultural journal, Souffles (“breaths”), with Mostafa Nissabouri (1943–) and Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine (1941–95). Published a decade after Morocco achieved independence from France and in the aftermath of King Ḥasan II’s brutal crackdown on student protests in Casablanca in March 1965, Souffles began as a radical poetry revue that aimed to stimulate a new, modernized Moroccan literature resistant to colonial French and Arabic influences. It soon expanded into a highly influential journal of global Marxist-Leninist and Third Worldist commentary and thought. Closely aligned with the anti-colonial and decolonial projects of the time, especially the work of Frantz Fanon, Souffles was intimately concerned with what Laâbi called “cultural decolonization” in Morocco and the Maghreb more broadly. It was also a lightning rod of mid-late 1960s pan-Arabism and pan-Africanism; writers and thinkers from across North Africa and the Middle East as well as the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and North and South America appeared in its pages. In 1971, Laâbi and his Souffles collaborators founded a parallel Arabic monthly, Anfās, dedicated to far-left liberation struggles across the Arab world. Threatened by Anfās’ explicit opposition stance, Moroccan authorities shut down Souffles- Anfās after eight issues of the latter, and imprisoned and tortured Laâbi in 1972. He was released in 1980 and has lived in France since 1985. Souffles stands in the same company as Tropiques (Martinique), Mawāqif (Lebanon), and Présence Africaine (France) as a world-historical modernist literary and cultural organ aligned with liberation struggle. (“Our Maghribī, African, European, and other writer friends are fraternally invited to participate in our modest enterprise,” Laâbi writes.) Twenty-two issues appeared between 1966 and 1971, the first being inaugurated by Laâbi’s rousing “Prologue,” reprinted below. This text, the working manifesto of the Souffles group of writers and artists, announces a departure from “stagnant French models and Arabic canons in order to forge new artistic forms and literary languages in dialogue with the rest of the decolonizing world.”1 The question of language becomes a particular point of concern in this essay. Morocco’s indigenous languages—the vernacular Moroccan Arabic (Dārijah) or Berber (Tamazight)—were primarily oral, while its literary languages (French and Standard Arabic) were both colonial impositions in this region. In this context, the choice to write in French was one that required some defense and Laâbi attempts such a defense in this essay. The turn to Arabic with Anfās in 1971 reflects the reconfiguration of language politics in the region, as pan-Arabism became linked to an anti-colonial impulse in the aftermath of

Olivia C. Harrison and Teresa Villa-Ignacio, Souffles-Anfas: A Critical Anthology from the Moroccan Journal of Culture and Politics (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016): 2.

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the Six-Day War (1967). In both cases, however, what is at stake is an attempt to lay claim to and transform the colonial languages that shaped Morocco’s destiny. Regarding the pressing practical matter of “communicating this poetry,” Laâbi asks, “Why then resign ourselves to an even more overwhelming, sterile silence,” echoing Césaire’s lament of his own “mute and sterile land” in the introduction to the first issue of Tropiques in 1941. In both cases, the recourse to the language of the colonizer is not a capitulation to colonial rule but a crucial step toward the liberatory transvaluation of it. All notes to this essay are the translator’s. SJR

The Poets who have authored the texts of this, the manifesto issue of the journal Souffles, are unanimously aware that publishing in this venue means they are taking a stand at a moment when issues pertaining to our national culture have attained a degree of extreme tension. The current state of literary affairs is not characterized, as some might believe, by a proliferation of creativity. The cultural disturbance that some individuals or groups are hoping will pass for a literary growth spurt is, in fact, only the expression of our ongoing stagnation or a certain number of misunderstandings about the deeper meaning of literary activity. Petrified contemplation of the past, sclerosis of forms and themes, shameless imitation and forced borrowings, and the misplaced vanity of false talents constitute the adulterated daily bread with which the press, journals, and the greed of our rare publishing houses bludgeon us. Even when we leave these multiple prostitutions out of the discussion, literature has become a form of aristocratism, a rosette on display, a force of intelligence and cunning. This is not a quarrel between the ancients and the moderns. In fact, the literature ravaging the country today most often conceals a shocking eclecticism of heritages and borrowings from hearsay. It would even be possible for an objective critic to study outdated literary trends here where they are still in vogue. And since the tourist brochures speak of a “land of contrasts,” one will find in this literature whatever is needed to satisfy all curiosities, all nostalgias: the residue of classical medieval poetry, Oriental poetry of exile, Western romanticism, symbolism from the turn of the century, social realism, not to mention the results of existentialist indigestion. As a result, “representatives” of “Moroccan literature” occupy a special place at international gatherings, and congresses of writers are held in our country. The reader is at once disoriented and nauseous. His dissatisfaction is all the more justified in that he can find some of his problems echoed in foreign literatures, those that various “missions” have benevolently placed at his doorstep. We can explain the oft-commented complex of our national literature by its current incapacity to “touch” the reader, to gain his attachment, or to provoke in him some kind of reflection, a wrenching away of his social or political conditioning. On an entirely different level, Maghribī literature in French, which at one time gave birth to so much hope, is currently stalled and seems, according to some observers, to belong to the domain of history. This literature must, however, be called into question today.

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Two of its most brilliant representatives prematurely celebrated its demise with touching funeral ceremonies.2 Analyzing the situation of the colonized writer, his linguistic dramas, his lack of true readers, they concluded that this literature was “condemned to die young.”3 Others have abstained from falling into this pathetic determinism. But they are all ready, despite their lucid self-critique, to entertain the paradox of a suicidal literature that keeps going, in spite of everything, albeit in slow motion, along its path. A glance through the most recent publications in French reveals that those who have pronounced the imminent death of this literature have come to this conclusion too quickly. Although we should in no way ignore the issue of the very status of Maghribī literature in French. This is a delicate issue, and we must approach it prudently while excluding all tendencies toward generalization. In fact, the situation of writers of the previous generation (Kateb Yacine, Mohammed Dib, Mouloud Feraoun, Mouloud Mammeri, Albert Memmi or even Driss Chraibi),4 reveals itself to be closely tied to the colonial experience in its linguistic, cultural, and sociological implications. From the pacifist autobiographies of the 1950s to the protestatory and militant works from the period of the Algerian War, we may remark that despite the diversity of talents and creative power, this production was entirely inscribed within the framework of acculturation. It perfectly illustrates the relationship between the colonized and the colonizer within the cultural sphere. Thus, even when a Maghribī was represented in these works or when autochthonous writers spoke up to denounce abuses, this literature almost always remained a one-way street. It was conceived for the public of the “Métropole” and destined for foreign consumption. That was the public it aimed to move to pity, in which it sought to awaken solidarity; that was the public to whom it needed to demonstrate that the fallāh in Kabylia or the factory worker in Oran were not so different from the farmer in Brittany or the dockworker in Marseille. Today one has the impression that this literature was a kind of immense open letter to the West, or something like a list of Maghribī grievances. Of course this enormous deposition has proven its usefulness. These Maghribī works caused a scandal and accelerated a coming-to-consciousness among progressive milieux in France and elsewhere. In this sense they were revolutionary. In order to avoid making generalizations of our own, we should point to the exceptional work of two or three writers who surpassed all the limiting frameworks of their time, even if their work initially arose from these common preoccupations. We must admit that this literature now only concerns us in part; in any case it is hardly able to satisfy our need for a literature that bears the burden of our current realities, of wholly new problematics in the face of which disarray and savage revolt are gripping us. Writers have had to attain a certain level of putrefaction, or maturity, if you will, in order to be able to formulate what you will read in these texts.

See Malek Haddad, “Les zéros tournent en rond” [The zeroes go round in circles], in Écoute et je t’appelle [Listen and I’ll call you] (Paris: Maspero, 1961), and Albert Memmi, “Portrait du colonisé,” in Portrait du colonisé, précédé de Protrait du colonisateur (Paris: Buchet-Chastel, 1957). Translated as The Colonizer and the Colonized by Howard Greenfeld (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1991). [TVI]

2

Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized, 130. [TVI]

3

Kateb Yacine (1929–89), Mohammed Dib (1920–2003), Mouloud Feraoun (1913–62), Mouloud Mammeri (1917–89) were Algerian novelists. Albert Memmi (1920–) is a Tunisian novelist. Driss Chraïbi (1926–2007) was Moroccan. All wrote in French and most were already in their 40s or older when this Prologue was written.

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The poets who clamor here have not been able to avoid their elders’ agonies, but it has fallen to them to rigorously delineate the limits of the arduous task they have inherited. They intend to demonstrate that they are less continuers than they are initiators. Amidst the chorus of insults about our underdevelopment and current humiliations, these poets have seen with the eyes of peace and mutations of a society that has too often been taken for a testing ground or a storehouse of legends. They are its witnesses and its leading actors. Despite the kaleidoscope of tones, their voices come together in fierce alarms. Hypotheticals remain to be leveed, contradictions to be sealed up and surpassed, but complexes are being swept away, a new circulation is gaining momentum. At this point we can already guess what charges will be made against us, notably our choice of language. Without wading into the murky waters of false issues, let us respond for now that four of these poets discovered their literary vocation through the French language. There is no drama or paradox there. This situation has become too common in today’s world. The priority is to arrive at a correspondence between written language [langue] and the poet’s inner world, his intimate, emotive language [langage]. Some are not able to achieve this. Others, even those who write in the national written tongue remain at the surface of their selves and of the reality they wish to theorize and put into question. Despite their linguistic disorientation, the poets in this collection succeed in communicating their most profound feelings through a language filtered through their history, their mythology, their anger—in short, through their very selves. The issue of communicating this poetry remains. On the one hand, and this has already been said (but strangely never taken seriously), there is the possibility of translating these works if one even briefly considers that they have their place and their role to play in the context of our national literature. On the other hand, the particular issue of communicating our literature in its entirety is not as simple as one might think. Putting aside questions of appreciation, interpretation, or critique of literary works, the Moroccan public that is even capable of reading such works is exceedingly limited. Illiteracy on the one hand and a superficial culture on the other has limited this readership to a nearly derisory residue. Another paradox, but one that derives from a global social situation that can’t be overcome through reasoning or some kind of magic trick. Why then resign ourselves to an even more overwhelming, sterile silence? The poet’s language is first of all “his own language”: the one that he creates and elaborates in the heart of linguistic chaos, the manner also by which he re-imagines the veneer of his world and the dynamics that coexist in him. Why should we be distressed about this situation, as if we suffered an infirmity, when we must by all means make up for the delay we have incurred and respond to the urgencies of the moment? Perhaps the next generations will resolve this issue, though they will already bear witness to their own world, a world that will no longer be ours though we are selfconsciously striving toward it. What is most important is that the one-way communication of past works is abolished. The era of managers and masters of thought is finished. We can no longer tolerate limitations due to favoritism or territorial taboos. Something is about to happen in Africa and in the rest of the Third World. Exoticism and folklore are being toppled. No one can foresee what this “ex-pre-logical” thought will be able to offer to us all. But the day when the true spokespersons of these collectivities

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really make their voices heard, it will be a dynamite explosion in the corrupt secret societies of the old humanism. We have had to exercise strict patience and rigorous self-control in order to produce this journal, which above all views itself as the vehicle of a new poetic and literary generation. Souffles is not here to swell the ranks of ephemeral journals. It responds to a need that we can no longer ignore. If the journal finds its public, as we are hoping it will, as long as resources are available, it will become a flashpoint for debates on issues in our culture. All the texts that come to us will be examined with objectivity and, if they are accepted by our editorial board, published. Souffles is not sponsored by any niche nor any minaret and does not recognize any frontiers. Our Maghribī, African, European, and other writer friends are fraternally invited to participate in our modest enterprise. Their texts will be welcome. It is still necessary to juggle with words tarnished by dint of being dictated. The act of writing cannot depend on any tabulations of income, nor concede to fashion, nor to the tear-jerking needs of wealthy demagogues hungering for power. Poetry is all that is left to man to reclaim his dignity, to avoid sinking into the multitude, so that his outcry forever carries the imprint and attestation of his inspiration [souffle].

IV. ART IN THE TIME OF THE PALESTINIAN REVOLUTION Kamāl Bullāṭah Originally published in Arabic in Mawāqif 3.13/14 (January/February 1971): 176–9. Translated by Katharine Halls. The Six-Day War in 1967, in which Israel defeated a coalition of Arab nations, led by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, was a significant turning point in the history of the Arab world. In the aftermath, between 280,000 and 325,000 Palestinians were forced to flee from the occupied territories, leading to a majority of Palestinians living, for the first time, outside the borders of the former Mandatory Palestine. In this context, and against the backdrop of decolonization in many other parts of the world, Palestine became a focal point of Arab identity and anti-colonial sentiment. The heightened political context that attended this historical moment led to a radicalization and politicization of art and literary practice across the Arab world, as artists and writers mobilized in support of Palestinian statehood and a broader commitment to liberation and revolution in the region. This essay by Palestinian artist and art historian Kamāl Bullāṭah (1942–) reflects the demands placed on artists by this revolutionary moment, even as it suggests that the intense political demands of the post-1967 Palestinian situation can only be met through new forms of art-making. In a 2005 essay, “Innovation in Palestinian Art,” Bullāṭah provides more context for this early text, reflecting on the different positions available to Palestinian artists in this period. In this later essay, he draws attention to the distinction between Palestinian artists who remained in historical Palestine, under Israeli military occupation and those who were forced into exile—and again, between cosmopolitan experimentalist artists based especially in Beirut, and more marginalized artists living in refugee camps. Bullāṭah himself was living in exile at the time of writing, completing his studies at the Corcoran Art Museum School in Washington, D.C. “Art in the Time of the Palestinian Revolution” was published in Arabic in Mawāqif, a Beirut-based cultural journal that was formed in 1968 by Adūnīs and others in his circle, including Bullāṭah, in response to the events of 1967. Like the journal, this essay seeks to find a way of developing a revolutionary art that is equal to its political moment. Written by an experimentalist exile and intervening in Beirut art circles, this essay praises the art of Palestinian children in the camps as the ideal form of revolutionary art, reflecting the period’s hope that innovation in art and radical politics might converge in the form of a revolutionary modernist art. All notes to this text are the translator’s. AM

I There are two figures in society whose words are less important than their deeds: the politician and the artist. An Arab painter who sits holding forth about art instead of actually painting is much like the Arab politician who stands at a podium lecturing us about our future history as we lie in our beds. Both cases are equally concerning.

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One of the factors that has held back the energies of the Arab avant-garde is the chasm between the words and the deeds of Arab politicians. As a painter, I see my duty as being to paint rather than to talk about art, thereby avoiding the mistakes of Arab politicians; but the nature of this period of struggle requires today’s painter to be a critic, an artist, a politician, a human, a lover, and a warrior all at once. The artist’s first calling has always been a single occupation: not painting, composition, or creation, but always sincerity, absolute sincerity. His raw material? Life. Here, then, I will permit myself to speak of art in our times in accordance with my responsibilities as an artist: aware of the bloody nature of reality, forcing myself to boldly face its truths, and trusting that you will forgive me for offering you words rather than colors.

II When I speak of Palestinian art in the revolutionary period, I refer to an art that nobody has seen, for it has not yet been born. It is the all-encompassing revolution that creates revolutionary art, not the inverse: there can be no political revolution without social revolution, no social revolution without moral revolution, and, indeed, no moral revolution without revolution in art. There have been martyrs and merchants of revolution in many other times and places. The Palestinian revolution is still a bud that is only just forming. Much of the Palestinian art you see is simply traditional art leeching off the revolution; it belongs ultimately to the old world, because it has only traditional visions to offer. It is a superficial art rather than a transformative, revolutionary, artistic activity that encompasses both art and society. Most of the Palestinian works we have seen so far profess an art of “return” to Palestine. For us to call this revolutionary art is contradictory, because return is a retrograde motion, whereas revolution propels us forward. The dangers faced by Palestinian art today have a dialectical relationship to the dangers faced by the Palestinian revolution. For a painting to be sold for hundreds of dinars, due to its alleged revolutionary Palestinian credentials, is a betrayal of the people and the revolutionary cause, a case of profiteering from the sacrifices of those who die to further that revolution. That kind of artistic production is an accessory for bourgeois salons, a luxury to be enjoyed by one class of Arab society while remaining beyond the reach of others. The first duty of a revolutionary Palestinian artist is to blast away these standards of painting and art.

III Life is the pulse of existence and the axis around which creation revolves. We are all here because we have chosen life, and we live, work, and struggle for a life that is better. The life of three-quarters of the world is threatened with annihilation by the governments of the remaining quarter, and the peoples of some oppressed countries are today rising up to reject death. Revolution is the only way to achieve a better life for the Third World and bring an end to the tyranny of man over fellow man. The harsh, savage, armed struggle that has been imposed upon us is not in itself the revolution we aspire to, but it is life’s path toward the revolution. The revolution begins after the victory of that struggle. No revolution aims to change the “form” of society; instead the aim is the transformation of the “content” of the individual within society. This transformation of the “content” of the individual entails a radical transformation of all the inherited concepts and preexisting values that have shackled humans and contribute to the debasement of their humanity.

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The life that surrounds the artist in the Third World calls upon him as a person whose craft is distinct from that of others in a single way—in the fact that the raw material of his craft is life. The deeper the artist plunges into the sea of life, the higher his art rises in the firmament of creativity and eternity. (One day I was in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, standing enraptured by the extraordinary artistry of the tender, soft flesh of a marble statue by Canova. I don’t know how long I stood there, mouth agape and eyes transfixed by the splendor of that carvedout specimen of beauty. Suddenly I became aware of the presence of a young woman behind me who was trying to look at the statue from my angle. I heard the rustling of her legs as she moved in her tight clothing, and I could smell the feminine scent of her perfume, but I didn’t immediately turn around to look at her. The choice before me at that moment was this: to sup the elixir of an immortal masterpiece of artistic creation, or turn to see a perfectly ordinary young woman standing next to me. At that moment, the statue went back to being a lump of rock. Ever since that day during my studies, I have understood what one of the great artists of our age meant when he said: If I saw moths eating the Mona Lisa to survive, I wouldn’t stop them.) The life that surrounds the artist in the Third World calls upon him, as a human being, to join the revolution. His works help transform the content of the individual. Revolutionary art is not a product of revolutionary doctrines but of a revolutionary life and revolutionary actions. Revolutionary actions do not transform content without form or form without content in works of art, but rather transform the two together in an innovative approach that arises naturally out of a transformed society; moreover, they transform the inherited place of art in society. The art world in the West developed in parallel with the bourgeoisie and capitalism (the writings of John Berger, Ernst Fischer, and Herbert Marcuse are among the most important on this subject). In the Socialist bloc, meanwhile, Stalinism has mounted an all-out assault on the free nature of art. Major works of art are now no more than investments for dealers and the rich, and art consists of acrobatic forms that take up evergreater expanses of canvas while their actual artistic content diminishes ever further. Art is stripped of its humanity when the artist becomes a cog in the capitalist regime, or is crushed under the boots of Stalinism in Russia.

IV Art and society in the Third World, particularly the Arab word, have not yet been polluted by the inhumanity that characterizes contemporary Western art, because the history of studio art here is not yet even a hundred years old. The question of form and content in art, which has been a major point of contention in the West for centuries, still manifests in the works of Arab artists as a mere reverberation and echo of Western trends. We possess neither the concept of the “gallery” nor the figure of the art dealer, the collector, or the philosophizing critic who holds forth on the subject of content and form in painting as if he were speaking about music. This is where the greater responsibility of the Third World artist lies. His new contribution, far from the bourgeois conception of art, is not confined to consoling and encouraging his nation, but resides in his ability to create new art for the world. With regard to his nation, his presence is necessary, even if it is not thought essential. A revolutionary artist in an inhumane world is a hero, as much as his colleague who wields a machine gun on the hilltops to defend against the brutal enemies of the people.

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For historical, political, technological, and economic reasons, the modes of oppression and tyranny and the mechanisms of repression and exploitation have changed, just as the weapon used against the victim has changed. In the face of this change, our conception of the resistance hero has also changed with the times. He is no longer a figure of the chivalric ʿAntar type1 who joins his nation’s army ready to face death alongside ranks of his fellow soldiers; guerrilla fighters must avoid death. The hero today is someone who resists without falling into the chasm of death: a warrior who clings to life, like Job, through distress and hardship. Revolutionary leaders from Vietnam to Guatemala, Angola to Palestine, repeat to the public in a single voice: “Our first aim is to remain steadfast.” Today, then, we live at the beginning of a long path that stretches the length of an entire age before us: this experience was only a chapter in the life of Jonah. This is a harsh reality, and we must acknowledge it if we are determined to live and create history. The era of Fatah2 is the era of Job and Jonah, not ʿAntar.

V The Palestinian works of art we have seen so far are mirror images of Palestinian reality, whereas [true] art transcends reality so as to re-create it. In this view, the drawings created by the children of Palestine in the camps are the only truly revolutionary Palestinian art to have appeared during this short period of revolution (see Mona Saudi’s In Time of War: Children Testify, Beirut: Mawāqif, 1970) because these works are not the art of society, but a vital urge expressing the reality truly lived by each child, and realized in new artistic forms. That Palestinian child whose hands are still too small to carry a weapon has picked up a brush instead, but in the future he alone will be the warrior-artist, and then we will be able not merely to speak of but to see and experience revolutionary Palestinian art within Palestinian Arab revolutionary life. Ernst Fischer says: “All art is conditioned by time, and represents humanity in so far as it corresponds to the ideas and aspirations, the needs and hopes of a particular historical situation …. Art also creates a moment of humanity, promising constant development.”3 I hope that my works will one day be considered “a moment of humanity” in the history of our nation and “promising [of] constant development,” and that the direction of my life as a human being will be an example of the steadfastness we so desperately need in order to make the revolution a reality.

ʿAntar (alternatively, ʿAntarah) is the hero of the epic Story of ʿAntarah, who overcomes lowly origins with bravery and genius, as such becoming a popular model of heroism in the Arabic-speaking world.

1

The Palestinian national liberation movement.

2

The quotation is from Ernst Fischer’s The Necessity of Art, Eng. trans. Anna Bostock (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1963); first published in German as Von der Notwendigkeit der Kunst (Dresden: Verlag der Kunst, 1959).

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V. FROM POETICS AND MODERNITY Adūnīs Originally delivered as a lecture at the Collège de France in 1984; first published, in French, as Introduction à la poétique arabe (Paris: Sindbad, 1984). Translated from the Arabic by Catherine Cobham. In addition to being one of the most important modernist Arabic poets and translators, Adūnīs (i.e., Adonis, born ʿAlī Aḥmad Saʿīd Isbir, 1930–) has made major scholarly contributions to the study of Arab literary history and culture from pre-Islamic times to the present. Born on a farm in northwest Syria, he was not formally educated until the age of 14; even so, he began publishing poems under the pseudonym Adūnīs as a teenager. After earning his degree from Damascus University, he became involved with a secular nationalist political group and was imprisoned in 1955. He immigrated to Lebanon in 1956, just before the Suez Crisis, and became a citizen in 1961. The founding of the Beirut-based avant-garde journal Shiʿr (Poetry, 1957–70) with Yūsuf al-Khāl (1917–87) precipitated his rise to prominence as one of the most consequential practitioners and theorists of the “New Poetry” and of Arabic modernism more generally. In particular, he is noted for his innovations in Arabic free verse and prose poetry as well as his ingenuity with classical forms. From 1968 to 1994 he and a group of artists and intellectuals published another highly influential cultural review, Mawāqif (Positions). He has lived in Paris since 1975. In 1984, Adūnīs gave a series of talks on Arab poetics at the Collège de France—later published in English as An Introduction to Arab Poetics (1990)—that distilled over a quarter century of research. The text below, excerpted from the fourth and final lecture, “Poetics and Modernity,” elaborates Adūnīs’s subtle theory of “Arab modernity” as a force that has been endemic to Arab culture for over a millennium, rather than a relatively recent phenomenon originating in the West. In Adūnīs's account, the Arab tradition is constitutively riven by an internal conflict between the “ancient” and the “modern,” a crisis that plays out specifically in the domain of knowledge. The sticking point is the convention that knowledge itself is contained within and emanates from the Qurʾān: “to believe in the pronouncements of modernity,” he writes, “is to believe in things that have not been known before. Seen in this light, the new reveals a certain failing or lack in the old. Modernity therefore constitutes an attack on the fundamentals.” According to Adūnīs, it is possible to view poets of eighth- and ninth-century Baghdad such as Abū Nuwās and Abū Tammām as “modern” in their orientations to urban life, hedonism, and autotelic poetic form (Adūnīs credits his reading of Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and the French Surrealists with helping him achieve this insight). Crucially, Adūnīs views Western modernity as “illusory” and “specious” when applied to the Arab world—a phenomenon confined to superficial mimicry of Western consumerism in the public sphere and, in the arts, a hollow repetition of Western modernist technique. Torn between the reactionary draw of the “ancient” and the lure of incongruous Western modernity, the Arab world has lost touch with its deeper, authentic tradition of modernity and invention. Adūnīs affirms the submerged presence of this truer modernity in the Arab tradition’s ongoing vexed dialogue with itself. SJR

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We will only be able to reach a proper understanding of the poetics of Arab modernity by viewing it in its social, cultural and political context. Its development in the eighth century was bound up with the revolutionary movements demanding equality, justice and an end to discrimination between Muslims on grounds of race and colour. It was also closely connected with the intellectual movements engaged in a re-evaluation of traditional ideas and beliefs, especially in the area of religion. The dominant view held that the state was founded on a vision or message which was Islam. On the one hand, this state was constituted as a caliphate, in which the designated successor not only followed on from his predecessor but preserved the heritage and conformed to it in both theory and practice; on the other hand, it was a state formed of a single community, meaning that unanimity of opinion was an essential requirement. Politics and thought were religious; religion was one and permitted no divergence. This explains why for the most part those in power fought against these revolutionary and intellectual movements. Politically, they were considered as a rebellion against religion because they attacked the caliphate, which represented religious authority. From an intellectual and philosophical point of view, their adherents were seen as heretics and apostates, either for restricting the role of religion in the teaching of virtue, or for denying the role of revelation in knowledge and saying that knowledge and truth were the business of reason. The authorities viewed the mystical elements in these movements as constituting an attack on the law and practice of Islam; this was because they made the distinction between “the evident” (al-ẓāhir) and “the hidden” (al-bāṭin), or between “the law” and “the truth,” asserting that knowledge and truth come from “the hidden,” hence the possibility of achieving a kind of unity or union between God and existence and between God and man. To put it another way, those in power designated everyone who did not think according to the culture of the caliphate as “the people of innovation” (ahl al-iḥdāth), excluding them with this indictment of heresy from their Islamic affiliation. This explains how the terms iḥdāth (innovation) and muḥdath (modern, new), used to characterize the poetry which violated the ancient poetic principles, came originally from the religious lexicon. Consequently we can see that the modern in poetry appeared to the ruling establishment as a political or intellectual attack on the culture of the regime and a rejection of the idealized standards of the ancient, and how, therefore, in Arab life the poetic has always been mixed up with the political and the religious, and indeed continues to be so. The problematic of poetic modernity (ḥadāthah) in Arab society goes beyond poetry in the narrow sense and is indicative of a general cultural crisis, which is in some sense a crisis of identity. This is linked both to an internal power struggle which has many different aspects and operates on various levels, and to an external conflict against foreign powers. It would appear that the return to the ancient has been more eagerly pursued whenever the internal conflict has intensified or the danger from outside has grown more acute. In Arab society today we find a powerful extension of this historical phenomenon which confirms our observation. Perhaps this helps to explain why the current of modernity in Arab society sometimes flows strongly (as was the case in the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries) and at other times abates and recedes (as it did in the following centuries), according to whether the double-sided conflict, internal and external, is at a high or low point. It may also explain why modernity has tended to be a force which rejects, questions and provokes without entering in any conscious, radical way into the structure of the Arab mind or into Arab

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life as a whole. Perhaps, finally, it may go some way to explaining the dominance of the traditionalist mentality in Arab life and in Arabic poetry and thought. The retreat of Arab society from the ways opened up by modernity began with the fall of Baghdad in 1258.1 With the Crusades came a complete halt, prolonged by the period of Ottoman domination. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth—the time of Western colonialism and of contact with its culture and its modernity, the period known as the nahḍah (renaissance, a name which merits a detailed study in itself)2—the question of modernity was revived and the debate resumed over the issues which it provoked. Opinions were divided into two general tendencies: the traditionalist/conformist (uṣūlī) tendency, which considered religion and the Arab linguistic sciences as its main base; and the transgressing/non-conformist (tajāwuzī) tendency, which saw its base, by contrast, as lying in European secularism. It is the first philosophy that has prevailed, especially at the level of the establishment, encouraged by economic, social and political conditions, both internal and external. According to this interpretation, the ancient—be it in religion, poetry or language—is the ideal of true and definitive knowledge. This implies that the future is contained within it: nobody who is a product of this culture is permitted to imagine the possibility of truths or knowledge being developed which would transcend this ancient ideal. According to this theory, modernity—as established in poetry by Abū Nuwās3 and Abū Tammām,4 in thought by Ibn al-Rāwandī (d. 910), al-Rāzī (d.1210) and Jābir ibn Ḥayyān (d. 815),5 and in the nature of visionary experience by the mystics, and which assumes the emergence of new truths about man and the world—is not only a criticism of the ancient but a refutation of it. In other words, to believe in the pronouncements of modernity is to believe in things that have not been known before. Seen in this light, the new reveals a certain failing or lack of the old. Modernity therefore constitutes an attack on the fundamentals. On this basis we can understand the connection made between innovation in poetry, which violates the ancient, and heresy, and also why words like ḥadīth (modern) and iḥdāth (innovation), originally religious terms, could be carried over into the domain of poetry. This traditionalist culture is embodied in the uninterrupted practice of an epistemological method which sees truth as existing in the text, not in experience or reality; this truth is given definitively and finally and there is no other. The role of thought is to explain and teach, proceeding from a belief in this truth, and not to search and question in order to arrive at new, conflicting truths. It was therefore natural that this culture should reject a theory that was fundamentally opposed to it, especially those aspects of it which might have led people to doubt its religious vision and its cultural and intellectual apparatus.

Baghdad, the seat of the ʿAbbāsid caliphate, was sacked in 1258 by the Mongols. This cataclysmic event hastened the end of the Islamic Golden Age, which extended from the eighth to the thirteenth century.

1

The nahḍah refers to the cultural renaissance of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that involved political and cultural reforms in Egypt and Arabic-speaking Ottoman regions.

2

Abū Nuwās (c.757–c.814): an early Abbasid poet and folk legend renowned for his classical poetry on urban themes, wine, and hedonism.

3

Abū Tammām (c.804–c.845): a highly celebrated figure most famous for the Ḥamāsah, an anthology of early Arabic poetry.

4

Notable polymaths and freethinkers of medieval Islam.

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Because of the dominance of this “fundamentalist” knowledge at the level of the establishment and those in power, the Arabs find themselves—in spite of all the changes of the past fourteen centuries—moving on a stage where history is repeating itself with just one objective: the continual actualization of the past. The reason this approach has gained in ascendancy is because “modern” Arab thought has not confronted it in an analytical and critical manner and dismantled it completely. Perhaps it has not dared to, or perhaps it has preferred to work some kind of magic to make it vanish into thin air, which has quickly had the opposite effect. This may go some way towards explaining why “modern” Arab thinkers have adapted to the shock of modernization from the West by treating modernity primarily as a technological achievement. For this reason modernity in Arab society has continued to be something imported from abroad, a modernity which adopts the new things but not the intellectual attitude and method which produced them, whereas true modernity is a way of seeing before it is production. From an artistic and poetical point of view the dominance of traditionalist or fundamentalist culture led to a return to the values of pre-Islamic orality. Most of the poetry written after the so-called Arab renaissance (nahḍah), by such poets as al-Bārūdī (1838–1904),6 Shawqī (1882–1932)7 and their contemporaries, was no more than a ritual consolidation of this return. The poets who opposed the ancient, claiming to be modernizers, did not turn to Arab modernity as manifested in the poetry of Abū Nuwās and Abū Tammām or the mystic writings, nor did they refer to the theorization of the new poetic language carried out by al-Jurjānī.8 Instead, they began to imitate modern Western poetry. Thus the crisis of modernity appeared at its most complex during the nahḍah, a period which created a split in Arab life, both theoretically and practically. On the one hand, it was a revival of forms of expression developed in past ages to respond to present problems and experiences, which was also a resuscitation of old ways of feeling and thinking and methods of approach. It therefore helped establish these forms as absolute inviolable principles, to be eternally perpetuated as the single true poetry. The result was that the Arab personality, as expressed through this poetry, appeared to be a bundle of self-delusions, and Arab time to stand outside time. On the other hand, at the level of practical politics and daily life, the age of the nahḍah was set in motion in a state of almost complete dependency on the West. In this way the period laid the foundations of a double dependency: a dependency on the past, to compensate for the lack of creative activity by remembering and reviving; and a dependency on the European-American West, to compensate for the failure to invent and innovate by intellectual and technical adaptation and borrowing. The present reality is that the prevailing Arab culture derives from the past in most of its theoretical aspects, the religious in particular, while its technique comes mainly from the West.

Maḥmūd Sāmī al-Bārūdī: Egyptian politician and poet who served as prime minister of Egypt from February to May 1882.

6

Aḥmad Shawqī (1868–1932): major Egyptian poet and pioneer of Arabic poetic drama. Note that he was born in 1868, not 1882, as Adūnīs has it.

7

ʿAbd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī (d. 1078): an influential linguist whose magisterial theory of “construction” anticipates by nearly a millennium aspects of Ferdinand de Saussure’s structuralist linguistics, such as the idea that language is a system of relations and that the linguistic sign is arbitrary.

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In both cases there is an obliteration of personality; in both cases, a borrowed mind, a borrowed life. This culture teaches not only the consumption of things but also the consumption of human beings. Since the 1950s the cultural background of Arab poets and critics has derived from two divergent traditions: that of the self (ancient, traditionalist) and that of the other (modern, European-American). These two traditions blur or blot out the values of modernity and creativity in the Arab literary heritage. The first does so on the pretext of a return to original sources; the second does so perhaps out of ignorance, or is so dazzled by the other that it cannot perceive its own particular nature, and what distinguishes it from the other. I should acknowledge here that I was one of those who were captivated by Western culture. Some of us, however, went beyond that stage, armed with a changed awareness and new concepts which enabled us to reread our heritage with new eyes and to realize our own cultural independence. I must also admit that I did not discover this modernity in Arabic poetry from within the prevailing Arab cultural order and its systems of knowledge. It was reading Baudelaire which changed my understanding of Abū Nuwās and revealed his particular poetical quality and modernity, and Mallarmé’s work which explained to me the mysteries of Abū Tammām’s poetic language and the modern dimension in it. My reading of Rimbaud, Nerval and Breton led me to discover the poetry of the mystic writers in all its uniqueness and splendour, and the new French criticism gave me an indication of the newness of al-Jurjānī’s critical vision. I find no paradox in declaring that it was recent Western modernity which led me to discover our own, older, modernity outside our “modern” politico-cultural system established on a Western model. The problem here is that the modern Arab poet sees himself in fundamental conflict both with the culture and the dominant political system, which reclaims the roots in a traditionalist manner, and with the images of Western culture as adapted and popularized by this system. The system separates us from our Arab modernity, from what is richest and most profound in our heritage. It is in collusion with the prevailing traditionalist tendencies and also with the cultural structures which came into existence in the climate of colonialism, imposing this relationship with the technical and consumerist forms of Western achievement upon us. The most disturbing aspect of the problem is that the modern Arab poet lives in a state of “double siege” imposed upon him by the culture of dependency on the one hand, and the culture based on a foetal relationship with the traditionalist past on the other. What makes this aspect of the problem more serious is the position of the Arabic language itself. The Arab has grown up in a culture which views language as his speaking image, and himself as its feeling, thinking reflection. It is a union of reason and sentiment, the chief symbol and assurance of Arab identity. It is as if language “created” the Arabs, through instinct in the Jāhilīyah,9 revelation in the prophecy, and reason in Islam; as if originally in the Arab consciousness language was the Supreme Being itself, and its science the science of this Being. From the “materialness” of this created language the rhythm of existence explodes and its essence pours forth. In this context we can understand the significance of the case endings (i‘rāb): they represent the purest principle of language, the sign of unity between the static and the moving, the spoken word and the breath. If

Jāhilīyah (“ignorance”) refers to the time and state of affairs in pre-Islamic Arabia.

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language is the rhythmic musical form of nature, then this form only reaches a proper state of wholeness and unity with inflexion. Language, viewed from this perspective, is not a tool for communicating a detached meaning. It is meaning itself because it is thought. Indeed, it precedes thought and is succeeded by knowledge. This implies that the criterion of meaning was contained in language itself, and was defined by the rules of language. The problem here is that this language which is regarded in theory as the essence of Arabness appears in practice to be an amorphous heap of words, which some use imperfectly, others abandon in favour of a dialect or foreign tongue and few know how to use creatively. It is like a huge storehouse which people enter, acknowledging their need for it, only to escape from it on some pretext or other. A gap exists between the language and those who speak it. What was once an end is now only a means. How can there be any accommodation between a past which made language the essence of the human being, and a present which sees it only as an instrument and does not hesitate to call for its structure to be modified and for dialects to take its place? If we remember its relation to the sacred, and more precisely to the Qurʾān, can we not see in the current ignorance surrounding its usage or in the call for it to be modified by dialectical structures which separate it from the sacred, a sort of declaration of a changed awareness and identity? The problematic of modernity at the present time thus becomes clearer at the level of language. What was the first sign of the presence of the Arabs and their creativity is being corrupted and degraded. The Arab of today is in the process of forgetting the fundamental element through which he knew existence, and which established his presence in history. He has lost the sense of language, as defined by Ibn Khaldūn,10 and appears ignorant of what has given him his identity, or of who he is.

Ibn Khaldūn (1332–1406): major Muslim thinker and historian of the fourteenth century whose corpus anticipates, among much else, the modern disciplines of history, social science, and economics.

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CHAPTER FIVE

Modernism in Turkey EDITED BY KAITLIN STAUDT

Modernist literature in Turkey suffers from a curious paradox: while Turkish modernity is widely recognized as a project of state-sponsored, Westernizing reform that spanned the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the existence of a corresponding literary modernism is frequently overlooked. Despite this paradox, the link between the rise of modernity in the Ottoman Empire’s late reforming period and unprecedented change in OttomanTurkish literary culture is well-established. While previously Ottoman literature had been a predominantly poetic tradition with its own specific forms and conventions, patronage networks, and means of circulation, the introduction of modernizing reform produced new and hybrid literary forms. Scholarly histories of Turkish literature generally begin in 1833, which saw the founding of the Translation Office (Babıâlî Tercüme Odası) which ushered in a new order of scribes and bureaucrats who had stronger knowledge of European languages and Europe than their predecessors. As a result, new translations of European novels alongside prose-influenced narratives gained an ever-greater cultural influence. The literary movements of the time aimed to introduce the public to Western literary forms and themes, while simultaneously emphasizing language reform as essential to concepts of citizenship and equality before the law. The end of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century saw the establishment of the Empire’s first newspaper, the rise of the Empire’s original novels, the expansion of the press, and the reform and simplification of poetic forms. After the proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, state-sponsored historiography presented Ottoman history as an ideological problem, decreeing that the Ottoman Empire could not be regarded as the legitimate predecessor of the Republic. The political and cultural reforms led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk were an effort to replace Ottoman-Islamic cultural and political loyalties with modern, Western values taken from Enlightenment rationalism; positivist and materialist notions of progress; and ideals of citizenship and fraternity taken from the French Revolution. This series of radical reforms encompassed nearly every aspect of life, including legal, political, cultural, economic, and social policy. While poetry had long been part of the Ottoman-Turkish literary tradition, the rise of ethnic Turkish nationalism following the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923 corresponds to literary movements that hailed the realist novel as a pedagogical vehicle for social reform. As a genre, the novel in the early Republic was under extreme pressure to participate in Turkey’s modernization projects by producing progressive, rationalist, and realist aesthetics that were deemed suitably “Western” and authentically Turkish, while also serving as an instrument for modeling new concepts of Turkishness, citizenship, womanhood, and above all, modernity.

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The different political values ascribed to the genres of novel and poetry under the political and cultural reforms which spanned the late Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic have had a lasting impact on scholarly engagement with the concept of modernism in Turkish poetry and prose. The overwhelming critical consensus states that while modernism arose in Turkish poetry contemporaneously with its European counterparts in the first half of the twentieth century, the Turkish novel belatedly adopted modernism’s visible aesthetic markers in tandem with the development of post-modernist narrative techniques in the 1970s. For poetry, scholars offer a plethora of possibilities for modernism’s advent: they cite poet Yahya Kemal (1884–1958) and his concept of beyaz lisan, or white language, as a “guiding light” of modernist Turkish poetry; emphasize the influence of Futurism in Nazım Hikmet’s poetry of the 1920s, particularly his 1923 poem Makineleşmek istiyorum [I want to become a machine]; or select either the Garip [Strange] and İkinci Yeni [Second Renewal] movements in the 1940s and 1950s, respectively. Turkish poetry’s modernist credentials are affirmed on the basis of a shared commitment to renewing or destroying poetic forms inherited from the Ottoman Empire, and on the basis of its similarities with Continental avant-garde coterie movements such as futurism, Dadaism, and surrealism. While critics focusing on poetry use Continental European aesthetics as an affirmative benchmark which Turkish poetry successfully achieved, a different kind of negative comparison has generated what Nurdan Gürbilek calls a “criticism of lack” surrounding the Turkish modernist novel. In an article on modernism and the Turkish novel, Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk programmatically claimed that in Turkey, “we did not have modernism in the true sense of the word.”1 Pamuk’s critical statement on the non-existence of the Turkish modernist novel is representative of a wider, long-standing academic stance that dismisses modernism as an inappropriate theoretical paradigm for understanding Turkish novels of the early twentieth century. This critical interpretation cites a lack of visibly modernist aesthetic markers, such as stream of consciousness, experimentation with language and form, and a valorization of aesthetic autonomy. Turkish modernism’s belatedness vis-à-vis European literature is a commonly repeated aphorism in Turkish criticism on the modernist novel, which heralds the appearance of visibly modernist aesthetic practices with the publication of Oğuz Atay’s 1972 novel Tutunanmayanlar [Those who can’t hold on]. This timeline emphasizes the contemporaneity of modernism and postmodernism in Turkish novels, and stresses modernism’s late adoption in Turkey. Revisiting the link between Turkish modernity and the Turkish novel in light of modernist scholarship’s global turn can, however, yield a re-evaluation of this accepted narrative. Inherited scholarly narratives of modernism’s belated adoption in Turkey emphasize Anglo-European modernism’s aesthetic markers without accounting for the fact that these aesthetics are deeply linked to Anglo-European experiences of political modernity. Instead, we might prefer to examine how Turkish authors attempted to account for and literarily represent the Turkish experience of political modernity, such as the rupture between Empire and Republic, the importance of the Ottoman literary tradition in the face of modernity, and gendered experiences of Kemalist modernity.

Orhan Pamuk, “Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar ve Türk Modernizmi [Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar and Turkish Modernism],” in Bir Gül bu Karanlıkta: Tanpınar Üzerine Yazılar, ed. Abdullah Uçman and Handan İnci (Istanbul: 3F Yayınevi, 2008): 434–448. 1

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These aspects of modernity all led to aesthetic innovations that are recognizable to modernist scholars trained in the Anglo-European tradition, but not exact replicas of the aesthetic innovations of elsewhere. The selections for this section reflect the difference in approach taken by poets and novelists in their aesthetic response to modernity. Turkish modernist poetry is represented by an article by Ahmet Haşim, a poet who was greatly influenced by French symbolists, and the Garip Preface, a manifesto that advocates for the destruction of Ottoman poetic forms. Both selections emphasize simplified language, a new poetic expression, and the rejection of the Ottoman poetic forms in the modern age, echoing the concerns of modernist poetry in Arabic and Persian literature. It is likely that the modernist credentials of these poets are affirmed in Turkey because these issues were also at the forefront of Kemalist interventions into language and literature as part of the modernization project. In contrast, the article “The Change of Civilization and Inner Man” by novelist Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar explores how the loss of Ottoman cultural institutions created discontinuity and fragmentation in Turkish mental life. While Tanpınar’s stance regarding the Ottoman past has led to an understanding of his work and thought as conservative, his concern for the Ottoman literary past is evocative of larger modernist debates on the importance of the literary tradition in the face of modernity, both in Europe and in parts of the world as diverse as the Arabic-speaking Middle East, Africa, and China. Indeed, Tanpınar’s refusal to participate in the production of the grand narrative of Turkish modernity as distinct from the Ottoman tradition raises important definitional questions regarding the critical function that literary modernism performs in relation to locally constituted modernity. Attending to the interaction between Turkish political modernity and its aesthetic dimension reveals a Turkish modernism not only contemporary with the period in which Turkey was most fully experiencing its own process of modernity, but also in resonance with wider modernist traditions. KS

FURTHER READING Ertürk, Nergis. Grammatology and Literary Modernity in Turkey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Evin, Ahmet Ö. Origins and Development of the Turkish Novel. Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1983. Göknar, Erdağ. Orhan Pamuk, Secularism and Blasphemy: The Politics of the Turkish Novel. London: Routledge, 2013. Gürbilek, Nurdan. “Dandies and Originals: Authenticity, Belatedness and the Turkish Novel.” The South Atlantic Quarterly 102.2/3 (2003): 599–628. Holbrook, Victoria. The Unreadable Shores of Love: Turkish Modernity and Mystic Romance. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994. Parla, Jale. “The Wounded Tongue: Turkey’s Language Reforms and the Canonicity of the Novel.” PMLA 123.1 (2008): 27–40. Seyhan, Azade. Tales of Crossed Destinies: The Modern Turkish Novel in a Comparative Context. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2008.

I. SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT POETRY Ahmet Haşim Originally published in Turkish as Şiirde Mânâ ve Vuzüh (Meaning and Clarity in Poetry) in Dergâh vol. 1 (1921). Reprinted with some amendments as Şiir Hakkında Bazı Mülâhazalar (Some Thoughts about Poetry) in Piyâle (The Wine Cup), by Ahmet Haşim (1926). Translated by Kaitlin Staudt. Ahmet Haşim (1883–1933) was a Turkish poet and prose writer whose works spanned the late Ottoman and early Republican periods. Born in Baghdad to a governor of the Ottoman province, he relocated to Istanbul in 1893. There he graduated from the Mekteb-i Sultanî, a French-language high school better known as the Galatasaray Lycée which was responsible for the education of many Ottoman bureaucrats as well as influential poets such as Tevfik Fikret and Nazım Hikmet. In his early years he was a member of the Fecr-i Ati (Dawn of the Future) movement, along with other prominent novelists and poets including Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu and Refik Halit Karay. The movement drew inspiration from the French symbolists, proclaiming in a 1910 manifesto published by the Servet-i Fünun journal that “Art is personal and sacred (Sanat şahsi ve muhteremdir).” Later, he worked with poet Yahya Kemal and Yakup Kadri on the journal Dergâh, a bimonthly volume which ran from April 1921 to January 1923. The journal’s print run corresponded to the years of Turkey’s National Struggle, and the journal published new poetry, prose, philosophy, and psychology by the country’s leading authors. Many of Haşim’s poems were published in Dergâh, including poems collected for his fist volume, Göl Saatleri (Hours of the Lake) (1921). Similarly, while his influential article, “Some Thoughts about Poetry,” is best known for serving as the introduction to his volume Piyâle (The Wine Cup) (1926), it originally appeared in Dergâh under the title “Meaning and Clarity in Poetry” in 1921. KS

When the poem titled “Desire at the end of the day,” which the reader will read in this book, was first published, its meaning was considered by some people to be more cryptic than necessary, and in connection with that, many things were said and written about the “meaning” and “clarity” in poetry.1 At this time, you will remember none of it.2 How can we remember these things, some of which were said and written with expletives and contempt and some of which were a sort of daily-newspaper nonsense? Due to differences of opinion, the offense passed like a dishonorable inheritance, a rusty weapon which had been used by us all along, from generation to generation between kindred spirits who took up the pen. For this reason, literary generations are unacquainted with these types of

The poem “Bir Günün Sonunda Arzu” was first published by Dergâh on April 15, 1921. The “meaning” and “clarity” Haşim references refer to this essay’s original title, “Meaning and Clarity in Poetry [Şiirde Mânâ ve Vuzuh].”

1

Here Haşim is referencing the five years between the poem and article’s publication in Dergâh and its appearance as the introduction to Haşim’s 1926 volume, Piyâle.

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discussions. Especially in the academic and literary fields there are vile and wanton types, sometimes they are in the guise of scholars, critics, or artists; it would be a childish naïveté to hope to see humane morals respected in the exchange of ideas. We will content ourselves with expressing our own views and opinions about the value of “meaning” and “clarity” in poetry, while not finding it necessary to remember those lines of verse that we have read and heard before so that neither nursery rhymes nor a contemptuous argument form the basis for the conversation. Let us admit first that in poetry we do not know what is being implied by meaning. Those who say “thought,” do they mean a pile of banal opinions, or narrative, or theme, and is “clarity” understood as the ordinary perception of these things? There are those who compare heaps of figures of speech like the history of poetry, philosophy, discourse, and rhetoric with what is truly considered poetry; and those who don’t distinguish between its true face and signs. The fact is that poetry is understood in this manner because it is does not possess special tools whose use is tied to a skill like brushes, paints, notes, and pens which are unique to arts like painting, music, and sculpture; and also because it needs to borrow its expression from spoken language. For this reason, inadequate people who are timid and deferential in the face of notes which their eyes don’t know how to read or brushes which their fingers don’t know how to use, judge poetry with impertinence without finding it necessary to take further preparations as they consider poetry, which they regard as comprised of words they themselves use, the same as ordinary “language,” and regard it only from this point of view. However, a poet is neither a messenger of truth nor a person who speaks rhetorically; neither are they law-makers. A poet’s language exists not in order to explain like prose, but to almost evoke sensations, it is a language between music and words, on average it is closer to music than words. Because “prose” consists of style, none of its obligatory components are a matter for poetry. Poetry and prose are two separate forms: they do not share proximity or concerns, they are tied to separate orders, exist in separate fields, arise from separate magnitudes and forms. Reason and logic generate prose; whereas poetry is a sacred and nameless source, buried within nights of mystery and the unknown outside the fields of perception, which on occasion reflects the light of enlightened waters onto the horizons of our perception. The dreary nakedness of a shadowless poetry which merely borrows the clarity and consistency of prose is able to attain a falseness which mimics poetry’s conditions and operations. It could be said that poetry is verse which could not be converted to prose. A few months ago, in a famous critical debate about “pure poetry” Abbé Henri Brémond said something which interested the entire world of civilized thought: A sentence which includes qualities like judgement, logic, rhetoric, coherence, analysis, simile, metaphor, and all other similar features among its components, without altering its true nature or changing form through poetry’s magical effects which gives a rosy pinkness to everything it touches like the light of dawn, is nothing different from ordinary prose.3 Moreover, if poetic flow, which is a kind of electric current, is cut off for an instant, all of these elements are immediately silenced through their inherent ugliness. Poetry is not a tale, poetry is a song.

Abbé Henri Brémond (1865–1933) was a French literary scholar and member of the Académie française whose work on romanticism and symbolism in the 1920s aimed to demonstrate a mystic dimension to poetry which was akin to certain kinds of prayer.

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My inner life is not far off from my cry But the light to see is not in ear or eye.4 To search for “meaning” is to exhume poetry, as necessary as killing for meat a poor bird whose song makes the stars in the summer night shiver. Can a morsel of meat fill the place of that enchanting voice which has been silenced? In poetry the thing that is most important is not the meaning of the word, but the value in saying the verse together. Poetry’s ideal is to express according to a sweet, secret, soft, or harsh voice which emerges from a mysterious coalescence and from connections and collisions that will form with other words and to devise, while harmonizing the cadence of all sorts of words with the verse’s general tempo, a limitless and effective expression from the verse’s musical undulation, for sinuous or effluent, dark or light, heavy or quick emotions, in addition to the words’ meanings. If, between changes in words and consideration for harmony “meaning” becomes obscure, it compensates with the pleasure of “spiritual” harmony. Truth be told, what is “meaning” beyond the inspiration to create harmony? In poetry, for a poet the “subject” is only a reason to recite poetry and to dream. Just like a porcelain jar full of honey which has been left in the middle of a laurel forest, meaning is not visible to all eyes as it is concealed within the leaves of poetry and only processions of dreams and words fly around the environment, like buzzing bees. Readers who don’t see the porcelain jar take pleasure in listening to the music of the bee’s wings which dulls the intellect. Because for them the entire mystery of the red flowered, black laurel forest is the sound of these silver wings. Apart from this definition there is no poetry. If there were a poetry which asserted it was not like that, then it is not poetry and those calling it poetry are strangers to the concept. We are of the opinion that it should not be declared that as yet no great poet is well understood outside a limited community, nor should it be hoped in vain that poetry is a common language. Among Hamid’s thousands of admirers, though not even ten out of a hundred of them read him, those who understand him are not even one in a thousand.5 “Fame” drags meagre souls behind currents of excitement which over flow from two or three powerful souls and provide them with energy. Otherwise fame is opprobrious for a noble and honorable soul. It can be said without exaggeration that poetry which can be understood by everyone is only the work of a poet of the lowest level. The gates of great poetry, like the sturdy city gates made of bronze, are very secure; it cannot be pushed open by just any hand and those gates sometimes stand closed for centuries. In recent years, it was after one of our historians left ajar the doors of the castle which had hidden Nedim from stupidity that dwarves were able to enter those gardens of poetry. But, like dirty handprints on the Great Wall of China, the comprehension of most of those who entered only sullied Nedim.6 Is there a need to search for more sufficient evidence than this to the fact that every poem obtains meaning in various extents according to the standard of one’s spirit? Haşim is quoting line seven of Rumi’s “The Song of the Reed” (Masnavi, Book 1: Lines 1–34). Translation from Victoria Holbrook, 2010.

4

Abdülhak Hâmid (1852–1937) was a poet and playwright.

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Nedim (1681?–1730) was an Ottoman poet writing during the reign of Ahmet III. He is considered one of the most important poets of the divan tradition.

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People who spout out questions like “What is it? What does it mean? Can such a thing be possible? It resembles something! It doesn’t resemble anything!” in the face of whatever variety of art and express an opinion according to that are parasites which will not be able to learn anything from the artists and will carefully avoid entering into a connection; which remains covering the spiritual world. In works of art, these parasites which cannot find nourishment due to their own obtuse nature and which are widespread in all corners of the earth, are the mortal enemies of artists in every period and every country. In my life time because of them artists sometimes become sycophants, sometimes sacrificial innocents. Alongside these disorderly hangers-on, there are even civil servants of art who transform art concepts into an incomprehensible state; the example of this in literature is the “literature teacher.” It is an astonishing thing that these men whose title and character are reassuring at first glance, are considered in truth as empty as a “literature course.” Literature teachers, who teach their students beautiful sentiments and perceptions while remaining tied to a secondary education program are, like the legendary merchants who produced moonlight and sold air, unnecessary educators who create and determine today’s mistaken educational administration. They are neither able to interpret or explain the poetry of poets nor the art of artists. For this reason, literature teachers in all countries are neither poets, nor writers of prose, nor are they people connected to art in any other dimension. For the most part, in the eyes of these people who are connected to the teaching of reading, writing, and grammar, poetry which is not suitable for translation into prose or grammar exercises, because it does not have value beyond other question-and-answer reading material, is a dangerous and bad example for young minds. As long as meaning can be found, for the literature teacher there is no difference between works of the master and the student, between good writing and works whose language is praiseworthy. Now no solitary word of poetry remains which can be recited from a lectern that cannot be explained as a grammar and syntax issue due to teachers who are deprived of the most basic neurological equipment to hear poetry without explaining how they themselves understand things like the glance of a dark eye or the smile of a fresh mouth. However, even if for one minute we could agree that “clarity” is necessary in poetry it is first necessary to understand what is meant by clarity. What kind of understanding of mentality thinks meter necessary for clarity? There is no need for poetry which is considered clear for one person to be the same for another. There are consciousnesses which are dark mirrors thrown into the middle of the universe. What they do not understand is not only this or that poetry; dense forests made of unknowns surround these consciousnesses and spirits on all sides. Like a fire which burns in the night, how indispensable can meaning which is clear to one standing on a hill be for what is invisible to the one standing on a cliff. A poet enriches words which have been expelled from general language with new meaning, rings out new harmonies for every letter, organizes tempo and phrase according to a different scale; the clarity of their work begins to change according to the reader beginning from the moment a personal language is created full of beauty, color, and imagination. Because, just as clarity is unique to a particular work, it is also an issue concerned with the reader’s consciousness and spirit. For us, as it is everywhere, a reader who becomes lazily accustomed to daily newspapers will not find an easy pleasure in poetry. In order for poetry to be understood it wants a difficult preparation beyond the talents of spirit and intelligence, it wants even the help of a number of outside factors like the conditions of light, weather, and time. Poetry is that which like water becomes colorful of an evening or like trees which cast shadows in the

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moonlight. In the light of day that same poetry can’t breathe, it vanishes into thin air. Is our spirit of summer nights which wants to weep while listening to a faraway gardener’s song or shepherd’s pipe the equal of that heavy and languid spirit which we haul in the noontime heat? The most beautiful poetry is poetry which takes its meaning from the spirit of the reader. In poetry the fact that some passages remain ambiguous and uncertain, far from being a mistake and a deficiency, on the contrary, it is necessary for poetry’s beauty. As Ruskin the English aesthete said, a deadening clarity in style leaves nothing to the imagination and any help which would come from the reader’s spirit which is the artist’s most valuable ally is lost.7 An artwork’s biggest goal is to bind itself to the power of imagination. Works which are not successful in achieving this, despite their merit and virtue, cannot be works of art. The issue is like a rose in the night, if it can be left in a state of sensation as a half clear form in the darkness of the clause’s harmony and in the excitement which exudes a good smell, the power of imagination fills in places which remain empty and the rose gains an existence more exciting than reality. The beauty of what remains, of voices which come from afar, of unfinished paintings, of roughly-hewn statues is all due to it. No face is as beautiful in reality as it is seen in dreams. Who has not experienced a disappointment seeing in daylight the city whose doors they entered for the first time at night? The power of imagination, like a bat, is able to fly only in the half darkness of poetry. In summary, poetry, like the words of the prophet, must be vested with sufficient breadth of meaning for a variety of interpretations. As a poem’s meaning becomes conducive to alternative interpretations everyone who reads it is able to give it meaning in their own life and in this way, poetry is able to attain the distinction of being a language of common emotion between the poet and people. The richest, deepest, most effective poetry is that which will be understood in a style which everyone desires and therefore whose breath will encompass infinite sensibilities. What is a poetry which remains limited and trapped within only one meaning in the face of that that ambiguous and flowing poetry whose borders encompass the mass of human emotions?

John Ruskin (1819–1900) was an art critic in England during the Victorian era famous for his championing of the Pre-Raphaelites.

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II. THE GARIP PREFACE Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet, and Oktay Rifat Originally Published in Turkish in Garip: şiir hakkında düşünceler ve Melih Cevdet, Oktay Rifat, Orhan Veli’den seçilmiş şiirler. Istanbul: Resimli Ay Maatbasi, 1941. Translated by Sidney Wade and Efe Murad. Translation first published as “Garip: A Turkish Poetry Manifesto” in The Critical Flame, 8 November 2015. Together with Melih Cevdet (1915–2002) and Oktay Rifat (1914–88), Orhan Veli (1914–50) was a founding member of the Garip Movement, a small group of poets who promoted the use of simple language in a radical break from the elevated rhetoric of the classical Ottoman poets. While poets of the earlier twentieth century such as the humanist Tevfik Fikret, the modernist Ahmed Haşim, and the lyrical Yahya Kemal laid the foundations of modern Turkish poetry, they still did not break completely from all aspects of the Ottoman tradition. It wasn’t until the advent of the Garip Movement that this total break was achieved by repudiating the older tradition in every way. The classical tradition had relied heavily on the lavish use of language as well as high forms of Ottoman poetry such as aruz (an historically Arabic meter that depends on the arrangement of open and closed syllables) and the traditional Persian literary forms of the ghazal, the beyit (a couplet form), and the mesnevi (an epic form in couplets, used most often to recite romantic and panegyric tales). In rejecting the elitism of court poetry, the Garip poets wrote simple poems in the vernacular about the ordinary details of the lives of common people, subjects not considered of interest in the classical tradition. With their use of simple imagery and pared-down language, taking as their subjects the objects and events of daily life, and eschewing meter and formal rhyme schemes, the Garip Movement poets directly opposed the unities of traditional Ottoman couplets in bringing everyday lightness and randomness into their verse. The impact of Garip’s preface was immense in its day. The great literary critic of the time, Nurullah Ataç immediately wrote in support of the poems. Abdülbaki Gölpınarlı, a scholar of Persian and Ottoman classical poetry as well as an expert on the Rumi corpus, criticized and subsequently rejected the aesthetics of Ottoman court poetry as elitist and offered Garip’s manifesto as an alternative poetics in 1945. Of course the Garip poets experienced swift opposition to their manifesto as well, especially from a literary group formed around the literary journal Mavi (Blue) in the 1940s. Headed by the romantic socialist Attilâ İlhan, the Mavi group accused Garip poets of avoiding social realism and concentrating instead on the more frivolous aspects of life. Another powerful critique of Garip was brought by the İkinci Yeni (the Second New) generation, which has been so far the most influential generation of poets in Turkish literature. İkinci Yeni sees Garip poetry as mundane and strives consciously to break from the plain syntax and narration inherited from their predecessors. Today, Garip’s influence is still widely visible. Orhan Veli’s poems are some of the most studied works of poetry in Turkish schools, and the popularity of Garip has never waned. SW & EM

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Poetry, the art of rhetoric and figures of speech, has undergone many changes in its journey to its current stage. At this point we understand that poetry is very different from proper spoken language. Turkish poetry, in its current form, differs from natural, or unaffected and ordinary language, and offers its readers a relative strangeness (garabet). Yet it is interesting to note that this strangeness has created a new set of conventions of its own in poetic language, which removes the very strangeness, or peculiarity, from poetic speech. The child who is being educated by today’s intellectuals perceives the world from a conventional or traditional point of view, and so the new poetry will sound strange (garip) to the child. The new poetry will show him the relativity of poetic language so that he can question what he has been taught. For centuries, convention preserved poetry in verse form. The principle elements of verse are meter (vezin) and rhyme (kafiye). Rhyme was first used by poets as a mnemonic device, and they later developed aesthetics in its use and came to consider the use of rhyme and meter a skill. At the root of poetry, as is often the case in other art forms, there is a fundamental desire for playfulness (oyun arzusu). For earlier poets, this desire was significant, but poets have changed a great deal over time. Today’s poets find fewer aesthetics and excitement in the use of meter and rhyme. They more often consider that if there is a sense of harmony (âhenk) to be acknowledged in a poem, it is not meter or rhyme that hold it. That sense of harmony already exists in spite of the meter and rhyme. However, it is meter and rhyme that makes it evident to the average reader. I will now explain why the belief that poetic harmony is dependent on meter and rhyme is needless and harmful. We do understand that meter and rhyme are registers of language. But the syntactic (nahiv) oddities or irregularities in standard poetic language were mostly created because of the necessities of meter and rhyme. When narrow-minded opinion asserts that poetry is dependent on meter and rhyme, it will accuse the new Garip poems of sounding too much like our spoken language. The poetics rooted in the use of meter and rhyme will find relative oddities in the new poetry, which concerns itself more closely than traditional poetry with the realities of everyday life. Meaning (mâna) and figures of speech (lâfız) often take advantage of the mind’s altering and destructive force on nature. Simile (teşbih) is the act of showing something in a different light. Today’s intellectuals consider those who refrain from using simile and metaphor (istiâre) in poetry as “strange” or “weird” (garip). The mistake here is that those who believe this understand the classical view of poetics as truth. From the day when writing was first invented, a great many poets have used similes in their verse. What does adding more examples of simile and metaphor bring to poetry? Simile, metaphor, overstatement (mübalağa) or a poetic vision that could develop from the combination of all of these, I hope, would be able to satisfy the greedy eyes of history. There have been many developments in form in the history of literature, and these changes have always been adopted and approved, years after being considered garip. The hardest changes to accept are those belonging to aesthetics. Traditional poetry, a slave to bourgeois culture today and to religion and feudalism before the Industrial Revolution, has always appealed to the upper classes. The prosperous do not have the need to work every day and have comprised, for centuries, the ruling classes. However, the aesthetics of a new poetry should represent the common laboring man. The laboring classes today have established their right to live after a long tug-of-war. The new poetry is theirs and should appeal to them. This should not mean they have to use the tools of past literatures in order to generate their own. The problem is not about defending the needs of a class; it is about looking for and finding its own aesthetics.

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The new aesthetics will only be achieved with new ways and vehicles. There is nothing new or artistic in squeezing certain ideologies into already accepted forms. The structures should be changed completely. In order to get away from the prosaic and suffocating influence of literatures that have for centuries shaped and ruled out our will and aesthetics, we must reject everything those literatures have taught us. If possible, we should discard the language itself that limits our creative activity. Those regarded highly by history are those who find themselves at major turning points in history. They demolish one tradition and create a new one. Actually, they discover a new system of registers that emerges naturally from within the old one. It becomes a tradition when it is transmitted to the following generations. The great artist exists only within the context of literary or artistic registers. The new artist is the one who looks always for more than what he has seen in books, who tries to bring new registers to the art. Seventeenth-century French classicism was full of principles or norms, but was never traditionalist. It established its own principles. The eighteenth-century French writers were traditionalists, but they never established rigid principles or norms, because they did not feel the need of new registers; instead they learned them from previous conventions. Writers feel or do not feel the necessity of new literary registers. Those who feel the necessity are called founders, and those who feel it is needless are demolishers. In the end, both of these groups are more beneficial than those who continue previous conventions without adding anything new to it. Both of these groups cannot be successful all the time. Permanently valuable artistic works should follow changes in the social structure and be relevant to them. One of the reasons literary movements are sometimes unsuccessful is that their programs do not match with the realities of their times. One may not be able to make what he has founded complete, but entrusts a good share to those who will follow his new literary conventions. He might discover a new paradigm or assert that the old paradigm is wrong. This person is the flag-bearer, the bodyguard of a struggle in literature. Someone who has the courage to be a martyr should be regarded highly, because many would never risk losing power within their conventional frameworks for an ideal. I am not a supporter of the interdisciplinary in art. Poetry should be regarded as poetry, painting as painting, music as music. Each of these arts has its own specific traits and vessels of expression. They explain their purpose through these vessels, and not only do they limit themselves with these vessels and their respect for past values, but they also make room for challenge and labor. This is very difficult. Music in poetry, painting in music, or literature in painting are simply tricks of those who cannot establish norms within one artistic convention but feel they must establish an interdisciplinary approach. When certain arts are combined with others, they lose their essence. For instance, we cannot compare the singular music of poetry that has been created as particular words come together in harmony, with a musical piece with all of its variations in music and the richness of its scores. To bring words that have the same sounds together is a cheap trick that creates artificial harmony in poetry. In general, works of art that are easily accepted and liked by the common people are those that are most easily understood. For instance, those who appreciate aesthetics in music might listen to the themes in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture as if it were a painting depicting events during Napoleon’s Moscow campaign. Those with this sort of aesthetic might consider Saint-Saëns’s “Danse Macabre,” a piece that tells the story of corpses rising from their graves after midnight and then returning to their graves after finishing their dances, and Borodin’s “On the Steppes of Central Asia,” which tells the story of a caravan moving slowly along the river with the sound of water,

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the greatest of all musical pieces. This is a cheap trick. Using such a vast art, music, as a simple tool of illustration is a great weakness. No great artist should use intertextual imitation to attract the common person’s appreciation. An artist needs to discover the unique essence of his own art and demonstrate his skills via this essence. Poetry, at the end of the day, is a form of speech that unveils its essence in the way it expresses itself (eda). In other words, it is only made out of expression. Meaning does not appeal to one’s five senses; it appeals to the soul. Poetry, whose real value resides in its meaning and its relation to one’s soul, might be taken for granted if one depended on the cheap and secondary slights of hand like the musical quality of its language. Apollinaire, in his book Calligrammes, combines poetry with another art, that of painting. Here he formats the lines of a poem about rain vertically. Similarly, there is a poem in the same book about a journey in which Apollinaire positions letters and words as if composing a painting in front of us, with wagons, telegraph poles, moon beams, and stars. I confess, these tricks do in fact give us the sense of rain and journey; Apollinaire’s artificial tricks do help us get into the mood of the poems. Apollinaire is not the first poet to achieve this effect. Many have brought the aesthetics of painting into poetry through the use of visual shapes. For instance, Japanese poets often gave words the shape of reeds, lakes, moon rays, and sailboats, depending on the themes of their poetry. Ahmet Haşim introduced some magic into the word “flame” when he wrote with Arabic characters. Poetry has, in fact, made use of painting as it has used music in the past. Why wouldn’t a poet who accepts that one might make use of music in poetry consider making use of sculpture or architecture? Picasso, who extended his paintings into the realm of sculpture eventually came to believe that it had been a mistake. Poetry that makes use of painting does not appear to have many supporters today. Some poets consider any writing full of descriptive imagery (tasvir) to be poetry. Descriptive imagery is a natural element of poetry and each poem is more or less descriptive at heart. Words are symbols of either things or ideas. Abstractions sometimes seem irrelevant to the natural world; however, we all think the most abstract (mücerret) thoughts along with the concrete (müşahhas) and make them correspond to matter and things. The riches of poetry do not consist only of a natural world described in words. Poetry may contain descriptive imagery, yet this is not the fundamental element of poetry. What makes a poem a poem is the characteristics of its manner of expression (eda) and the meaning it conveys. As the French poet Paul Éluard says, “The time will come when poetry will only be read in the head, and literature will have a new life that day.” Every new movement in the history of literature has brought new paradigms to poetry. We are lucky to have had the opportunity to expand the limits of literature to the maximum and to finally release poetry from these limits. In one of his letters, Oktay Rifat attempts to explain this view when talking about the notion of schools in literature: “the idea of a ‘school’ represents a break (fasıla), or a static position in the historical trajectory, as opposed to the idea of speed (sür’at) and movement (hareket). The school of literature that does not go against the dialectical mind is the movement of anti-schools in literatures.” Can the idea of limitlessness or anti-schools in literature exist in poetry? Without a doubt, no! However, this notion will help people discover new fields and will greatly enrich poetry. What the Garip group has given to poetry is the expansion of purity (safiyet) and plainness (besatet) in the art. The desire to find poetry in purity and plainness brought us closer to the world of the subconscious (tahteşşuur). It is only here that nature

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is unchanged by mental activities. The human soul is found here in its most primordial sense, characterized, paradoxically, by intricate plainness and simplicity. We find purity and plainness in childhood memories, unburdened by either intricacy or abstraction. The image of God as a white-bearded old man, or of djinns as red dwarves or nymphs as ethereal girls in white dresses indicate how a child’s mind cannot bear abstraction. One should not mistake the act of stirring up one’s subconscious to find poetic purity and plainness with that of the Symbolist idea of touching the cords of the secret self, or the act of transcending consciousness which Paul Valéry uses as a definition of creative activity. The artistic movement closest to our taste, in fact, has been Surrealism. The Surrealist poets who made automatic writing (ruhî otomatizm) the foundation of their idea set and artistic understanding also jettisoned the practice of writing in rhyme and meter. However, even as we favor Surrealist practices and ideas, we do not have any relationship with them and consider ourselves unaffiliated with any literary school. Automatic writing is only the starting point of Surrealism. The act of emptying one’s subconscious, considered the real function of poetry by Surrealists, is different from the ecstatic outpouring of one’s self. If this were the case, everyone would be an artist. The artist-poet is the one who can use an acquired faculty outside the context of dreaming. The worth and grandeur of a poem can only be measured by the manner in which the artist acquires and uses this faculty, as described many years ago by the great Doctor Freud and as skillfully demonstrated by the great Surrealist poet André Breton. What, more particularly, is this faculty? Control of consciousness exists in the act of mining the inner, or spiritual world. In normal conditions, it is impossible to translate the subconscious into writing. It is not simply the emptying of one’s subconscious; it is, rather, the act of representing the subconscious. The subconscious feels everything deeply, and the great artist is the perfect imitator of this world. Plainness and simplicity bring the genuine aesthetic touch to a work of art. However, one should not accuse poetry written in this manner of being “plain” or “primitive.” If you see a poet who has suffered much and overcome many obstacles in his art, do not be judgmental about his work. You might think he is writing like an amateur; in fact, he has perfectly imitated and thereby mastered the qualities of plainness and simplicity. Art is not only about automatism, it is about struggle and talent. Artists are those who make us believe that what they say is absolutely sincere. One of the assumptions poets often make is that the line (mısra) is the perfect unit. This is a bad habit. Orhan Veli understands the wish to produce the perfect line as a pernicious addiction. A poem should not rely on perfect lines, but on an overarching theme whose meaning is conveyed through its lines. A poem is a literary convention of wholeness and unity. The idea that the line should be taken as the basis of a poem makes us pay attention to each word and analyze it as the unit of a line. This practice encourages us to think of words as abstract entities in a poem and to assign beauty or ugliness to the words. However, words, like bricks in a building, are never beautiful. Plaster is never beautiful. It is only an architecture composed of these elements that is beautiful. If we beheld a building made of agate, heliotrope, and silver but which had no overarching aesthetic beauty, it could not be considered a work of art. If the words of a poem simply sound good but do not add anything of beauty to the poem itself, the poem is not a work of art.

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Certain words, by long usage and convention, are considered “poetic” (şairane). We are engaged in a struggle to bring a new vocabulary to poetry and hope to rise above the old conventional use of “poetical” words. We do not confine ourselves to the old order but hope to bring fresh meaning and energy to poetry. If the reader cannot accept the use of words such as “corns,” or “Süleyman Efendi,” he or she is only interested in the passé and should confine his reading to poetry that abides by old and stale conventions.1 We will work against everything that belongs to the past and all outdated notions of “poeticality” in poetry.

Here they are referencing not a specific “Süleyman Efendi,” but rather making a distinction between spoken and written conventions for referring to a person.

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III. THE CHANGE OF CIVILIZATION AND INNER MAN Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Originally published in Turkish as “Medeniyet Değiştirme ve İç İnsan” in Cumhuriyet newspaper on March 2, 1951. Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar (1901–62) is one of the most significant novelists and theorists of twentieth-century Turkish literature, in addition to being a distinguished poet, newspaper columnist, literature professor, and briefly a member of parliament. His writing on Istanbul and his friendship with poet Yahya Kemal figures prominently in Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s writing on Turkey’s literary past. Tanpınar’s novel, Huzur (A Mind at Peace) has been hailed as the “Turkish Ulysses” for his use of mystic Turkish poetry as a framing device and for its circadian structure. His critical work of Turkish literary history, XIX. Asır Türk Edebiyatı Tarihi (19th Century Turkish Literary History) is an influential account of literary history in the late Ottoman era and remains an important monograph for scholars of Turkish literature. Writing the bulk of his novels in the 1940s and ’50s, Tanpınar’s writing about cultural duality and civilizational change after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire was in direct opposition to calls for Turkish literature to break with the Ottoman tradition. For this reason, despite his modernist credentials and canonical status, Tanpınar remains known in Turkey largely as a mühafazakâr, or conservative, due to his belief that the Ottoman past is a crucial cultural repository for the formation of modern Turkish identity. “The Change of Civilization and Inner Man” partakes in Tanpınar’s obsession with cultural duality, exploring how a lack of continuity between the Ottoman past and the Turkish present has created a psychological illness in Turkish citizens that manifests itself most obviously in the literary tradition. KS

Translated by Kaitlin Staudt. A few weeks ago, in an article which recently came out in this column, I said that since the Tanzimat,1 we were unable to bring any particular order to the fields of ideas and art.2 I gave examples, gathered indiscriminately and cursorily, of issues which were discussed in various establishments. I said that this discontinuity has, in truth, prevailed over our entire lives, and has created a crisis of mentality and inner life. The reason for this crisis is the duality which was brought about when we moved from one civilization to another. It caused us to be suspicious of not only the works we created, but also of the principles which the Tanzimat reformers implemented quickly; which caused us to engage with things so unsubstantial they could be considered a joke instead of our important and vital concerns, or which turned the essence of these important and vital concerns into a joke.

The Tanzimat, which means reorganization, refers to a period of reform in the Ottoman Empire that began in 1839 and ended in 1876 with the establishment of the first Ottoman constitution.

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The article Tanpınar is referring to is “Kültür ve Sanat Yollarında Gösterdiğimiz Devamsızlık” [Discontinuities that we display in the course of culture and art] published on January 25, 1951, in Cumhuriyet newspaper. “The Change of Civilization and Inner Man” was published in the same paper just over one month later, on March 2, 1951.

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This duality began in public life, later divided our society into two by mentality, and finally the processes deepened and altered and settled into us on an individual level. At first glance it seems strange, the fact that a movement which was necessary to push towards good, towards enlightenment, towards a complete and contemporary understanding of ourselves, produced this kind of result. But what can be done, it is a reality which will make us uncomfortable as long as we deny it. In this reality that took shape across time, the fact that the Tanzimat began without an agenda, lacking information, in short without an explicit aim was in large part due to the financial collapse that took an increasingly ferocious turn in the years following 1850 and due to political incidents which were determining factors for this collapse. In what follows, I will discuss this period whose causes and consequences constantly traded places with one another, each one affecting the other’s appearance. There remains a fact that I will call the sickness—if I were brave, I would say psychosis— of civilizational change, which takes the form of a struggle between the New and the Old, which is maybe not well constituted, or maybe not so precise, or changes its nature according to its current phase in progression; this struggle continues through contrived terkip3—in the form of a psychological richness, even—which does not constrain the communal life generated by this struggle. But the matter is completely the opposite. Today it is as if we are virtually deprived of the conditions necessary to complete a process of any kind in our communal life. We are neither able to demonstrate resistance in the face of things which will change us, nor are we able to completely surrender to them. It is as if we have lost our existence and our historical essence; we are in a crisis of values. We accept everything which adds nothing to ourselves in the big picture and we hide everything we have accepted locked away in a corner of our minds. A civilization is a whole. Its institutions and ruling values develop together. They are not found superfluous, nor are they doubted. Just as we inhabit our organs without considering how our hands, our feet, our ears fit together, we live like that with them. As communal life changes, civilization changes alongside its institutions and ruling values. Sometimes a portion of them are dissolved. But all of these changes occur together with people. Small and large crises, misunderstandings, anxieties, revolutions in periods of change, technical innovation, discovery and natural growth all contribute to these dissolutions. In the West the person of the Middle Ages, of the Renaissance, of the Industrial Revolution, of today are real and historical facts which are together composed of civilization and its institutions. We too were like that within our old civilization. The people who forced the doors of Anatolia in the Selçuk period,4 the first founding generations who made our homeland theirs, to Ottoman conquerors, those who gave us the genius of Itrî and the language of Nailî5 despite all of these political upheavals were not the same; indeed our pleasure

Terkip is a cornerstone in Tanpınar’s theory of Turkish identity. Meaning both synthesis and composition, terkip refers to the melding of Turkish, Ottoman, and Western identities within contemporary Republican Turkish identity.

3

The Selçuks were a Turkic empire who ruled Anatolia in the eleventh century. They are credited with the spread of Sunni Islam and Turkicization of Anatolia.

4

Buhurizade Mustafa Itrî (1640–1712) was an Ottoman-Turkish musician, composer, singer, and poet who is regarded as one of the masters of classical Ottoman music; Nailî-i Kadim (1606–66) was a divan poet.

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and that of the people from the end of the seventeenth century, that period of absolute growth and stability, were certainly very different from one another. But, at the same time, there was continuity between them. In Vanî Efendi there is Zembilli Ali Efendi, in Zembilli Ali Efendi there is the first judge of Istanbul, Hızır Bey. In İsmail Hakkı from Bursa there is Aziz Mahmud Hüdaî. In Hüdaî there is Üftâde, in Üftâde there is Hacı Bayram, and in him there is Yunus Emre. In Yunus, Rumi continues with a fire from the same hearth.6 All of these people questioned neither themselves nor those who came before; they entrusted life, thought, and the values which directed them as if to holy custody. Naturally, between them generational differences exist. They did not live in a fragmented time. Circumstance and the past were bound to one another in their mindset. In order for each to complete one another within time, they envisioned the future as an indeterminate downward flow from their own thought and life. Insomuch that it could be argued that Kul Hasan Dede, who lived in the eighteenth century and Eşrefoğlu, who lived in the fifteenth, seem to be in the same city and in the same tekke7; Nedim, who is otherwise different from the point of view of feeling and life, explains his own sensuality with a line from Fuzuli’s poetry8; the generations which came one after the other bring suit against Hallaj’s blood which was spilled unjustly.9 Life, one and whole, persisted together within each person. As the continual placement of stone over two or three generations eventually creates a building, so was it like this; people adopted an identity that was won over time. This is the thing we have lost in the years following the Tanzimat: the idea of this continuity and wholeness. While stating this fact, I do not want to say that we have done nothing since the Tanzimat, that we were left half finished. On the contrary, despite the fact that there was a great loss of time, generally many things were accomplished. Our society’s inner and outer outlook changed from generation to generation. Our women entered life. Our society got used to Western thought and art, our people were introduced to machines, the state became European. But we cannot deny that part of this is a result of the collapse of the old rather than enthusiasm surrounding the new; that a part of the phenomenon exists beyond our control; that even that which is bound to our essential volition and consciousness was

In the first half of the list Tanpınar is listing famous Turkish statesmen: Vanî Efendi (d. 1592) was a lawmaker; Zembilli Ali Efendi (1445–1526) held the position of şeyülislam, the highest religious authority in the Ottoman empire; Hızır Çelebi (1407–58) was the first judge (kadı) appointed after Istanbul was conquered by the Ottomans. The second half of the list includes famous Sufi mystic poets who composed verses in Turkish: Bursalı İsmail Hakkı (1652–1725) was a poet and musician who wrote over sixty books in Turkish; Aziz Mahmud Hüdaî (1541–1628) was a poet, musician, and scholar who legendarily read the first Friday prayer in the Blue Mosque; Hacı Bayram-ı Veli (1352–1430) was a poet and founder of the Bayrami Sufi order; Yunus Emre (1238–1320) is one of the first known poets to compose in Turkish; and finally Rumi (1207–73), known primarily in Turkish as Mevlana, also occasionally wrote in Turkish in addition to his more famous works in Persian. 6

Both Kul Hasan Dede and Eşrefoğlu were Sufi poets; a tekke is a monastery of Sufi dervishes, typically where rituals of worship and teaching occur.

7

Both Nedim (1681?–1730) and Fuzûlî (1494–1556) are considered to be two of the three most significant poets of the Ottoman divan tradition. Nedim is perhaps best known for his gazels, while Fuzûlî is best known for his Azeri Turkish version of Leyla and Mejnun.

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Mansur Al-Hallaj (858–922) was a mystic poet in the Sufi tradition who was executed in Baghdad for his teachings.

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perhaps neglected. What one generation begins is completed not by generations which come after them, but maybe by the historical conditions that generation is exposed to. But most significantly, we were not able to bring about the forms of life which affirm that our internal state in the face of these new institutions was neither fundamentally from Western culture and art, nor something else altogether. Always we lived divided in two internally. In a word, we did not completely believe in much of what we did. Because for us something else, something different always was and is present. This is the state of mind that separates us from Westerners and from our Muslim grandfathers of old. Even today, our lives have entered such a state that we are prepared for this altercation and we even dispute what is new. At last, to acknowledge the consequences of what we have done … we have not acceded this. In fact, the theological scholarship explained by Heine comes to mind when thinking of the debates of the past twenty-five years in which we considered ourselves to be living so rationally. This poor man devoted his life to writing a book in order to prove God’s existence. Truly it was a great work of scholarship, in order to take that sharp weapon of discussion inherited from scholastic traditions he piled evidence upon evidence, gathered testimony, and organized these to prove his case. But, in a sense the book was never able to be written. Because when the end drew near, his mind began to work in the opposite direction, the evidence and testimony which he had ardently, methodologically, and persistently gathered for years began to work against his case. Because he was an honorable man, he burned his book and this time began to write another book in order to prove that God did not exist. But when it would be completely finished, the true path again spoke and the miserable and dark instruments of denial suddenly began to shine with the light of faith. This continued like that through the entire period in which Heine lived. Is it possible to not see the escapades of the generations which we raised since the Tanzimat in this story? Maybe too Heine’s ruling mentality, this mental balance, was forged within Germany’s psychological state which resembles ours. From this point of view, it is beneficial to consider how the circumstance of literary generations changes in relation to life. But why only generations? We see the same fact when we consider individuals. Because the reaction of one generation to another generation, especially in art, is a very natural thing. But the division of an individual inside themselves is not a natural thing at all. Indeed, in the majority of those who have been raised since the Tanzimat almost every movement ends with a thundering and silent resignation, a sort of penitence, or a denial of themselves. Or else their character consumes themselves in a complete resentment or a barren doubt. The consequence of Fikret and Cenap!10 The doctrines of self-abnegation which in some way resemble the abolishment of the sultanate are beyond counting. It seems that the two kinds of tables, which Cevdet Pasha11 describes as a new expense while speaking about the changes that occurred in the course of the Crimean war, the

Tevfik Fikret (1867–1915) and Cenap Şahabettin (1870–1934) were both Ottoman poets affiliated with the Edebiyat-i Cedide (New Literature) movement in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire. Fikret also edited the Servet-i Fünun journal in which much of the movement’s work was published. 10

Ahmet Cevdet Paşa (1822–95) was an Ottoman statesman and bureaucrat who was influential in the Tanzimat era for his reform of Islamic law. He is also the father of Fatima Aliye (1862–1936) who is one of the first female Ottoman novelists.

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alafranga and the alaturca12 table expanded, grew, and broke our lives into pieces. Furthermore, in time this state of mind has ceased to be dynamic; it has become static. It is as if unchangeable limits have been formed within us. The process is only a process. Firstly, this rhythm is present in our lives as individuals. We are adherents and crusaders for the new, but we are tied to the old. If the process extended only this far, it would be good. But it does not, it gets involved in more. We sense the compulsion of the old as men of the new in certain periods of our lives; we live under the influence of the new as men of the old in others. The changing of these poles has ruled our life. Sometimes events are caused by historical conditions. Sometimes they have psychological factors. For example, we don’t consider ourselves pure; we don’t live our own life; we don’t speak with our own mouths; we are deluded. To this it is necessary to add a hidden and merciless feeling of guilt that is wrought against that self that needs to know of the smallest failure experienced by the first reforming generation in the face of whatever failure in communal life or against a towering opulence. If I were brave, I would say that we are living through a type of Oedipus complex, the complex of a man who kills his father unknowingly. If there is an aspect that is certain, the old is right beside us, sometimes enduring like an oppressed, lost paradise, or like a treasure which hides our spiritual wholeness; the old opens in front of us with the glitter of a mirage in the smallest tremor; calls us to ourselves; causes us to be suspicious of our life. Hesitation and a kind of regret … (A fear of making mistakes) These are no doubt the starting points. But like every starting point, it influences our life in thousands of ways; through generations it hinders our reorganization as it requires people and our society. Civilizational change is that which transfers issues that could be solved in one generation from one generation to the next; which turns the simplest problems into thresholds which somehow cannot be crossed; which presents the consequences of our own actions as a kind of foreignness; which, in the place of a life unique to us, prolongs a probationary period which lasts ten, fifteen, twenty years, sometimes longer. Is this a vicious cycle, that which we will not be able to draw out from inside? Certainly not. But it will be necessary to scrutinize how and why it has settled inside us in order to be able to find the liberating cures for it.

In the Turkish context these terms designate a distinction between Western or European and Turkish cultural style that respectively denoted modernity and traditionalism. The term ferengî in Ottoman Turkish referred to a European or someone from Western, typically Christian culture. The styles of table Tanpınar is referring to are a Western-style meal table, raised off the floor and surrounded by chairs, versus a Turkish folding table, which would have been closer to the floor, surrounded by cushions, and easily removed once the meal is over.

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CHAPTER SIX

Persian Modernism EDITED BY BAHAREH AZAD

The first flashes of modernism in Iran began with the introduction of the printing press by Iranian students sent to Europe for education in 1815 during the Qajar era.1 This technology led to an unprecedented rise in journals, periodicals, and mass reading through which European culture, philosophy, political thought, and literature were widely disseminated among contemporary writers, readers, and (so-called Westernized) intellectuals. European-educated students also contributed to the rise of modernism in Iran through their readings and translations of European works of art and humanities upon their return to the country, which later influenced the conception of modernism among Iranian writers as an imported phenomenon. After the reforms precipitated by the Constitutional Revolution in 1906,2 Iranian society and culture still had to wait for Reza Shah’s (1878–1944) autocratic monarchy (1925–41) to begin to modernize through changes such as urbanization and the rise of an industrial working class. Shah discarded the Constitutional Revolution and its democratic aspirations, however, and founded a monarchy that thwarted intellectuals’ hopes for a republic. Soon, the British and Tsarist Russian occupation of the country from August 25 to September 17, 1941, together with the oppressive system of feudalism, provoked Iranian intellectuals to raise national awareness amongst the masses to object more forcefully, if not iconoclastically at first, to the political and social constraints, and the progressive Reza Shah was dethroned without public resistance. The politically tense and unstable atmosphere which Iranian society experienced in the late nineteenth century and throughout the first decades of the twentieth century, as represented in the political division between royalists and republicans, had its counterpart in the clashes between literary classicists and modernists, who challenged each other’s authenticity and authority. Although modernism in Iran accompanied a passing period of infatuation with Western culture, it rendered an unprecedented resistance to that culture later on, which made its claim to novelty even more challenging for modernists to promote. This was so much the case that by the mid-twentieth century, in terms of poetry, for instance, classicists denounced She’r-e Nimaei or She’r-e No (Nimaic or New Poetry) and more harshly She’r-e Moj-e No (New Wave Poetry) as heretical (this was partly due to a historical distrust of the West and anything imported from it). This literary conflict continued until modernists finally took over by the 1970s and survived even after 1979, when they fell from prestige. The Qajar royal dynasty ruled Persia from 1796 to 1925.

1

The Constitutional Revolution lasted from 1905 to 1911 and led to the establishment of an elected parliament in Iran.

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Persian poetry, the dominant literary form in Iran for centuries, was the primary literary form in Iranian literature that was forced to respond to the introduction of modernism, a phenomenon which turned out to be quite new and disturbingly anomalous in its first encounter with a concrete body of tradition. The traditionalist masses did not smoothly come to terms with modernist trends, given the fact that the common understanding of poetry (if not its aesthetic and technical sensibilities) emerged from the ubiquity of poetry in daily life (rich in proverbs, sayings, and Quranic verses which incorporated elements of poetry) and was founded on the priceless poetic heritage of classics such as Ferdowsi (c. 935–c. 1020), Saadi (c. 1213–c. 1291), Rumi (1207–73), and Hafez (c. 1310–c. 1390). Consequently, the conflicts deteriorated between traditionalists who favored classical conventions and modernists who had sensed the dire need to shake centuries of dust off the classical canon. Activists and poets such as Abolghasem Lahouti (1887–1957), Shams Kasmaei (1883– 1961), and Mirzadeh Eshghi (1894–1924) saw breaking away from abstract sophistry, scholasticism, verbosity, and rhetorical acrobatics, which had plagued Persian poetic tradition and language after its medieval breakthrough, as the only way to salvage the essence of poetry. Later, Iranian modernists from Nima Yushij (1897–1960) and Mehdi Akhavan-Sales (1929–90) to Khosro Golsorkhi (1944–74), Ahmadreza Ahmadi (1940–), and Bijan Elahi (1945–2010) transformed the worn-out mystic, laudatory, and melancholy quality of classical literature into succinct, harsh images of modernity and daily urban life, materialistic doom, human conflicts, socio-political struggles, and popular culture. Thus, what generally distinguished modernist poetry from some classical examples—more than its auditory and visual break from the rigid formal conventions and the regularity of rhyme, meter, and line length—was the firm bond it forged with modern Iran’s sociopolitical reality. Rather than hovering in the classical ether, poetry came to dwell in and reflect the contemporary world. Having lingered before it could gain appreciation for decades, She’r-e No was forged through constant dialogue with both She’r-e Sonnati (Classical Persian Poetry) and European literature. No poet was more responsible for inaugurating Persian modernist poetry and poetics than Nima Yushij. For this section, we have chosen the “Preface” to his 1922 collection, Afsaneh (The Myth), as the paradigm of his revolutionary project. We have also included the poem-manifesto “She’r-i Ke Zendegist” (“A Poetry That Is Life”) by Ahmad Shamlu (1925–2000) and an interview with the poet Forough Farrokhzad (1935–67). BA

FURTHER READING Akhavan-Sales, Mehdi. Nima Yushij’s Innovations and Aesthetics and Nima Yushij’s Bequest. Tehran: Bozorgmehr, 1990. Aryanpour, Yahya. From Nima to Our Day. Tehran: Zavvar, 1995. Atashi, Manouchehr. Ahmad Shamlu: A Critical Analysis. Tehran: Amitis, 2004. Dastgheib, Abdolali. The Messenger of Hope and Liberty: Critical Review of Poems by Nima Yooshij. Tehran: Amitis, 2006. Hillmann, Michael C. A Lonely Woman: Forough Farrokhzad and Her Poetry. Washington: Mage Publishers, 1987. Karimi-Hakkak, Ahmad. Recasting Persian Poetry: Scenarios of Poetic Modernity in Iran. Salt Lake City, UT: Oneworld Publications, 1995. Karimi-Hakkak, Ahmad and K. Talattof, eds. Essays on Nima Yushij: Animating Modernism in Persian Poetry. Boston, MA: Brill Press, 2004. Parsinejad, Iraj. Nima Yushij and Literary Criticism. Tehran: Sokhan, 2009.

I. PREFACE TO THE MYTH Nima Yushij Originally published in Persian as the preface to Afsaneh (The Myth), 1922. Translated by Bahareh Azad. Nima Yushij (pen name of Ali Esfandiari, 1896–1960) is the father of Persian She’r-e No (New Poetry). His first collection of She’r-e-No, Afsaneh (The Myth), appeared in 1922. Its preface, reproduced here, is considered the manifesto of modernist Persian poetry. As a manifesto in the form of a ghazal (a tradition Persian poetic form), it displays both European and classical Persian influence. Afsaneh is a dramatic and dialogic love story between the poet and Myth,1 who compels the poet to admit his need for her. The poem exhibits modernist formal and thematic tendencies such as irregular line length, rhyming and lexical freedom, and imagery that verges on the surreal. For the first time in Persian literature, nature is dramatized in a romantic lyric as an individualistic and subjective entity, which Nima achieves through his performative method. Another Nimaic characteristic in the poem is the use of compounds and adjectives as nouns. But what makes the poetry especially modernist and distinct from classical poetry is the harmonization of thought and feeling. Sound and sense in Nima’s poetry are not chained by metrical conventions but flow in a free and dynamic form. This preface explicates and defends this poetic practice, and as such provides a framework for subsequent experiments in modernist Persian poetry. BA

O young poet! The structure that my work, Afsaneh, accommodates, representing an unrestrained and natural conversation, may not appeal to you at first, and you might not be as pleased with it as I am. You may also wonder why it is such a long ghazal, with such incongruous words as compared to classical ghazal. Yet this is exactly what I have meant to accomplish, namely freedom of expression and expansion of discourse, in addition to opting for a more appropriate manner of conversation which Molana Mohtasham Kashani2 and others, too, had approached earlier. Eventually, by doing so, I wished to gain more poetic benefit. I believe that my work’s structure is the most convenient for unfolding drama, and, as each type of poetry has a particular description, I would call mine dramatic. Certainly, no other name can characterize Afsaneh’s structure more appropriately, since it can be best adapted to stage its drama and bring the story’s characters into a free conversation with one another. If, due to their open scope in form and description of a theme or life story, structures such as masnavi (couplet) grant the poet’s mind and heart the liberty to move freely with every beat, the same structural intensity is doubly present in Afsaneh: its structure is sufficiently capacious to accommodate whatever you put in it (description, novel, requiem, farce, etc.). The Farsi equivalent for myth is also used as a female name. Persian poet (1500–88), well-known for his tarkib-band (ghazals bound together through a varied linking verse).

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This structure hosts the story’s characters as you please and provides them with sufficient space to maneuver through either a couple of words or hemistichs, as much as nature and will demand. The characters can speak where they please and end their conversation when they wish, without being constrained by insufficient poetic space to speak. Nor does the poet have to put words in their mouths in order to make them speak more. In fact, it is the characters themselves who speak on their own, not the traditional poetic conventions which have them do so, nor all those “he/she asked or replied” which elongated a poem. My belief in this structure comes from the fact that the particular meaning and nature of the subject are best respected in it, and there would be no greater asset for the poet and poetry than to define nature and meaning more simply and appropriately and to apply his/her gift and power as such. Staging my drama, I will show how and what I meant to say, and you will also know what the basic step has been to promote our [Iran’s new] poetry. However, for now, with some limited imagination, you may not quite understand my quest or distinguish my poem’s structure from that of the classical ones. Afsaneh is only an example, and my ideas will appear in the preface of my next dramatic piece.

II. A POETRY THAT IS LIFE Ahmad Shamlu Originally published in Persian “She’r-i Ke Zendegist” in Hava-ye Tazeh (Fresh Air). Tehran: Nil Publication, 1958: 153–61. Translated by Samad Alavi. A poet, political activist, journalist, translator, lexicographer, and filmmaker, Ahmad Shamlu (1925–2000, pen name A. Bamdad) is considered one of the greatest modernist voices in Persian literature. Keen in his defiance of the metaphysical assumptions of classical literature and the constraints of tradition in culture, he persisted in an intellectual modernist lifestyle, working in radio, television, and newspaper. Adhering to a humanist ethics verging on atheism—a concern with humanity generally figures in the foreground of his poems—Shamlu practiced an individualistic experimentalism while gravitating to the leftist party (Tudeh). Not geographically limited to Iran, his universal outlook granted him an understanding of modern global trends and wide-ranging worldviews. He wrote on a broad spectrum of issues such as politics, religion, literature, and love, approaching them in their worldly forms or contexts. For Shamlu, poetry should be “popular” and start from the masses in the streets. He is the inaugurator of She’r-e Sepid (Sepid Poetry), literally “white poetry,” which is close to Western free verse. Although his early poetry was composed in the tradition of Nima, he later became more radical in his formal experiments, detaching Persian poetry from rhyme and metrical patterns, even those elements which were typical of the Nimaic poetry. As such, he was dubbed the illegitimate offspring of Nima’s generation. Shamlu’s meta-poem, “A Poetry That Is Life,” from the collection Hava-ye Tazeh (Fresh Air, 1957), relishes the prospect of change in both politics and poetics, and is regarded as the poet’s manifesto of modernist poetry. He aspires to expand the horizons of imagination in poetry to encompass a wide range of worldly themes and asserts that poetry has its roots in the lives of the masses. To achieve this goal, Shamlu writes, poetry should avoid the loftiness of classical language and adopt common people’s ordinary speech. Shamlu envisions and writes a poetry which is considered modernist not only in form but also in its thematic concern with the here and now of the human life. BA

“A Poetry That Is Life” The matter of poetry for the bygone poet was not life. In the barren expanses of his fancy he was in dialogue only with wine and the beloved. Morning and night he was lost in whim, seized in the ludicrous snare of his

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beloved’s locks, while others, one hand on the wine cup the other on beloved’s tresses, raised a drunken howl from God’s earth. Since the poet’s concerns were nothing but this the effect of his poetry    was nothing but this: it couldn’t be used in place of an auger; in times of battle the handiwork of poetry couldn’t move aside any stone demon   from before the masses. Meaning its existence left no trace being or not being made no difference it never stood in place of a gallows. While I   personally    at one time with my poetry fought shoulder to shoulder with the Korean Shen Chu. Once several years ago, I also hung “The Poet Hamidi”   from the gallows of my poetry … The subject of poetry     today   is a different matter … Today   poetry is the weapon of the masses because poets themselves are one branch from the forest of the masses not jasmines and hyacinths   in the

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hothouse of so-and-so. The poet of today    is no stranger to the collective toils of the masses: He smiles   with the people’s lips. He grafts the people’s hopes and pains upon his bones. Today   the poet must wear nice clothes, lace up his clean and well-waxed shoes, then from the busiest points in the city, with a precision particular to him, he must extract his subject, meter, and rhyme one by one from the passersby. “—Come with me, dear fellow citizen! For three whole days    I’ve looked for you      and knocked on every door!” “For me? How strange! Surely, sir, you must mistake1 me for someone else.” “—Not at all, dear sir, impossible: I can spot the meter of my new poem from afar.” “—What’s that you say?    Meter of a poem?” “—Consider it, comrade … I have always sought    meter, idiom and rhyme in alleys. My poetic units are all individual

More precisely: “you must have mistaken me for someone else.”

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people. I seek everything from “life” (which forms most of the “content”) to “diction,” “meter,” and “rhyme scheme” among the people.   This way gives poetry life and soul. Now the time has come for the poet to persuade the passerby (with a logic particular to poems) so that he may resume his work with relish, if not, all his efforts go to waste … Well, now that meter has fallen in place, time to seek a diction: Any lexeme, as its Arabic name displays, is feminine in form,    a lovely and jovial maiden … The poet must seek a fitting Diction for the meter he has found. This business is difficult and draining but    not     optional: If Sir Meter and his wife Lady Diction are not matching and harmonious then their lives will not be pleasing. Like my wife and me: I was meter, she the words [hatchets on the meter] the subject of poetry, too, was the eternal vow on love’s lips … Our children’s smiles (these joyous beats) lay happily in this poetry, but to what avail when the cold, black words

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gave an ominous, elegiac sense? They broke both the meter and the joyous beats. The poetry grew both fruitless and senseless until pointlessness wore out the master! In short, this discourse has dragged on and this painful wound opened to shed its pallid blood … The pattern for poetry today we said   is life! It is from life that the poet, with poetry’s water and dye, renders an image   upon the designs of another. He writes poetry   meaning he lays a hand on the wounds of the old city. meaning he weaves a tale at night     of the sweet morning to come. He writes poetry meaning he cries out the pains of his city and its surrounds. meaning with his songs he restores the worn out souls. He writes poetry meaning he fills the cold and almost-empty hearts    with passion meaning with a face to the rising morning

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he awakens     the slumbering eyes. He writes poetry   meaning he delivers an exegesis on the encomium for the human of the epoch. Meaning he recites the victory speeches of his age. This dry debate on the significance of particular utterances also does not serve poetry …    if poetry is life then in each of its darkest verses we sense the sunny warmth of love and hope: Kayvan has sung his life’s anthem in blood Vartan his life’s bellow in the framework of silence, but even if life rhymes     in there with nothing else but death’s protracted beat in both poems each death     means

life!

III. HASAN HONARMANDI’S INTERVIEW WITH FOROUGH FARROKHZAD Forough Farrokhzad and Hasan Honarmandi Originally published in Persian in Arash 13 (1967). Reprinted in Javdaneh Zistan dar Ouj Mandan (Living for Eternity, Dying at the Peak). Tehran: Morvarid, 1998: 180–4. Translated by Bahareh Azad. A poet and film maker, Forough Farrokhzad (1935–67) transformed the tradition of classical poetics and the moods and the vocabulary common in Persian poetry. Neither steeped in Persian classical literature nor merely attracted to its European counterpart, her poetry reflected the mood and music of her time. Simple yet volatile, Forough’s imagistic style adds an articulately feminine quality to Nima’s pioneering modernism. Drawing upon such taboo subjects in a patriarchal society as female lust, desire, and sensuality, Forough offered a graphic description of the female body and the feminine perspective. Though her career only lasted fifteen years, her defiant body of work arguably stands as the greatest poetic achievement of the generation that succeeded Nima. Avant-garde both in terms of women’s rights and poetic style, her poetry was the finest example of écriture féminine in Persian history. Socially conscious, willfully sensual, and unprecedentedly outspoken in diction and subject matter, Forough’s confessional poetry undermined and challenged the idiom and thinking of the patriarchal canon. Her acquaintance with English, German, and Italian, along with her travels in Europe, had a huge impact on her poetics and film-making practice. Introduced to modern artistic and literary movements in the West, Forough’s poetry openly addressed the concerns of secularism, individualism, feminism, and nihilism. The following interview is a pivotal text on modernist Persian poetry because it shows how Forough approaches contemporary poetry from a totally “modern” point of view, detached from its classical heritage. She redefines Persian poetry by insisting that it be situated in contemporary life: there should be a symbiotic relationship between poetry and its contemporary context, so that its “liveliness” can be brought out. While some classical works of art were less concerned with reflecting social reality, modernist poetry, in Forough's conception of it, could not be composed in an abstract metaphysical vacuum. At the same time, modernist Persian poetry should resist mere imitation of Western models in order to be both formally and thematically in tune with modernized Iran in the first decades of the twentieth century. BA

HH. A definition of “style,” please? FF. Generally speaking, “style” in poetry or any other work of art may refer to the manner of utterance and communication of thought or poetic impression. This, obviously, has had a private and individual aspect to it since its emergence.

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Similarly, on a more general level, the fact that the works with certain similarities are grouped together and are then followed by their admirers, gives these works a collective aspect. HH. Yes. Thanks. Now, would you please elaborate on your poetic method, the manner in which you write, and the characteristics of your poetry? FF. Of course, speaking in this regard is a bit difficult for me since one cannot have a sound judgement about their own work that has to be judged by others. I can, however, discuss my ideas about poetry. In my poetry I focus on the “language,” since a lack of lexical variety has afflicted our poetic expression. Our poetry is intermingled with the tradition of highly frequent words, which, though not meaningless, have lost their effectiveness in our ears. Additionally, words associated with our poetic tradition are not compatible with the contemporary poetic sensibility as our lives have changed. The contemporary world is replete with new issues that require new words that have never existed in our poetry to convey novel senses, and this is no easy task. I try to introduce these words into poetry and I believe that it is the right thing to do since, if contemporary poetry is supposed to be animated and lively, it should draw on these words and make use of them. In terms of meter, I do not favor the popular meters which have been used so far in Persian poetry, since there is no correspondence between these metrical patterns and my own impressions as a modern individual. Their mild rhythm, even in war poems, is of a gentle quality which cannot match modern sensibilities. I think, if we wish to and can draw our impressions on a piece of paper, they would make a zigzag line which cannot be contained in those too gentle rhythms which rather resemble, excuse my description of them, “nursery rhymes.” HH. You mean a louder cry? FF. Yes, I think we need to strive for novel meters, because these impressions are stronger than traditional meters, and the current issues in our lives are totally disharmonious with these meters. I am trying to work in this regard. I cannot say it has been a success, but I am trying to succeed as I need my poetry to improve. HH. What do you think of poetry and its relation to life? Even though this has been already hinted at in your talk. FF. Poetry is basically part of life and can never be detached from it or from the domain of life's effects on the individual. We can see the spiritual and even the material life from a poetic perspective. In fact, if poetry remains indifferent to the condition it grows in, it cannot be called poetry. Unfortunately, while pretending otherwise, Today’s Poetry in Iran or the so-called New Poetry has remained detached from real life and from its own real spatiotemporal coordinates, which of course has its reasons. One of the reasons is classical literature, a major obstacle before or behind us, a burden we have always been carrying. Another is the fear and anxiety of finding novel routes and applying new materials, one of which being meter. If these issues are resolved, poetry will thrive. HH. What view do you take on the transformation of Persian poetry? FF. It is a really hard thing to do. If you pay enough attention, you may observe that definitions and measures are falling apart and are becoming meaningless, if not worthless. Life cannot remain unaffected by, say, the Earth’s rotation, that is, scientific improvements are constantly changing the concepts in our lives, and, therefore, we cannot decide how Persian poetry will be transformed.

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The modality of this transformation is undecidable and spontaneous. This change is brought about by taking into account the conditions of life and the environment. This transformation is deterministic and cannot be planned or predicted. It is spontaneous. HH. With such trust in contemporary poetry, do you see this transformation as probable? Can it have a promising prospect? FF. I hope to see this come true soon, even if not now. The way the world is proceeding, I wonder if people will take any interest in poetry later on, and even if poetry will have a place in their lives at all. HH. What is your take on form and theme? FF. To my mind, it is the theme which generates form, i.e. imposes form. Theme is not created by the form, but the other way around. Form does not matter much to me. I believe poetry is the expression of some idea or sensation, not a frivolous one, but some deeply experienced impression to be expressed by a poet or any other artist, depending on her/his art. And if there is no impression, sensation, or idea to convey, one had better keep silent and never pursue poetry or the like. Unfortunately, the poet’s aimlessness is one of the serious defects in our contemporary poetry as you see. This resembles an artist’s scrawling to paint scenery, just to have painted something, whereas another artist paints the same image and expresses an idea in its every line, that is to say, he or she gives a purpose to those lines and that scenery. I prefer the second case and believe in it as a must. Purposelessness cannot go with art. More often than not, our poetry today is aimless; appealing forms and images are put to use to no avail, and they serve no particular purpose. They [contemporary poets] just make and hand out a sketch. But good poetry like Nima’s—I do not see myself worthy enough to talk about him in the first place—has a personal space in it, a mental and emotional space for which he sacrificed his life. There are also good poets even today and I respect them, those who are real poets and follow a purpose in life and poetry.

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Georgia’s most celebrated twentieth-century painter, Niko Pirosmani (full name Niko Pirosmanashvili; 1862–1918)1 experienced a belated and largely posthumous rise to fame. Pirosmani’s canonization is a paradigmatic instance of a vernacular practice recuperated in the service of a global and élite discourse on art. The recovery of Pirosmani’s legacy is a story of two distinct models competing but also colluding in the artist’s canonization: the cosmopolitan discourse of modernist primitivism, and a nationalizing discourse of local particularity. Both discourses, in their distinctness and in their mutual complicity, find exemplary expression in the two articles found below. A partially literate autodidact, Pirosmani lived much of his life on the margins of urban society, eking out a living by commission, painting works which served to adorn as well as advertise the stores, cellars, and taverns owned and frequented by the popular classes of the Georgian capital Tiflis (Tbilisi). A functioning part of a lived environment of commerce and consumption, Pirosmani’s work circulated outside the realm of high art and aesthetic appreciation until it was “discovered” in the summer of 1912 by several (still teenage!) representatives of the Russian—or better still Russophone—avant-garde, who scoured the commercial spaces of Tiflis in search of his work, which they interpreted through the lens of the broadly modernist fascination with the “primitive.” It was largely in response to the Russian primitivist recuperation of Pirosmani that Georgian intellectuals were moved to transform him into a national icon. The discovery and canonization of Pirosmani thus allow us to contemplate the complex dialogue between competing vectors of modernist cultural production, be it in Georgia or worldwide. At the same time, the story of Pirosmani differs in one essential respect from the broader history of European primitivism: Gauguin’s Polynesian adventure and Picasso’s fascination for African sculpture presupposed a transcontinental voyage of recovery, arguably facilitated by European imperialism. By contrast, the Russophone and Georgian artists who “discovered” Pirosmani were mostly native to the city in which he lived, even as they took their cues from Paris and St. Petersburg. An important element of what we might call Eurasian modernism is the persistence of local and regional scales of cultural encounter and exchange, in striking contrast to the more familiar transcontinental and transregional Over the course of the twentieth century, two spellings of the long form of the artist’s name, as well as the short form Pirosmani, were used. This introduction refers to the artist by the popular abbreviated form of his name. Where the long form is used by the authors of the articles published below, I have consistently adopted the now established spelling Pirosmanashvili, although the book from which the articles are taken is entitled Niko Pirosmanishvili. The authors also frequently refer to the artist by variants of his first name: Niko, Nikala, and the Russian form Nikolai.

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scale of European modernism. (An analogy closer both in scale and in aesthetic sensibility to Pirosmani would be the work of the “naïve” French painter Henri Rousseau: Picasso’s banquet of 1908 given in Rousseau’s honor would have served as a model and precedent for the modernist artists who interacted with Pirosmani on the eve of the First World War). What follows are two articles, translated from the Russian, which first appeared in the trilingual (Georgian, Russian, and French) volume Niko Pirosmanishvili (1926), the first monograph on Pirosmani to have appeared anywhere in the world. An initiative of the Georgian modernist poet Titsian Tabidze and his allies, the volume was itself a significant cultural achievement, appearing at a time when Georgia had only recently been absorbed into the Soviet Union. These were years of acute material limitations—the local publishing industry was only slowly being revived—but relative intellectual freedom. Both articles are strikingly sophisticated, largely free of the ideological constraints which would later fetter Soviet cultural discourse, and moving readily between a global arthistorical erudition and a deep rootedness in local practices. “Niko Pirosmanashvili” is by Kirill Zdanevich (1892–1969), one of a group of three artists, broadly representative of the Russian avant-garde, who “discovered” Pirosmani— the man and his work—in prerevolutionary Tiflis. Zdanevich’s argument is grounded in the idiom of modernist primitivism, which found its Russian-Eurasian inflection in Aleksandr Shevchenko’s “neoprimitivist” manifesto of 1913 and the related “Target” exhibition held in Moscow during the same year—a landmark event in the history of the Russian avant-garde which saw the first gallery display of Pirosmani’s works. It also quotes extensively from the diary of his celebrated brother Ilia (1894–1975, also known as Iliazd): an invaluable biographical source written by a precocious eighteen-year-old, these diary entries also read as a sui generis auto-ethnography of high modernism’s encounter with vernacular culture. Kirill Zdanevich was destined to remain in the Soviet Union his entire life, unlike Iliazd, who emigrated to Paris in 1921, thereby bringing Russian futurism into direct contact with western European currents such as dada and surrealism. “Niko Pirosmani” is by Grigol Robakidze (1880–1962), the single most influential intellectual in Georgian modernism: his article seeks to marry primitivism to the project of Georgian cultural emancipation, a goal both fostered and imperilled by Soviet rule. Robakidze’s worldview, which came into being well before the Russian revolution, was a heady cocktail of Nietzschean vitalism and biological nationalism, whose protofascist tendencies became more explicit after his defection to Germany in 1931. Robakidze’s undoubted achievement was to have introduced some of the most significant elements of European fin de siècle culture into Georgia. Taken together, the articles by Zdanevich and Robakidze offer a powerful articulation of aesthetic modernism on the periphery of Western Europe, emerging at the point of convergence of apparently irreconcilable polarities: the elite and the vernacular, the cosmopolitan and the national. HR

FURTHER READING Clifford, James. “Histories of the Tribal and the Modern.” In The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. 1st ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988. 189–215. Kuznetsov, Erast, ed. Niko Pirosmani 1862–1918. Leningrad: Aurora Art Publishers, 1983. Trans. Arthur Shkharovsky-Raffe.

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Ram, Harsha. “Introducing Georgian Modernism” and “Decadent Nationalism, ‘Peripheral’ Modernism: The Literary Manifesto between Symbolism and the Avant-garde.” Special Cluster on Georgian modernism including two manifestos by Paolo Iashvili and Titsian T’abidze, translated by Shota Papava and Harsha Ram, annotated by Harsha Ram. Modernism/Modernity 21/1 (January 2014): 283–359. Rubin, William, ed. Primitivism in 20th-Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern. 2 vols. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1984. Shevchenko, Aleksandr. “Neoprimitivism: Its Theory, Its Potentials, Its Achievements,” (1913). In Russian Art of the Avant-garde. Theory and Criticism 1902–1934, edited and translated by John E. Bowlt. New York: The Viking Press, 1976. 41–54. Tabidze, Titsian, Grigol Robakidze, Geronti Kikodze, Kirill Zdanevich, and Kolau Cherniavskii. Niko Pirosmanishvili (in Russian). Tiflis: Gosudarstvennoe Izdaltel’stvo Gruzii, 1926. Tsitsishvili, Maia and Nino Tchogoshvili, eds. Georgian Modernism 1910–1930 (in English and Georgian). Tbilisi: Goethe Institut Tbilissi, 2003. Iliazd (Zdanevich, Ilia) and Pablo Picasso. Pirosmanachvili 1914 (in French). Paris: Le Degré 41, 1972. Zdanevich, K. M. Niko Pirosmanashvili (in Russian). Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1964.

I. NIKO PIROSMANASHVILI Kirill Zdanevich Originally published in Russian in Tabidze, Titsian, Grigol Robakidze, Geronti Kikodze, Kirill Zdanevich, and Kolau Cherniavskii, Niko Pirosmanishvili (Tiflis: Gosudarstvennoe Izdaltel’stvo Gruzii, 1926). Translated by Harsha Ram. See section introduction for a discussion of this text and its context.

The visual arts in Georgia came into being under the influence of the national cultures of its neighbors, the peoples of Assyria and Babylonia, Byzantium and Persia. Traces of the ancient culture of the Assyrians and Babylonians are still visible in bas reliefs, the ornamental façades of ancient churches, the folk-sculptural forms found on tombstones, and the architecture of watchtowers. The Byzantine influence can be discerned in church frescoes. Persia left its mark on Georgian miniature and book ornamentation. Yet the creative spirit of the Georgian people was able to transmute these ancient cultures, which, even as they enriched the nation, did not obscure its distinct contours. Тhe easel painter Niko Pirosmani (Nikolai Aslanovich Pirosmanashvili), an artist of inexplicable and miraculous power, reproduced in his work the full gamut of diverse cultures which contributed to Georgia’s artistic image even as he gave lucid and original expression to the creative particularities of the Georgian people. Pirosmanashvili’s success can be attributed to the fact that he gave voice to an inherited culture that was at once primitive and highly developed, while at the same time generating an idiom which convincingly reflected his own era. Pirosmanashvili’s work is a classic of its own era: this is its local as well as its eternal significance. There exists no other or better way to convey prerevolutionary Georgia, to grasp its life in all its fullness and force. Pirosmanashvili’s stylistic choices seem the only possible solutions—as well as the best—to the artistic challenge posed by his epoch. The cultures of the past found due reflection in Niko’s paintings. The Assyrian bas relief is resurrected in his Black Lion and Giraffe; the Last Supper of Byzantium comes to life again in his Feast of Kintos Accompanied by the Organ Grinder Datiko Zemel,1 while the Persian passion for the graphic spot is evident in any number of Pirosmani’s works. Even as he delved deeply into the artistic roots of the people, Pirosmanashvili also rose to the level of the art of our own time, including innovations recently achieved in the West. The Fisherman, with its spiral composition, straight lines and coloristic resolution, on an oilcloth barely painted over with still visible patches of primer, recalls the achievements of André Derain and Henri Matisse. Even as he employed a unified mode of artistic expression, Pirosmanashvili did on some occasions resolve the complex compositional challenges he faced in different

Grigol Robakidze defines the kinto as a member of “an utterly singular breed of déclassé street peddlers whose sole goal in life was a kind of singular artistic merriment” (see essay 7.ii).

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ways. On that basis we can divide the painter’s artistic evolution into three periods. The painter’s earliest works (1888–1906) are dominated by light green, yellow and grey, and on occasion by black and dark blue. Portrait Dinner and Hunting Scene with a View of the Black Sea are distinguished by a fascination with the complexities of landscape, into which numerous human figures are inscribed, separated somewhat demonstratively from the background, their independent status deriving from the minute and variegated detail with which they are depicted. The painter’s second period (up to 1910) is marked by an increasing simplicity of composition: the painter depicts distinct human types against a reduced background, mostly on oilcloth. These are large monumental figures, drawn in broad generalizing strokes. Among them we might note Familial Company, The Actress Margarita, Childless Millionaire and a Poor Woman with Children, and others. These paintings, marked by their predilection for bright colors (intense yellow, black, deep blue, green and white), constituting a kind of still life dominated by a narrow palette, are among the greatest masterpieces Pirosmanashvili would ever produce. The paintings Pirosmanashvili produced in his final period display a further simplification of compositional structure and color range, depicting a range of near-white figures against a black background, with a few rare exceptions. Among the most significant works painted on cardboard during this time are such splendid works as Bears as well as Cows. In other works, such as Donkey Carrying a Load of Firewood, the artist elevates his use of black oilcloth (or more rarely tin or canvas) to a virtuoso level. We see the uneven use of a grey undercoat and subsequent formal elaboration through the use of a slightly tinted whitewash, around which the oilcloth has been left bare. Typical of this period is a sense of laconic or compressed expression, a new precision in the delineation of forms, a lightness of brush stroke and a more direct correspondence between individual details and the canvas as a whole. All of this makes for an exceptional level of refinement, all the more astonishing in the case of an autodidact like Pirosmanashvili. The painterly techniques used in this period are varied. The paint applied is of varying density and consistency: faces are rendered smoothly and thickly; fabric—calico or velvet—in broad strokes while cliffs are rendered in short, jagged ones. The sky, the air, the body, wool, trees, bones: each object has its own means of expression. Pirosmanashvili deploys all manner of devices: perspective is dictated by the needs of composition: a colored silhouette looms suddenly in the middle of a field, while human and animal figures serve to animate tree stumps, stones, and large standing pitchers. Pirosmanashvili painted on tin as well, the material from which shop signs were made. The refractory rigidity of tin lends a dry but sonorous quality to the small number of landscapes and still lifes found painted on this medium: their innate expressiveness becomes the very basis and condition of signage as an art form. In his final years (1914– 18) Pirosmanashvili worked chiefly on cardboard, a material which lends a certain woodenness to the texture of his works. His paintings were commissioned for specific sites and served as decorative panels. This explains why some of his works have a symmetrical or rhyming correspondence to one another (for example his diptych Musha or Porter). The very same reasons also drew Pirosmanashvili to themes whose innumerable variants go back to the festive culture of the Italian Renaissance, specifically Veronese’s scenes of ceremonial festivity depicted against the variegated backdrop of everyday life. We witness banquet scenes, familial or official, involving peasants or princes, seated on the grass or at a table filled with a traditional repast of boiled chicken, fish, salad greens and wine; outdoor scenes of revelry set in fields or gardens (Princes Seated in a Meadow, Feast

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During a Grape Harvest) involving kintos or members of the sect of Molokans, which often contain background vignettes of brigands pillaging, pilgrims riding on bullock-carts, peasants harvesting grapes, or people celebrating church holidays. A sense of merriment, of a happy and fruitful life, pervades these works. Historical themes (Saakadze Saves Georgia from its Foes, Shamil and his Bodyguard and others), diverse theatrical spectacles, scenes of travel, ritual, and peasant labor embrace and supplement the works of festive revelry, thereby delineating the full gamut of Georgian life before the revolution, from half-forgotten customs to contemporary types. In every painting Pirosmanashvili shows himself to be an artist of the people, entirely devoid of any sense of seclusion or interiority. In his constant concern for the needs of the viewing public, in his desire to make his work pleasant and accessible to the people, Pirosmanashvili everywhere remains an artist bound to tradition, one whose painterly devices can be readily understood. His intuitive links to the commercial shop-sign, to the Georgian fresco, to the Georgian artisanal crafts of toy making, embroidery and ornamentation are clearly evident. Largely devoid of mystical intimations, his work more commonly displays a concern, Cézannesque and essentially realist, to bring to light whatever appears readily comprehensible to the artist as artist. Sunshine, glare or shade are almost entirely absent in Pirosmanashvili, who prefers an even spread of light which seems to emanate from somewhere within his paintings. Shadow serves to express form rather than as a way of conveying light. Pirosmanashvili painted quickly. Each one of his paintings was completed in two or three sittings, within a few hours. Take the painting Little Kinto, completed by Pirosmanashvili in half an hour in the presence of a large group of people clamorously expressing their appreciation both of the painting’s resemblance to its subject and of the speed with which Pirosmani executed the work. I have already mentioned the fact that Pirosmanashvili’s themes varied greatly. In his work we find representations of folk customs, battle scenes, typological portraits, genre paintings, still lifes, landscape and innumerable animal figures. The dimensions of Pirosmanashvili’s paintings range from five meters in length to fifteen centimeters. Their composition is largely determined by the dimensions of the canvas. They are painted on oilcloth, more rarely on canvas or on tin, and finally on cardboard. Pirosmanashvili authored a colossal number of paintings: more than a thousand. Regrettably not many survived. For this we can blame careless owners, the poor conditions—such as cellars—in which they were kept, and more generally the conditions of a transitional era. Pirosmanashvili lived an ordinary life, yet his creative accomplishments are remarkable. Working in taverns and storefronts to earn a meager meal and glass of vodka, suffering from extreme privation and need, the artist became a martyr to his craft. The artist Mikhail Le Dentu (1891–1917) and the Zdanevich brothers Il’ia and Kirill first discovered Niko’s paintings in the spring of 1912. This joyful discovery prompted them to seek out other paintings by Niko, as well as the artist himself. The search for paintings and painter proved successful: we tracked down the artist. We came to a building on Molokan Street where Niko was pointed out to us. He was standing on the pavement with a brush in his hand, busy painting the word “Dairy” on the wall. He turned to us, gave a dignified bow and continued working, sustaining the conversation we had initiated with infrequent replies. The visual details of this meeting remain etched in my mind to this day: the artist standing by a white wall, dressed in a torn black jacket and a soft felt hat, tall in stature, carrying himself with an air of calm independence,

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his responses nonetheless betraying a sense of hidden bitterness. (Acquaintances would jokingly address him as “count”). Pirosmanashvili’s father, a peasant fruit-grower, lived in the eastern Georgian province of Kakheti, where Niko himself was born in 1863 in the village of Mirzaani. Upon his father’s death, between the ages of six and eight, Niko was sent to Tiflis, where he lived at the home of a certain soldier named Kalantar. It was here that Niko first attempted to paint in watercolors. On reaching maturity Niko was asked by his guardian what he would like to be. He replied: “An artist.” The answer didn’t go down well, and the young man was sent to work as a railway conductor, a profession he pursued for eight years until he fell ill. Niko then ran a dairy business for a time, decorating his store with pictures of cows. His store was first located on Olginskaia Street, then in Soldiers’ Bazaar. He gradually attained a level of prosperity. People who knew Niko from that time recall him as successful, kindly, a lively dinner companion with plenty of money to spare, irascible but quick to forgive. He would paint and readily give his paintings away to friends and acquaintances. One episode from this period reflects the painter’s growing popularity. In 1902–3 the Persian consul in Tiflis wrote a letter to a local newspaper about Niko’s paintings. The painter responded in kind, generating a polemic that awoke the interest of the townsfolk (I regret to say I have been unable to ascertain any details regarding this). Тhis cycle ended in a catastrophe precipitated by Niko’s tragic love for the “French” vaudeville performer, the actress Margarita. In the space of one year Niko, now bankrupt, was cast onto the street. Thus began his vagabond existence as a professional artist who now lacked even a room to call his own. The half-starved artist lived year after year among the taverns and stores of the city. Pirosmanashvili’s work arose in precisely these conditions, his talent in no way diminished by the daily struggle he experienced. In time Niko changed, losing the easy laughter of his youth. He withdrew into himself, projecting an air of severity and calm. He would wander the city in search of work, moving from one cellar to another with a suitcase containing his work tools and meager wardrobe. The cover of his suitcase contained a drawing of a man in a top hat. The circle of Niko’s friends and admirers gradually expanded and, with it, interest in the artist’s life and work grew. Below I provide lengthy extracts from notes taken by eye-witnesses. Having commissioned a portrait of himself from Pirosmanashvili, Ilia Zdanevich2 kept an account of his daily visits: Sunday January 27, 1913. I went this morning to Meskhiev (on 70 Cherezovskaia St.), from whom I purchased the portrait of the boy. From there I went to see Nikolai [Pirosmani]. Nikolai remained seated during my visit while he painted my portrait. He asked about the painting I had purchased. A preliminary outline of my portrait now exists, while the deer (which I also commissioned) is largely complete: it is magnificently executed, apart from the background which is not fully done. First Nikolai took me aside and said, “As for the exhibition, if someone gave me a room to work in and canvas

Ilia Zdanevich (1895–1975), along with his brother Kirill (1892–1969) and their mutual friend, art student Mikhail Le Dentu (1891–1917), “discovered” Pirosmani in the summer of 1912. Ilia subsequently returned during his winter holidays to Tiflis, during which time he sat for a portrait he had commissioned from Pirosmani. The diary entries which follow, written by an eighteen-year old gifted enough to lecture in Moscow on Marinetti’s futurist manifestos that very year, describe Ilia’s daily encounters with Pirosmani during January and February 1913.

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to paint on, I would be able to paint ten to fifteen paintings in a month, better than those I have done until now, even better than Sheremetev Gardens.” He then added: “People keep spoiling my paintings. Take a look at this painting, for example. There’s a hare in it. Why? Who needs a hare? But they asked for it: ‘Please,’ they said, ‘do it for our sake.’ I draw these things so as not to get into a quarrel. People spoil all my paintings this way.” In response to my question as to whether he painted icons, he said: “An icon, a painting or a house: each one is different. I have never painted an icon. Just once I painted Saint George. Painters are like calligraphers. They can’t draw.” He then began to lament his terrible poverty, his shabby clothes, as well as the ignorance of his customers, while asking for my help. He begged me not to tell any of the tavern keepers about the fact that he needed a room. “The room should be bright,” he said. “Here it’s dark.” When he paints, he places his left hand underneath his right to stop it from shaking. He said he had taught himself Russian: “I bought a Georgian book translated into Russian.” And then: “I can’t work here. They keep making me drink.” He told me he had done a self-portrait once—“in a nice suit, not like this one”—but he had sold it to somebody. Yesterday he said: “There are different kinds of paintings. You can paint for a whole month, or even a whole year, and still have material left over.” Then he added: “I must confess I am not wild about the paintings at Beradze’s. I can do better.” January 28. I was with Nikolai this morning. He had been drinking. My portrait now has a tree, and he has added some grass to the deer painting. He told me has was upset with me for coming late. He had just received a new commission for which he would be paid 60 kopecks: this was going to keep him busy. I asked, “What kind of commission?” He then showed me a house lantern on which he had to paint the words “Molokan Street, Number so and so.” That was the entire order. “So what?” he said. “If we can’t fulfill ordinary requests, how can we do more elevated subjects?” I had to agree with him. Then Nikolai said that he had worked as a delivery man for the railways and that he had never completed his military service. Before dinner I dropped by to see Nikolai again, but didn’t speak to him. He was asleep. I then went to Bego Iaskiev’s tavern on 40 Peskovskaia Street, where I bought a still life for one ruble fifty, after which I went back to Nikolai. The owner of the establishment, Sandro Kochelashvili by name, told me that he wouldn’t have paid even five kopecks for such a thing. Then we began to discuss Nikolai in general. Among other things Sandro said, “He wanted to draw a tree stump and place your hand on it as well as a pile of books. But I told him to draw a table. As for the deer, that’s what you need a tree for, so that the deer can be seen leaning against it.” I said that Nikolai can paint whatever he wants and that I couldn’t make him do anything. Then we started discussing the painting they wanted to present to me as a gift. Sandro began praising it fulsomely, saying: “This is going to be the best piece in your exhibition.3 It shows a prince capable of drinking three buckets of wine at the dinner table.” Thanks to the efforts of Le Dentu and the Zdanevich brothers, four of Pirosmani’s works found their way that same year to Moscow, where they were displayed as part of “The Target” (Mishen’), a major exhibition of March– April 1913 organized by Mikhail Larionov to reflect the culmination of the neoprimitivist phase of the Russian avant-garde. Displayed alongside works by Larionov, Natal’ia Goncharova, Kazimir Malevich, Marc Chagall, Aleksandr Shevchenko, Mikhail Le Dentu, and Kirill Zdanevich, as well as children’s art, old lubok prints, and shop-signs, these paintings—which included the portrait discussed above, as well as Woman with a Mug of Beer, Still Life and Deer—would be the first public showing of Pirosmani’s works during his life. Pirosmani thus entered the art world framed by the aesthetic and ideological presuppositions of the Russian avant-garde.

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We then woke Nikolai up. He came out and said: “My talent tired itself out waiting for you. I waited for you in the morning. You were late.” He asked me for two rubles. He looked over the still life and said: “I remember it. Why not: it was one of my best works. I painted it for myself. So what if it’s small. It’s bound to be worth a hundred rubles.” January 29. I was at Nikolai’s in the morning posing for my picture. The deer is done. Nikolai has done fifteen paintings for Bego Iaskiev for no remuneration other than meals. He has works hanging in the White Tavern on the highway to Manglisi, as well as in the city’s outer neighbourhoods. Sandro Kochelashvili keeps interfering and asking Nikolai to paint trees, leaves and such. It’s hard to make him see reason. In general it would appear that Nikolai is unable to complete a single piece on his own without being goaded on by someone else. “If I had a hundred rubles,” he tells me, “I would get some decent clothes, rent a room, and then start painting.” I told him I was going to write an article about him in the papers. As I took my leave he said: “Drop by later. I am going to paint some flowers.” Then he added: “My best commission was for Qipiani, a stationmaster on the Baku railway line. He paid me 30 rubles. Sometimes the mechanics who work in small shops also pay me. Generally, though, I work for food.” January 30. I was with Zyga Waliszewski4 this morning. They brought in Three Princes on a Meadow. We almost got into a fight with Sandro’s acquaintances, who didn’t want to sell the painting. Nikolai said the following about the frame: “If the wall is brightly coloured, then a black frame is best. If the wall is painted dark, then a bright frame is better. Otherwise the painting doesn’t stand out. It took me nine days to paint Three Princes. That’s Prince Gulbatov and his cousins, the Chavchavadze princes. He was upset he hadn’t shaved: that’s why his face doesn’t bear a strong likeness to him.” Then some other fellow came along and asked: “How much do you charge for a portrait?” Nikolai replied: “30 rubles.” He sat down and posed: the likeness was striking. He will finish the painting tomorrow. I said: “In Moscow any cafeteria owner will buy your work. Just be careful not to ask for too little. If you need something, write to me. I will send you whatever you need.” Then Ziga and I began visiting various taverns in search of Nikolai’s paintings. At the Varangian we were offered Queen Tamara for 3 rubles. In the evening I went back to see Nikolai for the second time, this time with my brother [Kirill]. When we arrived, Nikolai was sitting at the back of the tavern on a bench, warming his hands by some smoldering coal embers. When he heard that Kirill was an artist, he began to ask: were his paintings any good? The owner Sandro then inserted himself into the conversation, commenting on the quality of my portrait as well the deer and insisting that a moon was required. Nikolai declared that it didn’t need any moon and began to get angry. He asked for his brushes. Then he asked us to show him at least one work by my brother. We invited him to come visit us.

Zygmunt (Zyga) Walizsewski (1897–1936), an artist of Polish origin active in Tiflis’ cosmopolitan modernist milieu during the 1910s and 1920s. Alongside Le Dentu and the Zdanevich brothers, Walizsewski participated in the “discovery” of Pirosmani in 1912–13; after the revolution he was involved in the upsurge of futurist avant-garde creativity unfolding in the cafés and cabarets of the Georgian capital. He moved to Poland in 1920, pursuing a career in the visual arts between Poland and France until his death.

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January 31. I visited Nikolai this morning and posed for him. The portrait is almost ready. He has also added a sky to the painting of the deer. I then went to the editorial office of Zakavkazskaia rech’,5 where I asked if my letter regarding the artist Pirosmani had been accepted for publication. They told me it would be published tomorrow. From there I went to see Nikolai again. He started telling me about his life, his professional career in the railways and then as a merchant, up to his financial ruin. In 1904 he had rented a room in Prickly Ravine, but for the past nine years he had not even had that, and was living exclusively off his painting. “I used to be rich,” he said, “but now I don’t even own any decent clothes.” His father had left him land in Kakheti, but he didn’t want to live there since he wasn’t, as he said, an “agriculturalist.” As I was leaving some other people showed up and began to criticize my portrait. Nikolai said: “Don’t listen to them. They’re fools. They don’t understanding anything.” February 1. I was with Nikolai this morning. The portrait is done. For the Gulbatov portrait I will have to pay Sandro two rubles which he claims to have given to his friends to calm them down. Nikolai discretely reminded me of his request (the Moscow commission). In the evening I was with the artist T. and the Journalist A. We looked over Niko’s paintings. The artist said: “He reminds me of the Persians, but he is cruder and lacks any sense of color. In general I don’t see anything remarkable about him.” Overall their response was indefinite and indifferent. I might add that in this they are a rare exception: those intellectuals who have actually seen his work have been uniformly disdainful. February 2. I went to fetch my portrait and the deer. Nikolai began to protest: “Don’t give me anything for the deer, that’s fine. If there are any commissions in Moscow, write to me.” When I informed him that his paintings were going to be displayed in an exhibition, his hopes were rekindled and he brightened up. I take leave of everyone and go to the railway station. The train departs, but there, in the depths of the vast city, by a pile of smoldering coal embers sits a man with an anguished expression on his face, a solitary wanderer and a major artist, who has made a deep impression on me. After making Nikolai’s acquaintance I now know what life is. (Here the extracts from Ilia Zdanevich’s journal end) During the war years those who had known Niko left Tiflis and lost touch with him. Others took up his cause.6 They sought him out in 1916 and invited him to a gathering

Zakavkazskaia rech’ (The Transcaucasian Voice), a Russian-language daily financed by progressive members of the Georgian elite, published in Tiflis between 1910 and 1917.

5

А reference to the Georgian artists Davit Shevardnadze, Davit Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, and Mikhail Chiaureli who together founded the Society of Georgian Artists on March 31, 1916. Pirosmani’s brief association with the Society might be considered emblematic of the third stage in his circulation history. If the first stage involved Pirosmani’s prolonged immersion in the popular urban milieu in which he lived and worked, and the second saw his “discovery” by the neoprimitivist avant-garde, the third stage—following shortly after the second—involved Pirosmani’s embrace by the most enlightened members of the new generation of the Georgian national intelligentsia. A one-day exhibition of over fifty works by Pirosmani at the Zdanevich family home in Tiflis on May 5, 1916—the second and last exhibition of Pirosmani’s works to take place in his lifetime—unleashed a vigorous discussion of the artist and his work at two meetings of the Society of Georgian Artists that same month.

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of the Georgian Artists’ Association, where he declared: “This is what we need, brothers. In the middle of the city, for easy access to all, we need to build a large wooden house where we can gather. We will buy a large table, a large samovar, drink tea, drink a lot, talk of painting and art. You don’t want this. You keep talking about other things.” He ended on a quiet and wistful note. That was the last time Niko attended a session of the Association.7 Then the painter Lado Gudiashvili8 tracked him down to a Didube courtyard,9 living in a shoebox of a room below the staircase of a small building. “Have you come as friend or as foe?” Niko asked him, examining him with a “haunted” look in his eyes. After striking up a conversation, Niko asked him: “Will we build a house? Did you know that all the cellars in Tiflis were painted by me?” Niko appeared sad and tired. His health had been shattered. Soziashvili (the owner of the wine cellar Niko frequented) describes the painter’s final years as follows: “He would come to me every day and seat himself at a table. He was never seen in company, and he never accepted food or drink from anyone. He knew Georgian literature, had a great fondness for Vazha Pshavela,10 wrote verse himself and was a poet. His notebook of verse has been lost. He loved Georgians, but disliked those in power, policemen and the like. He would complain, albeit seldom, that he had been forgotten.” So the years passed. Archil Maisuradze11 relates the following: “In the spring of 1918, as evening approached, Pirosmanashvili entered the cellar of No. 29 Molokan Street and lay down to sleep on the floor. He was already ill. Three days later, I happened to go down there and found Niko lying in the cold dark room. Initially I didn’t recognize him and called out: “Who’s there?” “It’s me,” Nikolai answered, and I knew him at once from his voice. He didn’t recognize me, however, saying: “I’m unwell. I’ve been lying here for three days and can’t leave.” I immediately brought along a horse-drawn cab. Ilia Mgalobashvili (now deceased) took him—if I’m not mistaken—to the Aramiants hospital where he passed away after a day and a half. He left no property behind. I believe he is buried in Peter and Paul Cemetery.” More years passed. Soviet Georgia, having realized the value of a singular artist of the people and overcome considerable difficulties is now publishing this monograph, a worthy monument to Niko Pirosmanashvili. The study of his work is a fruitful exercise for contemporary Georgian art. His legacy can enrich and give new strength to young artists. The memory of this man, gifted from birth, has survived, along with so many of his works. So Niko Pirosmanashvili’s labour lives on, for the sake of the future. The meeting, which took place on May 25, 1916, led to a wider awareness of Pirosmani’s work among the Georgian population. Nevertheless, Pirosmani’s status in Georgian circles remained sharply contested. This is evident from a widely circulated cartoon published on June 10 in Sakhalkho purtseli (The People’s Leaflet) which showed a critic bearing a striking resemblance to Grigol Robakidze addressing Pirosmani thus: “You need to study, brother! A man your age can still create something … Orphic. In around twenty years you could become a decent artist. Then we will send you to an exhibition of young artists.” The cartoon, which appears to have precipitated Pirosmani’s withdrawal from public life, throws a curious light on Robakidze’s subsequent article, published below. The article reads as a disavowal of the sentiments ascribed to him in the cartoon.

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Lado Gudiashvili (1896–1980): twentieth-century Georgian painter, a native of Tbilisi, who sought to reconcile the vernacular and regional cultural idioms of the Caucasus with modernist currents emanating from Paris. His final meeting with Pirosmani took place in the summer of 1917.

8

A neighbourhood on the outskirts of Tbilisi.

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Vazha Pshavela (1861–1915), arguably the most original Georgian poet of the late tsarist era, wove visual and ethnographic elements drawn from his native alpine region of Pshavi into a distinctly modern—at once tragic and neoromantic—sensibility.

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A shoemaker, Pirosmani’s neighbour during his final months.

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II. NIKO PIROSMANI Grigol Robakidze Originally published in Russian in Tabidze, Titsian, Grigol Robakidze, Geronti Kikodze, Kirill Zdanevich, and Kolau Cherniavskii, Niko Pirosmanishvili (Tiflis: Gosudarstvennoe Izdaltel’stvo Gruzii, 1926). Translated by Harsha Ram. See section introduction for a discussion of this text and its context.

Modern European culture is best expressed by Hamlet’s impulse to break free of his roots and in Faust’s anguished desire to reach for his origins. Europe has witnessed the ravaging, or in any case the enfeebling, of the earth’s very womb. “Son” is adrift from “father,” leaving the fruit barren. The only response to the moribund earth has been a supreme solitude: the European character is in essence melancholic. It is hardly surprising, then, that Europe has seen the rise of a fierce longing for a pristine or primordial experience of the land. Rousseau propagates a “return to nature,” while Tolstoi calls for “simplification,” the former with a whiff of sentimentalism, the latter with a tinge of rationalism. Both are speaking in essence of the same thing—the healing properties of the “primordial land” (pervozemli). It is worth recalling two significant facts from the recent past. By going off to China, Paul Claudel was able to fructify his poetic vision with the rhythms of the East. Paul Gauguin made his way to Tahiti, communing while among the savages with the untouched bosom of the earth. The creative impulse of both poet and painter was thereby diverted into new and different channels. Europe has already grasped the fact that the concept of “savage” does not signify some ethnic monstrosity. The savage is above all a child, and it is with the child that the truth always abides. Everything the child makes is marked by something archetypal, an unmediated sense of what is right. The “first word” speaks through the child, whose heart is wide open. It is for this reason that the creations of the savage are so expressive, like a massive boulder, or a spring which gushes unbendingly forth, or the branching antlers of a deer. Like the immortal Homer, eternally a child and eternally a wizard. A doe or а woolly mammoth carved by a savage on a fishbone: this was the first explosion of human creativity. We can well understand the fierce longing of Europe’s artists to seize upon this ground as its source. There is no reason to view this longing as a kind of regression. The “savage” here is more symbol than reality. There is still less reason to view it as the consequence of aesthetic surfeit: a hankering after rye bread after gorging on white. We are in fact dealing here with an entirely different phenomenon: the soul’s longing to open itself up, a filial desire to melt into the universe: ultimately, a longing to possess the last remaining virgin lands. Such are the lineaments of primitivism, whose consolidation was also facilitated by the discoveries of archeology, especially on the island of Crete. In the wake of Sir Arthur

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Evans’ excavations, Minoan culture has become an abundant wellspring of inspiration for the artists of Europe. What unutterable bliss: to glimpse a patterned bracelet that once adorned the elegant wrist of a pagan goddess! The fragmentary remains of Cretan art can of course hardly be compared to the perfection, say, of a Hermes by the sculptor Praxiteles. Nevertheless they reveal the handiwork of a child, carefree yet propelled by nothing less than some inhuman or superhuman force. A surge of creative energy went into the fashioning of a Cretan vase: ancient Egypt and the vanished culture of the Chaldeans are palpable in its contours. Crete itself now appears to be one of the surviving colonies of Atlantis, said to have perished in a deluge. This only heightens its allure. * Niko Pirosmani was a primitivist. It goes without saying that he was not a primitivist in the manner of Gauguin. Pirosmani was himself a primitive (primitiv). He did not pursue any formal schooling. He did not study the techniques of drawing and painting. He was a simple man who received illumination from within. Let us listen to the words of one tavern keeper: “Nikala was an exceedingly honourable man, poor, sickly and homeless. On many an occasion I had to give the poor fellow something to eat. He was a kindly man who walked about in rags. He was very fond of poetry, in particular the verse of Ilia Chavchavadze and Vazha Pshavela (so says another eye-witness).1 Where he came from I cannot say. He was about fifty years of age. Just yesterday I thought: if Nikala were alive now, he would do something to brighten up this crumbling wall, and I would get off cheap. The poor fellow drank enormous amounts of vodka. He would say: ‘Buy me some paints and I will do a painting.’ And then he really would knock off a painting and bring it over.” It is hardly necessary to add anything to this simple account, which reveals Pirosmani in full: a genuine visionary looking to capture a “waking dream” (zriachee snovidenie) with a glass of arrack in his hand. Pirosmani appears all the more remarkable for that very reason. Only if we view his work alongside an anonymous fresco from Egypt, an African idol, or a Cretan vase will we truly be able to develop a feeling for it. The principal motif of Pirosmani’s art is the Georgian “land” (zemlia). I can think of no other artist other than the poet Vazha Pshavela who felt this land so deeply to be his own “mother.” A church holiday, a feast day, the grape harvest, chickens, animals, children, the barnyard: this is what Pirosmani the artist is drawn to depict. It is here that we find the authentic Georgian temperament, one shimmering in sunlight. No melancholy whatsoever. The only thing to be found here is life itself: joyous, open and festive. Pirosmani is the epic gaze emanating from within Georgian being. This gaze gave us vast and remarkable canvases such as The Grape Harvest—a work fully saturated with the fragrance of the winepress. It is all there: the gathering and the pressing of grapes, and the accompanying mirth. And the painting seems to be completed by the presence of a child with a bear cub. This final touch only serves to heighten the painting’s primordial sense of the earth and its energy unleashed in the form of child’s play. Pirosmani’s Wedding in Kakheti belongs to the same cluster of works. More significant still is Pirosmani’s Holiday in Bolnis-Khachini. The compositional force of this painting makes it the most complex and powerful of Pirosmani’s creations. People arriving by bullock-cart, a tower, a small

Ilia Chavchavadze (1837–1907) was a major poet, publicist, and liberal reformist who strove to revive and reform Georgian traditions in the context of Russian colonial rule and European modernization. For Vazha Pshavela, see note 10 to Zdanevich’s essay (7.i).

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church, a gathering of merrymakers, all framed by a single circle. I should also like to mention The Lenten Fast. The painter notably has transferred the act of prayer to the very bosom of nature. To pray under the open sky is Pirosmani’s act of fidelity to nature. One detail is worth recalling here: two children, one of whom is raising his little arms skyward, the other kneeling face downward. In those praying we sense an ecstasy sharply expressed. The painting is an undeniable masterpiece. But Pirosmani was a city dweller as well, in the general sense of the word, as well as in the sense proper to the city of Tiflis.2 A drunkard, loner and visionary, Pirosmani loved to frequent popular eateries. In the revelry of the kinto (an utterly singular breed of déclassé street peddlers whose sole goal in life was a kind of singular artistic merriment) Pirosmani discerned the bohemia of Tiflis. Many different racial elements came to constitute this colourful type.3 In all likelihood this was the very source of his “torment”: the kinto’s apparent nonchalance conceals a heightened pain. The kintos as a caste are typified by the cult of leisure, which they manifest as a kind of artistry. Pirosmani’s kintos, with their strange profiles, have an unforgettable kind of expressiveness. Here one can discern Pirosmani’s powerful impact on the painter Lado Gudiashvili.4 I would single out one Pirosmani painting from this series, in which five or six kintos are making merry on an open field. Some musicians are playing the zurna,5 others the davul,6 a boy is carrying fruit, a girl is bringing flowers, an old man proffers wine in a flagon, the kintos brandish horned goblets in their hands, while the grass is laden with edibles: salad greens, cheese and fish. All of these elements are held together by a strong sense of composition. Pirosmani’s White Tavern is even more sweeping. (One of Gudiashvili’s paintings would appear to be a variation on this work). I must note here the presence of a specifically Tiflis kind of boy. In this sketch all the racial elements of the qarachokheli7 (a figure identical to the kinto) have been seared as it were onto the canvas. The city also knows ladies of the night. In depicting a pair of harlots frequenting the gardens of Ortachala, Pirosmani resorted to a characteristically luminous touch: the young sinners are represented lying on a chaste bed of flowers, with two doves perched innocently on their shoulders. Another urban type is found in The Janitor, his face displaying a barely visible anger mixed with a whiff of spleen. A simple yet immensely expressive work. The kinto’s feast consists above all of salad greens and fruit. It was perhaps this fact which gave rise to Pirosmani’s still life paintings. Rows of objects automatically arise: a flagon, a wine skin, a horned goblet, skewers of barbecued meat, cucumbers, a bottle, cheese, herbs, glasses, fish and fruit. Pirosmani’s mastery of technique is most evident in these still lifes. One of these paintings (currently in the possession of Kirill Zdanevich) can be compared for its visual power to any of the still lifes painted by Cézanne himself. For Robakidze, urban habitation has two dimensions: (I) universal, designated by the Russian gorozhanin, and (II) particular, designated by the Georgian mokalake. A gorozhanin is a denizen of any city, while a mokalake refers to the long-standing inhabitants—chiefly merchants and artisans—of the city of Tiflis (Tbilisi) whose status, duties, and privileges were determined prior to Russian annexation by the ruling Georgian king. Pirosmani embraces both the universal and the particular dimensions of urbanity.

2

Robakidze is here referencing the fact that many of the urban professions and socio-economic niches in the city of Tiflis were dominated by other ethnic groups, most notably Armenians. Robakidze here moves between a typology of urban professions whose origins lie in the French physiologie and newer strains of racialized biology.

3

Lado Gudiashvili: see note 8 of Zdanevich’s essay (7.i).

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Zurna: a woodwind instrument found throughout the Middle East and the Balkans.

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Davul: a double-headed drum played with mallets.

6

Qarachokheli: a guild craftsman generally identified by a high-necked black woollen cloak.

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Interestingly, Pirosmani is able to render nature not only as dead but as having been slaughtered. Let me clarify: while the genre of still life is generally characterized by the whiff of death, Pirosmani offers something new. Pirosmani’s still life is a table laden with food awaiting its festive participants. I should clarify that even here a certain sorrow is evident, the kind which hovers gently over every feast. In Pirosmani’s “slaughtered nature” one intuits an extraordinary feeling of pity. Phenomenal in this regard is his Easter Lamb, of which several versions exist. Pity here gives rise to a higher sense of love. This painting elicits universal compassion, a love for all creatures. Pirosmani’s Easter Lamb will be an indelible part of my life as a poet for all time. Pirosmani had a great love of animals. His Giraffe is a strange beast: proud, its eyes filled with another kind of reasoning faculty, fearsome to the point of dread. His She-Bear with Bear Cubs is an exploration of snowy whiteness. Bear on a Moonlit Night offers a matchless landscape, with a bear perched stilly on a fallen tree trunk like a sleepwalker who has been accidentally woken, his muscles all atremble. His Deer has two versions: the first, depicting the animal by a tree stump, is particularly noteworthy. Characteristic here is the deer’s rump, which seems oddly truncated. More striking still is the fact that the deer itself seems to have been carved out of wood, even as it has been fused by some extraordinary effort of compression into a living creature. This sense of “compression” is so palpably great that the deer itself appears to be caught in a kind of interrupted “leap.” Pirosmani has yet a third painting of a – spotted – deer whose remarkable eyes seem full of an unusual sorrow. His Donkey Carrying a Load of Firewood is memorable for its powerful technique, particularly evident in its arrangement of the logs. The donkey’s gaze, and the responsive glance of his youthful owner, feel like pieces of some vast epic poem. The Camel, led by an Iranian herdsman, is filled with the grandeur of faded colour. In Pirosmani’s Brood Hen with Chickens we are struck by the vividness of the newly hatched offspring. Pirosmani was also familiar with landscapes. One landscape is particularly noteworthy here. Two rows of trees framed by grape vines, in the middle a wine-bearing jug, in the background a house, situated beyond a streaming jet of light, a radiance which typifies the luminous Pirosmani to the full. * This then is Pirosmani, the “savage,” the child. His primitivism betrays an almost absolute sense of “immediacy.” This is not an empty phrase. His immediacy seems to me an ontological fact. Pirosmani’s works are shards of nature, cast as if of pure inspiration. Embodied inspiration. Pirosmani’s talent is such that there appears no distance between inspiration and its embodied form. Pirosmani’s foreignness to the realm of culture (akul’turnost’), his clumsy technique fall away entirely, giving way to a higher truth. All of Pirosmani’s objects, whether а deer’s eye or a hoof or a mountain stream, are facts of nature. He is truly a barbarian genius with the unspoilt soul of a child. A final word regarding Pirosmani’s palette. He painted chiefly on oilcloth. From this derives Pirosmani’s unique sense of colour (as the artist Dmitri Shevardnadze has so accurately observed). Perhaps it is this that explains Pirosmani’s predilection for the colours of marshland. Pirosmani’s destiny was no less strange: it was as if he did not die but merely vanished. Was it not fate’s intention, in the manner of the great nameless primitives of the past, to leave his creations unnamed? To see Pirosmani is to believe in Georgia.

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Modernism in South Asia EDITED BY RUDRANI GANGOPADHYAY

Modernism in South Asia is a modernism of decolonization. As Supriya Chaudhuri points out, “In India … modernism can never be experienced simply as a formalist alternative; it is tied in with the terror and violence that in Europe is claimed by the avant-garde, but is here made the property of the modern itself.”1 The same could be said for the sub-continent as a whole. This decolonial backdrop, however, is complicated by the events of 1947, when the nation’s independence brought with it the tragic partition of the subcontinent. The north-western and eastern parts of India, heavily populated by Muslims, cleaved away from India as West and East Pakistan, with Urdu as the language of the newly formed republic of Pakistan. As in other decolonizing parts of the world, the politics of modernism on the subcontinent reflects these pressures, and modernism in South Asia, while at times in conversation with and influenced by European modernisms, is also always necessarily rooted to the “manifestly social and historical” contexts from which it emerges.2 Against this tumultuous backdrop, it becomes particularly difficult to specify the “when” and “where” of modernism in South Asia. Any attempt to understand it must first take into account the immense linguistic diversity of the region: there are around 120 major languages and over 1500 other languages, spread across what today stands as four separate nations. In addition to language, the complex dynamics of class and caste hierarchy in India and across the region impact the way in which modernist literatures are manifested. Because of the plurality inscribed within the region and, in India, even within the nation itself, any attempt to identify a modernist moment is necessarily pluralized as well. In literature, these modernist modes developed substantially from the nineteenth century onwards in around twenty distinct languages, embroiled in the socio-historical particularities of the areas from which they emerged. Each of these modernisms follows its own timeline and has its own history of breaking with tradition. Occasionally, multiple modernisms develop in tandem with one another thanks to prolific translator figures like Ashok Shahane or Agyeya (pen name of Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan) or K. Satchidanandan, who served as bridges between multiple vernacular modernisms

Supriya Chaudhuri, “Modernisms in India,” in The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms, ed. Peter Brooker, Andrzej Gasiorek, Deborah Longworth, and Andrew Thacker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010): 955.

1

Geeta Kapur, When Was Modernism? Essays on Contemporary Cultural Practice in India (New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2000): 298.

2

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within India; such modernisms were therefore informed not only by Western modernist traditions, but also by parallel developments elsewhere in India or South Asia. Because of the number of languages in which there was a substantial presence of South Asian literature in the twentieth century, the selections in this volume as well as this discussion are only limited to a select few. But these selections have been made with multiple considerations. While they constitute only a fraction of the languages spoken in the subcontinent, they each represent one of its quadrants—Bengali from the east, Hindi and Urdu from the north, Marathi from the west, and Tamil from the south. Moreover, we have made an effort to look beyond what is traditionally canonized by way of global circulation of South Asian modernism in the hope that in doing so the understanding of what is modernist within the unique context of the subcontinent can be further revised. Given the fact that this understanding is split even further by divisions of caste and class, Dalit modernism has also been represented. Within the few pieces selected in the volume, two are originally in English, therein making a claim on a South Asian Anglophone modernism as well. Some of these pieces also reflect the internationalism that was at times strongly linked with certain modernisms in the country, as in many other parts of the world. And finally, the selections also represent the impact of the history of nation formation in South Asia, which came hand in hand with fragmentation, by way of tracing a lineage of Urdu modernism that emerges in pre-independence India and continues to thrive in what is now Pakistan. There are, however, some important omissions in this section. For reasons of space, we have been unable to include representations from Sri Lanka; for reasons of both space and periodization, we have also been forced to omit Bangladesh from this volume. Readers who would like to pursue these modernism further, however, might turn to Garrett Field’s Modernizing Composition for more on Sinhala poetry and song, or might explore the work of Bengali writers such as Rabindranath Tagore or Kazi Nazrul Islam, whose work became important to Bangladeshi literature after Bangladesh’s establishment as an independent state in 1971. Pre-partition writing in British India played an important role in the development of transnational Anglophone modernism in the first half of the twentieth century, through writers such as Tagore and Mulk Raj Anand. Tagore’s work, championed by writers such as Ezra Pound and W. B. Yeats, became some of the most influential writing from India on the global stage; Anand, who spent time as part of London’s Bloomsbury group, became an important mediating figure in British modernism. Anand also went on to become one of the central members of the Communist Party of India’s cultural wing, which gravitated around the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA) and the Indian People’s Theater Association, both inaugurated in a pair of meetings in 1935 in London and 1936 in Lucknow. Anti-imperialistic and strongly leftist in its politics, the PWA attacked social injustice and advocated for equal rights in their writing, in the context of a pan-Indian vision of political and cultural unity. While Tagore’s relation to British and American modernism sometimes leads him to be located as an early Indian modernist, within Bengali literary history, modernism is usually understood as a reaction against Tagore. On this reading, modernism in Bengali arrives with the foundation of the literary journal, Kallol (The Surge) in 1923.3 The writers associated with this journal and its successors were deeply influenced by European modernism and translated European works extensively. In the 1960s, avant-garde poets

Chaudhuri, “Modernisms in India.”

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such as the Hungryalist generation revived and radicalized the modernist impulses of the Kallol group, shifting the target of their dissidence from the colonial masters, against whom pre-partition literature was directed, to the people and the government of the now independent nation. This volume’s choice of Bengali modernists—Tagore (8.i) and the Hungryalists (8.iv and 8.v)—provides a sense of this development, by showcasing writers who bookend literary modernism in Bengali. Hindi modernism’s inception takes place with the 1943 publication of the poetry collection Tar Saptak (Upper Octave), edited by Agyeya, whose preface heralded the beginning of a prayogvadi (experimental) poetics in Hindi literature, which simultaneously developed from as well as broke away from the earlier pragativadi (progressive) writing. This movement prepared the ground for a number of others: the Nayi Kavita (New Poetry) movement, which focused on formalist experimentation; and later, between 1954 and 1963, the Nayi Kahaani (New Story) movement which was more involved with contemporary social and historical concerns and fiercely committed to realism.4 This latter group of writers, represented in this volume (8.vi), believed that their art could never exist in alienation from the material world around it. While pre-partition Urdu literature played a central role in the development of the PWA, after partition this literary community was divided between India and Pakistan. As the language of the national literature of Pakistan and a minority literature in India, Urdu had a complicated status. In this context, the socialist realist progressive literature of the 1940s and 1950s gave way to a newer modernism, typified by Pakistani writers such as N. M. Rashed (8.iii) and Faiz Ahmad Faiz. In western India, Marathi modernism centered partly on the unique bilingual (Marathi and English) modernist scene of Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1950s. Bilingual poets like Arun Kolatkar and Dilip Chitre, who wrote in Marathi and English, were joined by nonMarathi Bombay poets like Adil Jussawala, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Gieve Patel, and Nissim Ezekiel, all of whom came from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds and wrote in Indian English. Together, they reshaped the contemporary literary sensibility with their use of profanity, descriptions of the body and sexuality, and vivid depictions of a sense of alienation pervading the urban landscape of Bombay (now Mumbai). At around the same time, in the late 1950s, Marathi literary culture was also deeply impacted by the rise of a radical Dalit Sahitya (Dalit literature), led by writers such as Raja Dhale (8.vii) and others. The term “Dalit Sahitya” was first used at the first conference of Maharashtra Dalit Sahitya Sangha (Maharashtra Dalit Literature Society), which was held in Bombay in 1958. The radical avant-garde aesthetic of Dalit modernism sought to reject formal literary style by way of experimentations with genre as well as linguistic expression in an attempt to record the tragic experiences of Dalits. In southern India, the poet Subramaniya Bharati, who arrived in the Tamil literary scene in the first quarter of the twentieth century, is considered to be the harbinger of modern Tamil literature. Contrary to many of his contemporaries in other vernacular traditions, but much like many modernist writers in Africa and other decolonizing regions, he was a nationalist who resisted Western influence. His poetry often reflected anger at the lethargy of the Tamil people which, he believed, had led to their downfall. However, while the Bengali, Hindi, or Marathi literatures demonstrated modernist tendencies up

Chaudhuri, “Modernisms in India.”

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to the 1950s, the Tamil modernist New Poetry flourished later, in the 1970s.5 Like their Hindi counterparts, the new Tamil poets experimented with prose poetry, free verse, and prosody. As for the Nayi Kahaani writers, realism was for the Tamil writers a response to contemporary socio-historical conditions, and, in this sense, very much an expression of the modern. RG

FURTHER READING Chaudhuri, Supriya. “Modernisms in India.” In The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms, edited by Peter Brooker, Andrzej Gasiorek, Deborah Longworth, and Andrew Thacker. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Jalil, Rakhshanda. Liking Progress, Loving Change: A Literary History of the Progressive Writers’ Movement in Urdu. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Kapur, Geeta. When Was Modernism? Essays on Contemporary Cultural Practice in India. New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2000. Manjapra, Kris. “From Imperial to International Horizons: A Hermeneutic Study of Bengali Modernism.” Modern Intellectual History 8.2 (2011): 327–59. Mitter, Partha. The Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-Garde, 1922–1947. London: Reaktion Books, 2007. Nerlekar, Anjali. Bombay Modern: Arun Kolatkar and Bilingual Literary Culture. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2016. Pue, A. Sean. I Too Have Some Dreams: N. M. Rashed and Modernism in Urdu Poetry. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2014. Rosenstein, Lucy, ed. New Poetry in Hindi: An Anthology. Delhi: Permanent Black, 2003. Satchidanandan, K., ed. Indian Poetry: Modernism and After. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1998. Zecchini, Laetitia. Arun Kolatkar and Literary Modernism in India: Moving Lines. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.

S. Carlos (Tamilavan), “The Politics of Modernism: The Case of Tamil,” in Indian Poetry: Modernism and After, ed. K. Satchidanandan (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1998): 46.

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I. FROM JAPAN: A LECTURE Rabindranath Tagore Originally published in English in Japan: A Lecture. Macmillan Company: New York, 1916. Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was a Bengali poet, novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, music composer, and painter. He imbued new life into Bengali literature by deviating from the older classical language and structure and opting instead for a more colloquial language and new prose and verse forms. Tagore’s role in transforming Bengali culture extends to the realms of music, visual art, and theater as well. He was an anti-nationalist and famously called nationalism a “great menace.”1 Although he was also vehemently opposed to the British Empire’s hold on India, renouncing his knighthood in the aftermath of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919, Tagore was highly influential in fostering relationships between the (proverbial) West and Indian cultures and literatures. His work received attention from contemporary English, Irish, American, and European modernists. During his 1912 visit to England, his translated works particularly interested writers including Ezra Pound and W. B. Yeats, the latter of whom provided an introduction for the first edition of Tagore’s English translation of the collection Gitanjali (Song Offering). He was the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for Gitanjali, and used the earnings from the award to partially fund his school and university Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan, India. Tagore traveled widely around the world, and visited Japan in 1916, 1924, and 1929. His visits were milestones in the timeline of Japan–India relations. He arrived in Japan for the first time on May 25, 1916, and delivered popular lectures in Osaka and Tokyo. The lectures were called “India and Japan” (June 1, 1916), “Ideals of Art” (June 10), “The Message of India to Japan” (June 11), “Address in Bengali” (June 13), “Paradise” (June 14), and “The Spirit of Japan” (July 2). Most lectures were delivered in English, except “Address in Bengali” which was delivered in Bengali and translated by Rikhang Kimura into Japanese. He found much to admire in Japan, particularly in its cultural and literary traditions as well as its traditional values, but he also sensed the seeds of divergence between those values and the more strident nationalism of the new Japan. In this excerpt from his last lecture delivered in Japan during the 1916 visit, Tagore addresses the notion of what it means to be modernized. In his discussion of Japan’s modernity, he reflects a sense, common throughout the colonized world in the 1910s and 1920s, that Japan might provide a model for a non-Westernized modernity (see also the essay in this volume by Haitian Normil G. Sylvain [2.i]). He advocates for what he calls “the true modern spirit” which prefers “independence of thought” to the imitation of Europe—a position that can be compared to the one he adopts in his famous lecture, “Vishva-Sahitya” (“World Literature”).2 Although one must wonder if the essay is speaking more about modernity than modernism, Tagore’s choice of terms is clear, and therefore makes for an interesting and quite novel idea of modernism envisioned by one of the most important literary figures in India. RG

Rabindranath Tagore, Nationalism (San Francisco, CA: The Book Club of California, 1917): 133.

1

Rabindranath Tagore, “Visva-Sahitya,” trans. Rijula Das and Makarand Paranjape, Journal of Contemporary Thought 34 (Winter 2011): 213–25.

2

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All particular civilization is the interpretation of particular human experience. Europe seems to have felt emphatically the conflict of things in the universe, which can only be brought under control by conquest. Therefore she is ever ready for fight, and the best portion of her attention is occupied in organizing forces. But Japan has felt, in her world, the touch of some presence, which has evoked in her soul a feeling of reverent adoration. She does not boast of her mastery of nature, but to her she brings, with infinite care and joy, her offerings of love. Her relationship with the world is the deeper relationship of heart. This spiritual bond of love she has established with the hills of her country, with the sea and the streams, with the forests in all their flowery moods and varied physiognomy of branches; she has taken into her heart all the rustling whispers and sighing of the woodlands and sobbing of the waves; the sun and the moon she has studied in all the modulations of their lights and shades, and she is glad to close her shops to greet the seasons in her orchards and gardens and corn-fields. This opening of the heart to the soul of the world is not confined to a section of your privileged classes, it is not the forced product of exotic culture, but it belongs to all your men and women of all conditions. This experience of your soul, in meeting a personality in the heart of the world, has been embodied in your civilization. It is a civilization of human relationship. Your duty towards your state has naturally assumed the character of filial duty, your nation becoming one family with your Emperor as its head. Your national unity has not been evolved from the comradeship of arms for defensive and offensive purposes, or from the partnership in raiding adventures, dividing among each member the danger and spoils of robbery. It is not an outcome of the necessity of organization for some ulterior purposes, but it is an extension of the family and the obligations of the heart. The ideal of “Maitri” is at the bottom of your culture—“maitri” with men and “maitri” with nature.3 And the true expression of this love is in the language of beauty, which is so abundantly universal in this land. This is the reason why a stranger, like myself, instead of feeling envy, or humiliation, before these manifestations of beauty, these creations of love, feels his readiness to participate in the joy and glory of such revealment of the human heart. And this has made me all the more apprehensive of the change which threatens Japanese civilization as something like a menace to one’s own person. For the huge heterogeneity of the modern age, whose only common bond is usefulness, is nowhere so pitifully exposed against the dignity and the hidden power of reticent beauty as in Japan. But the danger is that this organized ugliness storms the mind and carries the day by its mass, by its aggressive persistence, by its power of mockery directed against the deeper sentiments of heart. Its harsh obtrusiveness makes it forcibly visible to us, overcoming our senses,—and we bring to its altar sacrifices, as does a savage to his fetish, which appears powerful because of its hideousness. Therefore its rivalry to things that are modest and profound and have the subtle delicacy of life is to be dreaded. I am quite sure that there are men in your nation, who are not in sympathy with your national ideals; whose object is to gain, and not to grow. They are loud in their boast that they have modernized Japan. While I agree with them so far as to say that the spirit of the race should harmonize with the spirit of the time, I must warn them that modernizing is a mere affectation of modernism, just as affectation of poesy is poetizing. It is nothing but mimicry. Only affectation is louder than the original, and it is too literal. One must bear in mind, that those who have the true modern spirit need not modernize, just as those “Maitri” is a Bengali word of Sanskrit origin that could mean friendship, union, amity, or good will. In this case, the usage is most likely to indicate union.

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who are truly brave are not braggarts. Modernism is not in the dress of the Europeans; or in the hideous structures, where their children are interned, when they take their lessons; or in the square houses with flat straight wall-surfaces, pierced with parallel lines of windows, where these people are caged in their life-time; certainly modernism is not in their ladies’ bonnets, carrying on them loads of incongruities. These are not modern, but merely European. True modernism is freedom of mind, not slavery of taste. It is independence of thought and action, not tutelage to European schoolmasters. It is science, but not its wrong application in life,—a mere imitation of our science teachers who reduce it into a superstition absurdly invoking its aid for all impossible purposes. Science, when it oversteps its limits and occupies the whole region of life, has its fascination. It looks so powerful because of its superficiality—does as hippopotamus who is very little else but physical. Science speaks of the struggle for existence, but forgets that man’s existence is not merely of the surface. Man truly exists in the ideal of perfection, whose depth and height are not yet measured. Life based upon science is attractive to some men, because it has all the characteristics of sports; it feigns seriousness, but is not profound. When you go a-hunting, the less pity you have the better; for your one object is to chase the game and kill it, to feel that you are the greater animal, that your method of destruction is thorough and scientific. Because a sportsman is only a superficial man—his fulness of humanity not being there to hamper him—he is successful in killing innocent life and is happy. And the life of science is that superficial life. It pursues success with skill and thoroughness, and takes no account of the higher nature of man. But even science cannot tow humanity against truth and be successful; and those whose minds are crude enough to plan their lives upon the supposition that man is merely a hunter and his paradise of sportsmen, will be rudely awakened in the midst of their trophies of skeletons and skulls. For man’s struggle for existence is to exist in the fulness of his nature—not be curtailing all that is best in him and dwarfing his existence itself, but by accepting all the responsibilities of his spiritual life, even through death and defeat.

II. MANIFESTO OF THE INDIAN PROGRESSIVE WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION Mulk Raj Anand Originally published in English in Left Review (February 1936). The Indian Progressive Writers’ Association was a progressive literary movement established in London in 1935 by a group of Indian writers and intellectuals, although its roots can be dated back to the publication of Angaaray (‘Burning Coals’), a collection of short stories by some of the authors of the Association, in 1932.1 The group was famously formed at Nanking Restaurant in Bloomsbury in autumn 1934. During this meeting, Mulk Raj Anand (1905–2004) was elected president and asked to draft its manifesto, which was subsequently published in 1936 in the UK journal, Left Review.2 Thereafter, the group met fortnightly where essays, stories, and poems were read out. In the same year, the All-India Progressive Writers’ Conference was organized in Lucknow, India, under the leadership of Munshi Premchand (1880–1936), the famous Hindi-Urdu writer. The Progressive Writers’ Association, known for their revolutionary ideology and socialist practices, received the support of the then Communist Party of India, as well as the blessings of key figures of the Indian literary world, like Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), Munshi Premchand, and Sarojini Naidu (1879–1949). The manifesto demanded that Indian literature be freed from the romanticization with which it was traditionally associated, and that it instead focus on the realities of life in pre-independence India. The PWA attempted to rescue Indian literature by eschewing the dominant standards of literary criticism, which were necessarily born out of a more elitist background. Instead, they wished to approach literature in a more analytical and rational manner. Premchand, in his presidential address at the Lucknow conference where the manifesto was adopted, said that “literature should become the medium to send strong messages across and use it as a tool to initiate action, it is not bothered about language; with the loftiness of the ideal and breadth of vision, language itself strives towards simplicity; the beauty of meaning can be retained without employing ostentatious and verbose expression.”3 In addition to redefining the way in which language was used, the Association was also concerned with representing honestly the realities of a nation that was subject to both colonial exploitation and problems relating to caste and religion. RG

Radical changes are taking place in Indian society. Fixed ideas and old beliefs, social and political institutions are being challenged. Out of the present turmoil and conflict a new society is emerging. The spirit of reaction however, though moribund and doomed to ultimate decay, is still operative and is making desperate efforts to prolong itself.

Snehal Shinghavi, “Introduction” to Angaaray, by Sajjad Zaheer et al., ed. and trans. Snehal Shinghavi (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2014).

1

Rehana Ahmed, “South Asians Writing Resistance in Wartime London,” Wasafiri 27.2: 20.

2

Quoted in Javed Akhtar and Humayun Zafar Zaidi, “Progressive Writers’ Movement in Urdu Literature,” Indian Literature 50.4 (July–August2006): 149.

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It is the duty of Indian writers to give expression to the changes taking place in Indian life and to assist in the spirit of progress in the country. Indian literature, since the breakdown of classical literature, has had the fatal tendency to escape from the actualities of life. It has tried to find a refuge from reality in spiritualism and idealism. The result has been that it has produced a rigid formalism and a banal and perverse ideology. Witness the mystical devotional obsession of our literature, its furtive and sentimental attitude towards sex, its emotional exhibitionism and its almost total lack of rationality. Such literature was produced particularly during the past two centuries, one of the most unfortunate periods of our history, a period of disintegrating feudalism and of acute misery and degradation for the Indian people as a whole. It is the object of our association to rescue literature and other arts from the priestly, academic and decadent classes in whose hands they have degenerated so long; to bring the arts into the closest touch with the people; and to make them the vital organs which will register the actualities of life, as well as lead us to the future. While claiming to be the inheritors of the best traditions of Indian civilisation, we shall criticise ruthlessly, in its political, economic and cultural aspects, the spirit of reaction in our country and we shall foster through interpretive and creative work (with both native and foreign resources) everything that will lead our country to the new life for which it is striving. We believe that the new literature of India must deal with the basic problems of our existence today—the problems of hunger and poverty, social backwardness and political subjugation, so that it may help us to understand these problems and through such understanding help us to act. With the above aims in view, the following resolutions have been adopted: (1) The establishment of organizations of writers to correspond to the various linguistic zones of India; the co-ordinations of these organizations by holding conferences, publishing of magazines, pamphlets, etc. (2) To cooperate with those literary organizations whose aims do not conflict with the basic aims of the association. (3) To produce and translate literature of a progressive nature and of a high technical standard; to fight cultural reaction; and in this way, to further the cause of Indian freedom and social regeneration. (4) To strive for the acceptance of a common language (Hindustani) and a common script (Indo-Roman) for India.4 (5) To protect the interests of authors; to help authors who require and deserve assistance for the publication of their works. (6) To fight for the right of free expression of thought and opinion. (This manifesto has been signed by Dr. Mulk Raj Anand, Dr. K.S. Bhat, Dr. J.C. Ghose, Dr. S.Sinha, M.D. Taseer, S.S. Zaheer.) All communications to be addressed to: Dr. M.R. Anand, 32 Russell Square, London, W.C.I. London, 1935.

This demand was later dropped in appreciation of India’s multilingualism.

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III. INTRODUCTION TO A STRANGER IN IRAN N.M. Rashed Originally published as the introduction to Iran Mein Ajnabi [A Stranger in Iran] in 1957. Translated from the Urdu by A. Sean Pue. N(un) M(im) Rashed (1910–75) is a central figure in poetic modernism in Urdu, remembered for developing and successfully promoting free verse (azad nazm) in evolving styles throughout his oeuvre. Born in the Punjab, in what is now Pakistan, he spent much of his life outside of South Asia, first in the British Indian Army and later as an information officer in the United Nations. The selection below is the introduction to his second volume of poems, Iran men ajnabi (A Stranger in Iran, 1957), published ten years after the Partition of British India. A pivotal volume, it transitions from his initial break with Urdu poetic convention and rebuke of late colonial India to an emergent critique of identity and political ideology. The title work of the volume refers to the poet’s experiences in Iran, where he was stationed during the Second World War. Iran was the birthplace of Persian, a language that saturates Urdu and was the de facto lingua franca of the Indian subcontinent until the early nineteenth century. Urdu poetry grew out of the matrix of Persian poetry, and Urdu’s most esteemed genres, especially the ghazal, came from Persian. Yet instead of finding his cultural heritage in Iran, Rashed found different configurations of imperialism, as Iran had been jointly invaded by British, Allied, and Soviet armies in 1941. The introduction—something of a manifesto, as in all of his volumes—discusses literary modernism in terms of both form and content. First, it addresses the break with form, most notably with the ghazal, a genre that traditionally addresses an ambiguous beloved—perhaps male or female, human or divine—using a rigorous metaphorical vocabulary. The ghazal consists of a set of rhymed couplets that are united by theme, addressing the lover’s state as he anguishes outside the beloved’s door or wanders in the desert, using a rigorous metaphorical system. Its centrality to poetic traditions from South Asia to the Middle East can be traced through texts by the Turkish Garip group (5.ii) and the Persian poet Nima Yushij (6.i). Traditionally, a poet would have to cite earlier Urdu or Persian poetic tradition as precedent for new metaphorical usages. Much of the pleasure of listening to the ghazal that Rashed refers to in his introduction comes in the familiarity of its references, including the strong connection between the lines of the couplets that should be established, most often by the second giving proof to the assertion of the first. In his free verse, Rashed abandoned the fixed meters and rhymes of the ghazal, as well as its metaphorical references and logical structure. His justification for this break in form was the need to address new content, or themes related to experiences of the modern world. Rashed had established his approach to form in his first book of poetry, so this introduction first responds to critics of that verse, chastizing them as stuck in the past and not yet open to contemporary knowledge. But Rashed also advances his critique of conventional poetry by focusing his definition of modern experience. For Rashed, experience is a personal and individual category, so he distances himself from those more committed to exploring collective experience through poetry. He critiques such writers as ideological, clubbing together those who devalue individual experience in favor of historical memories of lost grandeur with those who favor utopian imaginations of

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political futures. He takes aim not only at nationalists but also “progressive” writers, both realist and romantic, whom he decries both for devaluing the individual and for pledging their allegiance to a revolutionary ideology that he has witnessed in Iran to be nothing more than a new form of imperialism. ASP

Thirteen years have passed since the publication of Mavara (The Beyond, 1941). In this time, there have been many productive conversations about the relationship between form and content. Yet still, some readers do not find modern poetry, in general, and free verse, in particular, to be an object of enjoyment; or, they find it to be a lesser one in comparison to the ghazal. Some critics, too, do not deem it right to break with some such universally accepted truth. Despite this, an important class of young poets have successfully appropriated experiments with rejecting form and, in doing so, have worked to make current the expression of modern ideas and dramatic poetry in Urdu. It is perhaps too early to say whether or not the experiment of free verse has introduced into Urdu any exemplary examples of poetry as found in some languages of the West. Or whether, from this experiment, poetry of such rank has come into existence as one often finds in the ghazal and masnavi genres in Persian or Urdu.1 Nevertheless, in this there is no doubt: rejecting established principles has helped to break the stagnation of Urdu poetry, and shown poets new roads to message and meaning of which our old poets were unaware. Modern poetry and free verse, in particular, express a new melody, one granted to the contemporary poet by his times. This new melody cannot be made manifest according to the principles prescribed by the ancient prosodists. The modern poet has confronted such experiences and visions in his time that were never easy to express in bound verse. If the modern poet had not evaded the old genres of poetry then there would be no way for him to connect together new experiences, new feeling, and new melody. Those readers of modern poetry who cannot find pleasure in it are in no way deserving of criticism. For among them often are those who, despite living in contemporary times, still dwell in the world of the ghazal and masnavi. They have kept on in the ghazal milieu for centuries. They know well the love of the ghazal, its politics, and its philosophy. Their connection with the love, politics, and philosophy of modern poetry is still fresh. The doors the modern poet opened to experiences and visions can only be entered by those who have themselves harmonized with those visions and experiences. The new poet also uses a new lexicon that is not the lexicon of Farhang-e Asafiyah.2 How would they know the meaning of his words? Even if those meanings are inside the poem itself, who would have the courage to look for them? The truth is this: whether as a reader or as a critic, one cannot understand a poet’s language or temperament until one is ready to travel alongside him, even past a certain limit. Those critics whose knowledge and taste have been formed through the path of Bahr-ul-fasahat3 or Chahar Maqalah4 will not be able to interpret

On the ghazal genre, see headnote. “Masnavi” is a type of poem, written in rhymed couplets, popular in Urdu, Persian, Turkish, and Arabic literature.

1

Sayyid Ahmad Dihlavi’s Farhang-e Asafiyah, published between 1888 and 1901, is one of the most widely used dictionaries of the Urdu language.

2

An influential work on Urdu prosody by Najmul Ghani (1859–1932).

3

Translated in English as The Four Discourses, Chahar Maqalah is a series of addresses to kings and rulers by twelfth-century Persian writer, Nizami Aruzi. The second discourse deals with the art of poetry.

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modern poetry properly until they are willing to deceive their knowledge just a little or to acknowledge, to some extent, its defeat. The objection to modern poetry that it is not poetry for everyone is correct. Without a doubt, it is not poetry for everyone. For it is the poetry only of those whose consciousness is new, whose experiences and visions are new, and who are composed of this new knowledge, taste, and feeling. I remember one occasion when one of our harshest critics took a few unrhymed poems by our modern poets and made their lines “measured” and rhymed. He heartily congratulated himself on his experiment. It is difficult to say whether every free-verse poem ever written in Urdu is justified in its rejection of form, but it is also clear that a person who tries to make a free-verse poem measured and rhyming does not fully partake in the creative work of poetry. Nothing can be established through this improper behavior towards a free-verse poem; it certainly does not prove the superiority of rhymed verse. Though the superiority of one genre over another is not established, some people have experimented in this manner by turning a novel into a short story or a short story into a novel. These experiments are of interest in themselves, but to use them to declare that the novel is better than the short story or the short story is better than the novel would be pointless. There is a difference in their expanse and approach—they pluck different strings in the mind. Rhymed verse and free verse are similarly different in their expanse and approach, and the impressions left by both are also different. A critic who conducts this sort of experiment does not aim to evaluate a poem or a literary piece. He aims to prove the superiority of his own knowledge. But changing the clothes of a literary piece does not increase its beauty, impressions, or rank at all. Modern poetry is not merely about craftsmanship or the enchantment of turning away from old craftsmanship, however. For modern poetry, whether rhymed or free verse, answers the demands of the age. The modern poet has opened his eyes to an age in which not only have the clothes changed but the construction of homes, etiquette, the ways and manners of family life, the economic framework of society are all different from previous times. Take the new construction of homes. It has made the love of the ghazal and masnavi impossible. Take also the case of woman. She used to be always either a wife or a courtesan and, with her support, verse used to be composed by means of special similes and metaphors. Today, she has become a fellow worker to men and a person who does more than fulfill just one of the mental and emotional necessities of men. The old poet was a part of his society in the way that the members of an organization are parts of it, or the way the links of a chain are part of the chain. Now however, the modern poet is truly an individual. To lessen the solitude of the old poet, listeners used to come to his poetic gatherings (musha’irah). The modern poet does not have this support, because the language in which he is compelled to converse is not the language of his listeners. They are not ready, mentally or emotionally, to hear or to take pleasure in the thoughts that he wants to convey. Yet the result of the bare loneliness of the modern poet has been that he has begun to examine and evaluate himself more shrewdly. As a consequence, the boundaries of his psychological deep diving have increased in both breadth and depth. The modern poet, like his worthy predecessor, does not merely express thoughts and emotions. His every thought and feeling are mixed with the shadows that appear to him. He wants to illuminate those shadows, too, because they are important creatures of his mental world. Whether the contemporary poet is happy or not at the destruction of his relationship with his elders, he is compelled to admit to it. Whereas the old poet’s education consisted of mythology, logic, Sufism, and Islamic law, the modern poet’s training entails science, economics, psychology, politics, and aesthetics. All these new

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subjects are stealthily assailing him, sniping at him, and he is compelled to make them a part of the texture of his thoughts. For this reason, his language, too, is not the hallowed tongue that was his predecessors. Finally, his verses are cut off from the logical proof found in ghazal poetry. For the modern poet, the only proof is emotional proof. This excited him in his search for new genres and compelled him to save himself from the stagnation of the genres of the past. * * * As far as the poems in this volume, the author publishes them with profuse apology. This is the second collection after Mavara, but it lacks the freshness and the youthful bloom of those poems. Most of the poems in this collection were written overseas—some in Iran, some in Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Sri Lanka, and now some in America. The poem from which this volume received its name bears the impressions of Iran. My hope was that this poem would contain at least thirty qit’ah,5 but it has remained an incomplete poem of only a few. The sections of this long poem are merely scattered impressions, lacking the connection or harmony of a story. In the author’s two-year tour in Iran, he encountered not only Iranians but people from several other nations that the past world war brought together. These are the impressions of an Indian soldier who mentally is the resident of the subcontinent and physically an individual in a foreign army. Iran left a permanent impression on the author’s mind, and created an unwaning love and affection for the country. “A Stranger in Iran” is an attempt to analyze the conflict of emotions that the particular political circumstances of the times had produced. These scattered impressions were made on the curtain of the politics onto which individual emotions were merely embroidered. Numerous characters come into this poem, but on all the shadow of the hunter falls. One is terrified of this shadow; another, understanding it to be shadow, seeks coolness within it; while to another still, its light darkness grants the courage for highway robbery. The desirous hand of the hunter extends to all. Every person, through their lack of courage, seeks the aid of vague memories of history. The present, becoming a wall, blocks the path of the future, and life becomes and remains meaningless. Some of the qit’ah in “A Stranger in Iran” are merely versified short stories in which more emphasis is given to the depiction of one character, or an event is described so that those same impressions can be made that had reached the poet’s heart. Some poems are more like sketches. Some are nothing more than internal monologue. The qit’ah do share a fundamental thought, which will likely be easy to find for a clever reader like you. And even though these poems are connected to the times of the war in Iran, still, as you yourself will see, these events could occur anywhere in any part of the world. The manner in which the war upset Iran’s social life could happen anywhere. The rest of this collection’s poems are merely poems (nazm). Many of them are connected to my vicinity, but in none of them is there the persuasion of “ideology,” especially such an ideology that would lessen the poet’s own thought and enhance the intellectual policies of some political group. The author, by chance, has not maintained connection with those non-literary groups or ways of thinking that have become the only fountain of revelation for some poets.

Cantos, literally fragment or section.

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In this volume, there are some ghazals, too. I have written very few ghazals. The craftsmanship of the ghazal is different from that of free verse, and I have not yet found it a suitable form of expression. Whenever I compose a ghazal I have mostly done so in imitation, and the traditional ways of expression have remained relatively prominent in it. It is difficult to say whether these few ghazals will satisfy your taste. N. M. Rashed New York

IV. THE PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A NOTUN SAMALOCHAK Malay Roy Choudhury Originally published in English in Intrepid 10 (Spring 1968). Translated from the Bengali by Malay Roy Choudhury. Malay Roy Choudhury (1939–) is a Bengali poet and the founder of Kolkata’s Hungry Generation or Hungryalist movement. The leading movement of the Bengali avant-garde during the 1960s, the Hungryalists reflected the youthful dissidence that characterized the 1960s globally. Their taboo-breaking poems experimented with new language and forms, as well as subject matter that openly embraced sex, obscenity, and the body. Roy Choudhury is most famous for his poem “Prachanda Boidyutik Chhutar” (Stark Electric Jesus), which led to his arrest and imprisonment on obscenity charges in 1965. Although he was exonerated in 1967, the event contributed to the dissolution of the Hungryalists as a group (which was already underway, with the departure of key players in 1963 and 1964), as well as to their growing renown among the Beat generation in the United States. A number of Beat periodicals carried letters from Roy Choudhury seeking the financial and moral support of his US counterparts, and his case became something of a cause célèbre for US poets worried about censorship and obscenity laws in their own country. These texts are drawn from issue 10 of the US periodical Intrepid, published by Allen de Loach and guest edited by Carl Weissner. Intrepid, associated with the Beat generation, regularly published works by writers such as William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. This issue, however, was devoted to showcasing new Indian poetry, reflecting the Beats’ fascination with India and the Hungry Generation’s renown in the United States. The first essay calls for a new criticism, commensurate to the new poetry they sought to produce, echoing modernism’s influence on critical practices globally. The “Notun Samalochak” of this essay's title is a Bengali term, meaning “new critic.” The second is one of a number of manifestos the group produced, many of which circulated widely in both US and Bengali publications. Together, these texts capture the Hungry poets’ vivacious experiments with language, and the youthful impulse toward novelty and revolt. They appeared in this order on successive pages in the original publication. AM

Criticism should now assume a new form. It must proceed on other principles and propose to itself a sublime aim. The question should no longer be one concerning the dead lumber of diction, the conspicuity of witty metaphors, the craftiness of sentiments, the matter-of-fact reality in a work of art, as it was some decades ago among most of our critics, neither should it be a question mainly of a psychological sort to be answered by postmorteming and bum-boating the complex of attitudes of the artist from his creation, as it is usual with the best of our own critics at present,—but it should be, ultimately, a question of the essence of the art itself.

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The problem is not now to determine by what mechanism Kalidasa1 composed sentences and struck out similes, but by what far finer and more mysterious hunger Sandipan organized his work and gave life and individuality to his Bijan, and Shakti to his Nirupam.2 Wherein lies that life, how have they attained that shape and individuality? Whence comes that divine madness, that violent and somnambulistic flash of jazzing which excites a man to jump out of the shadow into the sun and become an artist? Not only who was the poet and how did he create, but what and how was the poem, and why was it poetry and not rhymed prose, creation and not calculated passion. Those are the questions of the notun samalochak, the aesthetic rebel, the kshudharta.3 Criticism now, as an art, must stand like an interpreter between the inspired and the uninspired, the prophet and those who feel the structural and textual melody of his creation and catch some glimpse of its total meaning, but do not understand its deeper import. (From an early Hungry Generation Pamphlet. “Editors: Malay Roy Choudhury, Shatki Chattopadhyay, Debi Rai. Published by Haradhon Dhara from 269, Netaji Subhash Road, Howrah. 25th December 1962.”)

Kalidasa was a Sanskrit poet who probably lived in the fourth or fifth century. Given the title “Kavikulaguru,” or master of all poets, he is widely regarded as the greatest poet in the Sanskrit language.

1

Sandipan Chattopadhyay and Shakti Chattopadhyay were writers and members of the Hungry Generation. Shakti is listed at the end of this essay as one of the editors of the pamphlet in which it was printed. Sandipan is one of the signatories of “The Hungryalist Manifesto on Poetry” (8.v).

2

Hungry (Hindi).

3

V. THE HUNGRYALIST MANIFESTO ON POETRY Malay Roy Choudhury Originally published in English in Intrepid 10 (Spring 1968). Translated from Bengali by Malay Roy Choudhury.

Poetry is no longer a civilizing manoeuvre, a replanting of the bamboozled gardens: it is a holocaust, a violent and somnambulistic jazzing of the hymning five, a sowing of the tempestual hunger. Poetry is an activity of the narcissistic spirit. Naturally, we have discarded the blankety-blank school of modern poetry, the darling of the Press, where poetry does not resurrect itself in an orgasmic flow, but words come up bubbling in an artificial muddle. In the prosed-rhymes of those born-old half-literates, you must fail to find that scream of desperation of a thing wanting to be man, the man wanting to be spirit. Poetry of the younger generation too has died in the dressing room, as most of the younger prosed-rhyme writers, afraid of the satanism, the vomitous horror, the selfelected crucifixion of the artist that makes a man a poet, fled away to hide in the hairs. Poetry around us, these days, has been cryptic, short hand, cautiously glamorous, flattered by own sensitivity like a public-school prodigy. Saturated with self-consciousness, poems have begun to appear from the tomb of logic or the bier of unsexed rhetoric. Poetry is not the caging of belches within form. It should convey the brutal sound of breaking values and startling tremors of the rebellious soul of the artist himself, with words stripped of their usual meanings and used contrapuntally. It must invent a new language which would incorporate everything at once, speak to all senses in one. Poetry should be able to follow music in the power it possesses of evoking a state of mind, and to present images not as wrappers but as ravishograms. (Written and translated from Bengali by Malay Roy Choudhury. Published as Hungry Generation Pamphlet by H. Dhara. “Signatories: Utpal Kumar Basu, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Benoy Mazumdar, Sayyed Mustafa Siraj, Samir Roy Choudhury, Shaileshwar Ghose, Arupratan Basu, Basudeva Das Gupta, Satindra Bhaumik, Haranath Ghose, Nihar Guha, Ashok Chattopadhyay, Amritatanay Gupta, Tridib Mitra, Pobitra Ballav, Sunil Mitra, Bhanu Chattopadhyay, Shankar Sen, Pradip Chowdhury, Jogesh Panda, Debi Rai, Subimal Basak, Subhash Ghosh, Monohar Das, Sandipan Chattopadhyay.”)

VI. INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW STORY Kamleshwar Originally published as “Nayi Kahaani ki Bhumika” (Introduction to the New Story) in Nayi Kahaani ki Bhumika. Akshara Prakashan: New Delhi, 1969. Translated from Hindi by Arshdeep Singh Brar and Rudrani Gangopadhyay. Kamleshwar (1932–2007) was one of the most important short-story writers of the twentieth century. Along with writers like Mohan Rakesh (1925–72), Nirmal Verma (1929–2005), Rajendra Yadav (1929–2013), Mannu Bhandari (1931–), and Bhisham Sahni (1915–2003), he paved the way for a new literary movement called Nayi Kahaani (Nayi afsaane in Urdu, New Story in English) that was marked by the need for art to be connected with the material world and the conditions of a newly independent India.1 The movement was at its peak in the years between 1954 and 1963. Aside from being focused on the urban turn of the new nation, their narratives often focused on problems of unemployment, corruption plaguing the rapidly growing middle class, and changing relationships between the sexes, especially in the aftermath of the emergence of the working woman. Disintegration of families, erosion of values, loneliness, and anxiety became major tropes of the work produced by the Nayi Kahaani writers. In his essay “Nayi Kahaani ki Bhumika” (Introduction to the New Story) from the volume by the same name, Kamleshwar reflects on the context of the emergence of the New Story movement, as it arrived following the trail blazed by the Nayi Kavita (New Poetry) movement. Part of the rationale behind the selection of this essay is the fact that Nayi Kavita has had more visibility in its translated afterlife.2 Nayi Kahaani’s desire to capture authentic and realistic expression for the contemporary moment emerges clearly in this piece by Kamleshwar. He lists the various tropes that are trademark of the short fiction of this movement: its middle-class protagonist, the troubled relationship between men and women, the immense loneliness experienced by the characters, and a certain psychological verisimilitude with the crisis in contemporary society. Kamleshwar uses examples from other writers liberally, constructing a defense of the movement which, he believes, is an experiment with narrative and not with craft. RG

The attainment of the country’s independence brought an intellectual rebirth as well. Freedom was not merely political but a renaissance of ideas was also associated with it. When Democracy provided adult franchise to every individual, individual (and not personal) entities experienced a sense of dignity and started questioning outdated traditions, thought processes, and the ways in which society and standards of moral judgment are created. All that was false, deformed, frustrated and archaic was discarded and the Indian Constitution laid the intellectual foundation of a new society. In an essay,3

Raghuvir Sinha, “Modern Hindi Short Story,” Indian Literature 18.3 (1975): 20–1.

1

An invaluable source for readers interested in Nayi Kavita and its key texts in English is New Poetry in Hindi: An Anthology, edited, translated, and introduced by Lucy Rosenstein (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2003).

2

“Adhunikta aur Bharat Dharma” (Modernity and Indianness) by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar.

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Dinkar-ji4 analyzes the contemporary moment and its ideas and rightly states that instead of adapting the varnashram dharma 5of Manu,6 Shankaracharya,7 and Tulsi Das,8 India chose to manufacture its spirit through the philosophy and thoughts of Buddha, Kabir,9 and Raja Rammohan Roy,10 and the country’s Constitution underlines and inaugurates these ideas. This is applicable to both the creation of society as well as literature. As Independence approached, a reassessment of our thought process had been initiated and in this intense churning, Tulsi’s deism, despite all its social indicators and idealization of relations became irrelevant … More authentic than that was the musical voice’s aestheticism, but what rang loudest was the faithful and rebellious voice of Kabir. This did not occur overnight. A reassessment of Indian cultural legacy had been happening for some time and there was a change in what was being emphasized. The majoritarian Hindu society in its collective social conduct was seen as a nourisher of the tradition of Tulsi but its soul was turning kabirpanthi. There was perhaps no better evidence of the rootedness of traditions that the majority of India was bound to tradition by flesh but against it in spirit. This internal revolt was producing nothing. Deism and faith can be seen as part of our legacy and both have been part of the Indian personality. The blind sacrifice that deism demands is unacceptable to the developed Indian consciousness while the intellectual preference that faith needs was not unacceptable to them. Perhaps that is why we have been reading Bharatendu11 with belief and Hari Oudh12 with tradition. We accept Maithili Sharan Gupt13 as subservient to tradition but receive Nirala14 as part of our belief.

Ramdhari Singh Dinkar (1908–74) was a significant nationalist poet and scholar who wrote in Hindi. Ji is an honorific suffix in Hindi.

4

Varnashram Dharma is the Vedic system according to which society is divided into four hierarchical varnas (social groups or caste).

5

“Manu” is the Sanskrit term for “human.” Key texts of Hinduism like Manava Grihyasutra, Manava Sulbasutra, and Manava Dharmashastra are ascribed to Swayambhuva Manu, the first Manu, who is considered to be the spiritual son of the Hindu god Brahma.

6

Shankaracharya is one of the earliest theologians of Hinduism. The present form of the religion is said to have been largely formalized due to his efforts in the early eighth century.

7

Tulsi Das (1511–1623) was a Hindu saint remembered for writing Ramacharitmanas, an Awadhi version of the Ramayana, which is one of the two major Sanskrit epics in Indian culture.

8

Kabir was a fifteenth-century Indian mystic. He was not in favor of either of the two main organized religions in India—Hinduism and Islam—and instead preached, through his poetry, for a way of life in which one finds god within themselves. His followers were called Kabirpanthi.

9

Raja Rammohan Roy (1774–1833) was an Indian social and religious reformer. He was also the founder of the Brahmo Sabha, which was the beginning of a movement that wanted to free Hinduism from its ritualistic practices, and ultimately led to the formation of the Brahmo Samaj, a religious faction that still practices this version of the religion.

10

Bharatendu Harishchandra (1850–85), better known by his pen name Rasa, was one of the most important writers, poets, and playwrights in Hindi literature. Because of his significant contributions to the development of modern Hindi language, literature, and drama, he is commonly known as the “Father of Modern Hindi Literature and Hindi Theater.”

11

Ayodhya Singh Upadhyay (1865–1947) was a Hindi poet and writer who used the pen name “Hari Oudh.”

12

Maithili Sharan Gupt (1866–1964) was an important modern Hindi poet. He notably used the plain dialect of Hindi—Khari Boli—in his writing, which was a departure from the contemporary custom.

13

Nirala is the pen name of the Hindi writer and poet Suryakant Tripathi (1899–1961). He is primarily associated with the romanticist chhayavadi (shadowist) movement, which was followed by the pragativadi (progressive) and prayogvadi (experimental) moments in Hindi literature.

14

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When modern prose turned towards Kabir, we discovered Premchand,15 and when Nirala broke the boundaries of chhayavad (shadowism)16 and opened his arms to life itself, it seemed as if the form of Kabir had manifested itself. It is not by accident that we have been investing our belief into Bharatendu, Premchand, and Nirala’s voices. This is not to say that literature hasn’t seen other talents. It is however directly related to the fact that our consciousness, even from the past, has always outlined those who are alive and throbbing in contemporary contexts. It is true that a river keeps on flowing uninterruptedly, but the significance of this water is contingent upon the seasons. All of it is not useful to us at all times. When the crops are ready, they are exposed to the continuous flow of the river. Its destiny is to maintain continuity. This is also an important step, but it is cursed by futility. The intellectual rebirth is accompanied by the curse of Partition and when our consciousness was energized by a luminescent future, bands of refugees came and went … and in the middle of this fearful bloodshed was a dissolution which made refugees of our hearts and minds. The moment man was independent, he became a refugee in himself. Even then, one is reassured about the creation of a new society … Justice, freedom, equality and friendship—these weren’t terms of Western thought but in fact, it was our history that coined them. Kabir espoused social justice and friendship, and in doing so, unchained man from organized religion, and became valuable for us. The voice of rebellion that Bharatendu articulated and the demand for Indian-ness that he raised, was also about voicing our own expectations. Even a seeker of happiness like Prasad had adapted a humanist point of view in his fictional prose, and Premchand had transformed ideas of social justice, freedom, parity and friendship into expectations from life itself. Because slavery was the biggest obstacle in our lives, questions of justice, equality, and friendship had been adjourned till we attained independence. New relationships with these notions were only to be determined after independence. Despite all obstacles and taboos, up till Premchand, the expression of real expectations held primacy. Post World War I, the dissolution of the Indian middle-classes began and not just its echoes but clear voices can be heard in Premchand’s stories. The romantic stupor of its idealism also hangs heavy but he shrugs it off in his later stories and in “Poos Ki Raat” (Night of Poos17), “Kafan” (Shroud), “Shatranj ke Khiladi” (The Chess Players), his vision seeks a third phase of realism. This third phase was to inhabit humans within their environment (and not merely along with, which had hitherto been the case). Hence those stories by Premchand where man has been explored in his environment are ones of deep suffering, and become a platform for representing social history (in turn giving birth to the present). Kabir’s rebellion, social justice and call for friendship; Bharatendu’s Indian-ness and claim to freedom; Prasad’s humanist values and the desire for their reestablishment; and subsequently Premchand’s adoption of realism and the delineation of human suffering—

Munshi Premchand (1880–1936), one of the most famous Indian writers, wrote novels, short stories, and plays in Hindi and Urdu. After the First World War, Premchand’s writing changed significantly. He dropped idealism in favor of realism, and began to look toward the internal journeys of characters. Both of these traits of his later writing influenced the Nayi Kahaani writers particularly.

15

Chhayavad (shadowism) is the Hindi equivalent of romanticism in Hindi literature. Roughly spanning the years between 1918 and 1936, the major exponents of this movement include Jayashankar Prasad, Nirala, Sumitranandan Pant, and Mahadevi Verma.

16

Poos is the peak winter month in the Indian calender.

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these were products of new ideas. However, it was when Premchand’s newly etched individual emerged out of the reality of the sequence of history with all his weight and personality, that a storm suddenly erupted. The third phase of Premchand, which was connected to the order of history, became a provision for the internal journey for some authors because they were not involved in their time and reality. And this is where the deeply personal voice in Hindi story emerges and a reetikal (new custom) begins. Suddenly the women characters who were centers of carrying life in Premchand, transformed into wily lovers, the men become rootless and impotent like Srikant.18 The author is crushed by his repressed lust and frailties and dependent characters are formed. Originating from the order of history, the individual breathing in his own space with social roots comes to a halt, and relationships involving sisters and sisters-in-law are suffused with eroticism. The era of sisters and sisters-inlaw lapsed not too long ago. The entire landscape began to change; language became “personal” and stories “personal diaries” that revolve around dream-lovers. There was perhaps never in the history of the Hindi Kahaani (story) such copious amount of tears, bursts of sighs, and loud sniffles echoing throughout, because all the sisters and sisters-inlaw (abandoning their soulmates) ran for their lovers, and for each assignation, specific “locales” were assigned. Lakesides were designated for the first meeting, quiet valleys for proposals, the setting sun stood for “hours of submission” and “hours of suffering” were meant for the rest of life. Some rebels emerged entranced by their false sense of sacrifice and began to demand representation of women’s conditions. The middle-class woman was condemned to suffering from their mental atrocities and physical impotence but it was never known where those rebels had managed to attain revolution? Where did their social roots lie, where were their revolutionary parties active and what role did they perform in them? The illustrious history of the Indian revolutionaries and the romantic shadows of their personalities seeking to fulfill their lustful appetites came into literature. But no unfazed revolutionary of flesh and bone could enter the world of literature. Instead of characters who could face life came characters who were hollow, cut off from contexts, driven by frustration and dependence; who wanted to enjoy their wealth and mental peace; and who began to pretend to glorify self-abnegation, anguish and a tragic outlook. It was not as if Hindi Kahaani did not have isolated voices in this reetikal,—Ashk’s19 lower middle-class characters and some of the premises in Bhagwati babu’s20 stories (“Mughalon ne Sultanat Baksh di” [The Mughals Gave Up the Sultanate] and “Do Baankein” [Two Banks]) and Yashpal’s21 “Vicharon ke Aagrahi” (Insistence of Ideas). Opportunistic characters came to light around this time and nobody really knew when a wandering, struggling aunt would suddenly appear, never to be seen again. The individual who had emerged out of the sequence of history came to a halt … this individual was at the center of the production of ideas and the tradition of life, but literary prose had drawn a curtain over him. It was not as if time had come to a standstill; the individual was passing through a litmus test. The lower middle and middle classes were performing a crucial role in the revolution of ’42. Relations between the peasant and landowner were formed. Character from Premchand’s short story “Anandi.”

18

Upendranath Ashk (1910–96) was a Hindi-Urdu writer, who wrote novels, short stories, and plays.

19

Bhagwati Charan Verma (1903–81) is a famous Hindi novelist.

20

Yashpal (1903–76) is one of the most significant writers in Hindi literature in the post-Premchand era. A prolific writer, he wrote novels, short stories, plays, travel books, essays, as well as an autobiography.

21

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Worker-owner relations demanded a new balance. Disintegrating families looked for their emotional sources and in the shadow of the Great War, tremendous disharmony, indecision and extinction abounded. The power of the independence movement and its intense fury could also be seen everywhere … But the protagonist of this reetikal through his crude nature, denied all social contexts and seemed to be lecturing on emotions and sorrow, accompanied by his lover who created a sphere of radiance all around him. With his personal absurdities, he was establishing an isolated aesthetic. And during this reetikal, some authors who are unable to adapt to this manufactured mentality began an intellectual and political crusade. Since this was a political crusade, like politics, a certain collectivization began to seep into it … In the beginning, this movement made life-sustaining values its foundation and outlined the ambitions of individuals cultivated through life experiences. It examined humanism from a scientific perspective and set the point of origin of the next journey of civilization. This progressive ideology attacked customs, taboos, wrong beliefs, and conservative mindsets and made man aware of his milieu. Since this intellectual movement was initiated by politics, the establishment of literary values and exemplars were also by political personalities themselves, and history can testify to the resultant “chaos.” Most of the characters in literary prose were Indian, their situations familiar, but their voices were that of an outsider and their future was alien and not aligned with the end expected from our historical conclusion. Some of the authors (like Yashpal, Nagarjun, Chandrakiran Sonraksia, Amritlal Nagar, Rangey Raghav etc) chose the correct point of view, adopted the right politics, protested against the opportunism and oppression through their craft. They rejected the weak characters and autocratic politicians declaring red dawns and hoisting red flags and undid the political specter over literature but by then the hold of such political figures was all over the country. After attaining Independence, politicians and workers had become the most respected figures in the social milieu. Hence certain groups came to dominate the literary sphere, and so the model of the individual formed by history, with all his qualities, could only be completed up to shoulders which could not support his Indian head. This person began functioning like a robot which was controlled by heads operating under political influence who, apart from deciding the party’s activities, also began to determine the problems of literature, like what characters and facets should be represented. This is when darkness engulfed our national horizons. The dream of building the society that the Constitution had laid in front of all was eroding away because the politicians responsible for laying the foundation of the future had gone corrupt. The freedom fair did not take long to wrap up and its debris were scattered around and disorder was everywhere in the same way in which there are flags, ropes, bamboos, and other decorations strewn around after a carnival is over. Politicians went to inhabit glass-palaces like religious gurus and local leaders began to wreak havoc like vagrants. It is astounding that the leaders involved in Satyagraha22 prior to freedom threw their lot behind corruption, malpractice and oppression. One encountered an enslaved generation at departments and offices. This lot was all over busy offices across the country, a slave by existence. This generation still worshipped the British and its fruits continue to be borne by the country. Satyagraha literally means “holding onto truth.” It was a term coined by Mahatma Gandhi to describe the strategy of non-violent civil resistance as a way to counter colonial oppression in India.

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The boils of corruption, selfishness, nepotism, casteism, provincialism burst upon the body of the nation and the stench of its puss, rotting flesh and bad blood was all around. This was a state of disillusionment. On one end of the spectrum, in literature, reetikal and collectivization were bent upon their ways, personal vices were disabling the truth of life and propaganda was firming its grasp upon individuality. On the other end of the spectrum, at the administrative level, the rot, disaffection, factiousness and the slavegeneration was dominant. The middle and lower middle classes were paying a price for all of this while their own beliefs were lying broken, half-formed, or scattered and uprooted … they were committed to carrying the burden of life and were condemned to tolerate all its cruelties because their own leaders had become corrupt. The individual living during the Partition, disillusionment, mechanization, discrepancies, dissolution of families, political corruption and deep dissatisfaction was shirking accountability, or was unable to express himself in the middle of internal and external conflict. He stood amidst his milieu, entranced and astonished, on a path that was blocked. It is then that the Nayi Kavita revolution arrived, to release the blocked sources of the individual’s consciousness and orient itself towards the people tolerating life. Emerging from reality, the individual once again becomes the center of the story and the era of dependent characters comes to a close. A quest of Indian-ness was initiated and people began to look towards a verified and authentic reality. “Malbe ka Malik” (Owner of Debris), “Gulki Banno,” “Zindagi aur Jonk” (Life and Leech), “Bhagyarekha” (Fateline), “Badbu” (Bad Odour), “Karmnasha ki Haar,” “Teesari Kasam” (The Third Promise), “Saat Bachchon ki Ma” (Mother of Seven Children), “Jahan Lakshmi Qaid Hai” (Where Lakshmi is Imprisoned), “Bhains ka Katya” (Buffalo Breeds), “Chaudah Kosi Panchayat” (Fourteen Kosi Panchayat),23 “Shuturmurg” (Ostrich), “Babool ki Chhaon” (Shade of the Father’s Home), “Dhibri” (Wing Nut), “Kaalsundari,” “Samay” (Time), “Reva,” etc. and other stories break the obstacle that was created in literature. Harishankar Parsai,24 Sharad Joshi,25 Keshabchandra Varma,26 etc. voice the absurdities of their times through their satire. Plot, period, characterization, premise and craftsmanship emerge and a crisis of defining the Nayi Kahaani is created. The author abandons the pretense of being the creator, omniscient and invested in the future, because he has faced human troubles directly, and now seeks realism to express it. He refuses any sort of imposition and situates the Indian citizen within his time and circumstances. He demolishes the condemned, false and hollow traditions and morality, and instead opts for a morality which discards the religious belief of black and white traditions and gives way to new values. Isolated from religious morality, he accepts humanist values based on justice and equality. And the new storyteller does not accept the influence of religion, philosophy, network or ideology but rather subordinates himself to man’s ambitions and expectations. Nayi Kos is an Indian standard unit of distance. 1 Kos is 1.91 miles or 3.07 kms. Panchayat is a form of government within the South Asian political system. It dates back over two thousand years, and continues to be an important method of governance in the rural sectors of India.

23

Harishankar Parsai (1924–95) was a Hindi writer and humorist.

24

Sharad Joshi (1931–91) was a Hindi humorist and poet. He also wrote screenplays for some Hindi films and TV shows.

25

Keshavchandra Varma (1925–2007) was a Hindi poet and writer.

26

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Kahaani outlines emerging, forming or disintegrating relations of humans because it emerges out of an authentic expression relating to “me” and “[s]he” or “his/her” and the moment it comes out of “me” and relates to the other, the author is committed to it. The Nayi Kahaani author’s commitment is to life itself and not to opinions, fashions or promises. The main concerns that emerge in the context of the Nayi Kahaani are those about authenticity and narrative. Authenticity is to keep chiseling out lies and inconsistencies at the level of the craft of story and narrative is a search for simplicity. This simplicity is not synonymous with “equivocating” but is rather about expressing a reality by seeking it out from all of life’s phases without any tension or excessive romantic attachment. Authenticity is the condition for the truth of experience on one hand and on the other end is to handle truth with maturity and bring it to meaningfulness. Hence Nayi Kahaani is not merely a communication of life-chapters or condensed hours, but is the story of the meanings or values of various stages. In its analytical form, it is the faithful depiction of a situation, life-chapter or condensed time, and in a suggestive form, it takes human relations, incidents and moments to new meanings. These meanings emerge out of realities which the author chooses for the story. Today, the selection of narrative is important and hence the understanding of the meaning has increased. Nayi Kahaani is an authentic expression emerging out of this milieu, rather than being just a verbose rendition of events. Nayi Kahaani is dated because it does not contain a violation of its time. An expression of the central situations of its time and changing panoramas … there is an expectation to keep changing and “making it new” … there is no fixed form or model. Hence, it is fated to remain undefined. For any author, his creation is not a model but the platform for a new beginning. This process for creating this platform exists behind the creation of stories in Nayi Kahaani. Hence, a story is new if it seeks a new reality, and not if it looks anew at something that has happened. It is not an experiment in craft but in narrative. The importance of the narrative is all-pervasive. It is associated with everyone, more or less. The participation in narrative … emotion or entertainment or psychological verisimilitude are not bridges to communication. The magic of language, shadow of idioms or uniqueness of style are no longer ornaments of story-telling—style is no longer a roopvadi (aestheticist) tradition. Every story’s narrative is to determine its own style. The challenge to present reality by releasing oneself from artificial forms such as the epistolary, diary, memoirs has become important. And if seen at the level of realism then on one end contemporary stories have characters who are disappearing from life due to their strong Indian values—like the father and other elders—the mother from “Aadra,”27 the father from “Gulra ke Baba” (Gulra’s Father),28 the mother from “Chief ki Daavat” (Chief’s Feast), the father from “Biradari Baahar” (Out of the Community),29 the father from “Vaapsi” (Return)30 or “Pitaah” (Father) and mother from “Raktpat” (Bloodloss).31

Short story by Mohan Rakesh.

27

Short story by Markandey.

28

Short story by Rajendra Yadav.

29

Short story by Usha Priyamvada.

30

Short story by Dudhnath Singh.

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The modern woman has now emerged with full dignity, ownership and respect. “Yehi Sach Hai” (This is the truth),32 “Mitro Marjani” (To Hell with you, Mitro),33 “Lal Paranda” (Red Bird),34 “Zindagi aur Gulab ke Phool” (Life and Rose Flowers)35 and many other stories have women posited in authentic contexts and affairs of life. These women are not merely satisfied to seek out values and meanings through their man, but rather independently participate in their own lives and are responsible for themselves. Sex is no longer understood as a sin, but as an acceptable and compulsive need. It is not a savoring of the author’s frustration, but a simple desire of the character’s physical needs. Women are now women, they are not merely belles or courtesans. Hence Nayi Kahaani lacks vamps, who used to be required at every step. Now there are two poles—woman and man—who are face to face with their expectations and all their consistencies and inconsistencies. No more swamps of doubt-riddled relations. A woman’s body is now her own. Fraud, rape and the illicit liaisons with sisters-in-law are no longer an issue for the author’s empathy. It is not a literary achievement to consider loneliness as a “posture” or as romantic pretense. This is not a truthful depiction. In reality, is man not really lonely only amidst the storm of circumstances, taboos, dissolution and corruption? There is a tendency for the common masses to be surplus in destiny. This is a tendency among our youth or those who remain idle, appearing to be useless misfits, that is those who can’t grab hold of life or those whose grip has now turned infirm, to remain excluded from contemporary society. But this is not a curse of intimidation, death or some overruling force but a blessing of contemporary dissolutions, where a bored or worrisome individual is also present. Due to mechanization and fissures in domesticity, the troubled individual, despite the evident futility, has not become fatalistic or too invested in the future—he is extracting a positive impression from the negative elements of repulsion, rage and rejection. The protagonist of the contemporary story is the middle-class individual, who is within his milieu, saturated from deriving nourishment for his existence from his social roots. He isn’t opportunistic or egotistical—he bears the actions and repercussions of his life, his victories and defeats; he accepts the declining lowly human condition; he savors or splurges his powers of decision, believing in the world and his existence; he bears joy and sorrows, seeking unknown horizons and a new balance in life. The author today is trying to visualize this totality of life—he is a participant in this literature … Hence he does not guarantee anything. He simply exercises his freedom to think and makes a humble attempt to represent with immediacy the individual emerging from this milieu. He is consequently confronted not with his own achievements, but with the question arising from this challenge. These points have only been raised in relation to authors faithful to the creation and craft, and not in the context of the mass-produced writing published in the hundreds of thousands. There is no point unless one distinguishes between responsible writing and fluff.

Short story by Mannu Bhandari, published in the volume of the same name.

32

Famous novel by Krishna Sobti that shot her to overnight fame. It is known for the strong and explicit sexual voice of Mitro, the protagonist.

33

Short story by Anita Rakesh, published in the volume Ek Doosra Alaska (A Second Alaska).

34

Novel by Usha Priyamvada.

35

VII. FROM THE TRUE STORY OF SATYAKATHA Raja Dhale Originally published in Marathi as “Satyakathechi Satyakatha” in Yeru (1969). Translated by Sadhana Bhagwat. Raja Dhale (1940–) is a Marathi poet, artist, editor, Dalit activist, and a co-founder of the Dalit Panthers, an organization modeled after the Black Panthers that was formed by a group of young Dalits in Bombay in 1972.1 As one of the few but significant Dalit voices of the sathottari (post-1960s) moment in Marathi literary culture, Dhale's voice is a particularly significant one.2 In Marathi literary criticism, the term sathottari is used to speak of a “radically experimental phase of Marathi writing … [which is] mired in simultaneous attributions of both nativism and the avant-garde.”3 It emerged as a reaction against the literature of the early period of modernism in the 1940s and 1950s which was associated with a more Westernized, upper-class, upper-caste sphere. Magazines like Satyakatha (The True Story), which ran from 1933 to 1982, became representative of this elitist faction of modernist writing, such that, “by the 1960s, [it] had become a onestop publishing location for writers to gain literary acceptance and respect in the Marathi world.”4 Sathottari little magazines constantly attacked Satyakatha (there was a bonfire of the latter publication in Bombay in 1969), one of the most famous critiques being Dhale’s “Satyakathechi Satyakatha” (The True Story of Satyakatha). This essay appeared as an entire issue of Dhale's little magazine, Yeru, in 1969. It garnered much positive and negative attention, and led to Dhale being briefly imprisoned. RG

An unknown person, many centuries ago, had described Marathi native language speakers as “people who take pride in and enjoy being argumentative.” I cannot be an exception to this rule as a native speaker. Every person who claims to be Marathi has these qualities. And he takes pride in being argumentative. A fully-fledged argument is incomplete without a few abuses and cuss words. If the ancient stone inscriptions are to be believed, they say the same thing. The inhabitants of this Maratha land dislike being instructed about right and wrong and those who tell them dos and don’ts run the risk of being abused. Following this adage I reserve all my right to call names and hurl abuses, so that they hit the intended target. Maybe being a Maharashtrian is in itself an abuse. When we were children, we parroted the daily pledge:    Marathi is my mother tongue,    Though it has lost its glory today    But a day will come, and bestow its glory.

Nico Slate, “The Dalit Panthers: Race, Caste, and Black Power in India,” in Black Power Beyond Borders: The Global Dimensions of the Black Power Movement, ed. Nico Slate (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

1

Anjali Nerlekar, Bombay Modern: Arun Kolatkar and Bilingual Literary Culture (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2016): 37.

2

Nerlekar, Bombay Modern, 8.

3

Nerlekar, Bombay Modern, 49.

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We yelled these lines, dreaming of the Marathi language as a goddess reclining on a gilded throne. Today there is no reason to dream—the Marathi tongue has been bestowed all the honor of Rajyabhasha or The State Language in the state of Maharashtra. But has it really? What I am witnessing about the state of our mother tongue is shocking enough. To save the great language, a complete shut down of the magazines that are churned out every month is needed. Readers must have surmised that the topic for today is the Marathi popular magazines and newspapers. It would be easy to enhance the richness of a language just by a crown. But that does not work. The richness of any language is gauged by its equally diverse and rich literary traditions. This keeps the language alive and progressive. High quality literature cannot just be spat out accidentally. Good literature can only be created in an environment that is nurtured for this purpose. Leave alone what we have today—mostly titillation in the guise of literature—but far worse are the commercial compulsions that beckon one like a street walker. It will be wrong to expect purity of character in the marketplace. The socalled classy literature with all its pretensions is rotten to the core. Is there a publication willing to promote literature of value? The honest answer will be no. Then most of us are free to attend every Marathi Literature Convention and keep blowing our own trumpets that great literature is being published. Without fail every chairman of these conventions is an old gaga who goes into raptures over the famous monthlies of his time. In reality the publications are hard at work not in serving the cause of good literature but rather that of personal agendas and of the politics of one-upmanship. These are empty pots which make most noise and we will expose them for what they stand for. If you need glasses just to see clearly, we also need to hold a mirror to your face. Now and again anyone stands up to sing praises of the so-called glorious past of great publications and great literature that is supposed to have appeared in them. Those were the golden days of magazines like Satyakatha. Yes maybe but that was in past! Some of the monthlies are still around, but are hardly alive. Satyakatha is a monthly that has added 35 years to its tally, but it has done so without gaining anything. It kept on reliving the fortyyear-old notion of literature, and serving the same to its readers. Who would be willing to spend one and a half rupee on such a trash? My esteemed friend Ashok Shahane5 used to tease every person reading any of these magazines by feigning astonishment and saying “This gets published even now?” In those days I was entertained by it, but today I am in agreement. There is no publication that can honestly claim to be accepted by the discerning readers. I feel sorry when it is claimed that Satyakatha is the only publication that is dedicated to great Marathi literature. It can be tested by the following excerpt from a piece published in the magazine: Navbharat is a monthly magazine dedicated to the intelligent reader—this is a very unfortunate claim made by the publisher. It is very clear that both the magazines have been declining due to the restrictive mindset of the people who run it. The situation is rather bleak, and to hope for the future is foolhardy. Therefore we do not wish to pin blame at any doorstep. But it is quite amusing that the very same people who run Satyakatha as it is now, come out and speak very seriously about serving good literature! And we are further amused when the same people delude themselves into Ashok Shahane is a prolific little magazine maker, editor, translator, and publisher, who was at the heart of the sathottari scene in Marathi literature. A polyglot, he translated contemporary world literature and Indian literatures from other languages into Marathi. He also edited little magazines such as Atharva Aso.

5

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thinking that their magazine is doing well, and then they also crib about the falling standard of the writers in Navbharat. Before we go into the analysis of lines above, we must look at the Marathi newspapers. A folk poet has said that newspapers are the vehicles of democracy, which I am in agreement with. But he also claims that the editors are very unwilling to print critical appreciation of poetry. This is so because the critic’s piece is not important, but rather what is important is how much space can be allotted. The editors only want to fill some space. Once that is achieved, the write up is hacked and some part of it is used. So the content is never important; what counts is only how much space needs to be occupied. No one wants to read lengthy critical pieces on poetry. I had a similar experience at the Navshakti.6 They had edited out the important central part of the article. When I asked Bhau Padhye7 about it, he had a counter question about who reads such pieces nowadays. And if I do publish it, I have to face the boss, Mr Behere.8 This skirmish though had the desired effect and another article I wrote was published without any mindless editing. I had written the critical piece on “Majhe Vidyapeeth” (My University) as per the demand of Bhau, who wanted to publish it in Navshakti. It never appeared in the publication. Strangely it appeared in another publication Timba the next year.9 I was told that Mr Behere reportedly said that the criticism seemed so much bigger than the original article it was critiquing. They hardly understand that a collection of poems and critical appreciation are entirely different things. Once while discussing “Camus and Us,” Ashok had asked someone from Manohar10 pointedly that if it is indeed greatness if Camus had the ability to speak an entire book in one or two paragraphs. No one can reduce a book into a short summary. The original literary work and the critical commentary on it are entirely distinct from each other. If some references in both touch upon each other that is fine. If the original work is much smaller in content than the criticism, it should not matter in my view. But some policies have been established and everyone has to conform to those in this business. Every Sunday the newspapers are full of some literary piece or commentary. It is now mandatory for sub-editors to fill the pages with poetry written by themselves. Someone else fills some other pages and so on it goes. Regarding the critical comments that appear—the less said the better. What is passed off as criticism is limited to summary or a line or a word of the literature that is discussed to the point of boredom. This is the real sob story of the literature appearing in newspapers. The newspapers then make the natural progression to magazines. If I have to comment on the magazines, I must do this with the advice and input of others. The libraries that are run on government grants are not private property. But the managers sit in their respective positions as if they are there to guard their ancestral family Navshakti is a Marathi newspaper based in Mumbai.

6

Prabhakar Narayan Padhye (1926–96), popularly known as Bhau Padhye (Brother Padhye), was a Marathi journalist, novelist, playwright, and screenplay writer. His columns were regularly published in many notable Marathi magazines. He was also an editor of Navshakti, although Dhale appears to be describing a time when P. R. Behere was still the editor.

7

P. R. Behere was the first editor of Navshakti.

8

Timba (The Dot) was a Marathi avant-garde little magazine.

9

Manohar was a Marathi literary journal which was very popular in the literary circles. Ashok Shahane’s landmark essay “Ajakalachya Marathi vangmayavar kshkiran” (An X-Ray of Today’s Marathi Literature), considered a foundational document of the post-60s Marathi modernism in Bombay, was published in Manohar in 1963.

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treasury. They are convinced that only they are entitled to reap the benefits. I have myself donated scores of rare old magazine issues to many such libraries. They might account for 70% of the books on the shelves. Many rare books are printed in new editions, but it has never occurred to them that rare magazines can also be printed in this way. It has become a routine for them to misplace whatever I have donated. The same goes for reference books which have become extremely sought after as they are not available in libraries in Mumbai or anywhere else. But the concerned officials just say not available and forget about it. It is not their concern as they never bother to step into the reference book section; neither have they bothered to know about the severe shortage of some titles. While I was going through some reputed magazines of their times, I noticed that most of the pages in ninety percent of magazines were missing! And I am sure that this must happen mostly in our country. I do understand that tens of thousands of people visit public libraries each with varied objectives. Some just to pass time, some to snooze, many just to get friendly with girls, and some like myself come to decorate and mark pages with ink. Who can find the culprit if the pages have been vandalized by doodles or scandalous remarks. Scores of books are eaten by termites and there are no appeals against that. In the heat of the moment I once made a mistake of writing a few lines on the margins of a new book. Realizing my mistake, I offered to buy the book with an apology, but the boorish manager just shut the door in my face. My dear fellows, you and your books hardly matter to me. All those shelves are just trash, with no knowledge. Most of the books written by scholars are nothing but a bit taken from here and some taken from other sources. They have no idea about real talent or originality. Some of the literary figures just acquire a degree to become professors and then they are free to churn out mediocre books by thousands. Does anyone care for that literature? There are a few magazines which are self-professed cheap tabloids. They are at least honest with themselves and their readers. But I can’t really comment on those owing to a lack of knowledge. I do have a problem with those who have put on airs of being upper class and take pride in their superior culture which is far from the truth. If there are hundreds of good-for-nothing magazines, at least one of them should be of some quality? Magazines which patronize good literature command a certain price. But those who bring out such publications do not really think about the real value of quality. This is why meritocracy is driving this market where each other’s interests and camps are looked after. Every publication worth its salt collects all sorts of sycophants and yes men. I wish to draw your attention to a few letters regarding Abhiruchi.11 The controversy about the comments between P. L. Deshpande12 and Umakanth Thomre who had published of his works in Abhiruchi on the poetic style of G. D. Madgulkar.13 It is surprising that Thomre spotted the talent in G. D. Madgulkar so early on in his career. Anyway P. L. Deshpande was always there to make the necessary recommendations. But a bloated ego does not take anyone to greatness. The time comes when the back slapping buddies fall

Abhiruchi was an important Marathi literary magazine launched by Atmaram Chitre, the father of Dilip Chitre.

11

Purushottam Lakshman Deshpande (1919–2000), popularly known as “Pu La” Deshpande, was one of the most well-loved Marathi humorists. Aside from being a writer, he was also involved with the Marathi film industry in various capacities.

12

Gajanan Digambar Madgulkar (1919–77) was a Marathi writer and poet. He had also worked as a part of the Marathi film industry.

13

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out. I am reminded of the comments made by G. D. Madgulkar about the Nav Kavya (New Wave) in Marathi poetry. He had called it a foreign concept which would never be accepted in the established poet saint traditions of the Marathi language. For all these tall claims his own poems cannot be termed as representing the Indian culture. For example his work “Jogiya”—and I quote—“Sitar is sleeping quietly in the corner.” One of my lawyer friends from Kolhapur pointed out that this line has destroyed the entire poem. A courtesan has nothing to do with a string instrument like sitar. The word should have been sarangi instead. This person uses sitar instead of sarangi and we expect him to carry forward Indian culture!14 In the name of Indian culture we get cuss words in a foreign tongue which he uses for others. And people at large look up to such persons to carry forward the great poet saint traditions! No one really knows about these traditions as they claim. The writers have their own groups and coteries and this is why when P. L. Deshpande, the wellknown writer, trashed Thomre, others watched without a murmur. Take the example of the 1964 Diwali edition of reputed magazine Manohar. It is obvious that articles are edited randomly or some parts are deleted before printing. My friend Bhalchandra Nemade15 had referred to P. L. Deshpande as the “so-called esteemed writer” without naming him. And the higher ups in the monthly are busy running after the esteemed writer. They just make lofty claims to further the cause of great literature in the field of entertainment. But those claims are laughable. Every monthly worth its salt has to pay glowing tributes to P. L. Deshpande or be dammed. There is no possibility that such a great writer would put up his popular play Batatyachi Chawl for the financial aid of the monthly. Yet the magazines are more than willing to bend for him. The strategy of the well-established writer is to lavish praise on the young upcoming talent. The lavish praise does the trick and the poor new talent immediately falls prey to this trick. As a result P. L. becomes the literary idol to be worshipped. Whatever literature they create is influenced by the anticipation of P. L.’s reaction to it. It is frightening to think what demands are made on the poor writers by the editors of popular monthlies, when a famous writer like P. L. Deshpande, who is not even an editor, has everyone at his beck and call. The other magazine that is looked upon as the savior of the new breed of idealistic poets is Satyakatha. Though the image held by the dreamy new poets is far removed from the truth. A poor fellow sends his verses but it is repeatedly refused, and the poet is convinced that the monthly is only for those who are far superior than him. But he is unable to understand the low and dirty politics behind it. There is a girl in my office who is enamored of Satyakatha and waits with bated breath for the next issue each month. Who can snap her out of her misplaced love. But the question that begs an answer is the identity of the editor of this monthly. The name which appears as the editor should have an infinite number of indebted and grateful followers who have dedicated their latest literary piece to him. But the name that is mentioned in most book dedications is that of Prof. S. P. Bhagwat16 instead. My

Sitar and sarangi are both Indian string instruments. Traditionally, sarangi is the instrument that plays when a courtesan performs. Madgulkar’s poem mistakenly refers to the sitar and not the sarangi while referring to a courtesan’s room.

14

Bhalchandra Nemade (1938–) is a Marathi poet, novelist, and essayist who was deeply involved with the little magazine movement.

15

Shri Pu Bhagwat (1923–2007) was an editor and publisher who wielded a great deal of power within the Marathi literary and publishing industry. He was the director of Mauj Prakashan, and the editor of the periodicals Mauj and Satyakatha. He also presided over the 3rd Marathi Publisher Sammelan in 1987.

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old friend C. T. Khanolkar,17 who is better known by his pen name Aarti Prabhu, has expressed his gratitude and dedicated his literary works to S. P. Bhagwat, and so has Gangadhar Gadgil.18 I am unable to reproduce the exact words of gratitude, as I do not have the books, but those who are interested enough should get a library membership, and go through the stack of Mauj. You will come across ten or twelve gushing dedications in honor of S. P. Bhagwat, penned by many writers. Look into any literary collection of B. B. Borkar,19 there are glowing tributes to the same person. At any literary meet or discussions about books, it is a known fact that the editor of Satyakatha is S. P. Bhagwat. It is not a surprise that he has also edited many stories and books written by Gadgil. This is how the interest and favors are distributed, and how various circles or coteries complement each other. All the great personalities that are engaged in the pursuit of all-round knowledge show this ugly side too. As Bhagwat is also a respected professor in our college, the following notes in my diary will give a fair idea about how said person conducts his class. 15/1/69 Today S. P. Bhagwat was in our class and it was amusing. He was saying that whatever was written ages ago should be thrown away and everything modern should be considered best is a mistake and vice versa. In other words works of saint Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram should be accepted and anything that came later should be discarded is a kind of headstand. We must consider the times and era when these works were written before passing any judgments he said. I think he was hinting at Ashok. Then why was he silent when “ … Kshkiran”20 was written? He should have answered questions put by the students then. Ashok had the guts, but this person does not. He later proceeded to take Mahimbhat to task over the sections pertaining to Chakradhar. Lila Charitra21 fulfills all the parameters of classic literature. The literature that came later does not come even close. Every word in Lila Charitra is measured and used with perfection. The literary work has done away with object, subject and punctuation in the sentences, which may have been thought as grammatical constraints. At times just a verb or an adjective has been used to form very meaningful sentences. While reading the sections of the literature in class the professor kept commenting on the frequent use of colons in the literature. Mahimbhat was a great genius in literature as he proved through his work, and definitely not like the educated fools who fail to see greatness under their noses. A person who displays absolute command over words, no doubt has equal understanding of punctuation marks. So the great Mahimbhat is a moron but the anglicized professor is genius. The grammar in the older work is much better and it

Chintamani Tyambak Khanolkar (1930–76), popularly known by his pen name “Aarti Prabhu,” was a Marathi poet, novelist, and playwright.

17

Gangadhar Gopal Gadgil (1923–2008) was a prolific Marathi writer who wrote novels, plays, essays, travelogues, and literary criticism, as well as children’s literature.

18

Balakrishna Bhagwat Borkar (1910–84) was a poet from Goa, India, who wrote in Marathi and Konkani.

19

Refers to Shahane’s essay “Ajakalachya Marathi vangmayavar kshkiran” (An X-Ray of Today’s Marathi Literature).

20

Lila Charitra by Mahimbhat is a thirteenth-century Marathi literary text which was part of the university curriculum. Considered to be one of the first Marathi literary works, it is a biography of Sri Chakradhar Swami, who propagated a social movement in the thirteenth century that rejected ritualistic religion and accepted people irrespective of their castes.

21

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does away with unnecessary commas and question marks. These learned people think the British were the know-alls and our writers are fools. What is passed off today as Marathi is actually language devised by a Major Candy.22 This sahib introduced the commas and full stops into our language. Actually: is Bhagwat coming today: that this sentence is a question is very clear due to the “is.” What rubbish did you teach today: here too “what” signifies a question. Where is the need to use the question mark when the question shows itself clearly in the sentence: But we are forced to use this punctuation because English wants us to—that is the reasoning of these foolish English-educated scholars. Every sentence speaks for itself. When we say where are you going do we speak the question mark. If we don’t speak punctuation why write it: the sentence in itself is spoken with punctuation. When Lila Charitra was written (:) and (.) were the only punctuation marks used and that was a correct method and practice. What is seen today has been forced on us by the British. What Mahimbhat used then was just (:) which seems incorrect and what British introduced (?!;,) all that is very convenient. Full stop denotes that the sentence has ended. We speak without punctuation and that is how it should be. Mahimbhat was absolutely right and what we do today is foolish. For example they would say “gone”: how is one to know if this word is intended as a question. Every word comes after many words which have meaningful context which gives sense to the following word. In that case there should not be any need for various punctuation marks. As dialogue progresses the meaning becomes apparent: If anyone of the learned few goes ahead in pursuit of a doctorate degree and writes a thesis on spoken language of the seventeenth century the other scholars will immediately make fun of the subject. The reason being there is no way to really know how a given word was pronounced in that era and therefore according to the scholars it is a useless exercise. But they forget what such study can tell us about words and what it can tell us about grammar. Today though it’s possible to record sounds there are limitations to how many voices and sounds can be recorded. If a person pronounces a certain word in a certain way this in fact will be very difficult to establish five, ten, or a hundred years later. There no doubt will be many people around then who will also make fun of such studies. Those who consider bookish heavy language and spoken language as different from each other just exhibit their narrow minds. The printed word also talks to its reader so it is also a spoken language. We all are engaged in studying spoken language including that of S. P. Bhagwat our professor. Who is making fun of whom does matter a lot. We make fun of a certain set of people who think they have a right to laugh at some other set of people. These few people are our esteemed teachers who predictably mark our answer sheets with zeros whenever we choose to have our own view. In the BA we are judged third class pass. MA, flunked. To cut the story short the professors make fun of the study of spoken language of the seventeenth century which actually is a great achievement. By cracking jokes at others’ expense the professors just try to become popular among the students. They are the real students. I pray to God: please save me from such teachers who always want me to become just like them. With that the diary entry for 15/1/69 has ended. So Bhagwat should refrain from forcing his views in his lessons. The chairman of the respected drama production company Rangayan has failed in his own drama. I say why should S. P. Bhagwat hide his multi-talented personality. Just as his name as the real editor of Satyakatha has been kept hidden. Or there is some motive involved. We need to understand the inside story. Major Thomas Candy (1804–77) was a member of the British army, a Christian missionary, and an important Marathi lexicographer.

22

VIII. MODERN LITERATURE Ka. Naa. Subramanyam Originally published in Tamil as “Naveena Ilakkiyam” c. 1986–87. Translated by Darun Subramaniam from Ilakiya Vimarsanangal: Ka. Naa. Su Katturaigal, II (Literary Criticism: Ka. Na. Su’s Essays, II), edited by Kaavya Shanmugasundaram (Kaavya: Chennai, 2005). Ka. Naa. Subramanyam (Ka. Naa. Su) (1912–88) was a Tamil writer, translator, and literary critic. He is considered to be the most influential literary critic in modern Tamil literature. In this essay, Ka. Naa. Su investigates the relationship between tradition and the modern, and sees criticism as a historically necessary undertaking that animates the modern: “[The] modern sensibility,” he says, “is realized through criticism.” His method of criticism emphasizes the primacy of “literary taste” and regards the experience literature produces in a reader as the chief arbiter of literary merit. His penchant for prescription of literature is evident in this essay, and the works and writers he celebrates in it form the modern Tamil literary canon today. Ka. Naa. Su fought all his life against the proliferation of second-rate literature through the commercially driven periodicals of his time, and he, along with his literary nemesis, C. S. Chellappa, started numerous tabloids that were instrumental in the flourishing of modern Tamil poetry. Ka. Naa. Su identified the lack of a rigorous and continuous body of literary criticism in Tamil as a major reason for this capitulation to substandard, vulgar literary trends. His intervention in the critical scene consolidated the critical framework in Tamil literature, and promoted “serious” literature. Apart from criticism, Ka. Naa. Su’s great contribution to modern Tamil literature was through his translations. He translated Swedish, Norwegian, French, and English novels into Tamil. His translation of Pär Lagerkvist’s Barabbas (Aṉpu Vaḻi in Tamil) along with his novel Oru nāḷ created a modernist wave that deeply influenced the course of the modern Tamil novel. He was also the first to introduce a conception of “World Literature” to the Tamil reader. This essay serves as an excellent overview of modern Tamil literature—its fiction, poetry, criticism, and commercial writings; its exponents and their major works— and how they problematize the terms “modern” and “literature.” DS

The appellation “Modern Literature” is a conjunction of two words. It is necessary that we understand fully, and in the fullest capacity, what these words mean. In fact, this is absolutely necessary. Firstly, let us turn to “Modern.” The adjective “Modern” refers to time. A time that is associated closely with our present-day lives, and the distinctive writings of this time. Some literature tends to remain modern at all times, though this is very rare. In Tiruvaḷḷuvar,1 we come across non-human entities that remain very much like human

Tiruvaḷḷuvar (believed to have been born in 31 BCE) was a Tamil poet and philosopher. He wrote Tirukkuṟaḷ (composed sometime around 1 CE), a classical philosophical treatise on ethics. It is written in verse and contains 1330 couplets.

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beings, and this, at the level of ideas, one wonders, would remain “modern” for all times. In Cilappatikāram,2 some passages highlighting city life, despite having been written a thousand years ago, seem distinctly “modern.” Likewise, when we read Rāmāyaṇam (The Rāmāyaṇa), Mahāpāratam (The Mahābhārata),3 or Aśvaghoṣa’s Buddhacaritham,4 we experience them not only as old but also, simultaneously, as “modern.” This modern sensibility is realized through criticism. In modern approaches to literature, literary creation and literary criticism appear to share a close proximity in terms of their shared “literary vision,” though they do not exactly coincide. There was a time when literary genius and literary criticism were two different things. In Indian literary tradition, the writer and the critic were two different people. “The writer should not be a literary critic,” was a widely-held sentiment. But modern literary perspectives have spawned the idea that it is not possible for literary creation to happen without the aid of a critical vision. The notion that criticism itself is a creative act is also popular. If some say that, “Carasvati5 rests in my mouth and directs my speech” or “Parācakti6 stands behind me and directs my pen,” we need to understand that they do not mean it in a literal sense. They are rather finding metaphors from tradition to express their inability to locate their creative genius. It looks like we have come to know our language and our literary tradition, and other languages and their traditions, through criticism. Even if we don’t recognize this knowledge as capacious and subtle, we need to recognize in it a certain depth. Modern literature acts like criticism in its very approach to understanding tradition. At the level of criticism, it becomes clear that language and literature rely on a shared tradition and a shared set of conventions. The modern literary perspective has recently informed us that those who create modern literature, do so by interacting with tradition both in affirmation and in contestation. Modern aspects of literature comprise critical engagement with tradition, the selfcritical nature of creativity, the nature of world literature, and one needs to add to this list, the scientific knowledge that stands as the foundation of modern times. One does not find a full development of these four aspects of modern Tamil literature. This is largely the case with Indian literature as well. Despite having a long and glorious literary tradition,7 we have failed to critically establish it in the global arena. It also strikes me that we are insensitive to carrying out this task. One finds modern Indian literature to be not as fully developed, or not even close to attaining this maturity, but only at the nascent, “developmental” stage.

Cilappatikāram (c. 5th CE) is one of the five great Tamil Epics. It is attributed to the Jain poet Iḷaṅkōvaṭikaḷ, and is a poem telling the “tragic” story of Kōvalaṉ (a merchant who squanders his wealth on the temple dancer, Mātavi), and his faithful wife Kaṇṇaki, who eventually becomes a goddess.

2

The Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata are the two great Hindu epics.

3

Buddhacaritham is an epic poem in Sanskrit on the life of Gautama Buddha by Aśvaghoṣa, composed in the early second century CE.

4

Hindu goddess of wisdom, music and art.

5

Supreme Mother goddess in Hindu mythology; source of power and creativity.

6

Tamil boasts a literary tradition spanning at least 2500 years. The oldest extant text is Tolkāppiyam (5 BCE– 2BCE?), a treatise on Tamil grammar. The earliest Tamil poems belong to the Caṅkam period (3 BCE–2CE).

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Popular writers like Sujatha write science fiction novels and short stories in popular periodicals and attract a wide readership.8 But these writings do not spring forth from our own systems of knowledge. Jayakanthan’s writings are at once popular and possess considerable literary merit.9 Yet the intellectual component of his writings and their emotional content seem to be separate. T. Janakiraman’s Mōkamuḷ had an intellectual plot while his more recent novels like Am’mā vantāḷ and Marappacu have not attained this fullness.10 There were also writings of some authors published in magazines that were not popular, that were not later published as books, but were modern and contained intellectual experimentation. After Subramania Bharati,11 Pudumaippithan12 and Mowni13 should be considered as important modern writers in Tamil. Their best short stories carry the imprint of modern intellectual tradition, which is a major trait of modern literature. Likewise, in Sundara Ramaswamy’s Oru puḷiyamarattiṉ katai (Tamarind History) one finds the same intellectual impact.14 This impact is most fully felt in the novel he wrote after twenty years, and published only recently, called J.J. Cila kuṟippukkaḷ.15 How well this novel will be received, read, and recognized, we will have to wait and see. But this is a major attempt. Nakulan’s four to five novels are the outcomes of a completely modern intellectual influence, and more importantly, literary intellectual influence.16 But these books have largely gone unread. Sadly, this is the state of modern Tamil literature. I think the above examples would suffice. We can add to this Sa. Kandasamy’s recent Avaṉ Āṉatu.17 The short story and new poetry, in response to the modern intellectual

Sujatha Rangarajan (1935–2008) was a popular Tamil writer and screenwriter, known for his science fiction and popular science writing.

8

D. Jayakanthan (1934–2015) was a writer, critic, journalist, and activist. He wrote for popular periodicals like Āfor popular, while also writing critically acclaimed novels and short stories.

9

T. Janakiraman (1921–82) wrote novels and short stories, including Mōkamuḷ (The Thorn of Passion, 1956), Am’mā vantāḷ (Mother Came, 1965), and Marappacu (1975), the latter of which has been translated into English by Lakshmi Kannan as Wooden Cow (Madras: Sangam Books, 1979).

10

Chinnaswamy Subramania Bharati (1882–1921) is considered to be the first modern writer in Tamil. He brought free verse to Tamil, inaugurating the “New Poetry,” movement, which was an attempt to democratize poetry by writing in the “real language of men.” He experimented with prose forms like the short story and the essay which set the template for modern Tamil prose. His pioneering efforts in journalism helped establish the field in Tamil. He was the sub-editor of the Tamil nationalist daily, Swadeshamitran, and edited the daily Vijaya and the weekly India. He was a freedom fighter and a social reformer. He was the first poet whose works were nationalized in 1949, and he remains the most influential literary and cultural figure in Tamil.

11

Pudumaipitthan, the pseudonym of C. Viruthachalam, (1906–48), was a Tamil modernist writer, considered to be the greatest modern short story writer. His highly satirical stories made extensive use of social critique.

12

Mowni, the pseduonym of S. Mani Iyer (1907–85), wrote highly symbolic works, devoid of extensive characterization and plot.

13

Sundara Ramaswamy (1931–2005) was one of the most important modernist writers and literary critics in Tamil, who experimented with the form of the short story and the novel. His first novel Oru puḷiyamarattiṉ katai (1966) is centered on a tamarind tree that witnesses the social transformations of post-independence India. It has been published in Blake Wentworth’s English translation as Tamarind History (New Delhi: Penguin, 2013).

14

J.J. Cila kuṟippukkaḷ (1986) is a novel in the form of a collage of diary entries. It explored the possibilities of the novel form, eschewing character development and plot. It has been translated into English by A. R. Venkatachalapathy as J. J.: Some Jottings (New Delhi: Katha, 2003).

15

Nakulan (T.K. Doraiswamy) (1921–2007) was a major modern Tamil poet and novelist.

16

Sa. Kandasamy (1940–) is a writer, critic, scholar, and film maker.

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influence, have produced numerous writers with a modern intellectual sensibility. The stories of Ashokamitran18 and Na. Muthuswamy19 and the new poetry of Gnanakoothan,20 Nakulan, Mayan are worthy of mention. After all, it is not surprising for modern literature to give rise to new domains of thought and new forms of writing. One such literary form that emerged in the first part of this century in world literature is the short story. Beginning with the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, the short story form traveled to France and Sweden. Most importantly, in the later years of the nineteenth century, it flourished in Russia, and then permeated Ireland, Germany, South America and Italy, and ripened. Even in India, there are critics who believe that the growth of the short story is greater than that of the novel. Historically it is correct to say that, in modern Tamil literature, in the period post-Subramania Bharati, in the 1930s, a literary renaissance occurred with the onset of the first wave of modernism in the realm of the short story. Starting with Pudumaippithan, Ku. Pa. Rajagopalan,21 Mowni, Na. Pichamurti,22 and then progressing to T. Janakiraman, La. Sa. Ramamirtham,23 Ku. Alagirisami.24 Following a brief period of dormancy, it picked up again in the 1950s after Jayakanthan and Sundara Ramaswamy started writing. The short story scene after 1965 has greatly matured. One can easily name ten to twelve good short story writers, at the least. There are pointed, modern differences, effected through time, in terms of form, content, and style between the short stories written earlier and in the present. In general, the early short stories—even the ones that exhibited pessimism and hopelessness as themes—acknowledged idealism. They embodied a universally accepted human psychology and contained a principle of harmony. Human sentiments, ambition, and belief were considered important. The short stories of recent times eschew idealism; there is a dearth of ambition in them. Human psychology is not sufficiently and satisfactorily dealt with, like in the old days. Not the man, but his circumstances, and the events that shape those circumstances have now become the subjects of literature. In modern literature, the novel too is treated as an important form, like the short story. It seems to me that the novel has flourished more than the short story. I have already mentioned a couple of novels and a few names but if we add to the list of Sundara Ramaswamy, Jayakanthan, T. Janakiraman, Sa. Kandasamy, Nakulan, the works of Neela

Ashokamitran (Jagadisa Thyagarajan) (1931–2017) was an important Tamil writer. His works explore the lives of the powerless and the meek in middle-class society, and employ a distinctive, deceptively simple, disinterested style.

18

Na. Muthuswamy (1936–) is the art director of Tamil folk theater group, “Koothu-P-Pattarai.” His play Kālam kālamāka is considered the first modern play in Tamil.

19

Gnanakoothan (R. Ranganathan) (1938–2016) was a modernist poet, whose poems contain unresolved paradoxes, digressions, and prose, alongside tropes from traditional poetry. His first collection Aṉṟu vēṟu kiḻamai was a very significant publication in modernist writing.

20

Ku. Pa. Rajagopalan (1902–44) was a short story writer, known for his careful, chiseled use of language and for writings that explored male-female relationships and psychology, with a clear Freudian influence.

21

Na. Pichamurti (1900–76) was considered Ku. Pa. Rajagopalan’s literary “twin.” He was a major modernist poet and a pioneer of philosophical fiction.

22

La. Sa. Ramamirtham (La. Sa. Ra) (1916–2007) was a short story writer, known for his highly experimental works.

23

Ku. Alagirisamy or G. Alagirisamy (1923–70) was a short story writer.

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Padmanabhan,25 Ki. Rajanarayanan,26 Vannanilavan,27 Nanjil Nadan,28 Ashokamitran, and Aa. Madhavan,29 we get a glimpse of the pinnacle of achievements in modern Tamil literature. One of the major components of modern literature is the serialized long stories published in the periodicals. Till the 1980s there were only three popular magazines. Today there are around ten or twelve. This number is sure to increase in the coming years. It is indeed a matter of pride that among all the weeklies published in India, only the Tamil weeklies sell in lakhs.30 But seen from a different angle, the literary service they provide does not go beyond a certain standard. Whatever the standards may be, these periodicals greatly influence modern writing. One aspect of this influence is the acceptance of long serials as novels. The magazines also offer the readers humbug in the name of “new poetry.” Although there is much to write on these issues, while pertaining to modern literature, they are best left unsaid. Literary criticism in Tamil, as an institution, developed after the 1960s but did not grow to attain maturity and has remained stagnant. The contribution of criticism to modern Tamil literature should have been substantial, but it was not so. There are many reasons for this and they are not exclusive to Tamil literature. They are common to the literatures of many Indian languages. In our literary tradition, criticism did not develop as a historically continuous body. Schools and colleges did not provide the grounds for a critical engagement with the literatures of the past. We did not conceive of ancient literature as a living thread. There are many such reasons. There are few critics in Tamil who can recognize, assess and prescribe modern literature as it is being published. Like in the West, criticism about critics, and complaints about them have started to come. This is a major limitation of modern Tamil literature. The influence of cinema on modern literature and criticism, although little, should be welcomed. Without the knowledge of the foundational texts, or literary history, some critics have tried developing critical attitudes in Tamil just by watching European and American cinema. This has provided different viewpoints to criticism. Significant among modern Tamil literature is the “New Poetry.”31 The father of modern Tamil literature, Subramania Bharati sought to put an end to “thought quantified and measured on the tips of the fingers to be able to render itself to poetry.” But the prose poems of Bharati did not capture the imagination of his readers. But this lack of attention to his prose poems might be rectified through Gnanakoothan’s recently released Bharathiyin Puthukavithai. Following Bharati, in the 1930s, Ku. Pa. Rajagopalan and Neela Padmanabhan (1938–) is known for his realist novels.

25

Ki. Rajanarayanan (1922–) is known for his elaborately descriptive stories set in rural villages, which make use of spoken language and folklore. His novels espouse Marxist philosophy.

26

Vannanilavan (U. N. Ramachandran) (1949–) is a novelist.

27

Nanjil Nadan (G. Subramaniam) (1947–) is a prolific writer of fiction, short stories, and essays. His fiction incorporates references from classical Tamil literary tradition.

28

Aa. Madhavan (1934–) writes novels and stories set around Chalai Bazaar, exploring the lives and activities of merchants, scoundrels, and beggars.

29

A lakh is an Indian measure for 100,000.

30

The term “New Poetry” (or “Putu kavitai”) was coined by Ka. Naa. Su, to describe poetic innovations by Ku. Pa. Rajagopalan, Na. Pichamurti, and Gnanakoothan, who built on Subramania Bharati’s experiments with prose poems. This new poetry was influenced by Ezra Pound’s “A Retrospect” (1918) and valued economy of words, precise diction, and limited description. The anthology, Putu kuralkaḷ (New Voices, 1958) is a landmark publication in the history of New Poetry.

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Na. Pichamurti tried their hands at prose poems. But only after 1960, when Pichamurti started writing and publishing under the tag of Putu kavitaikaḷ (New Poetry) did this take shape into a movement and a convention. I have made my own contribution to this movement. New poetry has been attempted in every period in history, and in all languages of the world. More than a hundred names along the lines of Walt Whitman, T. S. Eliot can be named. This new poetry has been shaped by and to some extent encompasses the complexities of modern life and the impact of modern science. Modern Tamil poetry is no exception to this. In about twenty years, around twenty to thirty noteworthy names have emerged in the modern Tamil poetry scene. Shanmuga Subbaiah,32 Gnanakoothan, Nakulan, Pasuvaiah33 are some important figures. In a sense, it will have to be said that the two supreme forms of modern Tamil literature are the novel and New Poetry. Dialect literatures corresponding to different zones of Tamilnadu are major components of modern Tamil literature, predominantly written in the form of a novel or a short story. This was inaugurated by R. Shanmugasundaram.34 Novels of the Kōvai35 region like Nākam’māḷ, Caṭṭi cuṭṭatu, Aṟuvaṭai are some of the best novels in the Tamil language.36 The novels and short stories of T. Janakiraman employ the linguistic registers of the Thanjavur region. Very recently, Ki. Rajanarayanan, Vanna Nilavan, Vanna Dasan,37 Nanjil Nadan are some important names that have emerged. Over the century, periodicals have become the most flourishing part of modern Tamil literature. I have already mentioned this. In Tamil, there are some ten popular magazines that sell around one lakh, two lakh or five lakh copies. The effect of journalistic prose is seen in all other forms of modern literature and across all languages. The writings of Subramania Bharati are considered to be the beginnings of modern Tamil literature because, in addition to being a Mahākavi (Great Poet), he was also a journalist. With the influence and dominance of periodicals, we see literature being put through some complications, and this is true with regard to modern literature. The period that we call “Modern” gave rise to periodicals which affect the second word in the appellation—“Modern Literature”—because they affect the standard of literature.38 The writers who feature every week without fail in these magazines are the only names that stay in the minds of the readers. The readers who read these stories and serials written for pure entertainment, in addition to remembering their authors, Shanmuga Subbaiah (1924–) wrote poems that are known for the poet’s unobtrusive voice, their simplicity of language, and the strong presence of the oral register.

32

Sundara Ramaswamy wrote 108 poems under the pseudonym Pasuvaiah.

33

R. Shanmugasundaram (1918–77) is a novelist who belonged to the Manikkodi group of writers. His first novel Nākam’māḷ (1941) is regarded as the first serious realist novel in Tamil. The novel was also the harbinger of the so-called Vaara Ilakkiam (Dialect Literature) genre in the Tamil novel.

34

Kovai or Coimbatore is the name of an important city in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu where Shanmugasundaram’s novels are based.

35

Nākam’māḷ, Caṭṭi cuṭṭatu, and Aṟuvaṭai are all novels by Shanmugasundaram, depicting the regional specificity of the Kovai region.

36

Vannadasan (1946–) writes poetry under the pen name Kalyanji. He is known for his eye for detail.

37

While commercial writing flourished in popular periodicals and weeklies, modern literature in Tamil emerged in the avant-garde magazines that operated alongside these popular publications. Weeklies like Manikkodi, C.S Chellappa’s Ezhthu, Ka. Naa. Su’s Suraavazhi, and many others carried experimental poetry and short stories, translations, and literary debates that consolidated a set of values which we now recognize as “modern.” These magazines were responsible for the creation of modern Tamil literary criticism, largely through the contributions of the writers themselves.

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also start experiencing periodical stories as short stories and serials as novels. This is a general trend in modern literature, seen across all languages. This is true to some extent for some world languages. But there, in the Western countries—in France, America, England—a great critical tradition spanning 400 to 500 years is in place. In India, this literary awareness came about only recently. That is, the ability to read by oneself and to understand is a phenomenon that occurred only after the advent of English education. Before this, although Indian peoples were cultured and literate, and intelligent, they were not “well read” or “learned.” They achieved knowledge only through oral traditions. Despite having a 3000-year-old literary tradition, the lack of a developed tradition of literary criticism has provided room for magazines to thrive and establish a commonsense notion that whatever is written is worthy of being called Literature. We have reached a state where, instead of functioning as an aid and source of modern literature, the periodicals, in order to be commercially successful, stand in opposition to Literature, and promote and celebrate pseudo-literature. This is an unfortunate but fairly common aspect of modern literature. Modern Literature and its development, like in other Indian languages, has been imbricated in various artistic and intellectual fields, and through various publishing outlets. This has imbued Indian writing with great possibilities and given it great encouragement. Modern Literature today serves as a fine bridge—a conduit to accessing tradition—giving us every reason to be hopeful of a future, just as great as the past.

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CHAPTER NINE

Chinese Modernism EDITED BY STEPHEN J. ROSS

China’s fraught relation to modernity and modernization makes the task of defining Chinese modernism a difficult one. Scholars continue to debate precisely when China became modern and what modernity means in this context. While some would argue that China did not start to become modern until well into the twentieth century, others would situate the onset of modernity in China in the nineteenth century, or even earlier (according to one prominent modernist scholar, China became modern long before Japan and the West).1 Certainly in the early decades of the twentieth century China was still marked by millennia of hierarchical Confucian traditionalism and dynastic rule and had not modernized on the order of colonizers such as Britain and Japan. Yet the imperial incursions of Western powers and Japan into China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries also inevitably dragged it into the capitalist world-system. Whatever the case may be, China cannot really be said to have had a textbook modernist moment like the one that occurred, for instance, in post-Meiji Japan in the 1920s and 1930s; though if there was such a moment, it happened in Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s. Nor was there a Chinese modernism that straightforwardly served as an apparatus of anticolonial struggle, as is the case with many other modernisms anthologized in this book. If China’s struggle to modernize was exacerbated by Japanese and Western imperialism, the obstinacy of Confucian traditionalism, and civil war, it was also a product of resistance to importing—and being situated within the framework of—Western values and concepts, one of them being modernism itself. Yet, while scholars of modern Chinese literature and culture have been reticent to posit something so monolithic (and, in many ways, incongruous and anachronistic) as “Chinese modernism,” modernism in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and among Chinese-speaking expatriates has proven to be a rich and various field of study that registers a century of wrenching political, aesthetic, and identitarian turmoil. This modernism has been an asynchronous, decentralized, and plural affair, spanning the New Culture Movement’s efforts to vernacularize classical Chinese literature and the singular flourishing of urbane Shanghainese modernism in the 1930s and 1940s to the revival of high modernist aesthetics in Taiwan in the 1950s and the avant-gardist refusal of social realism in the reform period following Mao’s death in 1976. If “Chinese modernism” is not really conceivable—being the expressive dimension of a modernity that never materially existed—it might be possible to conceive of modernism operating in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and abroad

In Planetary Modernism: Provocations on Modernity across Time, Susan Stanford Friedman posits a Tang dynasty (618–907) modernism.

1

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as a state of mind, an orientation toward freighted topics like aesthetic form, imperialism, nation, the individual, the unconscious, the foreign, and the spiritual. Historians tend to date the emergence of modern China—or perhaps, the impingement of modernity on China—to the Opium Wars, which forcibly opened Chinese ports to Western trade under the auspices of asymmetrical treaties. These conflicts precipitated the more general decay of the Qing dynasty (1636–1912), which was further eroded by the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–5), the Hundred Days’ Reform (1898), and the Boxer Rebellion (1899–1901). The eventual fall of the dynasty in 1912 in the wake of the Xinhai Revolution (1911) brought an end to four millennia of dynastic rule in China and inaugurated the Republic of China (mainland rule, 1912–49). While the founding of this constitutional republic seemed to portend reforms, the Republic of China did not stabilize under Kuomintang (National Peoples’ Party) rule until 1928 and was then successively riven by civil war, the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Second World War, and the Communist takeover in 1949. The early decades of the twentieth century were marked by conflicting nationalist and globalist impulses. On the one hand, the anti-imperialist, anti-Christian, and anti-foreign sentiments unleashed so powerfully during the Boxer Rebellion signaled the emergence of a Chinese proto-nationalism. On the other hand, the recalcitrant, hierarchical conservatism of the decaying Qing dynasty spurred efforts to modernize China by exposing it to Western values and culture (mediated in part by Japan), a path that other declining imperial powers such as Turkey and Persia would follow. Holding these impulses in tension was the New Culture Movement (1915–19), which began with efforts to reform Chinese culture by eradicating the dynastic system, vernacularizing Chinese literature, and opening the country to foreign culture and technologies, a path that has parallels in other empires newly anxious about their status in a Western-dominated world, from Japan in the late nineteenth century to Turkey under Atatürk. New Culture Movement intellectuals initially blamed the suffocating persistence of Confucian traditionalism for China’s failure to modernize and achieve self-determination; Chen Duxiu (1879–1942), a leader of the movement and later a co-founder of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), suggested “Mr. Confucius” be exchanged for “Mr. Science” and “Mr. Democracy.” In 1917 Hu Shih (1891–1962), a Western-educated leader of the movement, published an essay calling for a new Chinese literature written not in the classical language but in the vernacular. Hu’s call was answered famously by Lu Xun (Zhou Shuren, 1881–1936), whose experimental frame narrative, “Diary of a Madman” (1918), introduced the vernacular into modern Chinese literature. Like many innovators of the New Culture Movement, Lu Xun had received a classical education but was also deeply immersed in foreign intellectual currents and committed to harnessing Western technologies and disseminating foreign literature in translation. He was therefore keenly aware of what stood to be lost and gained in the movement’s anti-isolationist “call to arms” (the title of his 1923 short-story collection). The New Culture Movement culminated in the May 4, 1919, student protests in Beijing against the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles, which ceded German-occupied Chinese territory to Japan. The May Fourth Movement’s sense of betrayal by the Allies marked a souring of youthful idealization of the West and activated leftist political consciousness. In the wake of this sentiment, the CCP was founded in 1921. Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s was the indisputable center of modernism in China; indeed, some would argue that Shanghai modernism of this period is the only cultural formation we can meaningfully describe as Chinese modernism. The vividly

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metropolitan Shanghai style of art and literature that crystallized during these years emerged from the city’s uniquely international character, dating back to the construction of the International Settlement in the nineteenth century. If the material conditions of Western-style modernity did not obtain throughout China, here at least they could be glimpsed. Writers associated with the Shanghai style (haipai) inaugurated cosmopolitan, hybrid modes of art-making keyed to the historical Western avant-gardes and to Japanese New Sensationism (shinkankakuha). The Francophile poet and editor Dai Wangshu (1905–50), for instance, began publishing free verse “new poetry” showcasing a French Symbolist sensibility transplanted to the urban theater of Shanghai. Dai and collaborators such as Mu Shiying (1912–40) and Shi Zhecun (1905–2003) published their fiction, poetry, and translations of foreign work in influential Shanghai-based modernist little magazines such as Xiandai (1932–5, also known as Les Contemporains). Perhaps the most influential chronicler of Chinese urban life during this period was Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing, 1920–95), a cosmopolitan novelist, essayist, and short story writer who drew on her experiences in Hong Kong and Shanghai in her wildly popular early novels and short stories. Chang, who was fluent in English, moved back to British-controlled Hong Kong in 1952, where she wrote her first novel in English, The Rice-Sprout Song (1955), a critique of the Communist land reform movement. She moved to the United States in 1955 and never returned to mainland China. Social realism would all but monopolize the field of literary production in China from 1949 until the late 1970s. At the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art (1942), Mao Zedong had established two principles that would enshrine social realism as official CCP policy: (1) art must take the working class as its subject matter and audience, and (2) art must serve the advancement of politics, specifically socialism. While modernism had been routinely denounced by Communists and Nationalists alike as bourgeois, decadent, derivative, colonialist, and pathologically individualistic well before 1949, it became officially anathema in mainland China after the Communists came to power. Chinese-language modernism as such was not completely suppressed but did reassert itself in Taiwan after the Kuomintang retreat. In 1956, Ji Xian (1913–2013), a former practitioner of the “new poetry” and contributor to Xiandai in the 1930s, founded the popular “modernist school” in his journal, Xiandaishi jikan (Modern Poetry Quarterly). His six-part manifesto of the school famously defined the “new poetry” as “a horizontal transplantation, not a vertical inheritance” (i.e., in dialogue with the West and against traditional hierarchy) and aligned the “modernist school” with democracy, patriotism, and anti-communism. During the liberal reform period of the late 1970s and 1980s that followed Mao’s death, China experienced a striking resurgence of modernist practices. The “residual modernism” of the period, as the scholar Xiaobing Tang has dubbed it,2 violated social realist norms by courting difficulty over dogmatic plainness, valorizing individualism over collectivism, and reckoning with the trauma of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). “Scar Literature” aptly names an important realist genre that emerged in the late 1970s, as does “Misty Poetry,” an originally derogatory title for the experimental imagecentered free verse of poets who endured the excesses of the Cultural Revolution and were also skeptical of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. The late-breaking modernism of the “era of reforms” culminated in the so-called “Cultural Fever” of the mid-late 1980s,

Xiaobing Tang, Chinese Modern: The Heroic and the Quotidian (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000).

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which marked the arrival of major avant-garde voices such as Gao Xingjian (1940–), Yu Hua (1960–), and Can Xue (Deng Xiaohua, 1953–) and which abruptly ended with the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. SJR

FURTHER READING Denton, Kirk, ed. Modernist Chinese Literary Thought: Writings on Literature, 1893–1945. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995. FitzGerald, Carolyn. Fragmenting Modernisms: Chinese Wartime Literature, Art and Film, 1937–49. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013. Hayot, Eric. “Modernism’s Chinas: Introduction.” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 18.1 (2006): 1–7. Hsia, C. T. A History of Modern Chinese Fiction. 3rd edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999. Lee, Leo Ou-fan. Shanghai Modern: The Flowering of a New Urban Culture in China, 1930– 1945. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. Ning, Wang. “Rethinking Modern Chinese Literature in a Global Context.” Modern Language Quarterly 69.1 (2008): 1–11. Schaeffer, William. Shadow Modernism: Photography, Writing, and Space in Shanghai, 1925–37. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. Shih, Shu-mei. The Lure of the Modern: Writing Modernism in Semicolonial China, 1917–1937. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001. Tang, Xiaobing. Chinese Modern: The Heroic and the Quotidian. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000. Tang, Xiaobing. “Lu Xun’s Diary of a Madman and a Chinese Modernism.” PMLA 7.5 (1992): 1222–34. Zhang, Xudong. Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms: Cultural Fever, Avant-Garde Fiction, and the New Chinese Cinema. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997.

I. SOME THOUGHTS ON OUR NEW LITERATURE Lu Xun First published in Chinese in Weiming 2.8 (May 25, 1929). Translated by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang.

An icon of the “new literature” and widely considered one of the most important modern Chinese writers and thinkers, Lu Xun (Zhou Shuren, 1881–1936) lived through, and had a significant hand in guiding, the tumultuous emergence of modern China in the first decades of the twentieth century. Born to a family of fading distinction, Lu Xun received a classical Chinese education and endured the first Sino-Japanese War and the Boxer Rebellion as a youth; these events coupled with his wide reading in foreign literature, his struggles as a student in Japan, and his abortive training as a doctor convinced him of China’s desperate need to modernize itself (and colored his acerbic skepticism about its prospects of doing so). His opposition to Confucian traditionalism and increasing commitment to leftist struggle (though eventually a fellow traveler of the CCP he was never officially a member) placed him at the fore of the New Culture Movement of the 1910s and 1920s. Although he stopped producing literature in the last decade of his life, he is perhaps most famous for his short fiction, especially “Diary of a Madman” (1918), a modernist frame narrative that inaugurated the use of the vernacular in modern Chinese literature and, with its terrifying governing conceit of tradition’s cannibalism, emblematized the ideals and anxieties of the May Fourth Movement. “Some Thoughts on our New Literature” was delivered as a lecture on May 22, 1929, at the National Literature Studies Association of Yenching University in Beijing. With characteristic satiric verve, Lu Xun criticizes a large swath of modern Chinese literature for being insular and falsely revolutionary. “Politics comes first, and art follows accordingly,” he avers, adding that properly revolutionary art does not precede and prompt political revolution but follows in its wake and registers the new revolutionary dispensation. In keeping with his lifelong commitment to translating and disseminating foreign works, Lu Xun traces the failures of so-called revolutionary literature of the time to its refusal to look abroad. SJR

For more than a year now I have spoken very seldom to young people, because since the revolution there has been very little scope for talking. You are either provocative or reactionary, neither of which does anyone any good. After my return to Beijing this time, however, some old friends asked me to come here and say a few words and, not being able to refuse them, here I am. But owing to one thing and another, I never decided what to say—not even what subject to speak on. I meant to fix on a subject in the bus on the way here, but the road is so bad that the bus kept bouncing a foot off the ground, making it impossible to concentrate. That is when it struck me that it is no use just adopting one thing from abroad. If you have buses, you need good roads too. Everything is bound to be influenced by its surroundings, and this applies to literature as well—to what in China is called the new literature, or revolutionary literature.

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However patriotic we are, we probably have to admit that our civilization is rather backward. Everything new has come to us from abroad, and most of us are quite bewildered by new powers. Beijing has not yet been reduced to this, but in the International Settlement in Shanghai, for example, you have foreigners in the center, surrounded by a cordon of interpreters, detectives, police, “boys,” and so on, who understand their languages and know the rules of foreign concessions. Outside this cordon are the common people. When the common people come into contact with foreigners, they never know quite what is happening. If a foreigner says “Yes,” his interpreter says, “He told me to box your ears.” If the foreigners says “No,” this is translated as “Have the fellow shot.” To avoid such meaningless trouble you need more knowledge, for then you can break through this cordon. It is the same in the world of letters. We know too little, and have too few materials to help us to learn. Liang Shiqiu has his Babbitt, Xu Zhimo has his Tagore, Hu Shih has his Dewey—oh yes, Xu Zhimo has Katherine Mansfield too, for he wept at her grave1—and the Creation school2 has revolutionary literature, the literature now in vogue. But though a good deal of writing goes with this, there is not much studying done. Right up to today, there are still some subjects which are the private preserve of the few men who set the questions. All literature is shaped by its surroundings and, though devotees of art like to claim that literature can sway the course of world affairs, the truth is that politics comes first, and art changes accordingly. If you fancy art can change your environment, you are talking like an idealist. Events are seldom what men of letters expect. That is why the so-called revolutionary writers before a great revolution are doomed. Only when the revolution is beginning to achieve results, and men have time to breathe freely again, will new revolutionary writers be produced. This is because when the old society is on the verge of collapse you will very often find writing which seems rather revolutionary, but is not actually true revolutionary literature. For example, a man may hate the old society, but all he has is hate—no vision of the future. He may clamor for social reforms, but if you ask what sort of society he wants, it is some unrealizable Utopia. Or he may be tired of living, and long for some big change to stimulate his senses, just as someone gorged with food and wine eats hot pepper to whet his appetite. Then there are the old campaigners who have been spurned by the people, but who hang out a new signboard and rely on some new power to win a better status for themselves. There have been cases in China of writers who look forward to revolution but fall silent once the revolution comes. The members of the South Club3 at the end of the Qing Dynasty are an example. That literary coterie agitated for revolution, lamented the sufferings of the Hans, raged at the tyranny of the Manchus and longed for a return to the “good old days.” But after the establishment of the Republic they lapsed into utter silence. I fancy this was because their dream had been for “a restoration of ancient splendor”

Lu Xun disparages prominent members of the Crescent Moon Society (1923–31), a “conservative” society influenced by Anglo-American humanism. Liang Shiqiu (1903–87) was a writer, literary critic, educator, and translator influenced by the “New Humanism” of Harvard literary critic Irving Babbitt. Xu Zhimo (1897–1931) was a poet and translator (including a major interlocutor with the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore) who opened Chinese poetry to Western forms and to the Chinese vernacular. Hu Shih (1891–1962) was a Chinese Nationalist and scholar who helped establish Chinese vernacular as the official written language.

1

The Creation Society began in the early 1920s as a promoter of romantic individualistic expressivism but had shifted toward a radical revolutionary platform by the late 1920s (at least nominally).

2

The South Society, founded in 1909, was a major literary organization of the late Qing Dynasty.

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after the revolution—the high hats and broad belts of the old officials. As things turned out differently and they found the reality unpalatable, they felt no urge to write. Even clearer examples can be found in Russia. At the start of the October Revolution many revolutionary writers were overjoyed and welcomed the hurricane, eager to be tested by the storm. But later the poet Yesenin4 and the novelist Sopoly5 committed suicide, and recently they say the famous writer Ehrenburg6 is becoming rather reactionary. What is the reason for this? It is because what is sweeping down on them is not a hurricane, and what is testing them is not a storm, but a real, honest-to-goodness revolution. Their dreams have been shattered, so they cannot live on. This is not so good as the old belief that when you die your spirit goes to heaven and sits beside God eating cakes.7 For they died before attaining their ideal. Of course China, they say, has already had a revolution. This may be so in the realm of politics, but not in the realm of art. Some say, “The literature of the petty-bourgeois is now raising its head.” As a matter of fact, there is no such literature; this literature has not even a head to raise. Judging by what I said earlier—little as the revolutionaries like it—there has been no change or renaissance in literature, and it reflects neither revolution nor progress. As for the more radical revolutionary literature advocated by the Creation Society— the literature of the proletariat—that is simply empty talk. Wang Duqing’s8 poem, which has been banned here, there and everywhere, was written in the International Settlement in Shanghai whence he looked out towards revolutionary Guangzhou. But his PONG, PONG, PONG!9 in ever larger type merely shows the impression made on him by Shanghai film posters and advertisements for soya sauce. He is imitating Blok’s The Twelve,10 but without Blok’s force and talent. Quite a number of people recommend Guo Moruo’s Hand11 as an excellent work. This tells how a revolutionary lost a hand after the revolution, but with that remaining to him could still hold his sweetheart’s hand—a most convenient loss, surely! If you have to lose one of your four limbs, the most expendable certainly is a hand. A leg would be inconvenient, a head even more so. And if all you expect to lose is one hand, you do not need so much courage for the fray. It seems to me, though, a revolutionary should be prepared to sacrifice a great deal more than this. The Hand is the old, old tale about the trials of a poor scholar who ends, as usual, by passing the palace examination and marrying a beautiful girl. But actually this is one reflection of conditions in China today. The cover of a work of revolutionary literature recently published in Shanghai shows a trident, taken from the

Sergei Yesenin (1895–1925): popular Russian lyric poet.

4

A misspelling of the surname of the Jewish Russian writer, Andrei Sobol (1888–1926).

5

Ilya Ehrenburg (1891–1967): Jewish Soviet writer, Bolshevik revolutionary, historian, and journalist.

6

A reference to Heinrich Heine’s poem, “Mir träumt’: ich bin der liebe Gott” (I dream I was the Lord Himself) in Die Heimkehr (1823).

7

Wang Duqing (1898–1940), poet and member of the Creation Society whose work was influenced by French Symbolism and who later became a Trotskyist.

8

In English in the original.

9

Alexander Blok (1880–1921), Russian lyric poet. The Twelve, composed a few months after the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, is a masterpiece of modernist poetic montage.

10

Guo Moruo (1892–1978), poet and co-founder of the Creation Society. Guo’s story, “Only One Hand,” was serialized in 1928.

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cover of Symbols of Misery,12 with the hammer from the Soviet flag stuck on its middle prong. This juxtaposition means you can neither thrust with the trident nor strike with the hammer, and merely shows the artist’s stupidity—it could well serve as a badge for all these writers. Of course, it is possible to transfer from one class to another. But the best thing is to say frankly what your views are, so that people will know whether you are friend or foe. Don’t try to conceal the fact that your head is filled with old dregs by pointing dramatically at your nose and claiming, “I am the only true proletarian!” Folk are so hypersensitive today that the word “Russia” almost makes them give up the ghost, and soon they will not even allow lips to be red. They are scared of all sorts of publications. And our revolutionary writers, unwilling to introduce more theories or books from abroad, just point dramatically at themselves, till in the end they give us something like the “reprimands by imperial decree” of the late Qing Dynasty—no one has the least idea what they are about. I shall probably have to explain the expression “reprimands by imperial decree” to you. This belonged to the days of the empire when, if an official committed a mistake, he was ordered to kneel outside some gate or other while the emperor sent a eunuch to give him a dressing-down. If you greased the eunuch’s palm, he would stop very soon. If not, he would curse your whole family from your earliest ancestors down to your descendants. This was supposed to be the emperor speaking, but who could go and ask the emperor if he really meant all that? Last year, according to a Japanese magazine, Cheng Fangwu13 was elected by the peasants and workers of China to go and study drama in Germany. And we have no means of finding out if he really was elected that way or not. That is why, as I always say, if we want to increase our understanding we must read more foreign books, to break through the cordon around us. This is not too hard for you. Though there are not many books in English on the new literature and not many English translations of it, the few that we have are reliable. After reading more foreign theoretical works and literature, you will feel much clearer when you come to judge our new Chinese literature. Better still, you can introduce such works to China. It is no easier to translate than to turn out sloppy writing, but it makes a greater contribution to the development of our new literature, and is more useful to our people.

A book of literary criticism by Hakuson Kuriyagawa, translated by Lu Xun from the Japanese.

12

Cheng Fangwu (1897–1984), member of the Creation Society in the 1920s, later an important figure in the CCP.

13

II. DAI WANGSHU’S POETIC THEORY Dai Wangshu Originally published in Chinese as Wangshu shilun in Xiandai 2.1 (November 1932): 92–94. Translated by Kirk A. Denton.

Dai Wangshu (pen name of Dai Mengou, 1905–50) was one of the leading lights of the neo-Symbolist “new poetry” of the late 1920s and 1930s. In addition to his contributions to Chinese poetry in the modernist vein, he was a prolific and influential translator of foreign literature, especially French and Spanish. He was also an important advocate of early Soviet literature. Like other modernist contemporaries, he was a Francophile and sojourned in France from 1932 to 1935. By his mid-twenties he had established a strong reputation as a poet, critic, and fellow traveler of Western and Russian avantgardes. “Rainy Alley,” perhaps his most famous poem, epitomizes his melancholy, urbane free verse style. Written when he was just 21, the poem narrates a soft-focus wistful encounter with a young woman in a lonely street and appears in his debut collection, My Memory (1929). A second collection Rough Drafts of Wangshu (Wangshu cao) appeared in 1933, after which Dai Wangshu’s poetic output dropped off as his translation and editorial activities increased. In 1932, he helped found the Shanghai-based modernist little magazine, Xiandai, also called Les contemporains, which ran for three years. Xiandai convened many of the influential Chinese avant-garde voic