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Bucknell University Press’s original Irish Writers Series began in the 1970s under the editorship of J.F. Carens as a way to promote 19th and 20th century Anglo writers whose works deserved monographic exposure. The series published its first books in 1970, exploring the likes of Sean O’Casey, James Clarence Mangan, Standish O’Grady, and W.R. Rogers. The series ended in 1978 with a volume on Thomas Davis.
In 2009 came a reinvigoration of the series–the Contemporary Irish Writers Series published Richard Rankin Russell’s Bernard MacLaverty as its first volume. With Professor John Rickard as general editor, the series continues the tradition of the monograph format, offering new exposure to and insight on modern-day Irish writers. John Rickard insists that this approach “allows for thoughtful and in-depth treatment of the careers and styles of these important authors.” These authors’ works are influential and expansive so to even begin to speak to the richness and breadth of their careers requires an involved examination of their lives and legacies.
The format and selection of Irish authors to profile is a collaborative effort between Rickard, the series editor, and Greg Clingham, the Press’s director. The cover images for the books are chosen from the works of Irish artist Gráinne Dowling. Dowling works closely with Rickard and Clingham in order to provide and select pieces that suit books in the series.
In being asked to supply art for the first volume on Bernard MacLaverty, Dowling recalls that she was “delighted” at the prospect, having connected deeply with MacLaverty’s work. Dowling recalls a particular fondness for MacLaverty’s “short stories which pierce the heart.” The piece used for the MacLaverty book took Dowling a mere four hours to complete. Other works, though, can take much longer–the piece for the Eavan Boland cover that depicts the bridge over the River Liffey took about 4-6 weeks to be completed.
Dowling’s artistic process is a combination of culture and environment. While she spends most of her time in Dublin, she enjoys returning to other areas, especially West of the Shannon. These locations attract Dowling due to their special skies, sea, and people.
In order to gain inspiration for her drawings and paintings, Dowling immerses herself within natural areas. Her process is as follows: “I walk around a landscape or city scape until something grips me. This can be a sudden shock or a slow perception of something. I then begin to see. I start and if after an hour to two I find myself no longer excited by what I am doing I know it won’t work.” In order to remain invested in the work, and eventually be able to complete it, “the excitement must last” throughout the process.
John Rickard hopes that as the series expands it will be able to incorporate a wider scope of individuals, including writers such as Ciarán Carson, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Paul Muldoon, and Colm Tóibín. These volumes would complement the books that exist in the series currently, as well as align with the forthcoming works on Medbh McGuckian, Edna O’Brien, Marina Carr, Neil Jordan, Anne Enright, and Seamus Heaney. The series will only continue to grow in depth and scope; through the varying degrees of collaboration between editor, writer, and painter, these interdisciplinary approaches to Irish literature add an exciting and reverent edge to the University Press.
For more information about the series, visit the Contemporary Irish Writers series page.
–Cameron Norsworthy, 2013 Cynthia Fell Intern
Professor Aníbal González on his work with the Bucknell Studies in Latin American Literature and Theory series
by Jen Weber, 2012-13 Cynthia Fell Intern
This series of books provides a forum for some of the best criticism on Latin American literature in a wide range of critical approaches. By acknowledging the historical links and cultural affinities between Latin American and Iberian literatures, the series welcomes a consideration of Spanish and Portuguese texts and topics while also providing a space of convergence for scholars working in Romance studies, comparative literature, cultural studies, and literary theory. Aníbal González, professor at Yale University, has worked as the editor of this series for many years. While balancing his own professional and academic goals, he has devoted an ample amount of time and support to the development of the series. Here, we speak with Professor González about his experiences in order to recognize his efforts and commitment.
How many years have you worked on the series? How many books have you worked with?
I’ve worked fourteen years in the series, since its founding in 1999. I was professor of Spanish at Penn State at the time. I had the good fortune of chatting with Greg Clingham at a reception in State College, and we both remarked on the fact that Bucknell University Press has a long tradition of publishing scholarship on Iberian and Latin American literatures; from there, it took almost no time at all for Greg to propose the idea of creating the series, and I was honored that he chose me as its editor. The series has published 37 books so far, and I’ve been closely involved in the process of selecting all of them.
Describe the aim of the series. What kind of impact has it had on the field of Latin American studies?
The series aims to publish the best new scholarly books about Latin American literature, with particular interest in books that combine scholarly research with innovative theoretical approaches. Featuring works by both junior and senior Latin Americanist scholars, the series is well-known as a venue for rigorous research works on virtually all of the major genres and periods of Latin American literature: from Colonial chronicles and poems, through nineteenth-century narrative and journalism, to the Latin American “Boom” narratives of the 1960s and contemporary Latin American theatre.
Have there been any notable titles in the series that stood out to you in particular?
Four books in particular—Santana’s Foreigners in the Homeland, Friis’s José Emilio Pacheco, Salgado’s From Modernism to Neobaroque, and Díaz’s Unhomely Rooms—are particularly meaningful for me as the first works we published, and for the high standards they set for the rest of the series. More recently, Luciani’s Literary Self-Fashioning in Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Sampson’s Ricardo Palma’s Tradiciones have given me special satisfaction, since Sor Juana and Ricardo Palma are among my all-time favorite Latin American writers.
Has the series changed at all while you’ve been involved? What kind of new work would you like to see the series introduce in the future?
Over the years, the series’s scope has broadened to include newer areas and approaches in Latin American literary research, such the nineteenth century and cultural studies. I’d like to see more scholarly works submitted to the series on some of the great Latin American writers of today, including Roberto Bolaño, Jorge Volpi, Andrés Neuman, Santiago Gamboa, and Cristina Rivera Garza.
Are there any comparable series producing the same collection of works at this time?
Unfortunately, scholarly monograph series in general have been disappearing, as academic publishers have become more market-driven. Never abundant, Latin American studies series have dwindled dramatically even as Latin America has become more peaceful, prosperous, and democratic, and while its culture remains as lively and original as ever. This makes the Bucknell Studies in Latin American Literature and Theory even more unique. With its intensive focus on literature and culture (other Latin American studies series favor the social sciences and current events), as well as in the quality and variety of its books, our series compares favorably with those from larger university presses, such as Duke and the University of Texas at Austin.
What kind of research and work are you involved with professionally right now? Do your academic interests overlap with the scholarship of the series? How does your editing fit into your own academic goals?
I’m currently writing a book about the appropriation of religious discourse in the twentieth- and twenty-first century Latin American novel, from the Mexican Federico Gamboa in 1903 to the Chilean Roberto Bolaño in 2003. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but I’m convinced it’s worth a try. I’m also collaborating with Gustavo Guerrero, a distinguished Venezuelan critic and Latin American studies editor for Gallimard, who lives and teaches in Paris, to establish an international research group on the subject of “Globalization and Latin American Literature.” My main field of expertise in Latin American literature is modernismo, a literary movement from the turn of the nineteenth century that set the stage for the great Latin American literature of the twentieth in virtually all genres. Being an expert on modernismo has allowed me to work comfortably in earlier periods, even as far back as Colonial times, as well as in present-day Latin American literature. Editing has helped me fulfill two of my most cherished goals: to mentor new critics and scholars and to encourage innovation in our field.
What do you enjoy most about your involvement with the series?
Above all, it’s the pleasure of keeping in touch with significant new research in my field and helping to bring that research to fruition in books edited and produced with extraordinary care and professionalism by Bucknell University Press.
Emily Grosholz discusses the craft of translation and her most recent collaboration with French poet Yves Bonnefoy: Début et fin de la neige / Beginning and End of the Snow. The book, published by Bucknell University Press in 2012, includes Bonnefoy’s original poems in French opposite Grosholz’s English translations as well as artwork by Farhad Ostovani.
What first attracted you to Yves Bonnefoy’s poems?
When I was in graduate school, studying philosophy at Yale University in the 1970s, I was introduced to the poetry of Yves Bonnefoy by a fellow student who lent me a copy of Du mouvement et de l’immobilité de Douve. I thought it was wonderful—haunting— and translated some of the poems in it, just for myself. Returning from a year in Germany in September 1977, I learned that Bonnefoy was teaching at Yale that semester, and so attended his lectures on Baudelaire and Hugo, those two great and utterly disparate poets, both of whom I’d tried my hand at translating earlier, in high school and college. At the end of the semester, I gave Bonnefoy some of my translations of his work, and some of my own poems, in particular an elegy for my mother that I wrote in Germany, “Letter from Germany,” the first of my poems to be published in the Hudson Review. He was very appreciative, we struck up a correspondence, and I got to know him and Lucie Vines Bonnefoy a bit when I spent half a year in Paris in 1981. I have been translating his poetry ever since, somewhat haphazardly, choosing poems that I especially liked. Because his sensibility seemed close to my own while his poetic habits were very different, it was a challenging combination.
How do you approach the task of translating another writer’s work?
At first, I dealt with the affinity-and-distance by writing ‘versions,’ like Robert Lowell, allowing myself a great deal of freedom in departing from the original text. I like some of my translations from this earlier stage, especially “To the Voice of Kathleen Ferrier,” which is included in the forthcoming collection Poets Translate Poets: A Hudson Review Anthology, edited by Paula Deitz. But after collaborating with Larissa Volokhonsky on translations of poems by the Russian poet Olga Sedakova, I was persuaded that I should try harder to remain true to the original, its vocabulary and prosody. Thus I went about translating Début et fin de la neige in a different way, after Yves Bonnefoy asked me to translate this ‘American’ book of poetry, inspired in part by the time he spent teaching at Williams College. I consulted with the poet (and his American wife Lucie Bonnefoy) more often, going over every line, and listened more attentively to their advice.
Yves Bonnefoy is widely considered the greatest post-war French poet, and has worked with many important artists, including Giacometti, Tàpies, Cartier-Bresson, Ubac and Miró, as well as more recently Alechinsky, Palézieux and Ostovani. I think the explanation why he and Ostovani have collaborated on almost two dozen books and catalogues in the recent past is the excellence of the artist’s work and Bonnefoy’s accurate estimation of it. Farhad Ostovani was born in northern Iran and lives and works in Paris; his work has been exhibited at the Jenisch Museum (Switzerland), the Museum at the Rembrandt House (Netherlands), the Morat Institute for Art and Art Research (Germany) and the Chateau de Tours (France). Thus it was natural to ask if we could use some of his work for this book too.
Are you working on any other projects in conjunction with Bonnefoy or Ostovani?
Five years ago, I collaborated on a book with Farhad Ostovani, Feuilles / Leaves, with translations of my poems into French by Alain Madeleine-Perdrillat; it was published by William Blake & Co. in Bordeaux. I wrote an ‘ekphrastic’ poem about one of his works, which was published in American Arts Quarterly last year; and I recently published a review of one of his exhibitions as well as a poem dedicated to him (and Orhan Pamuk) in the Hudson Review. I plan to go on translating the poems of Yves Bonnefoy in my accustomed, haphazard, admiring way now that the book is finished.