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Spring Break: Travels With Literary Masters

March 2005

Climb to a wonderfully atmospheric Corsican graveyard with the late literary philosopher-king W.G. Sebald in “Campo Santo.” Wander Argentina with an opinionated Pole (dismissive of Borges!) as Witold Gombrowicz compares “urban” South Americans and “rustic” Europeans in “Peregrinations in Argentina.” Take a dip in lyric pools in the first English translations of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s kabitika, or brief poems, and a stroll in the darker glade of Paul Celan’s “Poem for Marianne’s Shadow.” Thus refreshed, you might return to the suburbia where a passion for translation was born in Gregory Rabassa, as he relates in “Me and My Circumstance.” Then prepare for an intense April, which will feature writers from the first PEN World Voices International Literary Festival in New York. Watch this space for complete listings and links to streaming audio/video of selected events.

Campo Santo
By W. G. Sebald
The dead were thought of as extremely touchy, envious, vengeful, quarrelsome, and cunning.
Translated from German by Anthea Bell
From “Peregrinations in Argentina”
By Witold Gombrowicz
At first we feel hatred toward other tourists—but eventually we begin to hate the tourist in us.
Translated from Polish by Danuta Borchardt
Four Poems from “Sparks”
By Rabindranath Tagore
That is why / Flowers seek it in the stars,
Translated from Bengali by William Radice
Poem for Marianne’s Shadow
By Paul Celan
To think it’s the right moment now to talk to me in tears, / to go barefoot there, so you be told what’s in store for us:
Translated from Romanian by Victor Pambuccian
Me and My Circumstance
By Gregory Rabassa
All this could have been called preparation for what I would be doing later, translating.
Translated from Spanish by the author