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March 2005

Spring Break: Travels With Literary Masters

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.

Poem for Marianne’s Shadow
Love's mint has grown like an angel's finger. To believe: out of the earth an arm twisted by silence still rises, a shoulder burned by torrid extinguished lights, a face, the eyes blindfolded…
Translated from Romanian
from Love Will Wilt in Too Much Sun
By Mongo Beti
As was often the case between the man and the woman, they’d spent the morning hours in delicious intimacy, accentuated by their bodies seeming to fortuitously brush against one another, furtive…
Translated from French by C. Dickson
Among the Targi at Timbuktu
In 1999 and 2000 Birgit Biehl journeyed alone through Africa's Sahel from Senegal to the Sudan, and then through Yemen, Oman, and a half dozen other Middle Eastern countries. During the fourteen months…
Translated from German
Me and My Circumstance
Ortega y Gasset famously defined the individual by saying "Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia" (I am I and what's around me). Although I may have said that I sort of backed into translation without…
Translated from Spanish
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