Publish Date : Sunday 8 May 2011 - 10:00
The latest cultural headlines in the media.
Minou Moshiri Presents Two New Literary Translations at Tehran International Book Fair

Tehran Times: Minou Moshiri who covers international film festivals such as Locarno, Thessaloniki, Rome and Nyon for Iran News as film critic, is equally active as an essayist and literary translator as well as a journalist.

This year at the International Book Fair of Tehran she presents her two new literary translations of Saramago’s “The Notebook”; and Sandor Marai’s novel “Embers”.

Provocative and lyrical, “The Notebook” is a record of a year in the life of Saramago. Nobel laureate and author of “Blindness” which Minou Moshiri has translated and is presently in its 16th edition, “The Notebook” offers a rare glimpse into the mind of one of the most original writers of our time. Characteristically critical and uncompromising, Saramago dissects the financial crisis, deplores Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and charts the transition from the era of George W. Bush to that of Barack Obama.

Sandor Marai rose to fame as one of the leading literary novelists in Hungary in the 1930s. Profoundly anti-fascist, he survived WWII, but persecution by the Communists drove him from the country in 1948, first to Italy and then to the United States. “Embers” is a masterpiece of Central European literature originally published in Budapest in 1942 and unknown to modern readers until very recent years when it was translated into English. An extraordinary novel about a triangular relationship, about love, friendship, and fidelity, about betrayal, pride, and true nobility.


Walt Whitman's Work as Clerk Discovered

Iran News: The words weren't poetic, but they flowed from Walt Whitman's pen in the writer's distinctive hand.

D's looped to the left. X's looked like SC. W's and J's had sweeping flourishes.

Kenneth Price, a Whitman expert from the University of Nebraska, knew the penmanship well after years of studying the "good gray poet."

He and other scholars also knew Whitman had copied documents into government record books while a clerk in Washington from the Civil War through 1873.

But no one had ferreted them out until Price began a serious search at the National Archives office in College Park, Md.

He found 3,000 pieces of Whitman's handwriting, offering a window on his life in Washington - a time that shaped the poet's creative years in Camden, where he lived with his brother George and later purchased a home.

The discovery was announced by the archives last week as the nation marked the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

"I didn't know if I would spot something from Whitman," said Price, coeditor of the Walt Whitman Archive, an acclaimed online resource of the poet's works. "I hoped to find four or five documents if I was lucky.

"I found one, then nothing, then a whole string of them, and then several hundred," he said. "I kept coming back and finding more."

Price was still uncovering Whitman's transcriptions last week. Most recorded the mundane business of government.

The discovery "could have a real influence on scholarly work on the whole body of Whitman's work," said Tyler Hoffman, professor of English and associate dean at the Rutgers-Camden College of Arts and Sciences and editor of the online Whitman journal Mickle Street Review.

In his poetry, "Whitman really was dealing with issues the country was going through very squarely," said Hoffman, author of the forthcoming book American Poetry in Performance: From Whitman to Hip Hop. "This allows us to see more clearly what he was reacting to."

Whitman was in New York when he found his brother on the list of casualties from the Battle of Fredericksburg.

"He rushed to the front and found his brother with a superficial wound to the cheek, and many other soldiers who were more badly wounded," Price said. "He was asked to help and accompanied many of them back to Washington."

Whitman "found he could be useful, caring for the wounded soldiers, and he visited tens of thousands of them" over the years, Price said. "He'd give them oranges and write letters for them to wives, mothers, and loved ones."

To support himself in Washington, Whitman worked as a clerk in the Army paymaster's office and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He was fired from the bureau after Secretary of the Interior James Harlan went into Whitman's desk and found a heavily annotated edition of Leaves of Grass - first published in 1855 - with some poems marked for deletion.

Whitman's dismissal caused an uproar, with many in and out of government coming to his defense. "He was immediately hired in the Attorney General's Office and had no interruption to his income," Price said. "He also benefited from the publicity, with more people buying his work."

Though much of the content was dry, Whitman's clerking duties - copying letters about the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, treason, war crimes and international policy - influenced him, Price said.

"The issues he was confronting as a clerk bear not only on his new poetry after the war, but on poetry that he wrote previously," said Hoffman of Rutgers. "He was actively going back and rewriting for later editions of Leaves of Grass."

Whitman came to Camden in 1873 at 54 and remained until his death in 1892. He lived at his brother's house at 431 Stevens St., where he penned some of his most enduring prose. (In 1994, fire destroyed the home where he had spent hours in a bright, airy parlor reading newspapers and entertaining author Oscar Wilde, artist Thomas Eakins and naturalist John Burroughs.)

In 1884, Whitman moved to the only home he ever owned, in the 300 block of what then was Mickle Street. He spent time reading and writing in a rocking chair in his bedroom, surrounded by a sea of newspapers, letters, and crumbled manuscripts that littered the floor. The house remains a monument to the poet and his work.


Iraq Concludes First Book Fair in 20 Years

Iran News: Iraq's first book fair in 20 years concluded on Thursday with organizers and attendees hailing it as a return for the violence-wracked country to the global literary scene.

The two-week exhibition featured more than 200 publishing houses from 32 countries displaying about 37,000 books at a massive conference hall in Mansur, west Baghdad, according to the event's organizers.

The books on offer were mostly in Arabic, but English and French literature was also on sale.

"Baghdad has regained its place on the world's cultural map," said Safira Naji, a member of the organizing committee for the Baghdad International Book Fair, the first such exhibition organized by the Iraqi government.

All previous book fairs were either privately organized or locally focused, said Abdulwahab al-Radhi, president of the Iraqi Publishers' Association.

He said the last book fair of any kind in Iraq was in 1990, before then dictator Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, which was followed by the country being subjected to punishing sanctions, some of which remain in place today.

And high levels of violence in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted Saddam precluded holding such an exhibition.

On Thursday, the last day of the book fair, hundreds of Iraqis, including many women, browsed the literature on offer.

Among them was Nur Abdullah, a 28-year-old bank employee who took a day off work to attend the exhibition.

"I do not have the time to read them all at once, but I will hold on to them for later," she said, noting her preference for books on psychology.

Ali Shauna, a 53-year-old civil servant, lamented that after the 2003 invasion, "Iraq fell into an intellectual coma, but the country is slowly waking up."

"We can say that the Iraqis have started reading again," he added.


Iran, China sign translation agreement

Presstv: Iran and China have signed a cultural agreement for the translation of the classic and modern works of Chinese literature into Persian and vice-versa.

The agreement was signed by Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations Organization and a Chinese cultural delegation headed by Beijing's Ambassador to Tehran Yu Hongyang.

Mohammad-Reza Dehshiri, deputy head of Islamic Culture and Relations Organization for research and educational affairs, said the agreement facilitates the translation and publication of Iranian and Chinese classic and modern literature and university and educational books, Mehr News Agency reported.

He further expressed hope that the agreement will promote the relations of the two great eastern cultures of Iran and China.

Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini also held a meeting with the Chinese delegation in which he stressed the importance of the agreement in enhancing Tehran-Beijing cultural relations.


Buenos Aires named 2011 book capital

Presstv: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced Buenos Aires as the 2011 World Book Capital.

Various cultural activities and programs have been organized to celebrate the occasion, including the Buenos Aires International Book Fair, which is one of the most important cultural events in the Spanish speaking world.

“Buenos Aires has a diverse culture where people are allowed to express themselves,” Argentinean Education Minister Esteban Bullrich told Press TV.

“This is because in the absence of freedom of expression culture cannot thrive,” he added.

One of the many cultural programs organized in Buenos Aires is unveiling the Babel Tower in the Argentinean capital.

The seven-storey structure is 25 meters tall and is made with 20 thousand books written in different languages, 16 thousand of which have been donated by 54 countries.

“The babel tower was a terrific experience,” said Marta Minujin, artist and designer of the tower which has been built as a symbol of inter-cultural interaction and dialogue.

“The tower will be displayed until May 28 and people will then be allowed to take one book from the structure,” she added, saying that the remaining books will be donated to the city library.

Buenos Aires will be the World Book Capital until April 2012, when the title will pass to the Armenian capital of Yerevan.


Story Code: 103979