Nhân vụ xb bộ 43 năm văn học hải ngoại.

Nhân vụ xb bộ 43 năm văn học hải ngoại.

Theo thiển ý, 1 cuốn như trên, đòi hỏi tối thiểu tính chuyên môn của nhóm biên tập. Luân Hoán có nhắc tới cuốn “Tác Giả Việt Nam”, do 1 mình anh làm, trước đây, mà tình cờ trong lần qua Cali chơi, Gấu bắt gặp nó trong tủ sách của 1 bạn văn. Đọc cái phần viết về tiểu sử cá nhân của mình, do LH phịa ra, Gấu choáng người. Đúng là như thế.
Khi làm cuốn 20 năm văn học Miền Nam, do Nguyễn Đông Ngạc chủ trương, nhà xb Sóng, sau trở thành 1 “di tích lịch sử” của văn học Nguỵ, anh không dám phịa ra, mà yêu cầu, chính tác giả cung cấp.
Thế đấy.
Chưa kể, với 1 tuyển tập như thế, ngay trong phần giới thiệu tiểu sử, là đã có kèm những nhận xét rất ư là chuyên môn của nhóm chủ trương. Họ, hay chỉ 1, rất rành về tác giả họ đưa vô tuyển tập. Không đơn giản, chỉ 1 cái tiểu sử cá nhân 1 nhà văn, nhà thơ.
Một tiểu sử cá nhân, luôn kèm trong nó, những nhận xét mang tính phê bình về khuynh hướng nghệ thuật - tạm gọi thế - của 1 tác giả.
Chưa kể, 1 tuyển tập như thế, trên hết, rất cần 1 bài nhận định về cái gọi là 43 năm văn học hải ngoại.
Tệ lắm thì cũng có 1 lời Tựa.
Post sau đây, bài Tựa của Czeslaw Milosz, khi làm tuyển tập “Thơ Hậu Chiến Ba Lan”, và vài dòng tiểu sử, của chính ông, khi giới thiệu, 1 tác giả trong tuyển tập.
Mít rất cần 1 tay như Milosz, lưu vong, làm 1 cuốn văn học Mít – không phân biệt lưu vong hay không lưu vong – sau 1975, không phân biệt trong hay ngoài nước.
Chỉ 1 tên thôi, và tên này, tha hồ chọn tác giả nào đưa vô tuyển, và viết về anh ta/chị ta, như Milosz viết.
Bởi là vì phân biệt trong ngoài như thế làm hỏng tuyển tập.
Thí dụ, Khoa Hữu chẳng hạn, theo như Gấu được biết, anh ở trong nước nhưng đâu hề đưa tác phẩm trình Vẹm kiểm duyệt và để hải ngoại, qua NMG – xb. Làm sao coi anh là ở trong nước được? Phải bỏ cái sự phân biệt trong ngoài nước, và chỉ chọn những tác phẩm theo như chủ quan của người xb.


PREFACE


I WISH to explain in a few words why and how I made this anthology. The underlying motive, as I see it, was my distrust of a poetry which indulges in negation and in a sterile anger at the world. Man confronted with mechanisms beyond his control is a loser until he learns that what seemed to crush him was, in fact, a necessary trial to open a new dimension and to prepare his mind to cope with unheard-of circumstances. This, in my opinion, is what has happened in contemporary Polish poetry. A historical steam-roller has gone several times through a country whose geographical location, between Germany and Russia, is not particularly enviable. Yet the poet emerges perhaps more energetic, better prepared to assume tasks assigned to him by the human condition, than is his Western colleague. One can blame the Polish poet for his irony, sometimes verging on cynicism. Irony, however, for better or worse, is an ingredient of modern poetry everywhere and cannot be separated from the purpose it serves. As for this purpose, elegant scepticism and the will to defend the basic values of man's existence are not one and the same thing.
The anthology is not conceived as an 'image' of contemporary Polish poetry. To make such a claim one would have to allot space to every single poet of talent, a task I found impossible. Some, fine craftsmen, are completely untranslatable, whereas others can be translated without betraying the original. I doubt whether Polish syllabo-tonic verse ('feet' within a line of counted syllables) can be rendered in English. Consequently, there is in my book a distortion of perspective, as poets
who use the traditional metre could hardly be included.
It is true, however, that in the last decades they have been less and less numerous; the younger generation tends to practise a kind of asceticism or 'anti-poetry'; thus the fluidity of rocking rhythms and rhymes is usually abandoned. Generally speaking, adaptability to English determined to a large extent the number of poems each writer has been allotted.
I limited the scope of the anthology to poets who are living, with one exception. The stress is laid upon poems published since 1956, a date when the lifting of censorship and the breakdown of absurd doctrines provoked a real explosion of new schools and talents. Here, of course, I make several exceptions, going back sometimes as far as the years of World War II or the years preceding it. Poems were judged on merit alone and I did not apply any discrimination as to the views of their authors or their political status. Neither did I examine their passports; no clear-cut division between the poets living abroad and those at home is apparent in Polish literature, in contrast to what occurred in Russian literature. Since Polish poets have been influencing each other across the borders, their present residence is not a decisive factor.
A reader could be puzzled, I would imagine, by the character of this poetry and be curious about its literary kinships. Its mixture of macabre and humorous elements, its preoccupation less with the ego than with dramas of history, the relish with which it handles and remodels moral maxims did not appear all of a sudden in our time; several centuries of native verse, baroque perhaps by the very nature of the language, are behind it. Italian and French influences, to mention the most significant in the past, were modified accordingly. And as every poetic current is embedded in local traditions even if it absorbs a great deal from abroad, the pattern has been repeated up to this day. Rebellious French writers have exerted a strong influence since the end of the nineteenth century when the first translations of Arthur Rimbaud were published. Yet the work of one patron and martyr of modern Polish verse, Cyprian Norwid (1821-83), has been leading poets in a direction opposite to that of the French. Norwid, slighted and rejected in his lifetime, was a poet of anthropological structures; he confronted the industrial era with the Mediterranean civilizations of the past; the ironic wisdom of that downtrodden man, an emigre in Italy, in New York, in Paris, overcame subjectivism. Today Polish poetry is the result of a distillation of themes and forms, conducted by successive vanguards. Great conciseness is often achieved, and very short poems contain intricate meanings. I must admit I am partial to a poetry that sometimes attains the calligraphic quality of an ideogram. To my surprise I discovered it translates better than long poems, as if the reduction of images and metaphors to a bare minimum made it more universal and less inclined to be trapped in a linguistic laboratory.
Poets of each country resemble an eighteenth-century freemasonic lodge, with its rites, rivalries and friendships. Being a member of such a lodge myself, I am glad to act as its representative abroad. The majority of the authors in the anthology are younger than myself and to introduce them is particularly pleasant. I hope my fellow poets will not hold a grudge against me for not giving some of them a more prominent place. Translations should at least be adequate, and it is better not to attempt what cannot be done. I am not a native English speaker and I do not trust my ear, so I had to rely upon the help and control of those who have spoken English from childhood; poetry, after all, always draws upon the language of one's childhood. I wish to thank Mac Goodman, Lawrence Davis, Reuel Wilson, and Richard Lourie for the long debates we hadover one sentence or, quite often, over one word.
Two poems of Slonimski and one of Jastrun ('Remembrance') were given definitive shape by Lawrence Davis. Some poems were translated by Peter Dale Scott with my minor assistance and are marked accordingly.
1965


ANTONI SLONIMSKI
(1895-1976) 


IN 1918 a group of poets founded a literary cafe in Warsaw, “Under the Picadore” where they used to read their poems to the public. Soon they started to publish a poetry magazine, “Skamander”, named, in a reference to the “Iliad”, after the river on which Troy had stood. Although they were very different from each other in their temperaments and aspirations, they have been known since under the group name. They were bound by a common desire to renew the poetic language and to achieve perfection within the framework of traditional metrics. Slonimski, one of the leaders, came from a Warsaw family of scientists and scholars. He may be called a poet of the Warsaw liberal intelligentsia, attuned to their taste for debating world problems and their lyrico-sarcastic attitudes. His range in poetry extends from pure lyricism to a sly mockery; his plays, feuilletons, and parables in prose have been satirical weapons used by him in numerous encounters. A rationalist, a pacifist, much in the spirit of H. G. Wells, he expressed in the nineteen thirties the despair of the liberals threatened as they were by the rise of National Socialism in neighbouring Germany and by chauvinist, anti-semitic Rightists in Poland, while to the east Stalinist Russia did not give
much reason for hope. After Hitler crushed Poland, Slonimski succeeded in escaping abroad and for many years lived in England. He returned to Poland around 1950 and lived somewhat in the shade until he came to the fore in 1956 as one of the most active spokesmen of the intellectuals opposing totalitarian controls. Skamander poets are not readily translated. Slonimski, for instance, loses in translation the interesting contrast between the songlike, slightly melancholy fluidity of his rhymed lines and the logic of his discourse - which is a formal allusion to his Romantic predecessors.

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