5 sept. 2006

Suppose someone owned several hundred books of poetry. That is in the order of tens of thousands of individual short poems. I own many books from which I remember no specific poem, others that I know from cover to cover. To get a Master's Degree in my department one would have to read maybe 100 pages of poetry from modern Spain, between 1700 and 2006. It is actually harder to understand the reading because so little is read. The reading list would be much *easier* if the students could just read about 1,000 pages, or 20 fifty-page books. They would get a better feel for the material. Of course they also have to read novels, plays, etc... from both Spain and Latin America. Here too, reading in greater quantity would be helpful, but of course the students are intimidated by the list as it stands. You couldn't increase it with the justification that it would make the reading easier. Nobody would buy into that.

It's a little like Kenneth Koch's maxim that if you write every day, you will be assured of writing every year.

***

Does anyone read Vicente Aleixandre any more? He was a post-war hero, and the Nobel prize came his way. A few books of his still seem fundamental, but I sense a waning of interest--both here in translation and in Spain itself. My own interest has waned, I have to say. The mediocre books of the 1950s don't help. Jorge Guillén also became a complete mediocrity from the mid-40s through the 80s. The later Cernuda is over-rated too!

There is something depressing about a book without a single memorable line or successful poem. The inertia of a career that has a life of its own, allowing someone to publish work of no discernible value. There is no corrective, no one to witness and adjust, no one to drive the car.

***

Wishing my friend Bob Basil a speedy recovery from his surgery.

1 comentario:

Jordan dijo...

Something depressing, or everything? But in those cases, the problem isn't that there's no one to witness, it's that there's no one to burst through the crowd of witnesses...