Delos

Preface

 

We, the coeditors of Delos, are happy to announce that as of December 2017 the new publisher of Delos is the University Press of Florida, under the imprint of the University of Florida Press (UFP). We will now be publishing two issues per year, instead of one, beginning with this issue, 33.1. New issues will no longer be open access; both digital and print subscriptions to Delos will be handled by UFP.

In tagging the current issue with the theme of “Literature and History” the immediate and obvious connection is to the end of WWI in 1918, a mere century ago, a narrow and at the same time vast frame of reference. The array of contributions in fact falls on both sides of that critical moment, stretching back to 1812 and forward to questions of immigrant identity. Most of the contributions grapple in one way or another with nationalism.

The first, and shortest, contribution is “Barefoot” by the Francophone writer Linda Lê, translated by Sylvie Blum. War and exile bring tragedy, and for the writer, the loss of a childhood language (and its audience) is crippling. Tsipi Keller translated Lea Goldberg’s “On Simple Happiness,” whose narrator looks beyond the balm of European poetry to see how her neighbors live. Hilde Domin, here translated by Annette Boehm, is the German Jewish poet of return, for whom her native language was a treasured patrimony. Closing out this first section, Xu Zhimo looks at Chinese or British history with the detachment and mastery of a great young poet. Dorothy Bonett, the translator, was a contributor to Delos in its previous series, and it is good to have her back.

There follow a series of works that address war directly—Khvostov, Pushkin, and other Russian poets expressing their ecstasy over Moscow’s survival; Ömer Seyfettin’s poets seeking patriotic augury at Gallipoli; Kurt Tucholsky’s fierce, brave resistance to nationalism. We are grateful to Alex Cigale, Azade Seyhan, and Daniel Kennedy for bringing these to our readers. Then we plunge deeper into the past with David Cooper’s discussion and translation of faux-medieval Czech poetry meant to establish the history of a language and a culture all at once—at about the same time when Napoleon was teaching the Russians to value what they had.

Two antic contemporary prose works, ricocheting off history, come next: Elizabeth Lowe’s translation of Leandro Sarmatz’s tale of an actor playing Hitler in the Amazon, and Jean Harris’s heroically comic translation of the beginning of a novel, set in the aftermath of Stalin’s death, by the Romanian Stelian Tanase.

Rounding off the issue are translations of Baudelaire by the prize-winning poet Lola Haskins. We also have several exceptional reviews of recent translations of novels and poetry.

Lola Haskins’ choice of Baudelaire is a reminder of the need to keep translating great works. One of the masterpieces of classical modernism, Albert Camus’ novel L’Etranger, was written in 1942 and first translated by Stuart Gilbert for the English-speaking world in 1946. Gilbert’s work served more or less well until a new translation by Matthew Ward in 1988 revealed a new Camus, unburdened by Gilbert’s very British choice of words. None of the contributions in this first volume of 2018 deal with historical varieties of literary English, but as a group they show an awareness of the varieties of English available to the translator today.

Delos itself is celebrating a historical moment of sorts. The first Delos was published at the National Translation Center then located in Austin, Texas, fifty years ago. In that first year, 1968, the new journal opened its arms to the world by featuring (along with works from the Indo-European languages, Chinese, and Japanese) translations of Yoruba oral poetry into English, by Ulrich Beier. The source texts were not printed in Delos, and have never been printed. In our Fall 2018 issue, we hope to offer a reconstruction of those originals in Yoruba—a project of reclaiming a patrimony that echoes perhaps the “Medieval Czech forgeries” but also the importance, as Linda Lê tells us, of having a language of one’s own.

We acknowledge gratefully permission from these living authors to publish translations of their works: Linda Lê, Leandro Sarmatz, and Stelian Tanase. Thanks also to Hakibutz Hameuhad Publishing House for the right to publish Tsipi Keller’s translation of Leah Goldberg’s story. Permission to republish the original poems by Hilde Domin as well as the translation by Annette Boehm is also gratefully acknowledged.

Hal H. Rennert

Judy Shoaf

February 14, 2018