A quote, a poem (2): Prévert, «Barbara»

While Jorge Luis Borges’ imagining paradise as a kind of library («Yo, que me figuraba el Paraíso / Bajo la especie de una biblioteca») was the reason for the Spanish post in the series ‘A quote, a poem’ (Italian will is to follow), the memorable line «Quelle connerie la guerre» («What bullshit the war») is my motive for choosing Jacques Prévert’s Barbara to represent French poetry.

Want to know more about Paroles, the 1945 volume (photo below is of the 1998 edition, from the UvA-Library) to which the poem belongs? Or – should the publication year not be enough of an explanation – about Prévert’s reasons for choosing the destruction of Brest (where the poem takes place) as symbol of war’s ‘connerie’?

The Encyclopédie Larousse provides a nice open access online introduction to Jacques Prévert’s life and work. An alternative – albeit accessible only for UvA-staff and -students – is Malcolm McGoldrick’s entry on the French poet in the Dictionary of literary biography. Prévert himself talking about Brest and Barbara can be seen in a 1964 interview available at the website of the INA (Institut National de l’Audiovisuel). Made into a song by chansonnier and Prévert’s friend Joseph Kosma, Barbara became a major musical success as well, with actor Yves Montand among the many performers.

prevert uva

«Rappelle-toi Barbara
Il pleuvait sans cesse sur Brest ce jour-là
Et tu marchais souriante
Épanouie ravie ruisselante
Sous la pluie
Rappelle-toi Barbara
Il pleuvait sans cesse sur Brest
Et je t’ai croisée rue de Siam
Tu souriais
Et moi je souriais de même
Rappelle-toi Barbara
Toi que je ne connaissais pas
Toi qui ne me connaissais pas
Rappelle-toi quand même ce jour-là
N’oublie pas
Un homme sous un porche s’abritait
Et il a crié ton nom
Et tu as couru vers lui sous la pluie
Ruisselante ravie épanouie
Et tu t’es jetée dans ses bras
Rappelle-toi cela Barbara
Et ne m’en veux pas si je te tutoie
Je dis tu à tous ceux que j’aime
Même si je ne les ai vus qu’une seule fois
Je dis tu à tous ceux qui s’aiment
Même si je ne les connais pas
Rappelle-toi Barbara
N’oublie pas
Cette pluie sage et heureuse
Sur ton visage heureux
Sur cette ville heureuse
Cette pluie sur la mer
Sur l’arsenal
Sur le bateau d’Ouessant
Oh Barbara
Quelle connerie la guerre
Qu’es-tu devenue maintenant
Sous cette pluie de fer
De feu d’acier de sang
Et celui qui te serrait dans ses bras
Est-il mort disparu ou bien encore vivant
Oh Barbara
Il pleut sans cesse sur Brest
Comme il pleuvait avant
Mais ce n’est plus pareil et tout est abimé
C’est une pluie de deuil terrible et désolée
Ce n’est même plus l’orage
De fer d’acier de sang
Tout simplement des nuages
Qui crèvent comme des chiens
Des chiens qui disparaissent
Au fil de l’eau sur Brest
Et vont pourrir au loin
Au loin très loin de Brest
Dont il ne reste rien».

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Research funding should go to research, not to publishers!

The League of European Research Universities (LERU) – «an association of 21 leading research-intensive universities that share the values of high-quality teaching within an environment of internationally competitive research» (the UvA has been a member since 2006) – is calling on researchers to take action in support of open access and the larger issue of the (pretty vicious) relationship between universities and scholarly publishers. LERU’s statement (supported by the UvA) is to be found here.


Further on the same topic:
LingOA (Linguistics in Open Access), is a recent initiative that aims at moving «several international linguistics journals from their traditional publisher to a new open access publisher, moving their entire editorial staff, authors, and peer reviewers from the traditional subscription model to Fair Open Access». Narrowly related to the ongoing struggle around open access between publisher Elsevier and the Dutch Association of Universities, the linguists’ move has been widely discussed in educational periodicals (see for example this week’s Inside Higher Ed).

LingOA’s most important partner, next to publisher Ubiquity Press, is the Open Library of Humanities, «a charitable organisation dedicated to publishing open access scholarship with no author-facing article processing charges (APCs) […] funded by an international consortium of libraries who have joined us in our mission to make scholarly publishing fairer, more accessible, and rigorously preserved for the digital future». Harvard and Yale in the United States, the LSE (London School of Economics) and UCL (University College London) in the United Kingdom, and the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands are among the participating libraries.

As for a scholarly insight into the economics of scholarly publications, you might take a look at Heather Morrison‘s (School of Information Studies, University of Ottawa) publications: Scholarly communication in crisis (summarized and referred to in the same author’s blogpost The enormous profits of STM scholarly publishers), and Economics of scholarly communication in transition.

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The Orient in translation: Otto Zwartjes in Lisbon

UvA-associate professor Otto Zwartjes will contribute to a three-day congress in Lisbon, on November 26-28th, with a lecture entitled «The missionaries’ contribution of Portuguese colonial linguistic documentation to translation studies: the case of Japan and Vietnam».

Orient in translation

The congress The Orient in translation: Asian languages, literatures and cultures in the Luso space (O Oriente em Tradução: Línguas, Literaturas e Culturas Asiáticas no Espaço Luso) is organized by the Centro de Estudos Comparatistas da Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa. Professor Zwartjes’ lecture is «complementar a um estudo prévio, intitulado The missionaries’ contribution to Translation Studies in the Spanish colonial period (John Benjamins, 2014), e centra-se nas gramáticas e nos dicionários portugueses de línguas asiáticas, nomeadamente nos trabalhos dos jesuítas portugueses que descrevem as línguas japonesa (João Rodrigues, 1561-1634) e vietnamita (Alexandre de Rhodes, 1591-1660)».

Otto Zwartjes’ 2014 article, mentioned in the above quotation, belongs to the volume Missionary Linguistics V / Lingüística Misionera V: Translation theories and practices, available at the UvA-Library.

Portuguese quotation and picture from the website of the Museu do Oriente, where the congress will take place.

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New in the collection: e-books

Inventing the NationNext to new printed books – regularly updated on the blog’s lists of Acquisitions – the following digital titles (access restricted to staff and students) have also been added to the collections for French, Italian and Spanish:

S. Benini, Pasolini: the sacred flesh, University of Toronto Press, 2015

P. Cooke, The legacy of the Italian resistance, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

C. Humlebaek, Spain: inventing the nation, Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.

M. Migiel, The ethical dimension of the Decameron, University of Toronto Press, 2015

J.M. Moreau Eschatological subjects: divine and literary judgment in fourteenth-century French poetry, Ohio State University Press, 2014

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A quote, a poem (1): Borges, «Poema de los dones»

It’s thanks to my colleague Esther ten Dolle – who a couple of weeks ago showed me a bookmark with the English translation of Borges’ quote («I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library») – that I decided for a series of three posts, each devoted to a different quote (and poem) in French, Italian and Spanish.

«Yo, que me figuraba el Paraíso / Bajo la especie de una biblioteca» belongs to Borges’ «Poema de los dones» (1959): the poem deals, among others, with the unfathomable irony (divine, according to Borges) of the writer’s appointment as director of the Argentinian National Library (1955) in the time he became completely blind.

Want to know more? Emilio Carilla, Poesía, filosofía y religión en Borges: el «Poema de los dones» (freely accessible via de Centro Virtual Cervantes) and Paul S. Piper, For Jorge Luis Borges, paradise was not a garden but a library (access via Jstor, restricted to UvA-staff and -students) are only two of several (scholarly) articles discussing Borges’ poem (whose full text follows below; photo from the Argentinian writer’s Obras completas, available at the UvA-Library).

borges uva

«Nadie rebaje a lágrima o reproche
esta declaración de la maestría
de Dios, que con magnífica ironía
me dio a la vez los libros y la noche.

De esta ciudad de libros hizo dueños
a unos ojos sin luz, que sólo pueden
leer en las bibliotecas de los sueños
los insensatos párrafos que ceden

Las albas a su afán. En vano el día
les prodiga sus libros infinitos,
arduos como los arduos manuscritos
que perecieron en Alejandría.

De hambre y de sed (narra una historia griega)
muere un rey entre fuentes y jardines;
yo fatigo sin rumbo los confines
de esta alta y honda biblioteca ciega.

Enciclopedias, atlas, el Oriente
y el Occidente, siglos, dinastías,
símbolos, cosmos y cosmogonías
brindan los muros, pero inútilmente.

Lento en mi sombra, la penumbra hueca
exploro con el báculo indeciso,
yo, que me figuraba el Paraíso
bajo la especie de una biblioteca.

Algo, que ciertamente no se nombra
con la palabra azar, rige estas cosas;
otro ya recibió en otras borrosas
tardes los muchos libros y la sombra.

Al errar por las lentas galerías
suelo sentir con vago horror sagrado
que soy el otro, el muerto, que había dado
los mismos pasos en los mismos días.

¿Cuál de los dos escribe este poema
de un yo plural y de una sola sombra?
¿Qué importa la palabra que me nombra
si es indiviso y uno el anatema?

Groussac o Borges, miro este querido
mundo que se deforma y que se apaga
en una pálida ceniza vaga
que se parece al sueño y al olvido».

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Spinozalezing 2015: Héctor Abad Faciolince

Hector_AbadOp 29 oktober a.s. vindt de jaarlijkse Spinozalezing plaats. De spreker voor 2015 is de Colombiaanse schrijver Héctor Abad Faciolince, auteur van verschillende fictiewerken en essays die (binnenkort) beschikbaar (zullen) zijn in de UvA-boekencollectie voor Spaans, in het P.C. Hoofthuis: onder andere de biografie van zijn vermoorde vader Héctor Abad Gómez, El olvido que seremos (in het Nederlands vertaald als Het vergeten dat ons wacht).

De lezing, een gezamenlijk initiatief van het Instituto Cervantes in Utrecht, de Ambassade van Spanje in Den Haag en de Universiteit van Amsterdam (ASCA, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, en het project CRIC “Cultural Narratives of Crisis and Renewal”), laat elk jaar het woord over aan een belangrijk figuur uit de Spaanstalige literaire wereld. Carlos Fuentes, Fernando Savater, Bryce Echenique, Eduardo Mendoza, Mario Vargas Llosa, Isabel Allende, Antonio Muñoz Molina en Rosa Montero hebben de voordracht in het verleden gehouden.

Meer informatie en aanmelding: hier. Foto van Héctor Abad Faciolince uit de website van Instituto Cervantes.

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Otto Zwartjes on «El Colegio de Tlatelolco»

ColegioTlatelolco PosterUvA-associate professor Otto Zwartjes will contribute to a two-day congress in Tlatelolco (Mexico), on October 7-8th, with a keynote lecture entitled Metodos de enseñanza y aprendizaje de lenguas en Nueva España: El Colegio de Tlatelolco.

The congress El colegio de Tlatelolco: síntesis de historias, lenguas y culturas – organized by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco, Facultad de Estudios Superiores/ Acatlán, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas) and the Spanish Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas – is dedicated to the centuries-long history and cultural significance of the Colegio de Tlatelolco, America’s oldest higher education institution: «en la Epifanía de 1536, el primer Virrey Antonio de Mendoza funda el Colegio Imperial de Santa Cruz, que se convierte en el principal punto de encuentro intelectual del mestizaje asociado tanto a los frailes Juan de Zumárraga y Bernardino de Sahagún como a los hijos de los señores principales, cronistas indígenas, o a Juan Badiano, autor del primer gran códice de la herbolaria medicinal producido en el virreinato» (source).

Full programme of the congress: click on the picture or visit the Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco’s website.

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