A Note from the Editors
Any attempt to determine what “Spanish” means for the purpose of this edition will be, given the unfathomable complexity of the notion, irretrievably futile. So, instead of trying to provide any definitions—which are restrictive by nature—this Editorial shall limit itself to the literary, cultural, and artistic suggestiveness that the pieces presented in this number of The Battersea Review lend to their subjects. The part of the edition that was conceived in and from Mexico will focus on matters that touch upon the Spanish-speaking world, particularly that region of the globe that is known nowadays as Ibero-America (and excluding, as should be expected, the countries and areas where languages other than Spanish are considered national tongues). Such topics are as varied as the backgrounds and environments in which our authors have developed their interests and occupations.
The following are clear examples of the great variety of viewpoints and aesthetic stances comprised in the present number of our magazine: Mexican-American academic Adela Ramos comments on Homero Aridjis’s novel La leyenda de los soles, a futuristic dystopia where environmentalism, Nahuatl cosmogony, and satirical romance blend to show us a disheartening fictional present with uncertain implications in the near future. Poet-essayist Ana Elena González-Treviño delves into four “medievalistic” novels by Luisa Josefina Hernández, one of Latin America’s most celebrated women writers of the past fifty years. Angelica Duran, a distinguished Miltonist at Purdue University, relates her discovery of a treasure trove of Edenic proportions in one of Mexico’s most important libraries, and art critic Christian Gerzso takes us on a journey through Hispanoamerica’s artistic avant-gardes of the 1920s. Meanwhile, Raúl Ariza casts light upon the cultural and scientific bridges that were built between Spain and England during the Middle Ages, as professor-poet Gabriel Linares vertiginously leads us back to twentieth-century South America, where the dramatic monologue, à la Tennyson and Browning, found a particular idiom in the poetry of the Argentine Luis Cernuda.
This Spanish edition of The Battersea Review is not without poetry of its own. Salient Mexican bard David Huerta presents us with three especially penned pieces, while Juan Carlos Calvillo and Miami-born Jorge Rodriguez-Miralles respectively and ingeniously translate a number of poems by Samuel Beckett and the young Spanish versifier Andrés García Cerdán.
When Ben Mazer suggested that I co-edit with Mario Murgia a Spanish issue of Battersea Review, I thought it should encompass Latin American and US writers, women and men, young and old, alive and dead; an inclusive issue that would have academic essays but would also allow room for personal memoirs, or the response of literature students to the states of Latin American writing.
In the midst of gathering material, when several people asked me what exactly I understand by “Spanish”, I realized that even if Latin American writing is commonly identified as Spanish it most definitely is not, and so I decided to include essays on Clarice Lispector (Brazil, Portuguese), Aimé Césaire (Martinique, French), Sandra Cisneros (an American writer of Mexican heritage), and a discussion of translation, including issues raised by Spanglish in an essay on the Nuyorican poet Tato Laviera. Added to the mix is a new translation of work by the 17th-century Spanish dramatist Pedro Calderón de la Barca, along with commentary on Juan Rulfo’s masterpiece Pedro Páramo, and on the Chilean poet Cecilia Vicuña.
I am happy to present a story by Luisa Valenzuela and work by the distinguished poet Fernando Noy. The inescapable presence of Borges is reflected in a memoir by his colleague María Esther Vazquez, and an essay by Horacio Armani pays tribute to the underappreciated writer J. Rodolfo Wilcock. I also have contributed a brief remembrance of the poet Alejandra Pizarnik.
My hope is that the various voices and viewpoints brought together here add to a further understanding of the vitality and range of Spanish and Latin American writing.
MARIO MURGIA is a full-time professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), He is also a poet and a literary translator from English and Italian into Spanish. His most recent translations (which he has also prologued and annotated) include Spanish versions of Areopagitica, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, and the Ludlow Masque by John Milton. His latest book, Versos escritos en agua. La influencia de Paradise Lost en Byron, Keats y Shelley (Lines Writ in Water. The Influence of Paradise Lost on Byron, Keats, and Shelley), was published earlier this year.
FLAMINIA OCAMPO’s stories have appeared in Spanish as La locura de los otros (2003) and in English as Other People’s Phobias (2013). Her other books include the novels Siete Vidas (2004) and Cobayos Criollos (2015), a biographical study of Victoria Ocampo, Victoria y sus amigos (2009), and two books of essays, Deseos y desconsuelo (2015), Un asesino entre nosotros: Eichmann en Buenos Aires (2016).