Translations

César Vallejo - Trilce

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César Vallejo - Trilce

Paperback, 256pp, 8.5x5.5ins 
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Edited, and translated from Spanish, by Michael Smith & Valentino Gianuzzi. Bilingual Spanish/English edition.

 

Trilce is one of the great monuments of 20th-Century Hispanic poetry, as important in Hispanic letters, as The Waste Land and The Cantos in the anglophone world, and all the more amazing for having been composed in remote Peru. Full of neologisms and symbols, the book is one that needs to be re-translated often, but this is only the second version to appear in the UK, and the fourth in the USA. A fully bilingual book, the Spanish texts are based upon the very latest scholarship, and are presented with full explanatory annotations for the English-speaking reader. Apart from the canonical text of Trilce, the book also includes an appendix of a further eleven poems, some of which are earlier variants and some which are poems connected to the main text, which it is useful to have available as background to the canonical version of Trilce.

Vallejo is regarded as the most important poet of Peru, one of the great figures of Latin American literature, and one of the titans of the pre-war international avant-garde. The translations are by the Irish poet, and award-winning translator, Michael Smith, and the Peruvian scholar Valentino Gianuzzi.

Modern Poetry in Translation (in Series 3, No. 5) said of this volume & its companion — "Two major new volumes exploring the work of the great Peruvian poet. Highly recommended."

John Muckle in PN Review said: "In the background of Trilce there are a series of painful wrenches in Vallejo’s early life — from his Andean birthplace, his country, a lover who died in tragic circumstances, his mother’s death, a loss of career, imprisonment after being implicated in a local conflagration in which a neighbour’s property was burned down, and, upon his release, his flight to Paris. These poems have a fragmented, explosive, disturbed quality, and are in revolt against a received poetics, a society, a world order—and, well, against everything. As a great poet who sprang fully armed from provincial obscurity, Vallejo recalls Rimbaud, but whereas the latter fled Europe, Vallejo moved towards it. What is striking about his poetry is its mixture of folk-qualities, a cutting-edge sophistication and, from the beginning, its mixture of fervour and doubt.

Written in a context that included Spanish modernism and the great Chilean avant-gardist Vicente Huidobro, Trilce is revolutionary in the sense that Les Illuminations and Un Saison En Enfer are revolutionary. As with Rimbaud there’s a paroxysmic quality to Vallejo’s writing — he produced most of his later Spanish civil war poetry in a single three month burst — as well as something highly worked, stitched together — in prison perhaps — poems so perfectly sewn they are like quilts, just as the title is a carefully stitched meeting place of several word fragments and their branches of meaning — a title that Vallejo himself boasted was meaningless. But if it suggests threeness, sweetness and softness—meditative retrospect, reflectiveness, a way of dipping into the 'pure countless egg-yolk of childhood' — it also has quiltedness — a way of burnishing and joining bright fragments of memory’s cloth. […] Vigorous, scrupulous and precise, with a certain impersonality, these translations find a voice for Vallejo's knottiness, spookiness, and complexity of feeling. They are part of an ambitious and laudable project to bring all of Vallejo’s poetry together in an English edition."

EM Test in Poetry London said: "Given the scope of their scholarship, Gianuzzi and Smith's [versions] will undoubtedly replace any earlier translations of Vallejo's work and become the standard editions."

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