A World of Books 2000: Internnational Classics

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Liberty's tool is the book; its home is the library. The book's compact and transportable format belies the incredible scope of its contents. Books open new possibilities: they enlighten, engross, testify, and document. They are benign, but they are also potentially dangerous. Books can build and unify or demolish and divide. Even as we contemplate a world of electronic books, their central feature will remain as described in 1910 by Charles Eliot, president of Harvard University: "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."

Libraries are where authors and readers mingle outside of time and space. They are market places of ingenuity, show palaces for creative intellects and heroic deeds. Libraries are the study halls where past and future can be contemplated and ideas tried on for size. They are the universe in miniature.

A World of Books 2000 is part of a series of annual pamphlets begun in 1998. At that time the Library of Congress asked its foreign area specialists to identify some of the most important and interesting books recently published abroad that an American public may have overlooked. The yearly results have been fascinating. The short, annotated selections are a small--but intriguing--fraction of materials that staff routinely encounter in their daily work of choosing materials for the Library's collections or providing reference to the Library's patrons.

The criteria for this year's list represent a departure from earlier efforts. Because the year 2000 marks the bicentennial of the Library of Congress, the Library has elected to celebrate libraries, creativity, and liberty as a theme throughout its observances. This third version of A World of Books focuses on works identified by the Library's area specialists as being classics in their own cultures and influential works that an American audience may have overlooked. Instead of limiting the selection only to recently published items, the Library expanded criteria generally to works that have appeared since the Library was founded in 1800.

Image of the Library of Congress Bicentennial LogoThe results are an engaging portrait of the diversity of human experience. Although some titles are nonfiction and have influenced public affairs and scholarship, most are works of fiction and the products of creative imaginations. All demonstrate the enduring value of the productive and free human spirit. Most works have been cited in translation, to make them more accessible to American readers.

The list is meant to suggest the wealth of ideas and creative activities found abroad, and inclusion only indicates that a given work provides a representative perspective that may broaden American understanding of the world and enrich the global dialogue of ideas. As in earlier lists, appearance does not imply that the staff as individuals or the Library as an institution endorses the views expressed. A list of the countries represented in this and earlier brochures is appended.

Once again, the Library of Congress hopes this list will stimulate interest in its outstanding international collections and serve as an invitation to further reading and research.

Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino. Facundo, or Civilization and Barbarism. Translated by Mary Mann. New York: Penguin Books, 1998. 240 p. ISBN: 014036774. LC Call No.: F2846.S2472 1998

This Argentine classic first appeared in Spanish in 1845 while its author was living in exile in Chile. Its passionate indictment of the country's then-dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas offers penetrating observations about rural Argentina, gaucho life, and the destruction brought by wars between the charismatic military leaders known as caudillos that raged from the 1820s into the 1860s. Rosas correctly regarded the book as a threat and for that reason it has been regarded as a brilliant example of the power of words in the struggle against oppression. Sarmiento became a prolific writer, teacher, diplomat, and served as president of Argentina from 1864 to 1870. Although Facundo is not generally known to the U.S. public at large, since the appearance of its 1868 translation into English by Mary Peabody Mann, wife of educator Horace Mann, it has been in print without interruption. [Georgette Dorn]

Chamichian, Michael. History of Armenia, by Father Michael Chamich; from B.C. 2247 to the Year of Christ 1780, or 1229 of the Armenian Era [Patmut iwn Hayots]. Translated by Johannes Avdall, to which is appended a continuation of the history by the translator from the year 1780 to the present date. Calcutta: Bishop's College Press, 1827. 2 v. (Lacks ISBN). DS175.C4 (Rare Books and Special Collections)

The publication in Armenian of Father Mik'ay l Ch'amch'eants' Patmut iwn Hayots [History of Armenia] in 1784 fundamentally altered the historiography of that country. The author, who was born in Istanbul in 1738 and died there in 1823, was a member of the Armenian Catholic Mekhitarist monastic order, which had established influential centers of Armenian education and culture in Venice and Vienna. Erudite and master of many languages, he held ecclesiastical and educational positions in Europe and the Middle East. In his canon of published studies was this first critical examination of the history of the Armenian people, written in chronicle style and liberally employing and analyzing non-Armenian primary source materials. In 1811 he produced an abridgment, which Johannes Avdall translated in 1827 and presented to the Asiatic Society of Bengal. The level of interest was a testament to the thirst of Europeans and European-trained scholars for accurate information about the lands of the Orient and to the value placed on this seminal work, notwithstanding its unbridled bias toward Roman Catholic interpretation. The work's substantial impact on Armenology and Orientalism continued throughout the 19th century and it is still recognized among specialists as both a classic work in the field and a piece of history in and of itself. [Levon Avdoyan]

Nazrul Islam, Kazi. Poetry of Kazi Nazrul Islam in English Translation. Edited by Mohammad Nurul Huda. Dhaka: Nazrul Institute, 1997- . Vol. 1 (published to date). ISBN: 9845551683 (v. 1). LC Call No.: PK1718.I8 1997

Kazi Nazrul Islam, a Muslim born in Bengal, India in 1899, became the fiery voice of revolution for Bengali youth after World War I. His poetry includes over 3,000 songs which he set to music using an innovative style that proved very popular. After independence from Great Britain and the partition of India and Pakistan, he continued to live in the Indian West Bengal. Following the successful revolt of the Muslim majority in East Bengal against Pakistan, he moved to the newly independent republic of Bangladesh, where he is regarded as the national poet. His hyperbolic and emotional poems, both in print and recorded on audio cassettes, continue to enjoy great popularity throughout Bangladesh society. [Allen Thrasher]

Brathwaite, Kamau. Black and Blues. Rev. ed. New York: New Directions, 1995. 69 p. ISBN: 0811213137. LC Call No.: PR9230.9.B68B5 1995

Kamau Brathwaite was born in Bridgetown, Barbados and educated there and at Cambridge University. His work includes several historical studies of Jamaica and over ten collections of poetry. In addition, he has become the leading theorist of Caribbean literature and culture. Black and Blues was originally published in 1979. This is the first American edition of Brathwaite's outstanding and sonorous poems. They are filled with pride of ancestry, spiritual strength, community cohesion, and hope for the future. Some of the selections recount the trauma of slavery in the Caribbean. One of the most original among contemporary poets, Brathwaite is also a major cultural critic and a recipient of the University of Oklahoma's prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature. [Juan Manuel Pérez]

Andri , Ivo. The Bridge on the Drina [Na Drini uprija]. Translated from the Serbo-Croat by Lovett F. Edwards. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977. 314 p. ISBN: 0226020452. LC Call No.: PZ3.A5735Br 1977

Few writers have examined the absurd nature of life in novels and short stories as has Ivo Andri , Nobel laureate for 1961. In his great historical work, The Bridge on the Drina, Andric depicts his native Bosnia as "a darkened valley of death," in which real life continues during the cease-fires between wars to the death. Andri notes that "it is foolish and in vain to disturb those rare truces, looking for some other, more stable, more secure life which does not exist." In this novel (later translated into more than twenty languages), the former diplomat Andric demonstrates such a strong connection to popular oriental tradition that he was called "a storyteller in the style of The Thousand and One Nights." [Predrag Pajic]

Head, Bessie. Maru, a Novel. London: Gollancz, 1971. 127 p. ISBN: 0575005424. LC Call No.: PZ4.H4323Mar

Bessie Head (1937-1986) was a South African refugee of mixed race whose mother was confined to a mental institution. Maru is the second of her three autobiographical novels (Where Rain Clouds Gather [1968] and A Question of Power [1973] are the others) that examine the nature of the forces of good and evil in the world and bring a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Southern African experience. It seems to tell the simple story of a small agricultural village in Botswana, where the arrival of a woman from a traditionally despised and hated racial group serves as the catalyst for significant political, social, and cultural change. Yet, the story gradually touches on such themes as colonialism, racism, tribalism, patriarchy, gender relations, agrarian reform, and the dream of a new world order. The subject of many critiques and studies, Bessie Head is considered to be an extraordinary contributor to African literature. [Mattye Laverne Page]

Ramos, Arthur. The Negro in Brazil [O Negro na civilização brasileira]. Translated from the Portuguese by Richard Pattee. Washington, D.C.: Associated Publishers, 1939. 203 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: F2659.N4R34

Ramos' volume was one of the first studies to appear in English that discussed the role and place of Afro-Brazilians in their country's history. A prolific writer on folklore and a psychiatrist by training, Ramos offers here a thoughtful analysis of the inherent richness of the African contribution to the spiritual and material life of Brazil. For Brazilians, he is considered a pioneer for his lifelong commitment to a serious study of the African contributions to his country, because until the appearance of Ramos' analyses, the African influence was ignored or, worse, scorned as deserving little consideration. For Americans, Ramos opens a window on Brazilian culture on the eve of World War II, through Pattee's careful translation. [Iêda Siqueira Wiarda]

Vazov, Ivan. Under the Yoke [Pod igoto]. Translated by Marguerite Alexieva and Theodora Atanassova. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1971. 400 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: PZ3.V48U7

Ivan Vazov (1850-1921), a prolific writer of poetry, drama, and prose, is one of the fathers of Bulgarian literature. Because no Bulgarian grammar existed until the nineteenth century, and the first Bulgarian newspaper was founded only in 1846, Vazov was a pioneer in the use of Bulgarian as a literary instrument and was the first Bulgarian able to support himself solely through his writings. Vazov was well respected during his lifetime and even served as Bulgaria's minister of education. After his death, his home was transformed into a museum. Under the Yoke is known and beloved by all Bulgarians. Written in the late 1880s, it recounts the story of the 1876 Bulgarian attempt to break free of Turkish rule, a yoke that had oppressed Bulgaria for nearly half a millennium. The so-called April Uprising was quickly crushed, but Under the Yoke's fresh language and uplifting story, its credible and extensive depiction of Bulgarian society before the rebellion, and its engaging characters immediately won it a wide audience at home and abroad. In Bulgaria its fame has endured and even today a copy is owned by most Bulgarian families. [Christo Marinov]

Lepailleur, François Maurice. Land of a Thousand Sorrows: The Australian Prison Journal, 1840-1842, of the Exiled Canadien Patriote, François-Maurice Lepailleur. Translated and edited by F. Murray Greenwood. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1980. 174 p. ISBN: 0774801239. LC Call No.: F1032.L58

In the aftermath of the failed uprising against the British in Lower Canada (Quebec) in the late 1830s, 56 French Canadian "patriotes" (along with an Anglo-Canadian and an American) were transported to Australia. They were interned at Longbottom, west of Sydney, and employed at various tasks during their imprisonment, including road-building, brick making, logging, and general farm work. A few of the exiles kept journals in secret, recording their experience of hard labor, illness, and inadequate shelter. Most of the exiles returned to Canada by 1848. Lepailleur's journal, translated from the original French, paints a vivid picture of the isolation and hardships endured. It is a valuable source of information on convict life in early Sydney, and brings to light an obscure chapter in Canadian and Australian histories. [Art Emerson]

Donoso, José. The Obscene Bird of the Night: A Novel [Obsceno pájaro de la noche]. Translated by Hardie St. Martin and Leonard Mades. New York: Knopf, 1973. 438 p. ISBN: 039446916X. LC Call No.: PZ4.D6849Ob3

Donoso is one of Chile's great story tellers. His work is imbued with humor and ingenuity as well as excellent use of imagery. The title is taken from a letter written to William and Henry James by their father and is used to convey the dark side of the imagination. According to Chilean critic Cedomil Goiç, Donoso's novel "lends an animated existence to a grotesque reality: the persistent, indeterminate existence of a plurality of worlds that constantly affirm and deny their identities, giving rise to impersonation, masks, and disguise." It is certainly one of the most valuable novels of contemporary Chile and a hypnotic contribution to the genre known as magical realism. Although The Obscene Bird is considered part of the Latin American "Boom" (1960-1975), other novels such as García Márquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude (1965) and Carlos Fuentes' Terra Nostra (1975) have achieved wider international recognition. [Kaydee McCann]

Lu, Hsün. The Complete Stories of Lu Xun [Na han and P´ang huang]. Translated by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981. 295 p. ISBN: 0253313961. LC Call No.: PL2754.S5A294 1981

Lu Xun (1881-1936; Lu Hsün is the romanized form of name according to the Wade Giles system) is considered modern China's greatest writer and intellectual. A patriot and reformer, he struggled with the problem of human suffering in the context of the social transformation of China from an ancient imperial state to a modern secular nation. His acerbic wit, lacerating intelligence, and compassion for the Chinese people were expressed in an enormous corpus of short stories, poems, translations, literary scholarship, letters, essays, short commentaries, letters and diaries. Among his most famous stories is "The True Story of Ah Q." Few characters in literature have the distinction of giving a name to a common psychological pattern. The Oedipus syndrome is undoubtedly the most famous example in Western literature. "Ah Qism" refers to a poor working man who had mastered the art of turning a physical defeat into a psychological victory, a tactic widely viewed in Republican China as a symbol of the Chinese state's assertion of its cultural superiority each time it lost yet another battle to a Western power. "Ah Qism" came to be identified as descriptive of a facet of the Chinese national character. Readers worldwide will recognize this particular brand of self-delusion as an all-too-human trait. [Carolyn Brown and Judy Lu]

Czech Republic
Nemcová, Bozena. Granny: Scenes from Country Life [Babicka]. Translated by Edith Pargeter. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976, c1962. 349 p. ISBN: 0837193559. LC Call No: PZ3.N341Gr5

Written by the first major female author in Czech, this book is a seminal work of national literature which emerged during a period of renaissance in the 19th century. Published in 1855 it has been the most favorite book for many generations of Czech readers. It owes its timeless popularity to the figure of the grandmother whose life, narrated against a background of events, daily occurrences, and customs of the calendar year in the countryside, radiates simple wisdom and natural goodness. The remarkable authenticity of the book, which has the form of a classical idyll, is due to the use of stylized autobiographical elements from the author's own life. More than a tale of the lost paradise of childhood, the work offers unique sociological, ethnographic, and historical information and has also been praised as "an encyclopedia of the Czech countryside." [George Kovtun]

Bagehot, Walter. The English Constitution. London: Chapman and Hall, 1867. 348 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: JN125.B2 1867

This elegantly written treatise by the mid-nineteenth century editor of The Economist is a recognized classic in the field of English constitutional history and government. Bagehot (1826-1877), an economists, journalist, and constitutional theorist, was an exceptional man of considerable authority on all questions of finance and banking. He was also well known in the literary world. In The English Constitution he sought to go beyond a mere formal analysis of the constitution by relating it to the social attitudes of the people. He made a distinction between the "efficient" parts of the constitutional government--the House of Commons and the Cabinet whose function was to conduct business--and the "dignified" parts, the House of Lords and the Monarchy, whose functions were to provide stability and respect by the impression they made on the population. The work was used extensively as a text and was widely influential beyond the borders of Great Britain. Even now, over 125 years after its publication, it is a standard inclusion in bibliographies of books on British government and it is particularly appropriate in the year 2000 when the British constitution is being reevaluated and the structure of the British House of Lords is being reformed. [Judith Robinson]

Kivi, Aleksis. Seven Brothers, a Novel. [Seitsemän veljestä]. Translated by Alex. Matson. New York: American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1962. 347 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: PZ3.K6593Se4

The novel, Seven Brothers, published in 1870, tells the story of boys becoming men in 19th century rural Finland. The orphaned Jukola brothers live wild and free in their woodland home, but as they mature, their need for a more structured life becomes increasingly obvious. As the young men contemplate matrimony, they come up against the literacy prerequisite for marriage in the Lutheran Church. After much struggle they reach acceptable societal standards and by degrees evolve into responsible husbands and fathers. The author of Seven Brothers, Aleksis Kivi (1834-72), was the first professional author to write in Finnish. Although Kivi was highly regarded by many of his contemporaries, his humorous and earthy description of the tough and stubborn brothers met with withering criticism from the literary establishment whose national romantic fervor dictated that country people be portrayed in a highly idealized light. A Finnish icon, Kivi's Seven Brothers is still popular in Finland and the tousled, blond, and hardheaded boys romp through many a summer theater production. [Taru Spiegel]

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. Italian Journey: 1786-1788 [Italienische Reise]. Translated by W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1982. 507 p. ISBN: 0865470766. LC Call No.: PT2027.I7A85 1982

In 1999 literary scholars around the world marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of Germany's greatest cultural figure--the poet, dramatist, novelist, critic, and naturalist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe's Italian Journey chronicles his stay in Italy from September 1786 to April 1788, a very rich and productive period in his life. Based mainly on letters and journal entries, the work did not appear complete in book form until 1829. Goethe traveled via the Brenner Pass from Germany to Verona, Venice, Rome, Naples, and Sicily. The Italian Journey records his observations on contemporary Italy, the art and architecture of the Renaissance, and the Greek and Roman ruins found throughout the country. Equally fascinating are the insights the book offers into Goethe's work methods. Although he was one of the most prolific German authors of all time, before the Italian journey he suffered from "writer's block"--unable to complete the major works he had started. Inspired by his surroundings and freed from his daily routine in Germany, he managed to complete in Italy the plays Iphigenie on Taurus and Egmont, parts of Faust and Tasso, as well as lyric poems and shorter prose pieces. The English translation by the well-known British poet W.H. Auden and his collaborator Elizabeth Mayer does justice to this engaging work. [John Van Oudenaren]

Condé, Maryse. Windward Heights [La migration des coeurs]. Translated from the French by Richard Philcox. London: Faber and Faber, 1998. 348 p. ISBN: 0571193242. LC Call No.: PQ3949.2.C65M4913 1998

Recipient of Le Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme (1986) and Le Prix de l'Académie Française (1988), Maryse Condé "cannabalises" the western literary cannon, as did her Caribbean precursors Aimé Césaire, Edouard Glissant, and René Depestre. In Windward Heights, Condé absorbs Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, then recreates it as a tale of passion and revenge emanating from social and historical forces present in post-emancipation Guadeloupe. Voices of multiple storytellers, from different segments of the island's society, project the text whose cultural density, like that of the Caribbean, precludes an omniscient narrator. Appropriation of European narration begins with the novel's opening sentence which introduces an act of cultural assimilation and transformation fundamental to the mysteries of Caribbean society. Melchior, a babalawo or high priest of Santería, leads an Epiphany procession carrying the banner of his god, Chango--a god he can see manifested in the Catholic image of Santa Barbara. Through emphasis upon Caribbean concepts of the relationship between the living and the dead and those who mediate between them, Condé captures in this novel the rich complexity of French Caribbean life. [Joan Higbee]

Asturias, Miguel Angel. Men of Maize [Hombres de maíz]. Translated by Gerald Martin. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993. 466 p. ISBN: 0822937670. LC Call No.: PQ7499.A75H613 1993

Miguel Angel Asturias of Guatemala was the first Latin American author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1967). Although an earlier work, El Señor Presidente (1946) is much better known abroad, Men of Maize, published in 1949, is widely considered to be the most important work of fiction written in Guatemala in the 20th century. In the novel, Asturias takes his readers through the history of Guatemala as understood by the authors of the K'iche' Maya Indians' story of creation, the Popul Vuh. Asturias was the first to reevaluate Guatemala's past, giving voice and prestige to native American thought and belief in cultural as well as political terms. Many critics see the novel as a precursor of issues that gained significance decades later, such as ecology, feminism, and global consciousness. Others call it the first and perhaps greatest novel of Magical Realism. Yet, the work is even more valuable and farsighted in its pioneering reevaluation of indigenous culture, which it sees as constantly evolving and equal to that of other countries usually considered more advanced. [Barbara Tenenbaum]

Price-Mars, Jean. So Spoke the Uncle [Ainsi parla l'oncle]. Translation and introd. by Magdaline W. Shannon. Washington, D.C.: Three Continents Press, 1983. 252 p. ISBN: 089410389X. LC Call No.: GR121.H3P713 1983

Jean Price-Mars (1876-1969)--doctor, ethnographer, diplomat and educator--was the catalyst of a profound reexamination of Haitian identity that explored the legacy of African and French culture. He stated the goal of So Spoke the Uncle in the book's opening paragraph: "to integrate popular Haitian thought into the discipline of traditional ethnography." Issues explored were as fundamental and provocative as the relationship in Haiti between African religions and Catholicism--a bond seen as fostered by the slave code (Code noir, 1685) of Louis XIV, which mandated that all slaves brought to the French Caribbean be baptized and given religious instruction. So Spoke the Uncle explored Haiti's folklore, oral literature, Creole language, and Voodoo religion. Revealed were powerful sources of national identity that illuminated a valued African past. The work provided inspiration to Haiti's Ecole Indigeniste. Among the many others who felt its influence were young writers throughout the French Caribbean including Aimé Césaire and Léon Gontran Damas, leaders of the Négritude Movement. [Joan Higbee]

Illyés, Gyula. People of the Puszta [Puszták népe]. Translated by G. F. Cushing. Budapest: Corvina Press, 1967. 307 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: HD639.H9I42

The best-known prose work of Gyula Illyés (1902-1983), who is better known in Hungary as a poet, People of the Puszta describes the squalor and injustices of daily life for one class of Hungarian farm workers of the 1930s, those who lived in settlements on the land of the large estates they worked. The term puszta, which normally refers to the endless expanses of the great Hungarian plain, is used by Illyés with a meaning rooted in the regional dialect, as the name for this type of settlement. The son of poor peasants and a member of the inter-war Hungarian populist movement, Illyés weaves personal recollections and stories he heard as a child with citations from legal and statistical sources to portray the bleak lives of these agricultural laborers--their unending toil, their squalid living conditions, and the constant indignities they suffered at the hands of the landowners. Illyés calls the puszta "a world apart," isolated in its misery and far from the consciousness of the Hungarian urban dweller, although the publication of this book did much to bring this misery into public view. [Kenneth Nyirady]

Gandhi, Mahatma. Hind Swaraj and Other Writings. Edited by Anthony J. Parel. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 208 p. ISBN: 0521574056. LC Call No.: DS480.45.G242 1997

First published in 1909 and written at white hot intensity in ten days, this is the essential work for understanding Gandhi's doctrines, and the only one he translated himself from the original Gujarati into English. It is briefer and more systematic than his better known Autobiography; the Story of My Experiments with Truth. Gandhi trenchantly presents here all of his typical themes of national nonviolent struggle, his insistence that Indians must rule themselves internally to gain external freedom, and his denunciation of industrial civilization. Several major short writings are also included, notably his speech at the beginning of World War II that Britain "Quit India" at once in spite of the war, and his rejected draft constitution for the Indian National Congress, changing it from a political party into a social movement. [Allen Thrasher]

Hidayat, Sadiq. The Blind Owl [Buf-i kur]. Translated from the Persian by D. P. Costello. Edinburgh: Rebel Inc., 1997. 108 p. ISBN: 0862416760. LC Call No.: PK6561.H4B813 1997

Sadiq Hidayat (also known as Sadegh Hedayat) was born in Teheran, Iran in 1903. Educated in Iran, France, and Belgium, he was acquainted with the works of such prominent Western authors as Edgar Allen Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Franz Kafka. In the late 1940s he studied existential philosophy with Jean-Paul Sartre in Paris, where he tragically committed suicide in 1951. Generally recognized as the greatest Persian writer of the century, Hidayat brought his country's language and literature into the mainstream of contemporary writing. The Blind Owl, his most famous work, is a classic tale of the hallucinatory and confused world of a young man plagued by the recurring motifs of a beautiful young woman, an old man, and a cypress tree. According to Hidayat, "in spite of the astonishing progress in almost all fields of knowledge, savagery is still the order of our time." The Blind Owl has been ranked as one of the greatest Persian novels ever written. [Ibrahim Pourhadi]

Oz, Amos. My Michael [Mikha'el sheli]. Translated from the Hebrew by Nicolas de Lange in collaboration with the author. New York: Knopf, 1972. 287 p. ISBN: 0394471466. LC Call No.: PJ5054.O9M513 1972

Set in Jerusalem, My Michael portrays the lives of secular Jews in the years immediately following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Through an interior monologue rich in allusion and emotion, Amos Oz paints a masterful portrait of a marriage of opposites. In My Michael, we see the tension and turmoil of a society in the making, refracted through the prism of a single tangled and complex relationship. Paradoxically--given the author's highly introspective and personal approach--this landmark work continues to reveal enduring truths on the origins of modern-day Israel's vigorous intellectual, cultural, and spiritual life. [Michael Grunberger]

Fukuzawa, Yukichi. An Outline of a Theory of Civilization [Bummeiron no gairyaku]. Translated by David A. Dilworth and G. Cameron Hurst. Tokyo: Sophia University, 1973. 205 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: DS821.F87413

Fukuzawa's work was written in 1874 when Japan's move toward modernization was still at a nascent, undeveloped stage and nationalist sentiment was unsettled and largely lacking direction. Fukuzawa maintained that the historical stage of "civilization" made itself known in an outburst of spiritual activity, and especially in an overflow of intellectual energy. He elaborated a theory which explained the gap between primitive and modern stages of civilization and also addressed what was perceived as Japan's inferiority to the West. He called on the Japanese to cultivate an atmosphere of independence by promoting intercourse with the West and elevating the nation to the level of modern civilization. He preached the necessity of emulating Western culture to help preserve Japan's independence against the more advanced nations of the West. This work remains authoritative even today, and indeed some believe that Fukuzawa's ideas have much to say about Japan's current situation. [Thaddeus Ohta]

Hyegyonggung Hong Ssi. Han Joong Nok: Reminiscences in Retirement [Hanjungnok]. Translated by Bruce K. Grant and Kim Chinman. New York: Larchwood Publications, 1980. 437 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: DS913.39.H9413 1980

The author, Crown Princess Hong (1737-1815), was the wife of Crown Prince Sado, the only son of King Yongjo (1696-1776), who reigned for fifty-two years. The Crown Prince, who was homicidally insane, presented a terrible problem to the Yi Dynasty. Its laws insisted that if he were formally executed, so must his wife and descendants. Since there were no other males of the royal line, Sado's execution would end a dynasty begun in 1392. After Crown Prince Sado refused to commit suicide as the king urged, he was placed inside an empty rice bin to starve to death, so that his son could be spared. The tragedy moved the Princess to write her memoirs, one of the few works of court literature in Korea and probably the only one written by a crown princess. It is valued not only for its elegant and elaborate style but also for its sophistication and vivid portrayal of ghastly events in the Court. [Joobong Kim]

Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Brunei
Abdullah, Munshi. The Hikayat Abdullah [Hikayat Abd Allah]. An annotated translation by A. H. Hill. Kuala Lumpur; New York: Oxford University Press, 1970. 353 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: DS596.A6313

From both literary and historical perspectives, the Hikayat Abdullah is an important piece of a modern Malay language literature that encompasses works written in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Brunei. The Hikayat Abdullah derives from the mid-nineteenth century, when the islands of Southeast Asia were preparing to enter the modern (Western) world. It centers around activities in Singapore where, under the leadership of Sir Stamford Raffles, British traders transformed the former sleepy fishing village into a major center of world trade. Inevitably, many aspects of Malay life underwent wrenching changes as a result. The author, Abdullah, lived in Singapore and worked for Raffles as his translator. In his memoirs Abdullah describes the transformation faithfully and empirically, while also offering observations on political and cultural events. Thanks to the encouragement of British and American friends living in Singapore, Abdullah introduced a new literary style to the Malay world, one that was more objective and individualistic than before. Regarded by the British and Dutch authorities as the best example of Malay literature, the Hikayat Abdullah was used throughout the Malay Archipelago as a textbook, thus providing a model of writing for aspiring young Indonesian and Malay authors. [Abdul Kohar Rony]

Rulfo, Juan. Pedro Páramo. Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden. New York: Grove Press, 1994. 124 p. ISBN: 0802133908. LC Call No.: PQ7297.R89P413 1994

It is rare that a writer's first and only novel attains both national and international significance. Pedro Páramo is considered the best of a large and complex tradition of Mexican realist prose as it portrays with subtle precision the lives of the poorest, most anonymous Mexicans living in the countryside. The plot is deceptively simple--a young man sets out on a quest to find his father Pedro Páramo, the cacique (chief) of Comala, a small town. What is exceptionally striking is Rulfo's ability to turn the Mexican intimacy and fascination with death inside out so that the dead seem more alive than the living. Unlike every other Mexican writer of his time, Rulfo brought a vast appreciation of international literature, especially the realist depictions of Scandinavians like the young Knut Hamsun, to the lives of Mexican peasants. With Pedro Páramo, he reconfigured Mexican literature and created possibilities for the generation of the Latin American boom, like Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa. [Barbara Tenenbaum]

Couto, Mia. Voices Made Night [Vozes anoitecidas]. Translated by David Brookshaw. Oxford [England]; Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann International, 1990. 115 p. ISBN: 0435905708. LC Call No.: PQ9939.C68V6913 1990

In 1990, this collection of short stories was awarded Mozambique's first national prize for literature, the Grande Premio da Narrativa, in conjunction with Ualalpi (1987), a novel by Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa. Mia Couto's stories are visual, theatrical, and fantastic even to Western eyes. With irony and humor, they show the lives of ordinary people in a culture traumatized by over 30 years of continued warfare, first from a nationalist combat against colonial rule and then from a civil war. For Mozambique, the short story is probably the most popular as well as the most appropriate form of prose writing. Couto's work is "a synthesis of three of the main strands in post-colonial African literature: the historical, the existential and the literature of ordinary life." Born in Mozambique in 1957 of first generation Portuguese immigrants, Couto is also an accomplished poet and a first-rate journalist. With his inventive use of language in Voices Made Night, he revolutionized Mozambican fiction writing and has contributed to a resurgence of theater in Mozambique. [Mattye Laverne Page]

Devkota, Laxmi Prasad. Nepali Visions, Nepali Dreams: The Poetry of Laxmiprasad Devkota. With translations of selected poems by David Rubin. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980. 170 p. ISBN: 0231050143. LC Call No.: PK2598.D37A27

Though it goes back 500 years, Nepali literature really only began to flourish in the twentieth century, and Laxmi Prasad Devkota (1908-1959) is its greatest writer to date. Devkota produced an enormous body of work in many genres and was profoundly influenced by the poetry of the English Romantics, emphasizing above all spontaneity and fluidity and even whimsicality in his verse. He almost never revised and his publishers were frequently obliged to print ellipses where they could not make out his handwriting. He produced long narrative poems on both classical Indian and Greek myth and legend, social protest, children's verse, an English sonnet sequence on Gandhi's death, songs of the beauties of nature and its revelation of God, imitations of traditional folk religious singers, and laments on poverty and death. Although he was not overly political, his relations with the government ranged from imprisonment as a youth for the crime of writing a petition asking for a public library, to several years in exile in India, to a brief term as minister of education. These translations by David Rubin give a varied, readable, and unconcealed sample of Devkota's lyrics. [Allen Thrasher]

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books, 1994. 209 p. ISBN: 0385474547. LC Call No.: PR9387.9.A3T5 1994

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is one of the first major works of historical fiction written in English by an African author. Published in 1958, this classic novel was written to respond to European distortions and denigrations of Africa and its people. Set in a traditional Igbo village in the late 1800's, the epic story focuses on the rise and fall of its protagonist, Okonkwo, who tries to defy the forces of change. Obsessed by the memory of his father, whom he regards as the epitome of failure and weakness, Okonkwo emerges as a key figure in the power structure of the Umuofia village. After he accidentally murders a clansman, he is banished to his mother's village. The narrative documents Okonkwo's seven year's of exile and describes the intrusion of British Christian imperialism and the disintegration of Igbo culture. When Okonkwo returns and tries to reintegrate himself into his former village, he sees that "Things have fallen apart," as colonial administrative structures radically altered traditional life, missionaries injected the Anglican religion and new values, and Okonkwo's eldest son, Nwoye, converts to Christianity and rejects his father. Okonkwo's resistance to the cultural dislocation and historical change occupies the rest of the novel. A masterpiece of world literature and probably the best known work of historical fiction from contemporary Africa, Things Fall Apart has proved popular not just in Nigeria but throughout Africa and the rest of the world. [Angel Batiste]

Iqbal, Muhammad, Sir. The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Edited and annotated by M. Saeed Sheikh. Lahore: Institute of Islamic Culture, 1986. 249 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: BP161.I7 1986

Inventor of the idea of Pakistan and the greatest 20th century poet in both Urdu and Persian, and a central figure in Islamic reform in Pakistan, India, and the entire Muslim world, Sir Muhammad Iqbal was a protean figure. Tormented by a vision of the decline and ossification of the Muslim world and by the hypocrisy and materialism of the imperialist West, Iqbal sought a Muslim revival through a return to the sources, allowing once again ijtihad, or "independent reasoning" on the Koran--or, more importantly for Iqbal, "self-exertion." He hoped that such study would lead to greater commitment to Islamic values. Influenced by Bergson's and Goethe's idea on evolution, he sought a vigorous Islam by the expansion of the human individual. This book is particularly good as an introduction to his thought because it was written in English, although aimed primarily at a Muslim audience. [Allen Thrasher]

Vargas Llosa, Mario. The War of the End of the World [Guerra del fin del mundo]. Translated by Helen Lane. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1984. 568 p. ISBN: 0374286515. LC Call No.: PQ8498.32.A65G813 1984

This modern classic was largely written out of materials uniquely available in the Library of Congress. It is based on an earlier classic written at the beginning of the century. Inspired by the landmark 1902 Brazilian analytical study Os sertoes [Rebellion in the Backlands] by Euclides da Cunha, Vargas Llosa's new literary version succeeds brilliantly. The novel presents a powerful epic tale of a ragtag army of religious fanatics--followers of a charismatic leader, Antonio Conselheir--in a desperately poor region of Brazil at a time of social and political turmoil. The book details the military expedition by the government which ended up destroying the rebels' stronghold. A major international author and one-time presidential candidate of Peru, Vargas Llosa presents a new masterful reading, more accessible than da Cunha's journalistic and sociological text, on the themes of struggle and revolution in Latin America. [Georgette Dorn]

Rizal, José. Noli Me Tangere. Translated by Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin, edited by Raul L. Locsin. Makati City: Bookmark, 1996. 452 p. ISBN: 9715691870. LC Call No.: PQ8897.R5N513 1996

Every Filipino, young and old, can point to a national hero whom they revere and to a literary classic they can truly call their own: José Rizal and his masterpiece, Noli me Tangere (Latin: "Touch Me Not"). The first edition of the Noli was published in Germany in 1887, on borrowed money while Rizal was studying and traveling in Europe. Although banned by the colonial government in the Spanish Philippines because of its seditious content, contraband copies found their way into the country. The novel awakened Filipino national consciousness. It fanned the fires of a revolution and eventually led to the execution of its author by the Spanish. The novel presents a sweeping panorama of Philippine life and society under Spanish rule through the story of a young man who returned to his native Philippines after years of studying abroad. Filled with generous feelings towards his people and to the authorities, he decides to found a school in his hometown. His goodwill, however, leads him in the direction least expected, as the Spanish authorities imprison him for trying to improve society. Rizal uses the story to expose the gross inequities and harsh abuses suffered under the colonial order. He chose as his title Christ's words to Mary Magdalene at the Resurrection, to accentuate his belief that conditions in the Philippines were like an ulcer so malignant that the least contact causes acute pain. [John Reyes]

Sienkiewicz, Henryk. The Trilogy: 1) With Fire and Sword [Ogniem i mieczem]. In modern translation by W.S. Kuniczak. Fort Washington, Pa.: Copernicus Society of America; New York: Hippocrene Books [distributor], 1991. 1135 p. ISBN: 0870529749. LC Call No.: PG7158.S4O413 1991. 2) The Deluge [Potop]. In modern translation by W.S. Kuniczak. New York: Copernicus Society of America, Hippocrene Books, 1991. 2 vols. ISBN: 0870520040. LC Call No.: PG7158.S4P627 1991. 3) Fire in the Steppe [Pan wo odyjowski]. In modern translation by W.S. Kuniczak. New York: Copernicus Society of America, Hippocrene Books, 1992. 717 p. ISBN: 0781800250. LC Call No.: PG7158.S4P313 1992

Of the work of all Polish writers, Henryk Sienkiewicz's is unquestionably the most familiar to the American public. His best-selling novel Quo Vadis brought Sienkiewicz the Nobel prize and international fame. Among his many American fans was Teddy Roosevelt, who wrote from the White House in 1906, "Mrs. Roosevelt and I and our elder children have read and re-read all your novels of medieval Poland until the characters have become household words with us." Sienkiewicz's most ambitious, and successful, endeavor was his Trilogy--With Fire and Sword (1884), The Deluge (1886), and Fire in the Steppe [Pan Michael in earlier translations] (1887)–set in the turbulent mid-17th century, when Poland's vast kingdom was besieged from all sides in a series of devastating wars. The novels were an instant success, and in the words of another Polish Nobel laureate, Czes aw Mi osz, they "reached everybody in Poland who was able to read and became a "must" for every adolescent.... His impact upon the [Polish] public has been without equal; one only has to cite such instances as that of underground fighters during the Second World War, who used the names of Sienkiewicz's heroes as aliases." [Ronald Bachman]

Barreno, Maria Isabel, Maria Teresa Horta, and Maria Velho da Costa. The Three Marias: New Portuguese Letters [Novas cartas portuguesas]. Translated by Helen R. Lane. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975. 432 p. ISBN: 0385018533. LC Call No.: PQ9264.A74N613

A much translated volume originally published in Portugal in the spring of 1972, it was immediately banned and its authors arrested on charges of abuse of the freedom of press and outrage to public decency. The book itself was a contributing factor in the conjunction of elements that propelled a nation from authoritarianism to democracy. After two years the government dropped its charges and the judge proclaimed The Three Marias a work of literary merit. Not by sheer coincidence, Portugal's long lasting dictatorship was overthrown that same year. A unique effort, this book is a collaboration of three women named María; the reworking of a classic by a Portuguese woman, a nun, long since dead but still very much in the pantheon of women seeking freedom for themselves and their country. The authors blended the writings of that 17th century Catholic with their own letters on contemporary national themes, such as emigration, repression, war overseas, and gender roles. By linking their own aspirations with those of a heroic figure in Portugal's history, they produced a book at once lyrical and rebellious, classic and yet contemporary, nationalistic but infused with universal themes. [Iêda Siqueira Wiarda]

Puerto Rico
Laguerre, Enrique A. The Labyrinth [El laberinto]. Translated from the Spanish by William Rose. New York: Las Americas Pub. Co., 1960. 275 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No: PZ3.L14Lab

It was during the four kilometer walk to school through the mountainous coffee-growing region that young Laguerre learned to love his native land. This author, writer, journalist, and traveler was the first Puerto Rican to be nominated for a Nobel Prize. His legacy includes over 1,400 works, including essays, stories, poetry, plays, and novels, making him one of--if not the--most prolific of Puerto Rican authors. His works span over 6 decades and depict a Puerto Rico evolving from agricultural concerns and Spanish influence through changes in the land due to urbanization, emigration, and Americanization. In The Labyrinth, Laguerre tells the story of several Puerto Ricans who fled the isolation and poverty of the island by going to New York and who learn to be Puerto Rican in the crucible of prejudice and demanding but unrewarding employment. [Ana Kurland]

Zinovieva-Annibal, Lydia. The Tragic Menagerie [Tragicheskii zverinets]. Translated from the Russian and with an introd. by Jane Costlow. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999. 185 p. ISBN: 0810114836. LC Call No.: PG3470.Z5 T713 1999

Lydia Zinovieva-Annibal, a central figure during the Russian Silver Age (1880-1910) until her death in 1907, was perhaps better known as the wife of the great Symbolist poet Vyacheslav Ivanov. Absorbed in her duties as hostess of the Ivanov household and salon, she was not a prolific author, but when inspired she produced works of startling originality. The Tragic Menagerie, a collection of stories, was considered a minor classic following its publication in 1907. The stories are each dedicated to an animal and describe a young girl haunted by the spectacle of beauty and cruelty in nature which she also comes to recognize in herself. The child's sense of tragedy is tempered in the end by a typical Russian Orthodox vision of universal redemption and her mother's wisdom in the face of death. The collection of stories had not been available either in Russian or English for many decades, but fortunately, Jane Costlow has translated Zinovieva-Annibal's work, accompanied by a useful introduction. [Aleksey Gibson]

Diop, Cheikh Anta. Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropolgy [Civilisation ou barbarie]. Translated from the French by Yaa-Lengi Meema Ngemi, edited by Harold J. Salemson and Marjolijn de Jager. New York: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991. 440 p. ISBN: 1556520492. LC Call No.: DT14.D5613 1990

Chiekh Anta Diop is considered one of the greatest scholars to emerge in the African world in the twentieth century. This book was his final contribution to the clarification of African and world history. As such, it refines his survey of what he considered the role of Africa in his six stages of development in civilization, arguments that have provoked strong opinions from other scholars. He contends, for example, that Egyptian civilization originated from the heart of Africa, proceeding south to north, and that the Nubian kingdom pre-dated and gave birth to that of Upper Egypt. He has also stated unequivocally that Africa is the birthplace of humanity and the originator of all six stages of development. His work demonstrates the universality of human experience and introduces readers to a host of different ways of looking at a shared past. [Marieta Harper]

Lorca and Jiménez: Selected Poems. Chosen, translated, and with a preface by Robert Bly. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997. 193 p. ISBN: 0807062138. LC Call No.: PQ6613.A763.A222 1997

The well-respected American poet Robert Bly presents here a new selection of poems by two of the great twentieth century Spanish poets, in their original Spanish and with expert translations into English. Poetry allows the reader to better understand a country. Federico García Lorca (1898-1936), who was killed by a firing squad during the Spanish Civil War, reflects the spirit and sunny beauty of his native Andalusia in southern Spain. The poems by Nobel laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958) speak of his love of art, nature, and solitude. Having lived many years in exile in the United States and in Puerto Rico, his darker moods are expressed at times through moonlit gardens and melancholy landscapes. [Juan Manuel Pérez]

Salih, al-Tayyib. Season of Migration to the North. [Mawsim al-hijrah ilá al-Shamal]. Translated from the Arabic by Denys Johnson-Davis. London, Ibadan: Heinemann Educational, 1969. 169 p. ISBN: 0435906305. LC Call No.: PZ4.S163Se

Written in suspense-filled thriller style, on the surface this classic work presents a familiar theme in African writing: the interaction of Africans with foreign cultures, the painful loss of original cultural values, and the difficulties in returning home. Salih, the best-known Sudanese writer, vividly describes the corruption of his hero Mustafa after he leaves his rural community for the "North" (the West) to take a scholarship in Britain. Once there, he indulges in its pleasures and freedoms with little regard for consequences and responsibilities as he exploits women and eventually commits a crime of passion. He returns to Sudan well educated and "westernized" only to encounter his community as a stranger. Salih also offers an examination of gender relations in Mustafa's marriage to a Sudanese woman. The author maintains a high level of suspense as sexual attitudes, conflicts, and tensions lead to murder, suicide, and larger questions of what is real, what is imagined, and what is just. Season of Migration to the North transcends the limits of a typical thriller or of a story of cultural adjustment, to examine the eternal questions of good and evil. [Joanne Zellers]

Austin, Paul Britten. The Life and Songs of Carl Michael Bellman, Genius of the Swedish Rococo. Malmö: Allhem, 1967. 181 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: ML410.B4404A95) and Martin Best, performing Carl Michael Bellman: Fredman's Songs & Epistles. Monmouth, Great Britain: Nimbus Records, 1983. Sound recording. LC Call No.: Nimbus Records, NIMBUS 45019

In 1990, the Swedish government issued a set of stamps to honor the poet and songwriter Carl Michael Bellman (1740-95). In particular, the stamps celebrated Bellman's most enduring character, the reprobate watchmaker Fredman, through whom Bellman extolled the joy and beauty of love, wine, and nature despite ever present decay and death. Although Bellman's songs are familiar to all Scandinavians, he is largely unknown in the English-speaking world, possibly because it is extremely difficult to translate his nuances and subtle humor. Born into a respectable Stockholm family, Bellman's parents expected him to embark on a successful government career. However, the temptations provided in one of the most hedonistic times in Swedish history lured Bellman into the world of "Bacchus and Venus," the inspiration for his art. For some time the poet enjoyed the patronage of the sophisticated King Gustaf III. However, after the king's death, Bellman was unable to avoid his creditors and died in poverty. [Taru Spiegel]

Gotthelf, Jeremias. The Black Spider [Die schwarze Spinne]. Translated by H.M. Waidson. London: J. Calder, 1958. 135 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: PZ3.B549Bl

Jeremias Gotthelf is the pen name of Albert Bitzius (1797-1854), who spent his whole life in the canton of Berne in Switzerland. During his last three decades, he served as pastor of the village of Lützelflüh in the Emmental where he wrote numerous novels, short stories, and works of nonfiction that amounted to more than forty volumes in the collected edition of 1911-77. Known only in Switzerland during his lifetime, he is now regarded as a major figure of German literature. Gotthelf wrote to improve his parishioners' moral and physical welfare, but his talents as a storyteller and psychologist are such that many who do not share his fundamentalist Christian beliefs or conservative social views are his devoted readers. The Black Spider is his most famous work. In it a village elder relates the tribulations his ancestors endured 600 years earlier, when they promised the devil an unbaptized child to escape the wrath of a tyrannical knight. After a vivid evocation of the bliss and plentitude of Swiss rural life, Gotthelf recounts the nightmare the devil wreaks upon the villagers when they seek to cheat him. The story has inspired several works of classical music and in 1998 noted Swiss writer Urs Widmer wrote a stage version. [Eric Solsten]

Ya ar Kemal. Memed, My Hawk [Ince Memed]. Translated by Edward Roditi. New York: Pantheon Books, 1982. 371 p. ISBN: 0994710169. LC Call No.: PL248.Y275I513 1982

Yasar Kemal's novel, Memed, My Hawk, set in the early years of the Turkish Republic, tells the a story of a heroic bandit and his revenge against injustice done to a family. A careful reading of the book reveals a thoughtful and critical analysis of rural Anatolia as traditional village life and its obligations dissolve in the face of new political, economic and social realities. This work, like Yasar Kemal's other efforts, shows the physical and spiritual sacrifices demanded of the Turks as they moved from their traditional past into the fluid and conflicted present. Although many other Turkish literary works confront these same questions, Yasar Kemal is regarded as one of the strongest spokesmen for those left behind by this societal movement, and he is seen as using one of the most artistic and powerful prose styles in contemporary Turkish. Because of its high literary merit this novel has been an important starting point for discussion of the cost and ultimate goal of change in Turkey. [Christopher Murphy]

Kotsiubyns´kyi, Mykhailo. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors [Tini zabutykh predkiv]. Translated by Marco Carynnyk. With notes and an essay on Mykailo Kotsiubynsky by Bohdan Rubchak. Littleton, Colo.: Published for the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies by Ukrainian Academic Press, 1981. 127 p. ISBN: 087287205X. LC Call No.: PG3948.K6T486

This short novel by one of Ukraine's finest writers is not only a famous work in Ukrainian literary history and beloved by Ukrainian people, but a lyric masterpiece as well. Inspired by the national poet Taras Shevchenko, whose works pioneered the poetic use of Ukrainian, Kotsiubyns´kyi's novel was linguistically important in its attempt introduce different Ukrainian dialects into literary prose. Kotsiubyns´kyi, who was born in 1864 in Vinnytsia and died in Kyiv in 1913, traveled widely through Europe during his youth and was influenced by Zola, Heine, Hugo, de Maupassant, and the Ukrainian writer Vovchok. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors depicts the mysterious milieu of the Hutsul mountain people of Ukraine who believed their lives were intensely connected to an invisible but keenly felt natural spirit world. A Romeo and Juliet scenario of haunting beauty displays ancient Hutsul traditions, folklore, and intricate mythology, which are enhanced by Kotsiubyns´kyi's deft use of symbol, his intimate observation of these isolated people, and his knowledge of the human psyche. The work has been translated into many languages, and an award-winning film of the same title was produced in 1967 by the great Armenian film maker Sergo Parajanov. [Ihor Gawdiak]

The Mabinogion. Translated by Lady Charlotte E. Guest. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1997. 209 p. ISBN: 0486295419. LC Call No.: PB2363.M2S37 1997

Although first written down in Welsh in the 13th or 14th century as The Red Book of Hergest, this fascinating collection of Welsh medieval tales was first translated into English by Lady Charlotte Guest between 1841-1850. The tales themselves were recreated from those told for centuries by Welsh bards. The collection includes legends of King Arthur who is generally acknowledged as having been Welsh, even though most of the beloved popular versions of the Arthurian tales have been based on Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur or on French tales by Marie de France and Chretien de Troyes. The Arthurian tales are only part of this collection, which also contains examples of classic Welsh literature crossing easily between history and fantasy. The tales comprising the "Four Branches of the Mabinogi," for example, are filled with bold kings, queens, and knights, magical horses, enchantment, goddesses and poetry--in short the elements of superb medieval romances, Welsh story-telling, and Celtic mythology. Other editions with later translations by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones are also available. [Abby Yochelson]


Taha Husayn. Fi al-shi'r al-Jahili [On Pre-Islamic Poetry]. Cairo: Matba at Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyah, 1926. 183 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: PJ7541.T3 Arab

This work, a series of lectures delivered at the Faculty of Arts of the Egyptian University (now Cairo University), created a tremendous uproar when it appeared, generating not only books and articles against it, but demonstrations as well. Infuriated literary men, clerics, and politicians demanded that the government confiscate the book, remove it from circulation, oust the writer from the University, and put him on trial. The chief prosecutor of Egypt interrogated Taha Husayn (1889-1973), who was then professor of Arabic literature (later to become Dean of the Faculty of Arts of Cairo University, President of the University of Alexandria, minister of education, and the recipient of a United Nations Human Rights Prize). Blind since the age of six, but blessed with a phenomenal memory, Taha Husayn stood before the judge and successfully defended himself. He vowed he had never meant to insult Islam, and that his Cartesian approach to the study of literary history led him to believe that most of pre-Islamic poetry had been fabricated during the first Islamic century for political, religious, or economic reasons. The court dismissed the case on the basis that the author had made an error in judgment. The following year the book reappeared with the title Fi al-adab al-Jahili [On Pre-Islamic Literature] whose introduction stated: "I hope that I have been successful in this second edition in satisfying the needs of those who wish to study Arabic literature in general and the pre-Islamic literature in particular, as well as research methods and verification techniques in literature and its history." [George Selim]

French Guiana
Damas, Léon-Gontran. Pigments. Névralgies. Paris: Présence africaine, 1972. 157 p. (Lacks ISBN). LC Call No.: PQ2607.A425P5

Inspired by poets Langston Hughes and Claude MacKay, influenced by ethnographers Jean Price-Mars, Leo Frobenius, Maurice Delafosse and Michel Leiris, Léon Gontran Damas (1912-1978) crafted a slender volume of revolutionary poetry. Focusing on a self that expresses intense personal emotion within a context of public pain, Damas, a founder of the Négritude Movement, opened as a poet terrain that Frantz Fanon would subsequently enter as a psychiatrist. The violent, massive, unrelenting seizure of individuals from vibrant participation within a generalized African culture, followed by the alienation and negation of slavery, is present in the first poem: "Ils sont venus ce soir." Subsequent poems were carefully constructed to give the appearance of personal cries of rage. One of these, "S.O.S." (titled "Save Our Souls" in the first edition of Pigments) depicts paranoia as a reasonable emotion in an environment where deductions must be drawn from sadistic behavior. Here fascism and colonialism appear as one and the same. Estrangement is also cultural. In Black Skin White Masks Fanon referred to Pigments, noting he found depicted early stages of linguistic/cultural alienation that eventually led to his suggestion of a dichotomy of the Negro. [Joan Higbee]

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