December 7, 2008

Gilbert Alter-Gilbert, Latin-American literature stamps

From the collection of Gilbert Alter-Gilbert

In August 2008, I featured an interview with Gilbert Alter-Gilbert and excerpts from his many book-length translations:
  • Manifestos Manifest by Vicente Huidobro (read the post)
  • Strange Forces: The Fantastic Tales of Leopoldo Lugones (read the post)
  • The Mirror of Lida Sal by Miguel Ángel Asturias (read the post)
  • Streetcorners: Prose Poems of the Demi-Monde by Francis Carco (read the post)
  • Scarecrow and Other Anomalies by Oliverio Girondo (read the post)
  • Dead Man & Company by Marie Redonnet (read the post)
As a supplement to our first interview and bridge to the second, Gilbert Alter-Gilbert shared some of his incredible world-lit stamp collection; an article on and chronology of the controversial French author Léon Bloy; and a translation of Bloy's story "The Infusion," making its first appearance in English. I'll post these Bloy pieces 12/8 - 12/10.

huidobro_stamps _two
From the collection of Gilbert Alter-Gilbert


lugones stamp
From the collection of Gilbert Alter-Gilbert

In my post about Lugones, I quoted William Colford on the author's zigzagging political life:
Lugones' life was a constant inner struggle: he was at war with the world and with himself. Starting out as an anarchist and then a zealous international Socialist, he passed through the political and intellectual wringer until he came out an ardent Catholic nationalist. And in his literary ideology he went from a kind of neo-gongorism through romanticism and symbolism to realism. Hopelessly embittered, he finally committed suicide.
In an email to me, A-G. expressed his own thoughts about Lugones' suicide, which I share here:
I don’t think political confusion or some sort of sublimated doctrinal conflict in and of itself led to his suicide. I think he did himself in partly because of dismay over his scrambled love affair [discussed in interview 1] which was the final insult to a long-festering sense of the stupidity of confining social strictures and, secondly but no less urgently, because of fierce frustrations over stymied attempts to sway his countrymen to his ideological positions, yes, but only because these frustrations magnified and conflated into a whole panoply of feelings of being misunderstood and unappreciated -- classic alienation syndrome -- which escalated to a sheer maddening disgust for life and for the limitations of the world as it is. This was because he had a kind of Nietzschean superman complex. At the risk of sounding even more Freudian, I think he was hopelessly disillusioned with the behavior of his fellow men, inasmuch as they didn’t understand him or agree with him, and he felt an insurmountable contempt for their stunted nature.
Lugones appears often in Borges' works (i
n 1955, Borges stated that "Lugones was and continues to be the greatest Argentine writer."). Using the index to Selected Non-Fictions, I gather here some snippets of Borges & Lugones:

  • Borges quotes Lugones line about the tango, "that reptile from the brothel."
  • In "The Superstitious Ethics of the Reader," Borges quotes Lugones blasphemy on Cervantes (from The Jesuit Empire): "Style is his weakness, and the damage caused by his influence has been severe. Colorless prose, redundancies, flimsy narrative structure, panting paragraphs unwinding in endless convolutions that never get to the point, and a complete lack of proportion compromise the legacy received by those who consider its style to be the immortal work's ultimate achievement; they have only scratched the surface whose rough edges hide its true strength and flavor."
  • Borges includes Lugones' The Statue of Salt (not in English) in his Library of Babel (a series of short volumes of fantastic tales, each selected and introduced by Borges).
  • Borges includes Lugones' The Jesuit Empire (not in English) in his last project, A Personal Library (another series of books selected by Borges).

asturias stamp
From the collection of Gilbert Alter-Gilbert

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