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When students only have read a few poems, in exclusively academic contexts, they often approach poetry with what the li...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

So I Wrote This This Morning

10 Footnotes

In 2009, I published Apocryphal Lorca: Parody, Translation, Kitsch, with University of Chicago Press. Although I wrote this book quickly, beginning in 2006, much of what I had been studying all my life went into it: American poetry, translation theory, jazz, Lorca himself. A friend and colleague of mine, Jill Kuhnheim, told me that it was fun for her to read it because there was so much of me in it. I did not abandon Lorca after the publication of Apocryphal Lorca. My first thought was to write a book on the contemporary Spanish poet Antonio Gamoneda, but this soon morphed into a project on Spanish modernism, and then, eventually, into What Lorca Knew: Fragments of a Late Modernity.

Although I have written other books and articles on Spanish poetry, I remain most closely identified with my work on Lorca. My current project, while substantially different in its conceptual scheme, continues to draw out some the implications of the central idea behind Apocryphal Lorca: that a poet like Lorca becomes strangely unrecognizable in a foreign context—in this case a foreign context that happens to be my own, domestic American literary culture. Of particular interest to me is the discovery of things that I might have explored in this book, but that either escaped my attention or did not seem significant enough to me at the time. Some of this material has worked its way into What Lorca Knew, but not in any systematic manner. Hence the idea of offering up these “Ten Footnotes to Apocryphal Lorca,” which I conceive of as an exercise in scholarly humility.

I am not a modest person by any means, and a display of false modesty is unlikely to convince anyone to the contrary. Still, in scholarship I maintain the posture of epistemological skepticism: the idea that one’s own conclusions are inevitably questionable and incomplete. Some of the discoveries I have made after the publication of the book confirm my insights into Lorca’s North American reception; others reveal my blind spots and lead to significant revisions of my ideas or to new directions of research.

1 comment:

profacero said...

The time I taught Lorca in English, to English majors, he seemed overtly and fairly conservatively nationalistic to us in ways I somehow miss or do not take as seriously reading him in Spanish. I think there is a big difference in reception somehow, if you look at that in Spanish and look at everything he is engaging with and reacting to, or if you read in English and don't know all the dialogues and intertexts. I am not sure where to take this, either, but he seems to me to be one of the writers who is most different depending on what the reader is and is not familiar with.