lunes, 29 de abril de 2013


Recently, we have been reading again about Canadian women writers in the Spanish press. There have been absent for almost two years, since Munro was shortlisted for the Prínce of Asturias Award in 2011, which eventually went to her compatriot Leonard Cohen.  Atwood had always been hidden away since the fanfare of the Prince of Asturias Award in 2008 and the publication of her poetry collection The Door in 2009. Lumen has recently incorporated her to the prestigious gallery of women authors-

In my forthcoming books about the reception of Canadian writers in Spain, I have expressed my conviction that Canadian writers are here to stay. Alice Munro has recently made it to the cover of El Cultural (22 March 3013), just as Atwood did when she won the Prince of Asturias Award. Nuria Azancot summarizes an interview Munro held The New Yorker about the publication of her latest collection of stories Dear Life.

Margaret Atwood visited Spain in the second week of April for the occasion of Gutun Zuria, the festival of International Literature Festival of Bilbao. She has, as a result,  appeared again in the cultural pages of most Spanish newspapers.

The good news is I will be teaching a course about Canadian (and Australian)  writers this autumn. The course’s title is “Language, Power, Hybridity in the Literatures of Canada and Australia." The course will feature authors like Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Sally Morgan.
I will soon be publishing links where you can find more information about it. Feel free to ask me about it at

viernes, 19 de abril de 2013


In her recent review about the Collected Poems (Poesía completa) by Emily Dickinson, translated by Enrique Goicolea, Ainhoa Sáenz de Zaitegui (El  Cultural 8-3-2013) writes "she was a woman with a mission"; "If the had lived in the Twenty-First Century, she would have been a Gothic poet, dressed in black, her lips in black lipstick."

I am afraid that Zaitegui does not quite understand Emily Dickinson and she is committing the usual mistake of reading authors from the past  through the lens of twenty-first century. At the end of her life, Dickinson dressed in white, she was known as "The Lady in White." Was the colour of her garment an allusion to the crowd dressed in white  mentioned in the Book of Revelations by Saint John? Was her white dress the colour of her shround, reminiscent of one "of the meek members of the Resurrection," who await patiently the day thet will risen from the dead.  The cultural journalist forgets that Emily Dickinson had a deep knowledge of religion and lived during the Second American Religious Revival.

Therefore, my view is that Dickinson is more a mystic thatn a gothic poet. Death is the substance of  her poetry, but was death a part of the everyday life of people  of nineteenth century and present in the poetry in English from both sides of the Atlantic (Tennyson, Rossetti, Browning...). For Cristina Rossetti, death was a liberation ("Sleeping at last, trouble & tumult over/Sleeping at last, the struggle & horror past/Cold & white out of shigth of friend & of lover/Sleeping at last." C. Rossetti, 1896)

Rossetti clearly believed in the Afte- Life but did Dickinson? There are volumes of criticism written about this. Int the introduction about her in the Norton Anthology of English Literature, the critic writes that "she was fully capable of moving within the same pome from religious consolotation to rejection of doctrinal piety." And so she did, but, in my opinion, Emiy Dicksionson dd believe in God and in Immortality, despite her doubts. Here are some lines which point in this direction:

365 (368)
I know that He exists.
Somewhere -in silence-
He has hid his rare life
From our gross eyes

'Tis and instant's play -
'Tis a fond Ambush-
Just to make Bliss
Earn her own surprise!

But -should the play
Prove piercing earnest -
Should the glee -glaze-
In Death's -stiff -stare -

Would not the fun
Look too expensive!
Would not the jest -
Have crawled too far!     (1862)

In the the first line, Dickinson seems to be echoing the words of Job, which are beautifully sung in Haendel's oratory "Messiah": "I know that my Redeemer liveth, " and, therefore I shall live too.
When she says "He had hid his rare life/From our gross eyes," it reminds me Pope Bendedict the 16th when he said, just before abdicating, that "sometimes God seemed to be asleep." The reality of death, says Dickinson, is cruel, but the inextistence of a Beyond would be an even crueller joke.

And what do you think? Do you thinks Emily Dickinson believed in God and immortality?

To end this entry, I would like to thank the group of enthusiastic and innovative students (Elena, Álvaro, Georgiana, Olga and Mª José)  from my English Literature class (Languages & Commnication degree) for the amazning presentation they have delivered today about Emily Dickison!! Elena's impersonation of Emily Dickinson, has  confirmed my idea of the American poet as a kind of mystic, a St Theresa living in the US during the nineteenth century.
Here is the link if you would like to enjoy it: