Bell, Bernard. Clarence Major and His Art: Portraits of an African-American Postmodern Artist. Chape Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000. Howe, Fanny. "Clarence Major: Poet and Language Man."
Black American Literature Forum 13.2 (1979): 68-69. Major, Clarence. "An Interview with Clarence Major," by Charles H. Rowell. Callaloo 20.3 (1998): 667-678.
MANDELBAUM, ALLEN (1926- ) Allen
Mandelbaum's poetry places him in the mainstream of modernism. Though not lavishly experimental, his verse possesses the allusive density of T. S. eliot, the bardic voice of Ezra pound, the verbal playfulness of Wallace stevens and James Joyce, and the terse, short-lined utterance of William Carlos WILLIAMS. Like some of his modernist precursors, his distaste for his times drives him to seek order and renewal in tradition, and his career as a translator and his deeply rooted Judaism supply him with ceaseless inspiration. "Time," writes Mandelbaum in the introduction to his translation of The Aeneid (1971), "with all its density, does not disappear; but it seems to heighten and not to muffle the words of the past addressing us" (xiv).
Heightening "the words of the past" has been Man-delbaum's life's work. The son and grandson of orthodox rabbis, Mandelbaum was born in Albany, New York. He graduated from Yeshiva University at 18 and received his M.A and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has taught at several universities, including the City University of New York, Wake Forest University, and the University of Torino in Italy. Along with publishing five books of his own poetry, Mandelbaum established his reputation as an important contemporary translator through several translations of classical, medieval, and modern poets. Among his many awards and fellowships, Mandelbaum received the National Book Award for his translation of The Aeneid (1972) and was a finalist for the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for his translation of The Metamorphosis.
Indeed one can trace the theme of "translation" throughout Mandelbaum's own poetry. In his shorter lyrics and his longer poem sequences, Chelmaxioms (1978) and The Savantasse of Montparnasse (1988), Mandelbaum reworks classical motifs, such as the epic narrator, the hero, and the journey and quest, for the modern reader. As it bridges the centuries, Mandel-baum's poetry also blends classicism, Christian humanism, Jewish thought, and modern philosophy. Not only time and tradition, but the vastness of the world is translated into an eternally present "here" in Mandelbaum's global vision. Several forms of translation can be seen in this line from "The Civil Sea" (1967): "Arm in (iron) arm (s), Aeneas / and Augustine / sink within / the wake of twenty centuries." Here literary allusions and the motif of the sea journey translate the present into the universal, assonance and alliteration translate words into music, and wordplay and punning translate the highly serious into the paradoxical and humorous.
Mandelbaum's poetry challenges the casual reader: Its conceptual density and its scholarly weight can drive even the most erudite to the "Notes" appended to each of his books. Nevertheless Mandelbaum's poetry, especially such sequences as Chelmaxioms and The Savantasse of Montparnasse, never fails to broaden our vision by immersing us in classical and Judaic traditions while delighting us with wit and wordplay.
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