The hidden face of academia
This article was published, by request, in The Aquinian, 15 September 2004, 69:2, p.10.
In 2002, I was invited by Dr. Ignacio Arellano, the Editor of La Perinola: Revista de Investigación Quevediana, to become a member of the editorial board of the magazine. I agreed to do so, and finally, in La Perinola, 8 (2004), my name appeared in the list of the advisory board / consjeo asesor.
It is an interesting appointment. My association with the works of the seventeenth century Spanish writer Francisco de Quevedo goes back to the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (Santander, Spain) where, in 1963, I met and was taught by Professor José Manuel Blecua, the founding father of modern Quevedo studies in Spain. I was fortunate to meet Prof. J. M. Blecua again in 1969, when I was completing my doctoral studies in Santander and his interest in and kind attention to my doctoral thesis greatly helped me in my early career. Prof. J. M. Blecua, also on the advisory board of La Perinola passed away recently and I now share a position on that board with his son, Alberto Blecua, whose works I have read, but whom I have never met in person.
A quick glance through the advisory board of La Perinola revives other memories from my past. James O. Crosby, the great American quevedista, for example, was the outside reader on my doctoral thesis (from the University of Toronto, 1975). Prof. Crosby is another quevedista with whom I have corresponded regularly and whose books I know all too well, sometimes by heart. Again, I have never met him. The English Hispanist, Henry Ettinghausen, author of Francisco de Quevedo and the Neostoic Movement, is also on the board. I met Dr. Ettinghausen in England in 1986 when I was on sabbatical and was invited by him to travel to, and lecture at, the University of Southampton. That same year, I was also invited to the University of Bristol, where I was an undergraduate, and to Queen Mary’s College of the University of London, where my colleague Paul Julian Smith invited me to read from my recent Quevedo research at his Colloquium for Spanish Golden Age Studies.
Elías Rivers, another American acquaintance, this time from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, once asked me to replace him as chair of the Golden Age Session at the Association of Canadian Hispanists, on Prince Edward Island, where he had been invited to speak. I did so with great pleasure. I still advise my students to use his anthology of Golden Age Spanish Poetry with its prose translations of Góngora and Quevedo.
Among my other reminiscences as I peruse the names of an advisory board to which I now belong are reviewing the works of other members of the committee: Edmond Cros (who lectured at McGill University two days after I taught classes there and presented my own research to the graduate studnets at the invitation of my friend, the later Dr. Victor Ouimette), Alessandro Martinengo (who was one of the first to quote my doctoral work in an article), Isabel Pérez Cuenca, José María Pozuelo Yvancos, Maria Grazia Profeti, Alfonso Rey, Marie Roig Miranda (who herself included a study of my own early work Towards A Chronology of Quevedo’s Poetry in her chapter on chronology in Les sonnets de Quevedo), Josette Riandière de la Roche, Gonzalo Sobejano, and Domingo Ynduráin, whose father, Francisco, was director of the UIMP when I was studying there, so many years ago.
What have I done to be honoured in this way by the great quevedistas of the early 21st century? In all honesty, not much recently. The last time I visited Spain was in 1991 when I conducted manuscript research, much of which still remains unpublished, in the archives of la Real Academia de la Historia, the Biblioteca Nacional, and the Biblioteca de Menéndez y Pelayo. The last time I attended a Quevedo conference was in 1994, at the Modern Language Association, when I organized and chaired, at San Diego, a symposium on Quevedo. The last time I presented a paper on Quevedo was in 2002, when I travelled to San Francisco to talk to the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese about how to present the poetry of Quevedo in the contemporary classroom. This lecture, incidentally, has since been accepted by the Advanced Placement Board of the USA as the model across America for how to teach seventeenth century Spanish poetry and is available on line through their New York offices (members only, alas!).
The presence online of my Ongoing Quevedo Bibliography, a project which I began in 1969 when I started my doctoral thesis, has probably got much to do with the appointment. This bibliography, regularly maintained at home by Clare and myself, is the largest, most up-to-date, and most accurate Quevedo bibliography in the world. It has obtained accolades from many quevedistas and Quevedo centres, including those at the Universities of Navarre and at Santiago de Compostela. The bibliography is also listed on the web pages of such organizations as the Asociación Internacional del Siglo de Oro (AISO) and the Instituto Miguel de Cervantes. Perhaps my inclusion in this illustrious company was also aided by the discovery and publication, in 1983-86, of the earliest known manuscript of Quevedo’s famous sonnet Miré los muros de la patria mía. This poem, together with a further 20+ previously unrecognized Quevedo manuscript variants, was published in an article entitled “Obras humanas de el divino Quevedo: A Reappraisal of Ms. 4117 of the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid."( Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos 11.1 : 49-86.) and won the 1988 prize from the Association of Canadian Hispanists for the best research article published by a Canadian Hispanist in that year’s competition.
Whatever! As the youth of today say! When I was assistant editor of the International Fiction Review I dedicated myself to making space available in which young scholars could publish. I catalogued the publications of my Canadian colleagues when I was editor of the Boletín de la Asociación Canadiense de Hispanistas. I sent their publications out for review when I was book review editor (Spanish) of the Canadian Modern Language Review. Then, when I was appointed to the editorial board of Calíope (the Journal of the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry, published out of the University of Texas at Houston) I continued assessing and helping to distribute the work of my contemporaries. Now, as a member of the advisory board of La Perinola – Revista de Investigación Quevediana, I will continue to work with my fellow quevedistas, world wide, in their efforts to improve our knowledge of this great Spanish author.
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