Rudolf, Anthony

views updated

RUDOLF, Anthony

Nationality: British. Born: London, 6 September 1942. Education: City of London School, 1953–60; British Institute, Paris, 1961; Trinity College, Cambridge, 1961–64, B.A. in modern languages and social anthropology 1964. Family: Married in 1970 (divorced 1981); one son and one daughter. Career: Junior executive, British Travel Association, London and Chicago, 1964–66; English and French teacher, London, 1967–68; worked in bookshops, London, 1969–71; London editor, Stand magazine, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1969–72; literary editor, 1970–72, and managing editor, 1972–75, European Judaism, London; advisory editor, Modern Poetry in Translation, London, 1973–83, Heimler Foundation Publications, London, 1974–76, and Jewish Quarterly, London 1975–82. Since 1969 co-founder and editor, Menard Press, London. Adam Lecturer, Kings College, London University. Awards: H.H. Wingate/J. Quarterly prize for best nonfiction book on Jewish theme, 1991. Hawthornden fellow, 1993. Address: 8 The Oaks, Woodside Avenue, London N12 8AR, England.



The Manifold Circle. Oxford, Carcanet, 1971.

The Same River Twice. Manchester, Carcanet, 1976.

After the Dream: Poems 1964–1979. St. Louis, Cauldron Press, 1979.

Broccoli. N.p., Culford Press, 1990.

Mandorla, illustrations by Julia Farrer. N.p., Ki Press, 1994.


The Soup Complex, adaptation of a play by Ana Novac. Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, Stand, 1972.

The Storm: The Tragedy of Sinai, adaptation of a play by Eugene Heimler. London. Menard Press. 1976.


Byron's Darkness: Lost Summer and Nuclear Winter (essay). London, Menard Press, 1984.

From Poetry to Politics: The Menard Press 1969–1984. London, Menard Press. 1984.

At an Uncertain Hour: Primo Levi's War against Oblivion. London, Menard Press, 1990.

Wine from Two Glasses: Trust and Mistrust in Language. London, Kings/Adam, 1991.

I'm Not Even a Grownup: The Diary of Jerzy Feliks Urman. London, Kings/Menard Press, 1991.

Engraved in Flesh: Piotr Rawicz and His Novel Blood from the Sky. London, Menard Press, 1996.

The Arithmetic of Memory. N.p., Bellew, 1999.

Editor, with Richard Burns, An Octave for Paz. Farnham, Surrey, Sceptre Press—Menard Press, 1972.

Editor, Poems from Shakespeare IV. London, Globe Playhouse Trust, 1976.

Editor, with Howard Schwartz, Voices within the Ark: The Modern Jewish Poets. New York, Avon, 1980.

Editor, Spleen. London, Menard Press, 1990.

Editor, Sage Eye: the Aesthetic Passion of Jonathan Griffin. London, Menard/Kings, 1992.

Editor, Theme and Version: Plath and Ronsard. London, Menard Press, 1995.

Editor, with J. Rety, Collected Poems & Selected Translations of A.C. Jacobs. London, Menard Press/Hearing Eye, 1996.

Translator, Selected Poems, by Yves Bonnefoy. London, Cape, 1968;New York, Grossman, 1969.

Translator, Tyorkin, and the Stovemakers: Poetry and Prose of Alexander Tvardovsky. Cheadle, Cheshire, Carcanet, 1974.

Translator, Relative Creatures: Victorian Women in Society and the Novel 1837–1867, by Françoise Basch. London, Allen Lane, 1974.

Translator, with Peter Jay and Petru Popescu, Boxes, Stairs, and Whistle Time: Poems, by Popescu. Knotting, Bedfordshire, Omphalos Press, 1975.

Translator, with Daniel Weissbort, The War Is Over: Selected Poems, by Evgeny Vinokurov. Cheadle, Cheshire, Carcanet, 1976.

Translator, A Share of Ink, by Edmond Jabès. London, Menard Press, 1979.

Translator, Things Dying Things Newborn: Selected Poems, by YvesBonnefoy. London, Cape, 1985.

Translator, The Unknown Masterpiece, by Balzac. London, Menard Press, 1988.

Translator, Flow Tide, by Vigee. London, Menard/Kings, 1992.

Translator, Traite du piomistre, by Yves Bonnefoy. Birmingham, Delos, 1994.

Translator, Striking Root, by Ifigenija Simonovic. London, Menard Press, 1996.

Translator, with J. Naughton, New & Selected Poems, by Yves Bonnefoy. Chicago, Chicago University Press/Carcanet, 1996.

Translator, On Raymond Mason, by Yves Bonnefoy. Birmingham, Delos, 1999.


Critical Studies: Review by George Mackay Brown, in The Scotsman (Edinburgh), 21 January 1977; by Fred Beake, in Poet's Voice, Bath, 1995.

Anthony Rudolf comments:

After the Dream is a more or less definitive reworking of my two earlier collections. In the fifteen years since it was published, I have mainly worked on literary criticism, poetry translation, fiction, and autobiography, but lately I have returned to poetry (or poetry has returned to me) and hope to find a publisher for a new and selected poems.

*  *  *

Anthony Rudolf is a man of many parts—poet, translator (principally from French and Russian), editor, pamphleteer, and obituarist, to name but a few of them. He has not been a very prolific poet in his own right, and the best of his poems from the 1960s and 1970s were gathered together in a collection entitled After the Dream, published in 1980. But the finest of his pieces are memorable indeed, exquisite miniatures fresh in their detail, carefully composed, taut and spare, never lacking in reverberation. They recall some of his influences and mentors, among others Carl Rakosi and George Oppen. There is always evidence of a shrewd economy in the choice of detail, and it is in fact in the form of the short poem that he has achieved his most significant results. The title poem of the collection, for example, is a pleasing act of semantic jugglery, but it is far more than the mere exercise in wordplay that such a description might suggest:

He took my words.
Without a word
he changed the order of my things.
Still my poem, just about.
Much water has flowed by.
No word.
But to this day, ten years on
I write the same words.
The end
of all my words is a beginning.

The piece is about the pressure of external influence upon the individual and the poem. It is about the influence of words and the influence of relationships. It is an exploration of how reality is grounded in the poem and of how the reality of poetry as a thing made perpetually eludes any final statement as to its meaning, in whole or as a construct made from words that belong to us all. The poem's rich ambiguities are held in careful tension, and the simplicity of the expression belies the complexity of the ideas.

In spite of his achievements as a poet, Rudolf is equally well known as a translator of poetry and as a publisher of poetry in translation through his Menard Press imprint. The poet with whom we associate his name most readily is Yves Bonnefoy, probably the most gifted French poet of his generation. Rudolf's translations of Bonnefoy were first published in book form in 1968; in 1985 there appeared a new selection, Things Dying Things Newborn, which was neither a reprint nor a revised edition of that earlier book, in spite of the fact that it included revised translations of many of the poems appearing in the earlier volume. Subsequent translations of Bonnefoy were published in 1994 and 1999. Essentially, it is the work of a translator who has been learning on the job, for over the years Menard and other presses have published a wide range of Rudolf's translations, including his own versions of Jabès.

Rudolf's efforts to introduce Bonnefoy to the English-speaking world have continued. He contributed a substantial supplement on the work of Bonnefoy to Anvil Press's Poetry World, an annual (occasionally biannual) publication devoted to poetry in translation. The supplement includes a major essay, hitherto unpublished, entitled "Poetry and Truth." This is an especially fascinating document because it was written in English by Bonnefoy and only lightly edited by Rudolf. We therefore have an opportunity to experience the sweep of Bonnefoy's thought and his particular French timbre without the mediation of a translator. The supplement concludes with a long prose explication of Bonnefoy's poetry and ideas arranged by theme and then by his successive books of poetry. This valuable exposition, an "unwriting" as Rudolf describes it, digs at the roots of Bonnefoy's thinking about the relationship between poetry, metaphysics, and the world of language and phenomena. As we read it, we are taken back into Rudolf's own work as a poet, a world in which there is always a strong sense of the poet battering at the door of language as sign, squeezing out the pith of meaning. There is a perpetual recognition that the simplest poetic act is always far from simple precisely because it issues from a thinking, sentient being who has himself undergone a double divorce—from the world of being insofar as he has the powers to reflect upon its mysterious nature without reentering it and from language itself insofar as language can never be anything other than common to us all and therefore sullied to a degree. Mercifully, at its best poetry can serve as an act of cleansing and purification, and poetry and Bonnefoy are at one in their belief that poetry is a secular liturgy.

—Michael Glover