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Melographed by César Vallejo
César Vallejo; Joseph Mulligan, ed.; Joseph Mulligan, trans.

2017 • 168 pp. 10 illus. 6 x 9"
Literary Criticism / Literary Criticism - Spanish & Portuguese / Caribbean & Latin Amer. Literary Collections

$24.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7723-8
$50.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7725-2

$19.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7724-5

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

Bilingual Spanish-English ed.

“This first complete English translation of Vallejo’s inventive prose work gives readers the context necessary to appreciate Vallejo’s text in relation to its volatile and singular historical moment.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The first complete English translation of a Latin American avant-garde masterpiece

First published in 1923, just before César Vallejo left Peru for France, Scales combines prose poems with short stories in a collection that exhibits all the exuberance of the author’s early experimentalism. A follow-up to Vallejo’s better-known work, Trilce, this radical collection shattered many aesthetic notions prevailing in Latin America and Europe. Intermingling romantic, symbolist, and avant-garde traditions, Scales is a poetic upending of prose narrative that blends Vallejo’s intercontinental literary awareness with his commitment to political transformation. Written in part from Trujillo Central Jail, where Vallejo would endure some of the most terrifying moments of his life, Scales is also a testament of anguish and desperation, a series of meditations on justice and freedom, an exploration of the fantastic, and a confrontation with the threat of madness. Edited and translated from the Castilian by the scholar Joseph Mulligan, this first complete English translation, published here in bilingual format and accompanied by extensive archival documentation related to Vallejo’s incarceration, this volume gives unprecedented access to one of the most inventive practitioners of Latin American literature in the twentieth century.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

Scales is key to understanding Vallejo’s work. This extraordinary text is presented here in an excellent translation. The scholarship is impeccable and the documents that comprise the appendix provide in-depth understanding of the historical period in which Vallejo wrote.”—Ernesto Livon-Grosman, Boston College

“The publication of Scales demonstrates Vallejo’s stature as that of one of a handful of masters of twentieth century Latin American literature. This translation is excellent. Mulligan’s involvement with Vallejo has been intense and intelligent, and the contextual materials are illuminating.” —Pierre Joris, author of An American Suite

“Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and Vallejo’s Trilce and Scales were written at the same time. Just as the Austrian philosopher was advancing his famous judgment on the benefits of silence beyond the limits of language (‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent’) the Peruvian was writing beyond the boundaries of that which cannot be spoken. There, he invented a language radically private and yet overwhelmingly apt to transmit the pathos of human tragedy and comedy to anyone determined to understand it. This is, as it were, a Wittgensteinian paradox: a private language that we all can share. Vallejo may well be the least known literary giant of the twentieth century, and the work of Joseph Mulligan, systematic in the view its gives us into the Peruvian writer’s mind, may be one of the most significant contributions of a translator-critic in recent years: good news for the English language.”Gustavo Faverón Patriau, Bowdoin College. Author of The Antiquarian

From the Book:

From “Northwestern Wall”
He who’s unaware of the temperature, the sufficiency with which he finishes one thing or begins another; who’s unaware of the nuance by which what’s white is white and the degree to which it’s white; who is and will be unaware of the moment when we begin to live, the moment when we begin to die, when we cry, when we laugh, when sound limits with form the lips that say, I. . . . He won’t figure out, nor can he, the degree of truth to which a fact qualified as criminal IS criminal. He who’s unaware of the instant when 1 stops being 1 and starts being 2, who even within mathematical exactitude lacks wisdom’s unconquerable plenitude—how could he ever manage to establish the fundamental and criminal moment of any action, through the warp of fate’s whims, within the great powered gears that move beings and things in front of things and beings?
Justice is not a human function. Nor can it be. Justice operates tacitly, deeper inside than all insides, in the courts and the prisoners. Justice—hear me out, men of all latitudes!—is served in subterranean harmony, on the flipside of the senses and in the cerebral swings of street fairs. Hone down your hearts! Justice passes beneath every surface, behind everyone’s backs. Lend subtler an ear to its fatal drumroll, and you will hear its only vigrant cymbal that, by the power of love, smashes in two—its cymbal as vague and uncertain as the traces of the crime itself or of what is generally called crime.

CÉSAR VALLEJO (1892–1938) was born in the Peruvian Andes and, after publishing some of the most radical Latin American poetry of the twentieth century, moved to Europe, where he diversified his writing practice to encompass theater, fiction, and reportage. As an outspoken alternative to the European avant-garde, Vallejo stands as one of the most authentic and multifaceted creators to write in the Castilian language. JOSEPH MULLIGAN is a translator and scholar whose work has focused primarily on twentieth-century Latin American vanguardismo. He is the translator of Against Professional Secrets by César Vallejo (2001) and Gustavo Faverón’s novel The Antiquarian (2014), and his translations of Jorge Eduardo Eielson’s poems appeared in Asymmetries: Anthology of Peruvian Poetry (2015). His translations of Sahrawi poetry appeared in Poems for the Millennium, vol. 4: The University of California Book of North African Poetry (2013). He is editor and principal translator of Selected Writings of César Vallejo (2015). Currently, he is a PhD candidate in the Romance Studies Department of Duke University.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:52:16 -0500