cover image Scales


César Vallejo, edited and trans. from the Spanish by Joseph Mulligan. Wesleyan Univ., $24.95 trade paper (188p) ISBN 978-0-8195-7723-8

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. Written in part from Trujillo Central Jail and published in 1923, shortly after the well-known Trilce, the work considers innovation in language as a catalyst for social justice. Mulligan’s deft translation highlights the modernist impulse toward plain language as well as lingering surrealist, symbolist, and Romantic influences: “And, in the diffused glow of the screen, I seemed to see on both sides of the agitated boy, two feeling forms come to life, softly rise up above his lover boy head, then blur with the high window, withdraw, and unravel in a telescopic flutter of eyelashes.” Readers sense the influence of other texts and other voices in the background through the care that Mulligan has taken in his translations. This adeptly curated, expertly framed bilingual edition is furnished with an appendix of supplementary texts, including relevant excerpts from Trilce, selected correspondence, and various documents associated with Vallejo’s imprisonment, making the volume suitable for scholars and newcomers alike. (Sept.)