In many respects this Issue of Double Dialogues follows the previous bi-lingual Issue Eighteen. Not only does it introduce a number of established and emerging writers to Anglophone readers, but it also presents a highly diverse range of responses to the Issue’s thematic thread.
The invitation extended was deliberately cast in an open-ended way to those co-ordinating and translating in part or in full our fourteen writers in Mandarin Chinese (Ouyang Yu and Cui Yuwei), seven in Catalonian (Claire Rosslyn Wilson), and four in Romanian (Anamaria Beligan). We initially spoke in terms of submitting pieces
thematically and/or verbally linked to the theme of living in perpetual transition where, in the words of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “To be sane in a world of madmen is in itself a kind of madness” (1756, 91).*
At no stage was the intention to stipulate limits upon permissible content or style. Nor, apart from a preference for poetry or prose-poetry, was the purpose to produce a uniformity of perspectives, let alone to promulgate an exploration of a particular set of attitudes or moods.
Indeed, this Issue enables readers to uncover a wealth of commonalities and convergences, including, for example, connections
* both within and across the languages selected;
* amongst writers of the same and of different generations and genders;
* between writers translating and translators writing;
* amongst writers open to foreign influences, be it techniques or topics or other artistic media; and
* amongst those writers pursuing older written and cultural traditions as a means of framing their work.
In choosing otherwise unrelated writers from China, Catalonia, and Romania is the fact that all have lived or been uprooted during or in the aftermath of tyrannical times. Moreover, this Issue itself is appearing in times of increasingly widespread demagoguery and devastation, communal cruelty and connivance, blatant mendacity and meretriciousness. This is a time when the very country from which Double Dialogues emerged has seen its euphemistically disguised hatreds and fears projected not only into a disproportionate homeland imprisonment of its indigenous people, but also into a series of Pacific concentration camps for hapless adult and child refugees as reported by the incarcerated Kurdish poet, Behrouz Boochani (2018).** As most readers will know, shortly after the 1939-1945 World War two displaced intellectuals, Hannah Arendt (1951) and Albert Camus (1951), diagnosed our plight with forensic insight for their generation.** They did so partly by drawing upon the responses of artists suffocated by their times, times that strangled the mere possibility of any alternatives to the prevailing ideology of the moment.
As we shall find in the following pages, responses can shift from near silence to pointed satire, from unsheathed anger to seeping anxiety, from urban underworlds to rural outlands, from past evocations to present experience, from the fantastical to the unfathomable.
Without the sheer generosity and selfless effort to oversee and organise, collect and translate—notably by Ouyang Yu and Cui Yuwei, Claire Rosslyn Wilson and Anamaria Beligan—the vast majority of the distinctive voices within this Issue would never have been liberated into the Anglosphere.[* All references are located at the conclusion of the following essay, “In/Transit: In Translation, in Dark Times.”]