George Reavey (1907-76)


Life
[occas. err. Reavy;] b. 1 May 1907, Vitebsk, Russia, where his father Daniel (b. Belfast; m. Sophia Turchenko) managed a flaxmill; spent his early years there and in Nizhni Novogorod; f. arrested in 1919; mother and son fled to Belfast [aetat 12]; educ. Belfast Royal Acad. Institute [BRAI/“Inst.”]; family moved to London 1921, att. Slade Art School, returning to Belfast in summers; recorded Irish music and songs in a notebook in Belfast; grad. Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, where he co-founded Experiment with Empson, Bronowski, Kathleen Raine, et al.; contrib. trans. from Boris Pasternak;
 
moved to Paris with Julian Trevelyan, 1929; abandoned plans of joining Indian Civil Service; met Thomas MacGreevy and was introduced to Samuel Beckett, Brian Coffey, Denis Devlin, and James Joyce; connected with Eugene Jolas’ transition group and contrib. to Samuel Putnam’s New Review; co-ed., with Jacob Bronowski, The European Caravan (Putnam 1931), with contribs. from Beckett;
 
established Bureau Littéraire Européen and the Europa Press, publishing early collections of verse by Beckett, Devlin, and Coffey; issued Faust's Metamorphoses (1932), in free-verse monologues based on Marlowe's version; publ. Beckett’s Echo’s Bones and Other Precipitates (1935); moved from Paris for London, 1935-1951; visited Dublin in 1936, visiting Francis Stuart at Laragh with Beckett; contrib. to Herbert Read’s Surrealism (1936);
 
publ. selected poems of Paul Éluard as Thorns of Thunder (1936), coinciding with Internat. Surrealism Exhibition, with an drawing by Picasso, a preface by Read, and translations by Reavey, Beckett, Devlin, Gascoyne, Man Ray and Ruthven Todd; placed Beckett’s Murphy with Routledge through good offices of Read, 1938 [var. unssucessfully tried to place with a publisher]; rescued his mother from Soviet occupied zone of Poland, 1939; served with Foreign Office in Madrid and Russian during the war;
 
issued Soviet Literature Today (1946); visited by Beckett in London, en route from Paris to Dublin, receiving letter of thanks, dated 25 April 1946; received letters from Beckett explaining the writing of Watt, 1947; and moved to New York to teach Russian Literature, 1951- ; issued translations of Aleksandr Sergeyevich Yesenin-Volpin (A Leaf of Spring, 1961), Fyodor Abramov (New Life: A Day on a Collective Farm, 1963); publ. The New Russian Poets 1953–68 (1968), a bilingual anthology; with James Dickey, et al., contrib. trans. to Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s Stolen Apples (1972);
 
had an affair with Lydo Arco, a Russian descended from a line of actors in the Yiddish theatre who ran a salon in Chelsea, NY; issued Russian translation anthologies in prose and verse; translated Turgenev and Gogol as well as Yevtushenko and Vosnosensky; his last collection, Seven Seas was publ. by Coffey’s Advent Press (1971); d. 11 Aug. 1976; survived by his wife Jean Reavey; photos and letters of Reavey are included among the papers of Lyda Arco deposited in YIVO Institute, Manhattan, by Bradford J. Verter (Princeton Univ.);
 
seven of his poems appeared in the 1930s special issue of The Lace Curtain (ed. Michael Smith, 1971); there is an interview with James Knowlson of Florida State University.

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Works
Poetry
  • Faust’s Metamorphoses: Poems, with a foreword by Samuel Putnam (Fontenay-Aux Roses, Seine, France: New Review Editions; NY: Putnam 1932), 61pp.;
  • Nostradam ([Reavey] 1932);
    Signes d'Adieu: The Frailty of Love (Paris: Editions Europa 1935), 22pp., ill. by Roger Vieillard [1 lf. of pls.; 150 exemplaires]
  • Quixotic Perquisitions [1st Ser.] (London: Europa Press 1939), 33pp., ill. y John Buckland Wright [pls.].
  • The Colours of Memory (NY: Grove Press 1955), 60pp. [sixty poems incl. ‘Singing of SS Jutland’ and ‘Hiroshima and After’];
  • Seven Seas [Advent Poems, 7] (London: Advent Press 1971), 6pp.
  • De Revolutionibus: A Copernican Poem(Boston [Mass.]: Mirage Press 1973), [3]pp. [22cm; ltd. edn. 200].
Note: published his own collections at Europa Press incl. Nostradam (1932); Signes d’Adieu (1935); Quixote Perquisitions (1939);
Miscellaneous
  • trans., Aseff: the Russian Judas, by Boris Ivanovich Nikolaevsky (London: Hurst & Blackett 1934), ill. [16 ills. incl. ports.]
  • [with Samuel Putnam, Maida Castelhun Darnton & Jacob Bronowski], ed., The European Caravan: An Anthology of the New Spirit in European Literature (NY: Brewer, Warren & Putnam 1931), 475pp. [see details];
  • ed., with M. Slonim, Anthologie de la litte´rature soviétique, 1918-34 [4th edn.] (Paris 1935), q.pp..
  • ed., Thorns of Thunder: Selected Poems of Paul Éluard (London: Europa Press 1936).
  • trans., Dead Souls [Mertvye Dushi], by Nikolai Gogol (London: Hamish Hamilton 1948), viii, 469pp.; and Do., with an introduction by Sir Maurice Bowra [World's Classics, 556] (London: OUP 1948, 1957), 464pp.
  • trans., The Last Summer, by Boris Leonidovich Pasternak, with an introduction by Lydia Slater[Penguin Books, 1547] (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books 1960), 92pp.
  • The Bedbug: and Selected Poetry, by Vladimir Mayakovsky, translated from the Russian by Max Hayward & George Reavey; ed. Patricia Blake (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, [1961]), pp.317pp.
  • Early poems [by] Yevgeny Yevtushenko; selected, edited and translated by George Reavey, with a new preface by the author [rev. & enl. bilingual edn.] (London: Marion Boyars 1989), xxxviii, 274pp.
  • trans., Fathers and Sons, by Turgenev [...] (NY: American Library 1961) [q.pp.]
  • sel. & trans., The New Russian poets 1953-1968: An Anthology, [Bilingual edn.] (London: Boyars 1961, 1966, 1968), xxvii, 292pp.

Also trans. works by Maxim, Gorky, Nikolai Berdiaev, Andrei Belyi, ... &c.


Go to Reavey interview with James Knowlson in Journal of Beckett Studies [JOBS] at the Florida State University website [online], or see copy [attached].

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Bibliographical details
The European Caravan - An Anthology of the New Spirit in European Literature - Part I: France, Spain, England and Ireland (NY: Brewer, Warren & Putnam 1931), 8°, xviii, 577pp. [6pp. Foreword; 39pp. General Introduction Samuel Putnam: The After-War Spirit in Literature; England and Ireland section intro. by Jacob Bronowski; French and Spanish sections intro. by André Berge, Jean Cassou & E. Giménez Caballero respectively; Samuel Beckett contribs. four poems, “Hell Crane to Starling”, “Casket of Pralinen for the Daughter of a Dissipated Mandarin”, “Text” and “Yoke of Liberty” - his first book-appearance in USA. Peter Ellis (London) holds inscribed presentation copy ‘to my friend William Archer from J. Bronowski’. Listed as a work by Beckett. Other editorial contributors incl. Maida Castelhun Darnton. (See Peter Ellis @ Abebooks online; accessed 09.10.2010.)

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Criticism
See Patricia Coughlan & Alex Davis, eds., Modernism and Ireland: the Poetry of the 1930s (Cork UP 1995).

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Commentary
John P. Harrington, The Irish Beckett (1991) writers of George Reavey, with MacGreevy, Samuel Beckett, ‘and others’ (p.11 - citing Samuel Putham’s Paris was Our Mistress, [NY] 1947). Further: ‘Reavey left Ireland to study in Cambridge [...] and later turned to Soviet literature.’ [idem]; Reavey’s new European Literary Bureau [ibid., p. 38]; Reavey was a recipient of letters from Beckett, explaining the writing of Watt, in 1947. [ibid.] Reavey’s Europa Press published a collection of poems, Third Person, by Brian Coffey in 1938. See also Anthony Cronin, Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist (1996), p.113.

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References
There is an authoritative Wikipedia page, which includes the observation that he laid claim to authorship of Jerzy Kosínski’s The Painted Bird; [online - accessed 02.09.2010.]

Gerald Dawe, ed., Earth Voices Whispering: An Anthology of Irish War Poetry 1914-1945 (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 2008) - incls. poems by Reavey:
  The Sinking of the SS Jutland
The Rape of Europe
Hiroshima and After
171
176
177

See also poems in John Montague, ed., The Faber Book of Irish Verse (London: Faber & Faber 1974).

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