In the second volume of her Testimonios, Victoria Ocampo recalls how her friend, Virginia Woolf, insisted that she must “guardar el dinero para la revista [Sur] y los libros” (save money for her journal [Sur] and books). Drawing on her own publishing experience with the Hogarth Press, Woolf acknowledges both the literary importance of Ocampo’s journal as well as the inherent financial strain of maintaining it. The world of publishing involves great risk, but the rewards can be even greater, as Woolf notes: “¿Sabe usted que nosotros vivimos de la Hogarth Press?” (Did you know that we live off of the Hogarth Press?).
New. Now. Motion. Speed. Acceleration. Expansion. Pause. Renew. Now, again.
In the early twentieth century, there is no such thing as transnational literary modernism. Yet, in the early twenty-first century, there is transnational modernist studies.
“The harbor of New York was somehow the inexplicable scene of a mysterious cruel translation,” wrote modernist art critic Paul Rosenfeld in 1924. With his impressionistic term “cruel translation,” Rosenfeld pointed to interferences in the sea lanes that connected New York to Antwerp and Buenos Aires, and to obstructions where people crossing stateless oceans touched national territories. In his description of Alfred Stieglitz’s epochal photograph The Steerage (1907), cruel translation appears as “the abyss of water” that “divides the folk crowded in the yawning mouth of the ferryboat from the foreground piles” (Rosenfeld, Port of New York, 272). Here, the meaning of translation exceeds strictly linguistic exchange, and its cruelty connotes a multifarious cultural scenography of constricted circulation at the port of entry, where blockages from cultural difference to customs house diffidence destabilize the global flows of people and goods.