Oral Histories

Interview of Edouard Roditi

Poet, short-story writer, and translator.
Inventions and Imitations: Tradition and the Advanced Guard in the Work of Edouard Roditi
Interviews not in a series, part one
Biographical Note:
Poet, short-story writer, and translator.
Smith, Richard Candida
Roditi, Edouard
Persons Present:
Smith and Roditi.
Place Conducted:
Bradford A. Booth Room in the Department ofSpecial Collections, UCLA.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Richard Candida Smith, principal editor, Oral HistoryProgram, UCLA\; B.A., theater arts, UCLA. Smith prepared for the interview by conducting research on the Roditi Collection in the Department of Special Collections in the UCLA Library. He reviewed eighteen document boxes of correspondence, twenty boxes of manuscripts, a box of photographs, a box of autobiographical manuscripts, as well as Roditi's publications and previous interviews, critical literature on Roditi's career, and background readings on the broad range of topics which would be important subjects for discussion in the interview.
Processing of Interview:
David P. Gist, assistant editor, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings and edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.Roditi reviewed and approved the edited transcript. He made only occasional minor changes for clarity of meaning or for accuracy.The interviewer prepared the table of contents and interview history; the editor, the biographical summary and index.
12 hrs. 15 min.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Elstree School; Carlo Suarès; the Cabala and Zohar; meeting T. S. Eliot; translating Saint-John Perse; Stephen Spender; Eugene Jolas; Charles Henri Ford and Paul Bowles; studies at Oxford University; sent to Germany in 1930 to study banking; Christopher Isherwood; anti-Semitism in Europe; Roditi's father; personal response to the Holocaust; Editions de Sagittaire; the response of advanced-guard writers to the political crises of the 1930s; André Breton; Roditi's identity as a homosexual emerges; enrolling in the University of Chicago; Paul Goodman; Roditi's interest in psychoanalysis; the sociology of troubadour poetry; poetry circles in San Francisco Bay Area in the late thirties; anxieties over the fate of friends and family in occupied France; working for the Office of War Information; André Breton and Claude Lévi-Strauss work at the United States Office of War Information French desk; Klaus Mann; James Laughlin and New Directions; commissioned to write Oscar Wilde; simultaneous interpreting for the International Labour Office and for the 1945 United Nations Conference; learning of deportation and deaths of family members; medieval literature inspires Roditi as a poet; disagreements with Ezra Pound; interpreting at the Nuremberg war crimes trials; interpreting for the Allied Control Council in Berlin; Alexander Koval; impressions of Berlin, 1946; helping and supporting his family; smuggling Hans-Georg Gadamer out of the eastern zone; Das Lot; working for the legal directorate of the Allied Control Council; closing of frontier between eastern and western zones; Lucius Clay; the Berlin blockade; connection with Haakon Chevalier; the catastrophic situation of the poet in the English-speaking world; Melvin J. Lasky; first contacts with Turkey; meeting Yashar Kemal; a weekly radio program in Paris; touring Algeria; summarily expelled from France; court rules Roditi illegally expelled; epilepsy diagnosed; languages interpreted and translated; poetry as an interpretation of experience; work in Sephardic literatures; editing Haakon Che-valier's memoirs; art criticism for Arts magazine and L'Arche; donations to libraries and museums; teaching at American universities; the politics of little magazines; reliving psychic anxiety; interest in Jewish spirituality; the advanced guard in France and America; donating the Roditi Collection to UCLA; Paul Goodman's sudden success; the Marjorie Peabody Waite Award.