International Pen: its creation and development to unite the culture of the world under one umbrella

The founding of International PEN in London in 1921 by Mrs A. Dawson Scott, a Cornish novelist, and John Galsworthy, a well-known literary figure who eventually became PEN’s first international president, were born out of Dawson’s belief Scott that if the writers of the world could learn to reach out to each other, the nations of the world could learn over time to do the same. The idea arose at the most appropriate moment, when bitter hatred between nations after World War I threatened world peace.

The international PEN was further expanded with the founding of the American Center in 1922. Having established a small circle of well-known member-writers and having held their first PEN meeting in October 1921 in London, Galsworthy and Dawson Scott got involved. I contacted American writers such as Kate Douglass Wiggin and Joseph Anthony to start a center in New York. Both Anthony and Wiggin brought their friends together, and by March 1922 they had formed the Organizing Committee. .

Although this Committee lacked a strong central figure like Galsworthy who could attract notable writers through friendship and personal influence, the writers were enthusiastic about the idea and joined in and in a fairly short time the membership roster had grown to include to Frances Hodgson Burnett, Marc Connelly, Robert Frost, Ellen Glasgow, Eugene O’Neill, Edwin Arlington Robinson and Elinor Wylie with members representing all literary ensembles or styles. On Wednesday, April 19, 1922, a dinner held at the Coffee House Club with some forty people gathered marked the beginning of the formal existence of the American Center.

International PEN aims to promote intellectual cooperation and understanding among writers; thus creating a world community of writers, the only one of its kind, that emphasizes the central role of literature in the development of world culture; and defend it from the many threats to its survival. Thus, the organization has acted as a powerful voice to oppose political censorship and speak on behalf of writers harassed, imprisoned, and sometimes murdered for expressing their opinions.

In its early years, International PEN had centers only in Europe. But over time, writers from other nations enthusiastically joined in, so that in 1926 members from fifteen nations were able to meet in Berlin. Notable writers such as the British Joseph Conrad, George Bernard Shaw and HG Wells and from all over Europe Anatole France, Paul Valery, Thomas Mann, Croce and Karel Copek were always in their ranks.

The prospect of PEN in all capitals generated great appeal, and writers from other nations enthusiastically joined in – although not all centers formed were to London’s taste. The French members were thought to be too young and left-wing, and the Americans too exclusive.

One of Galsworthy’s ideas from the beginning was that there should be an International Congress every year, to which all Centers would send delegates. The first of these Congresses was held in London in 1923. At that time there were an impressive number of centers and representatives from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United States attended.

The following year, the American Center hosted an International Congress, in May 1924, which consisted of three days of festivities and discussions, and the highlight was a gala banquet held at the Hotel Pennsylvania with a carefully planned menu of: international dishes in honor of the delegates of their respective countries, such as Spain, Mexico and Denmark.

In 1926, when the annual international meeting assumed the dignity of a congress, writers from fifteen nations met in Berlin. Little by little, the idea that a center could represent a language and, or, a literature, took root: The Basque and Catalan, Irish and Scottish centers appeared. Belgium was allowed two. Yugoslavia oven

It was at the Brussels Congress in June 1927 that serious steps were taken to establish the translation as a working entity of PEN.After much discussion and suggestions on the promotion of translation, Henry Seidel Canby formally put forward a suggestion to preferably establish in Paris, an international literary information clearinghouse to simplify, clarify, accelerate and streamline for all concerned – author, publisher and audience – the flow of literary expression across the borders of language.

Congress gave its cordial approval and established a subcommittee comprised of Canby, Galsworthy, Ms. Dawson Scott, and International Secretary Herman Ould. Confident of success, Canby spoke with the directors of the International Cooperation League in Geneva and was promised the use of part of the Palais Royal in Paris as the headquarters of the translation office. Financial support came from various publishers, who would pay an annual fee for the use of the clearinghouse facilities. Eventually, support came from six publishers in London, fourteen in Germany, and several in the United States. Although the American Center, in the spring of 1928, had managed to raise $ 6,500, it was a far cry from the three thousand pounds that Galsworthy considered necessary for the project to be truly successful. Unfortunately, it was clear that PEN was too new and poorly organized to get such an ambitious company off the ground. Canby said: “The PEN Club as a whole did not have a sufficient central organization to ensure adequate support and control.”

In 1931, at the Amsterdam Congress, PEN had grown to truly justify its identity as a world organization. Delegates came not only from most European countries, but also from Australia, Canada, China, and South America.

In January 1933, a year after the Budapest Congress, John Galsworthy died, leaving the Nobel Prize money in a trust fund for PEN. It was the ultimate gift and contribution to an organization that he loved and nurtured, watching it grow and take shape. His successor as international president was HG Wells.

Today, the PEN network consists of more than 147 centers in more than a hundred countries established on four continents, including Africa, where it now concentrates its work. As proof of this, its 73rd International Congress was held in Dakar, Senegal. PEN Senegal, which hosted the 2007 congress, is surrounded by a rich literary history dating back to 1956, when its writers began to get involved in promoting writing and writers internationally. So when the 1st Congress of Black Writers and Artists was held in Paris in 1956, an informal nucleus of Senegalese writers had formed around Presence Africaine magazine under the auspices of the African Society of Culture. Then in 1959, Dr. Ousmane Soce Diop and others led the creation of PEN CLUB SENEGAL

PEN’s work revolves around five main committees:

The Writers in Prison committee works on behalf of persecuted writers around the world, monitoring cases of people who have been imprisoned, tortured, threatened, attacked and killed for the peaceful exercise of their profession. It campaigns to end these attacks and opposes the suppression of freedom of expression wherever it occurs.

The Committee on Translation and Linguistic Rights has been working since 1978 to promote the linguistic and cultural differences of the world, the translation of contemporary literature and the promotion of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights. Last year, its multilingual electronic collection of poetry, fiction and essays expanded to include a total of 20 authors from 14 countries around the world.

The Writers for Peace Committee, founded in 1984 at the height of the Cold War, is still dedicated to advancing the cause of peace and celebrates Writers for Peace Day every year on March 3. Its annual meeting in Bled last year included articles and contributions that discussed the topics of Globalization of the world – Marginalization of literature – PEN’s role in the contemporary world and Freedom of expression as a means against terrorism.

Since 1991, the Committee of Women Writers has been working to promote the writing and publication of women and to encourage women to know, translate and popularize the work of others.

The Writers in Exile Network formed in 1999 establishes placement opportunities for exiled, immigrant and refugee writers in universities, colleges and learning centers around the world in collaboration with other organizations.

Nobel prizes for winners of literature and other eminent writers from around the world are generally enlisted among PEN members. These include Heinrich Boll, Arthur Miller, Mario Vargas Llosa, Per Wastberg, and Gyorgy Konrad, all of whom have served as presidents. The Vice Presidency has traditionally been reserved as an honorary position for accomplished writers such as JM Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Sook-Hee Chim, Alexandre Blokh and Joanne Leidom – Ackerman ..

Related article:


Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *