Argentine journalist Vanina Redondi interviews Peter Robertson-27.09.2016

Peter Robertson by Allen Frame

Peter Robertson, President of Interlitq, by Allen Frame

VR: I notice that the publication of English Writers 4 has been delayed. What is the projected time-frame for publication?


PR: We are aiming to publish this feature as soon as we can and certainly by the end of November, 2016. But it is likely that EW4 will be published before then. It has been a time of upheaval as my mother died in early June, and I returned to Scotland for a while. I certainly adored her and so it has been especially difficult. Now I am back in Argentina, and focusing once again on Interlitq, which is by now nine years old.



VR: Do you think Interlitq will reach a ripe old age?


PR: I hope so. We shall see. I have never stopped believing in the publication and its overarching vision. On the other hand, I have not written anything of my own for some years now, and so I am looking for a modus operandi whereby the review will move forwards, and I believe it can move forwards inexorably, but I will also be in a position to recommence my own flow of creativity.


VR: And your life in Argentina?

PR: Again, time will tell. On my return here from Scotland, it took me some time to get into my stride. The secret, I would say, is to become more papist than the pope. When foreign friends of mine residing here decry an Argentine trait, I express my opinion that the victory consists not in criticizing that characteristic, but, in the spirit of adapt or die, incorporating it into one’s own behaviour, even accentuating it. For example, these days I wear a rosary and, with my Calvinist education, that would once have been unthinkable.


VR: How do you see Interlitq evolving?


PR: As with everything, it is one step at a time. When I conceived the review, I envisaged it as a quarterly, publishing every three months. Developments broke such a paradigm as, perforce, there was a long hiatus during which Interlitq did not publish. We will continue producing a number of features, but I am interested in publishing the review on a more regular basis, as I think that being a quarterly straitjackets us, and we have a lot of material ready for publication…We are about to initiate a new series, The Power of Prose. And we have already embarked on a number of new series: Interviews, Poetic Voices and The Groves of Academe.


VR: Did you ever feel drawn to the Groves of Academe personally?


PR: I have long considered myself to be an academic manqué, and I could so easily have gravitated to the Groves of Academe, but events were to militate against any such outcome. I went up to King´s College, Cambridge in October 1980, but I was not to have a happy education. My original idea was to go up to Oxford University, aiming probably for Balliol, or to study at King’s College, London, but when I left a small Scottish village to work in London at the age of eighteen, I met my first boyfriend who had been a brilliant scientist at Cambridge, leaving with a triple starred first in physics, and a doctorate. It was he who encouraged me to go up to Cambridge, as he had done. We went on a visit there, and punted down the River Cam, and I realized that in a way it made sense for me to consider applying to Cambridge, as at school I had read all of the novels of E. M. Forster, as well as every monograph and critical study I could lay my hands on, and of course, Forster had been at King’s; and so the idea of applying to that College began to take shape in my mind. Before Cambridge, I had spent long periods of time alone in a house in Southern Norway and  so, when I arrived at King´s, I found the camaraderie intoxicating, and I was smitten by the sheer beauty of the place. But, while at Cambridge, my boyfriend, Alan Kennedy, a Petrean, studying at Peterhouse, was, after previous attempts, to commit suicide. I am still of the conviction that, had I lost a girlfriend, and not a boyfriend, King´s would have rallied round me instead of threatening in writing to make me live outside the College, a gesture which was to propel me into leaving the College prematurely. Certainly it was different in the case of Alan´s Uncle Maurice, the geophysicist, Maurice Hill, son of the Nobel Laureate, Archibald Hill, and the nephew of John Maynard Keynes. Maurice Hill also committed suicide, and was an academic at King´s, but, so far as I am aware, the College´s response to his death was entirely of a different order. In any case, events ran their course and here I am, replying to your questions, in Argentina.

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