Ted Hughes located the enthusiasm for translation, out of which MPT was born, fully in the midst of the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of the Sixties. As Larkin – a gloomier spokesman – said: ‘Sexual intercourse began/ In nineteen sixty-three … Between the end of the Chatterley ban/ And the Beatles’ first LP.’ But that upsurge of revolutionary energy was itself to be understood as a Blakeian ‘contrary’ to the deathly legacy of two world wars, the genocides and the division of Europe by the Iron Curtain. To Hughes and Daniel Weissbort translation seemed – and proved itself to be – a force against frontiers, a welcoming in of the foreign, for the host and the guest a blessing.
Across Europe, revolutionary spirit could be found. The GDR authorities began building the Berlin Wall on Sunday morning 13 August 1961. The photos below, on the western side, are a defiance of sorts in their images of the children playing by the Wall and the adults writing on it. The Stalin Monument in Budapest, erected in December 1951 as a gift to Stalin from the Hungarian people on his 70th birthday, is shown below being demolished by them in the uprising 23 October 1956. Czechoslovakia, the Prague Spring, began in January and was crushed Soviet forces in August 1968. The photo below shows a Prague citizen waving the Czech flag on a Soviet tank.