The art of book translation becomes even more challenging when you translate a book that hasn’t been updated since the Cold War. At Asymptote, Jacek Dehnel discusses how much changed from Ariadna Demkowska’s 1962 translation of The Great Gatsby to his current work. “Demkowska was working under very different circumstances: behind the Iron Curtain and without access to Google. It was, therefore, more difficult for her to track down various details, such as those concerning well-known financiers or popular culture starlets of the 1920s.”
The upper 10 percent has become the upper one percent and class resentment grows deeper and more bitter by the day, but otherwise not much has changed. The Great Gatsby will continue to inspire re-reading, re-thinking, and sad rejoicing. This is so because Fitzgerald was a genius who understood that we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Have you ever wondered what The Great Gatsby would sound like? Designer Vladimir V. Kuchinov made The Generative Gatsby, a book that features typography based on famous 1920s jazz songs. “The following work is a visual experiment, a study of how music of this era, its rhythms, syncopations and patterns could alter prose to a new typographic frontiers keeping content legible as it could be,” he writes on his website.
You might think, then, that the people who know Fitzgerald’s novel best would have the most disapproving view of the movie. To test that hypothesis, we asked five English professors who specialize in American literature to take in an early showing and share their thoughts. And to our surprise, they liked it.
"When I read San Francisco Chronicle critic Mick LaSalle opine recently that Romeo + Juliet was “too contemptible even to be called a desecration,’ I know that he never lay in virginal bed with headphones and discman, listened to Thom Yorke utter the eternal invitation “I’ll be waiting, with a gun and a pack of sandwiches,” and just felt so much.”
Lydia Kiesling, “You Can’t Repeat the Past, Old Sport: On Leo, Baz, Gatsby, and Me.”
The hype keeps building for Baz Luhrmann’s oft-delayed Great Gatsby adaptation, but before we go any
closer to the green light further down the rabbit hole, why don’t we take a look at the first cinematic version of Fitzgerald’s classic (which he hated)?
"I feel that The Great Gatsby is the most together, the most surgically artistic effort of a novelist who was more exciting when he was not trying to contain the hot, maudlin, meandering mess of his own talent. (For the record, I also sense something phony about Gatsby’s very phoniness — for me the only convincing poor person Fitzgerald wrote was one who lost his fortune, not one who made it. Fitzgerald’s poor people were like his black people or his Jews–all characteristics, no character.)”
Modern Library Revue: #28 Tender is the Night by Lydia Kiesling
So it looks we actually have to wait until next summer for this. Which is fine, I guess, but I for one was really looking forward to all the Gatsby themed New Year’s parties that the original Christmas day release would’ve helped ensure.
No. 1, “The Grand Epiphany Ending”: “Gatsby believed in the green light, but sitting out among the quiet whisperings of the shore I had a different sort of revelation: Sometimes life is easy, but sometimes it is hard.”
No. 2, “The Bourgeois Hardship Ending”: “Out there in the dark with the moon rising high over the Sound I thought about Gatsby and his big, rambling house. It turned out to be true what they said—you never really get what you expect. I shrugged and left.”
No. 3, “The Ending Ending”: “Ferryboats stirred across the Sound and disappeared toward the horizon. Gatsby had seen something strange and new in this untrammeled land, but contemplating it now I could only think one sad, unvarnished thought. We are born, we eat a lot of lunches, and then we die.”