It is precisely because she does believe [translation] to be so crucial that she wants it to be taken seriously. Her concerns lie with a notion of world literature that erases difference or sifts out the foreign or the unsettling in the name of easy consumption. In this way world literature mimics a free-market fantasy of the endless, frictionless circulation of goods and information. In this McDonaldisation of the written word there is no room for difficulty or opacity.
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 translator was admiring his dead poets. Not that I am alive myself, he remarked, but at least I keep moving.
Celebrate literary journal Asymptote’s third anniversary in New York City later this month. The event will feature Eliot Weinberger, Jeffrey Yang (translator of Liu Xiaobo), Paris Review poetry editor Robyn Creswell, Idra Novey (translator of Clarice Lispector), and Daniella Gitlin (translator of Rodolfo Walsh). They will come together for a panel discussion on translation and readings. The event starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 21 at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe.
Indeed, Turle is particularly good on the physicality of being a translator, the terrible slowness of the process as compared with reading, one’s longing to be unchained from one’s computer and the equal desire to keep working. According to Turle, all translators are, at one time or another, diplomats, actors or spies.
Among Haruki Murakami’s many significant literary achievements is the fact that the author has – since the 1990s – become “responsible for triggering and fueling the Japanese literature boom in South Korea.”
One reason why The Divine Comedy remains the most generous work in literary history is because it brings together these three phenomena—God, love, and art—in a first-person story where they flow into and out of one another promiscuously, such that it is impossible finally to distinguish between the Comedy’s art and ‘the love that moves the sun and the other stars.’ Even if one knows nothing about the Christian theology that structures the poem, the love that keeps it moving sweeps the reader up along with it.
Three thousand Russians volunteered to proofread ‘forty-six thousand eight hundred pages’ of Leo Tolstoy’s writings over the course of fourteen days.
Stay tuned for the rest of the list soon, but here is the first part of our spring 2014 season. Enjoy.
The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos by Patrick Leigh Fermor
The long-awaited conclusion to Leigh Fermor’s account of his youthful walk through pre-war Europe follows…
NYRB Classics just released the first installment of their Spring 2014 Preview, and it features the likes of William H. Gass, Jean-Patrick Manchette, and Qiu Miaojin. Stay tuned for the second installment, which they say will come soon.