Posts Tagged: translation

Preserving Dostoevsky’s Prose

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What’s one English word to sarcastically communicate Russian cosmopolitan refinement? How would you translate a page-long sentence from Tolstoy, or “the cacophonous competing voices of Dostoevsky”?

Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear (who have been married for 33 years) have translated over 30 works from Russian to English, beloved by readers worldwide (including Oprah) and praised for communicating the idiosyncrasies and styles of the original works.

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Repeat the Past, Break the Future

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A god does not intervene. A mortal dies. Things happen repeatedly, then suddenly they differ. That rhythm of action, which combines repetition with asymmetry, is the rhythm of Homeric narrative and of the Homeric style. And it is designed to hold you in its spell as much as the rhythm of a line: the beat of repetition tells you this must happen, then, behold a wonder, it does not.

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Which Norwegian Author Is Your Favorite Beatle?

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I think of the four elder statesmen of Norwegian letters as a bit like the Beatles: Per Petterson is the solid, always dependable Ringo; Dag Solstad is John, the experimentalist, the ideas man; Karl Ove Knausgaard is Paul, the cute one; and Fosse is George, the quiet one, mystical, spiritual, probably the best craftsman of them all.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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On Monday, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction was awarded to Jack Livings for The Dog, a collection set in China in the last decades of the 20th century. What makes Livings’s stories remarkable isn’t just the tight prose and impressive research (he told the Wall Street Journal that he spent a year and a half reading oral histories from glassblowers and researching Mao Zedong’s embalming process for just one story), it’s that he managed to write about a foreign culture with nuance and depth and not mess it up.

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Censorship Taints Publishing Bonanza

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China represents a huge marketplace for any product, and book publishers have finally caught on. More than 10,000 Chinese books were available at the Book Expo America. But as publishers race to embrace the Chinese market and bring Chinese authors to the West, censorship by the world’s largest authoritarian state represents a real challenge.

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When the Story Begins

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Longreads gifts us newly translated fiction from Antonio Tabucci:

He must be almost ninety, he spends his afternoons gazing out the window at New York’s skyscrapers, a Puerto Rican girl comes each morning to tidy up his apartment, she brings him a dish from Tony’s Café that he reheats in the microwave, and after he listens religiously to the old Béla Bartók records that he knows by heart, he ventures out for a short walk to the entrance of Central Park, in his armoire, in a plastic garment bag, he preserves his general’s uniform, and when he returns from the park, he opens its door and pats the uniform twice on the shoulder, like he would an old friend, then he goes to bed, he’s told me he doesn’t dream, but if he does, it’s only of the sky over the Hungarian plains, he thinks that must be the effect of the sleeping pill an American doctor prescribed.

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Politics, Lost in Translation

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Asymptote Journal takes a look at some of the concerns translators have when confronting a politically problematic text. The choice of text is of course the first decision a translator faces—but the challenges translators confront aren’t necessarily limited to pushing a political agenda or avoiding it, but also with the nuances of language itself:

For a translator, not all words are created equal.

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Midsummer Night

The Books of A Midsummer Night’s Press

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Julie Marie Wade explores the amazing work done by A Midsummer Night's Press. ...more

Stories That Must Be Told

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To read Alejandro Zambra is to engage with someone who writes as though the burden of history were upon him and no one else — the history of his country of Chile, of literature, and of humanity’s shared experience. You get it from his pages, a sense that a story must be told, intimately and without reservation.

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Lost in Translation

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Three Percent, a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester, derives its name from the fact that about 3 percent of all the books published in the U.S. every year are translations. But the bulk of these are technical writings or reprints of literary classics; only 0.7 percent are first-time translations of fiction and poetry.

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