“Agostino recommends itself as an ideal literary beach read that can be soaked up in one or two sittings, so adroit is Moravia’s use of a seaside setting as a charm for psychological discovery and sand-encrusted epiphanies.”—At the BN Review, Christopher Byrd takes a look at Alberto Moravia’s Agostino newly translated by Michael F. Moore.
You can be a bit freer—no, why is it more fun to translate? I feel like with poetry you can … I spend longer on each word. I spend a lot more time per word on poetry than in a novel. You can’t pore over a novel in quite the same way you can with a book of poetry. And I do feel that translating poetry, there’s a little bit more room for “freedom” in the translation process. The emphasis is at least as much on sound and rhythm as it is on meaning. It’s not that that isn’t there in novels, but the balance of power is a little bit more on meaning in a novel. Very concrete and specific things are happening and those things need to be conveyed, relatively accurately, so that the reader isn’t confused, or else the novel is no longer effective. It’s more just about that balance of where the energy is going.
—Kareem James Abu-Zeid in an interview with ThreePercent, on translating Najwan Darwish’s Nothing More To Lose
To read the rest of the interview, visit Three Percent's website.
“The author’s charming and useful tendency to lose track of his destination became a serious real-life problem in the case of the books about the walk across Europe—the most beloved of his works, which have achieved the status of cult classics particularly among adventure-bent youth…. However many the detours, Leigh Fermor’s youthful journey did have a destination, which the author finally reached: he got to ‘Constantinople’ on New Year’s Eve, 1935, a little shy of his twenty-first birthday.”—In case you missed it: Daniel Mendelsohn wrote about the concluding volume of Patrick Leigh Fermor's legendary trilogy, as well as PLF's “helpless penchant for digressions literal and figurative” in the June 19, 2014 issue of The New York Review of Books
NYRB is giving away three copies of Simone Schwarz-Bart’s novel The Bridge of Beyond via Goodreads Giveways.* Entries will be accepted until Wednesday, July 23rd. So if you’ve been meaning to read Schwarz-Bart’s book, “part fable, part tragedy, always beautifully written” (Roxane Gay), now is the time.
He slowly approached her, filled with repulsion and awkwardness. The mother pulled him close, wrapping an arm around his body. In her eyes Agostino could see an extraordinary brightness, a sparkling youthful fire. Her mouth seemed to be restraining a nervous laughter that coated her teeth with saliva. And in the act of wrapping her arm around him and pulling him to her side, he felt an impetuous violence and a trembling joyousness that almost frightened him. They were effusions, he could not help but think, that had nothing to do with him. Strangely they made him think of his own excitement a little earlier when he was running through the streets of the city, thrilled at the idea of taking his savings, going to the house with Tortima, and possessing a woman.
Augustus + Bob, Son of Battle on The Millions' 2014 Most Anticipated List
The Millions released part two of their Most Anticipated 2014 Book Preview list and a couple of forthcoming NYRB books made the cut: Stonerauthor John William’s final novel, Augustus (NYRB Classics), and Lydia Davis’s adaptation of Alfred Ollivant’s Bob, Son of Battle (NYR Children’s Collection). Highlight: this list includes the only juxtaposition of John Williams and the Kardashians known to man. Or so we think.
Both Augustus and Bob, Son of Battle hit shelves in August.
To view the second part of list in full, visit The Millionshere.
Three NYRB Classics Shortlisted for the PEN Translation Prize
This episode did not put an end to my pursuit of city solitudes, though I did promise myself and them one thing: never entrust these stolen essences to a pencil.
—Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, “Seams” from Autobiography of a Corpse, translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull and Nikolai Formozov
There was only one human soul, the soul that did not lose faith as it suffered anguish and torment among the scree and vineyards of Palestine, the soul that remains equally human and good in a little village near Penza, under the sky of India, and in a northern yurt—because there is good in people everywhere, simply because they are human beings.
“Summers too are for reading, for harvesting shelves to fill long days and sweaty nights, in a hammock, a bed, a backseat, a fuselage, crossing rivers, oceans, continents.”—An alternate summer reading list at The Millions: endless as summer, lousy with wanderlust. (via millionsmillions)
“France offered a rare gift to the contemporary world in the person of Simone Weil. The appearance of such a writer in the twentieth century was against all the rules of probability, yet improbable things do happen.”—
The Professor and the Siren by Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa
This came to pass on the morning of August 5, at six o’clock. I hadn’t been up for long before I was in the boat; a few strokes of the oars took me away from the pebbled shore. I’d stopped at the base of a large rock whose shadow might protect me from a sun that was already climbing, swollen with dazzling fury and turning the whiteness of the auroral sea gold and blue. As I declaimed I sensed that the side of the boat, to my right and behind me, had abruptly been lowered, as if someone had grabbed on to climb up. I turned and saw her: The smooth face of a sixteen-year-old emerged from the sea; two small hands gripped the gunwale. The adolescent smiled, a slight displacement of her pale lips that revealed small, sharp white teeth, like dogs’….She was a Siren.
—Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, “The Professor and the Siren”
"Near-contemporary translations of great texts often seem to capture them best, whatever their small errancies… The rhythm in Florio’s Montaigne is pleasingly Shakespearean in its play between the forthright and the fancy, a play easily lost by mere homogenized lucidity…" —Adam Gopnik in his recent piece for The New Yorker, "Word Magic"
"Even if you already own a translation of Montaigne…you should read this, so you know what he sounded like to his contemporaries." —Nicholas Lezard, in his review of Shakespeare’s Montaigne in The Guardian
Shakespeare’s Montaigne, edited by Stephen Greenblatt and Peter Platt, went on sale in the UK today.
To mark its publication, The Telegraph published an excerpt from Greenblatt’s introduction to the book, which you can read here.
“This reading provided, so to speak, a hole in his otherwise hopeless existence, through which he escaped from the intolerable into the incredible.”—John Collier, “Incident on a Lake,” from Fancies and Goodnights (via under-the-volcano)
Fortunes of War: The Levant Trilogy by Olivia Manning
When their drinks were finished, Harriet said to Simon, ‘Shall we climb the great pyramid?’ 'Is it possible? Goodness, I'd love to, but can you manage it?' 'I've done it twice before. The last time, I was wearing a black velvet evening dress which hasn't been the same since.'
Panel Discussion: BAM’s ‘The Old Woman’ and the Russian Avant-Garde Movement TONIGHT, 7:30
Tonight, Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn will host a panel discussion about BAM’s upcoming production of The Old Woman, adapted from a short story by Daniil Kharms, co-founder of the OBERIU.
OBERIU—the Russian abbreviation for “Union of Real Art”—was an early 20th century underground avant-garde collective founded by Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky.
Panelists are Eugene Ostashevsky and Matvei Yankelevich, translators of Alexander Vvedensky: An Invitation for Me to Think, Mark Krotov, editor of Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (also translated by Yankelevich), and the discussion will be moderated by Russian translator Ian Dreiblatt.
For more information, visit the Greenlight Bookstore website.
Literature & World War I: A Panel TONIGHT, 7:30 PM
In all the ‘war books’ I had read, fear was indeed sometimes mentioned, but it was other people’s fear. The authors themselves were always phlegmatic characters who were so busy jotting down their impressions that they calmly greeted incoming shells with a happy smile.
Tonight at The Commons in Brooklyn, NYRB Classics editor Edwin Frank will be speaking with translator Richard Greeman and Professor Christopher Winks about the writers of the First World War and their stories of that catastrophic time. The discussion, moderated by Jenny Greeman, begins at 7:30 PM.
For more information about this event, visit the NYRB event page here or visit The Commons website here.
Tarkovsky was right. The responsibility of the artist is to stir people’s hearts and minds toward loving others: to find the light and the true beauty of human nature within this love. Religion can rarely show us what fate means in concrete terms. Yet everyone needs to be understood and this understanding is found within each individual’s fate, one’s life journey that clarifies the way. I’m not a therapist or a philosopher or a priest. I’m an artist.
Muriel Spark declares John Masefield an "absolute poppet"
Throughout, he was most unaffectedly gracious, kind and sweet—an absolute poppet. I had rather expected to find a denunciatory reactionary somewhat out of sorts with the world & soured by neglect. Not a bit of it. His interest in all varieties of life’s manifestations is still avid—much more so than mine or most of my generation’s will ever be. The inner life of the man has now swallowed up the outer life. He is a poet of outwardness—of the essence of reality, not the essence of illusion. A born story-teller (as Herbert Palmer writers)—and this is true of his conversation as well as his art.
Muriel Spark, writing about her 1950 visit to Burcote Brook, home of John Masefield. At the time, Masefield was right in the middle of his 37-year-run as UK poet laureate and his days of writing (literally) fabulous books for children (Midnight Folk and Box of Delights) were long behind him.
The piece on Masefield appears the recently released collection of Spark’s essays, Informed Air (New Directions).
That night I reflected on the destiny of the unknown soldier whose grave we had disturbed, and upon which many others would trample. I imagined a man like me, someone young, full of plans and ambitions, of loves still uncertain, scarcely out of childhood and about to launch himself into life….If I must die now, I will not say it is awful or terrible, but it is unjust and absurd, because I have not yet attempted anything, I have done nothing but wait for my chance and my moment, built up my resources and waited. The life of my will and my tastes is only just starting – or will start, because the war has deferred it. If I disappear now, I will have been nothing but subordinate and anonymous. I will have been defeated.
—from Gabriel Chevalier’s Fear, a novel that mirrors his experience in the First World War as a poilu (infantryman, or literary “hairy one”) in the French army, in a translation by Malcolm Imrie that won the Scott Moncrieff Prize when it was release in England in 2012 (our edition is the first time it is available in the US).