Over the past few months I’ve dropped hints here and there about the Reading the World podcast series that Erica Mena and I put together. We came up with the idea out of the last ALTA conference, and at the MLA convention this past December, we talked with a number of translators about their work and various issues related to international literature.
Well, at long last, we’re ready to release the first episode, featuring Lawrence Venuti, translator, theorist, and scholar. He talked with us about Edward Hopper, a collection of poems by Catalan author Ernest Farres that Venuti translated and that was published by Graywolf earlier this year.
In contrast to some of the upcoming podcasts—which include conversations with Susan Harris, Esther Allen, Suzanne Jill Levine, and Bill Johnston—this one’s a bit on the long side, but well worth it. Venuti is fascinating to listen to, and the way he breaks down his translation—and Farres’s project as a whole—is spectacular.
Anyway, you can listen to the podcast via this post, or by downloading it through iTunes (assuming that iTunes will start working again—it was having “technical difficulties” yesterday). And stay tuned—we’ll release episode #2 at the beginning of March . . .
Pascal Quignard’s __The Hatred of Music_ is the densest, most arcane, most complex book I’ve read in ages. It’s also a book that covers a topic so basic, so universal—almost primordial—that just about any reader will be perversely thrilled by. . .
In Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Flaubert attempted to highlight the ordinary, tired, and often crass nature of common expressions by italicising them within the text. When Charles, Emma Bovary’s mediocre husband, expresses himself in a manner akin to that of. . .
Eliot Weinberger takes big strides across literary history in his genuinely breathtaking short work, 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, tracking translations of a short ancient Chinese poem from the publication of Ezra Pound’s Cathay in 1915 to Gary. . .
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .