Although they’ve only published one book so far — Leo Tolstoy’s How Much Land Does a Man Need, translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk with a foreword by Brian Evenson — Calypso Editions looks like a press worth paying attention to. Here’s how Elizabeth Myhr & Piotr Florczyk describe their mission and sensibility:
You have by now no doubt experienced, in one way or another, the publishing world’s continuing decline and know that it’s losing its ability to enrich our culture and our lives. Maybe your favorite periodical recently went bankrupt, or your favorite publisher can no longer support authors whose work doesn’t bring in money. Maybe you’ve been so alienated by big publishing that you barely remember the days when you looked forward to the release of a new novel or book of poems.
We have a solution. Here at Calypso Editions we’ve decided to go a different direction. Forget the profit. Forget the celebrity. We know there is still plenty of room for authors and readers to form supportive and rewarding relationships with books and each other. We know our time calls for great authors and great literature, and we’ve decided to make that happen for you and for dedicated readers and writing communities across the nation.
What do we publish? What do Russian writer Leo Tolstoy and Polish poet Anna Swir have in common? They are both great authors whose works have been embraced by the likes of Nobel Prize winners James Joyce and Czeslaw Milosz, and they also happen to be the authors of the first two titles forthcoming from Calypso Editions.
Available now for preorders, Leo Tolstoy’s How Much Land Does a Man Need, newly translated into English by Boris Dralyuk, will be Calypso Editions’ first title. It will be published on December 13, 2010. The editors at Calypso have worked hard to bring this new English version forward while honoring the integrity of the original Russian text. After a slew of bad translations, this new translation aims to reintroduce and reinvigorate this literary gem.
Anna Swir’s Building the Barricade and Other Poems, translated by Piotr Florczyk, is a bilingual collection of her most memorable poems. The collection includes poems from Swir’s experience of the tragic Warsaw Uprising of 1944, her preoccupations with the human body, and her experiences of love and family. Swir is a poet of profound wisdom and insight into the human condition, and we hope this new collection will ensure that her work continues to be celebrated by American and English-speaking readers everywhere. It will be published in March, 2011.1
In addition to the books themselves, Calpyso also has a blog. Not a ton of content yet, but I suspect it will grow over time as they start getting more attention, readers, etc. They did already get a great review over at the TLS by Tadzio Koelb that includes this quote:
“Joyce thought ‘How Much Land Does a Man Need the greatest story that the literature of the world knows,’ and there is little doubt that the folk tale as high art continues to have an enormous influence on contemporary writing, particularly in Eastern and Southern Europe. It would be hard to imagine Herta Müller or José Luís Peixoto without the “sense of community opinion” that Brian Evenson highlights in his informative short introduction. . . . It is hard to imagine any of the large publishers devoting this much time and space to a single short story, so we should be grateful to Calypso, a new press run collaboratively by writer and translators, for this excellent edition of a small but important work.
Also nice to find out about a new literary translation-centric press . . . The more the better . . .
1 I didn’t edit this note from them at all, but if I had, the first thing I would’ve done is delete all the double-spaces after periods!
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. . .