It’s no secret that I’m very anti-techtopian people. Anyone talking about Google Glass and how it’ll “solve all publishing problems ever!” is someone I want to run away from. All the industry focus on new “apps” that will “revamp and disrupt the creation, distribution, and monetization of creative content” makes me want to stab my eyes out. Yes, recent technological advances are cool, but I’m with Morozov—a lot of the rhetoric surrounding these advances is just wacky and deluded.
Like this piece from Rob Salkowitz’s PW article The Future of Reading: 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond:
Machine translation these days is pretty good. It’s not quite good enough for literature, technical publications, or legal contracts, but it’s getting there. The combination of algorithms, data analytics, and crowdsourcing are teaching machines the subtleties of idiom and tone in a variety of languages. Very soon, instant text translation, combined with text recognition, will be available via augmented-reality applications for mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and wearables like Glass. No more waiting for translations of foreign editions to become available; no more foreign rights. Think that will disrupt the publishing and localization industries much?
Kaija’s comment on hearing me read this aloud: “Not quite good enough for literature, technical publications, or legal contracts—THAT’S EVERYTHING!”
Jan’s comment after finishing this: “That’s just fucking stupid.”
Seriously. The day we’re all reading instant translations of Mircea Cartarescu on our Google Glasses is the day I just simply quit.
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. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .