24 July 08 | Chad W. Post

At the Harper’s blog, Wyatt Mason interviews Adam Thirlwell, the author of The Delighted States: A book of novels, romances, & their unknown translators, containing ten languages, set on four continents, & accompanied by maps, portraits, squiggles, illustrations, & a variety of helpful indexes.

As a whole, the interview is really interesting, especially because a huge chunk of it focuses on Thirlwell’s translation of Nabokov’s “Mademoiselle O,” one of only two stories Nabokov wrote in French.

They get into a lot of details concerning the translation, especially the aspects of the story that proved troublesome and Dmitri Nabokov’s revisions to Thirlwell’s translation is particularly interesting.

But this the bit that grabbed my attention—mainly because we are publishing Macedonio Fernandez’s Museo de la Novela de la Eterna next year:

Can we expect to see you take on a longer translation in the future?

I’d love there to be more translated from South American writers from the early twentieth century: Roberto Arlt, Macedonio Fernandez. Then a more complete version of Central Europeans like Bohumil Hrabal. And also more from less well-known periods of major literatures, like the libertine French novels of the eighteenth century, by novelists like Crébillon fils. As for me, though, I don’t know when I’ll ever undertake any of these. I was asked by my publisher if I wanted to translate Madame Bovary—which initially excited me and then I thought of the time it would take—about the time, basically, it would take to write Madame Bovary. I wish more novelists translated novels, but novelists, rightly, in a way, are selfish, and translation of long works takes up so much time. The great novelist-translators like Nabokov and Kundera are massively concerned with the translation of their own works, not the translations of other people. Nabokov’s Pushkin is an uncharacteristically altruistic monument.

(Also worth checking out Mason’s post about The Delighted States.)

Comments are disabled for this article.
The Odyssey
The Odyssey by Homer
Reviewed by Peter Constantine

Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.

–(The Odyssey, Book I, line 10. Emily Wilson)

In literary translation of works from other eras, there are always two basic tasks that a translator needs. . .

Read More >

I Remember Nightfall
I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio
Reviewed by Talia Franks

I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio (trans. From the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas) is a bilingual poetry volume in four parts, consisting of the poems “The History of Violets,” “Magnolia,” “The War of the Orchards,” and “The Native. . .

Read More >

Joyce y las gallinas
Joyce y las gallinas by Anna Ballbona
Reviewed by Brendan Riley

This review was originally published as a report on the book at New Spanish Books, and has been reprinted here with permission of the reviewer. The book was originally published in the Catalan by Anagrama as Joyce i les. . .

Read More >

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the. . .

Read More >

The Size of the World
The Size of the World by Branko Anđić
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first. . .

Read More >

Island of Point Nemo
Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What. . .

Read More >

The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

Read More >

I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World
I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the. . .

Read More >

Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

Read More >

The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >