With the full trailer out for the upcoming James Bond release, Skyfall, I have to confess I’m totally obsessing over British spy stuff of late. Luckily there are some supplements to scratch that itch: Tina Rosenberg’s new story for The Atavist, D for Deception, about a real British spy writer who became a spy himself; Bee Wilson’s fascinating review of Ben MacIntyre’s outrageous but true investigation of WWII double agents, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies; Alexander Cockburn’s recap of the time George Orwell supplied “a list of the names of persons on the left who he deemed security risks” to the IRD; the story of Ernest Hemingway’s lousy espionage; and the video Her Royal Majesty’s recent skydiving escapade with 007.
It is a truth universally acknowledged (and recently addressed in Barclay Bram Shoekmaker's Millions review of Mo Yan's Frog) that literary translation is an imperfect art, and this list of mistranslated "literary moments" only offers more evidence for the claim. But for every serious blunder there's also a truly ridiculous one (or more). For example, the French translated the title of Animal Farm as Animals Everywhere!, which sounds a lot like a charming children's book and not at all like Orwell.
Ben Lerner, whose 10:04 has been reviewed in Bookforum and the New York Times, made an appearance on The New Directions blog to recommend four books of poetry that have at one point or another graced his nightstand. (No word on how he winnows down his list of books to be stacked on said nightstand, but our own Sonya Chung can offer advice.)
Last week, I pointed readers to a recording of Benedict Cumberbatch on BBC Radio, reading Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Over at Slate, Rebecca Schuman explains why Cumberbatch is the story’s ideal reader, unpacking his “withering, perfectly enunciated deadpan.”
New this week: The Circle by Dave Eggers; Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III; How to Read a Novelist by former Granta editor John Freeman; Solo, a new James Bond novel by William Boyd; and “the first in-depth overview of Wes Anderson’s filmography” by the New York Magazine TV critic Matt Zoller-Seitz.
With the NCAA’s March Madness tournament winding down, and with The Morning News’s Tournament of Books drawn to a close, you can still indulge your bracketological yearnings by participating in Powell’s Books’s Poetry Madness or by checking out NPR’s Ides of March Madness.