Listen to Seamus Heaney read his translation of Beowulf on the BBC’s website. For what it’s worth, Heaney’s version gets my vote as the best one out there. Consider this passage for some Wednesday inspiration.
“Did Vladimir Nabokov’s novels anticipate trends in modern psychology?” (via Maud Newton). Well, they certainly anticipated advancements in the evolutionary theory of butterflies.
Adorable pictures of baby hippos aside, it’s a common misconception that animals are “smiling” at you out of sincere happiness. Probably you’re projecting that onto them, writes Lee Dye in a piece from 2010. For more on the perils of assigning human qualities to other animal species, I highly recommend checking out Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy’s When Elephants Weep.
“Rather than showing one isolated capsule, the new hall would encompass nature and the human world…. The central theme would not be a certain animal, or even the landscape portrayed. Not one story but the fact that the stories are there. Albert E. Parr, strongly influenced by the burgeoning field of ecology, believed that the interconnectedness between disciplines was the story of the world.” Jaime Green writes for Longreads about the narratives behind the exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History. Also check out our own Bill Morris’s piece on the new Whitney Museum.
We don't often stop to think about the art of literary translation, but translator Margaret Jull Costa examines the field in her Times Literary Supplement essay on The Cahiers Series. "What these fascinating Cahiers offer is an insight into what literary translators actually do, as well as fuel for the endless debate about what we mean when we talk about 'faithful' translation."
The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, the forthcoming debut effort by sometime Millions contributor Elif Batuman, gets an intriguing write-up in Publishers Weekly.