“As energy loss is an unavoidable fact of mechanics — no mechanism can be 100% efficient, and the best a designer can do is manage the loss as productively as possible — so translation loss is similarly unavoidable,” explains Mark Davie, who recently translated Galileo’s Selected Writings. But what if the “energy loss” isn’t a failure of the work’s translator so much as a failure of the organization commissioning (or failing to commission) the translation? What if, as is the case for much Arabic literature, “the process [of selecting works for translation] is based on a political consideration” that deprives Western readers of the best Arabic literary work?
The second issue of the new journal Music & Literature is a feast for Krasznahorkai enthusiasts and neophytes alike, with some 70 pages of previously untranslated fiction, interviews, and essays, along with critical context on the “Hungarian Master of the Apocalypse.” Alas, only George Szirtes‘ essay and an interview with translator Ottilie Mulzet are available digitally. But the complete analog package is highly recommended.
In The Age of The Crisis of Man, a new book by n + 1 co-founder and editor Mark Greif, the author examines the life and death of the concept of “man,” aka a unified humankind that could be said to suffer from particular conflicts. It was born in the thirties, with the rise of Fascism, but persisted for decades, eventually giving way to a more diversified view of humanity. In Tablet, Adam Kirsch dives into Greif’s arguments.
“Can a conference really transcend its essential conferenceness?” For a conference on Geoff Dyer, that’s the essential question, and the Los Angeles Review of Books has an answer. Pair with Dyer’s Year in Reading and Janet Potter‘s review of Another Great Day at Sea.
Recently, both Batgirl and the Norse god Thor (as conceived by Marvel) have been updated to suit the times. While DC Comics simply gave Batgirl sensible, combat-appropriate clothing, inspiring happy fan art; “female Thor” has met a mix of excitement and bewilderment. Fittingly, a new piece out at Aeon explores our conflicted desire to see male protagonists in fiction — the Harry Potters and Bilbo Baggins’ of the world — reimagined as women. (Also, because no roundup of imaginary characters is complete without fake social media updates, here’s Thor lamenting the loss of his hammer on Facebook.)