A couple weeks ago, I wrote about this year’s Brandeis commencement, at which New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier argued that the humanities are under siege in America. In this week’s issue of Prospect Magazine, Malcolm Nicholson interviews Wieseltier, who claims that “we live in a culture of worthless praise.”
New Vessel Press is a new publisher specializing in the translation of foreign literature into the English language. Translator Ross Uffberg and journalist Michael Z. Wise started it last year. Next month, they’ll publish their first book, The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra by Pedro Mairal, and they have plans for quite a few more as well.
The unwritten rules of steampunk declare that in every steampunk story, the Hindenburg never caught fire, the world never lost its desire for blimp travel and the skies are dotted with hot air balloons and zeppelins. As it happens, this element of the genre stems from old utopian narratives, many of which depicted a future of widespread balloon travel. At Salon, Kyle Minor reviews the audiobook of a new history of the hot air balloon, written by Richard Holmes, that shows how the rise of air travel changed the world’s imaginative territory.
Peter Osnos on how far the publishing industry has come since the galas and publishing events of the 1990s: “That the action in publishing now is in the creation of books rather than selling the rights to them is a meaningful indicator of the excitement in the industry about the digital potential.”
The premier English-language translator of modern Chinese fiction, Howard Goldblatt, says flatly that Western audiences don’t read Chinese books. However, with last year’s Nobel Prize win for Mo Yan (and the rave review his novel Pow! received in the Times), Goldblatt and other scholars are hoping that could change.