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.”
“Since the middle of the 20th century, the academy has conditioned us to stay grounded within texts and steer clear of writers’ biographies for insights while biographers are often timid about the kind of playful speculation that we can undertake here in Slate. Readers, myself included, tend to wonder about the sources for characters the likes of Kurtz, Sherlock Holmes, and Jay Gatsby—larger-than-life, mysterious, existing on a kind of separate plane—and in doing so we are continuing the quests of the narrators who tried first (Marlow, Watson, and Carraway).” Matthew Pearl asks: was Robert Louis Stevenson the blueprint for Conrad‘s Kurtz?
There’s no official protocol for responding to a disappointed fan, but that may change after more writers get wind of this response, written by Threats author Amelia Gray, to a man who complained that her book was “nothing more than conversations among insane people.” Gray admitted that the man’s gripe did, in fact, have merit, after which she urged him to buy a copy of A Time to Kill.
New this week: Awl co-founder Choire Sicha’s debut Very Recent History; Elizabeth Cohen’s new story collection The Hypothetical Girl; Elect H. Mouse State Judge by Nelly Reifler; The Virgins by Pamela Erens (which Erens herself wrote about for us on Friday); The Rathbones by Janice Clark; and Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain. For more on these and other upcoming titles, check out our Great 2013 Second-half Book Preview.
“Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn’t enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons.” Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things To Me, on maintaining hope and resisting defeatism.