B|ta’arof – which launched last year – announced a new poetry series featuring translations of “contemporary poems written in Persian and translated into English by emerging poets and scholars in the Iranian diaspora.” The translations will be accompanied by brief interviews with the translators, each consisting of the same five questions. “The idea,” according to the mission statement, “is to pull back the curtain on the process of translation, revealing how it is subject to individual choices and proclivities—the first choice being what poem to even translate.”
Victor Hugo, when asked about the other parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy that aren’t the widely-read Inferno, had this to say: “The human eye was not made to look upon so much light, and when the poem becomes happy, it becomes boring.” Ouch. Is this why so many of us haven’t even read Dante, despite his being a kind of cultural icon?
In case you missed it: JK Rowling just released a new Harry Potter short story on her own promotional website. Before you get too excited: the New Republic is less than sanguine, calling it “a marketing scam.” (Code for: not very good writing?) Which is not going to keep me from reading it anyway. Readers with more restraint might note that “You don’t have to be a Barthesian grad student to chafe at Rowling’s impulse to clarify the words on the page.” (Pair with our discussion of fan fiction and the afterlife of literature.)
“And this is a story about what women can do to each other—why women are cruel to each other, why women don’t reach down and help each other.” In conversation for Vanity Fair, Megan Abbott and Gillian Flynn talk about female rage, #MeToo, and Sharp Objects, the HBO series based on Flynn’s novel. Pair with: Millions staffers Janet Potter and Edan Lepucki talk about Flynn and her novels.
“I struggled, quite a bit, writing this review. Reviewing books, while easy in certain ways — you have certain aspects of form to follow, there are certain features of books that cannot go unremarked: one must write about character, about language, about technique — and really a rather simple process (much simpler, it would seem, than writing books), can also be a pain. Especially, frustratingly enough, when the book is really good.” On Lola Lafon’s We Are the Birds of the Coming Storm.
“As a speaker of a small language, it can be alarming to hear the rapidly increasing influx of new words from a dominant force. Back in 2000, linguistics researcher Sylfest Lomheim caused upheaval by claiming the Norwegian language wouldn’t survive the next century. Is this the beginning of the end?” On the Anglicization of Norwegian.