“Almost as soon as the concept of the Great American Novel was invented, in the nation-building years after the Civil War, Buell finds it being mocked, noting that one observer dryly put it into the same category as ‘other great American things such as the great American sewing-machine, the great American public school, and the great American sleeping-car.’ It was enough of a cliché by 1880 for Henry James to refer to it with the acronym ‘GAN,’ which Buell employs throughout his book.” On the reigning gold standard for quality in American fiction. (Related: we asked nine experts their picks for the best American novel.)
“There are so many ways to look at translation. One that has recently occurred to me is that of a tether: the translator is tethered to the meaning of the original the way an animal can be tethered to a stake. You can’t take off and roam the hills, but you can definitely move around and experience a comfortable degree of freedom.” Asymptote talks with Juliet Winters Carpenter about Japanese tanka poetry, Machi Tawara‘s Salad Anniversary, and the careful balance of translation.