In general, we think of translators as people whose job, briefly summarized, is to create elegant texts out of works in foreign languages. But J.R.R. Tolkien, in his translation of Beowulf, set out to do something different. The Lord of the Rings author published a translation that he kept intentionally clunky. Why? In his telling, he did it to better imitate Old English.
PEN World Voices, the great annual festival of International Literature, unveils this year’s lineup for the week of April 26, in New York and elsewhere. Highlights include Norman Rush, Patti Smith, László Krasznahorkai, Rodrigo Frésan, and Sherman Alexie‘s “Freedom to Write” lecture.
Take a break from watching the snowboarding and skating at the Winter Olympics, and read some Russian literature instead. At NPR, Andrew D. Kaufman recommends three books to learn more about the Caucasus. For more on Russian literature, read our own Nick Moran’s essay on duels in Russian fiction.
Does literature belong on the streets? Thanks to some forward-thinking initiatives like the Coffee Sleeves Conversation at Coffee House Press and the Chicago-based project “Poem While You Wait,” (in which poets stationed around the city produce original, on-demand poems for five dollars a piece) literature is finding its way to the masses.