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.
Michael Chabon is really into prog rock. And I just picked up a couple of great Emerson Lake & Palmer LPs. So now I've got a soundtrack for reading Telegraph Avenue, which I'm especially stoked on after our own Michael Bourne's review of the novel, devoted as I am to the "brilliant little brushstrokes of language."
“One is less likely to overlook or be unfairly harsh to a translator if one has been a translator, and one is less likely to fault an original writer for weaknesses in translated prose or poetry if one has a sense of the pitfalls into which a translator can stumble—a sense I am still developing after years of translating poetry and prose.” Over at Asymptote Journal, Sue Burke and Maia Evrona look at reviews of books in translation.
What writers are actually earning money? Over at Electric Literature, Lincoln Michel takes a look at the new Author Earnings report, which scours Amazon bestseller lists and extrapolates the data to make claims about the state of publishing and self-publishing. Here's an older Millions piece by Edan Lepucki on self-publishing as supplemental and influential to the traditional route.
Ayobami Adebayo is interviewed by Abigail Bereola for Hazlitt and it's fantastic. They discuss proverbs, romantic love, sickle cell anemia and writing your first book. "At the risk of sounding very narcissistic, I’m going to say I write for myself ultimately. And maybe my sister. I think that when I’m working, it’s very difficult for me to think about an audience, perhaps because sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. I’m trying to figure out so many things that I really don’t start thinking about the idea that other people might read this thing until, 'Oh my God, it’s publication day' and I have a panic attack like 'Oh my God, what have I done?' I think the awareness of an audience is something I’m just coming into because this is a first book."
Recommended Reading: The New Republic on public participation and the Internet. “Did you know that as originally conceived the web was supposed to be writable? That is, you wouldn’t just read a web page, but you’d be able to edit it, too, from right inside your browser.” Our own Elizabeth Minkel writes about fanfiction and its influence on academics.
Over at Catapult, Mensah Demary shares the story of how he got to be a professional editor. As he puts it, “I was asked recently what it takes to succeed as a writer and editor. Actually, I was being asked a more specific question: how do you become a successful writer and editor? I don’t have the answers; I only have my life.” Pair with Kate Angus’s Millions essay on making a living as a poet.