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.
“One hears, in the news, that one new fad after another is sweeping the academy. World literature, digital humanities, book history, cognitive science. Perhaps everyone will just watch TV (there are twenty-seven panels on The Wire, and at least a paper, I recall, on Rizzoli and Isles, a TNT show)…The elephant in the room, or the one that has left the room a while ago (but whose stinking presence everyone still inhales deeply or holds their nose after), is Theory.” N + 1 reviews MLA 2013.
Apocalyptic literature is nothing new, but it may, according to Grayson Clary, be entering a new era. In Bookforum, he argues that Benjamin Percy’s The Dead Lands ushers the genre into its mannerist phase. Sample quote: “The Dead Lands is really the stripped, buffed skeleton of a road story, set up to show off—attractively—an enormous quantity of decorating tropes.” You could also read our interview with Percy.
Out this week: The Past by Tessa Hadley; Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt; The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela; The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian; Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington; The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert; Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris; and Jakob’s Colors by Lindsay Hawdon. For more on these and other new titles, check out our just-published Book Preview.