“How earnest, ironic, condescending, moralistic and simply funny a Tolstoy should the translator inhabit? Perhaps the only way to render Tolstoy’s variable voice is to continue producing ever-varying translations.” Masha Gessen looks at the latest English translations of Anna Karenina and breaks down their nuances of word choice and accumulated meaning for The New York Times Book Review, and along the way she questions the novel’s most famous line: just how alike are happy families? How can we know?
Here’s a fact that’s either very surprising or not surprising at all: Samuel Beckett didn’t want his letters to see the light of day. He once wrote to Barney Rosset that he didn’t care for “the ventilation of private documents.” Despite this disinclination, his third volume of letters comes out this week, and it includes, as detailed by John Banville in a review for The Irish Times, a letter in which Beckett asks that none of his plays be produced in Ireland. Pair with: our own Matt Seidel on Beckett’s “Echo’s Bones.”
Today is Haruki Murakami’s birthday, so what better day to announce the title of his next work, Kishidancho Goroshi (Killing Commendatore)? The novel, which is divided in two parts – Arawareru Idea (Emerging Idea) and Utsurou Metaphor (Moving Metaphor) – is slated for a late February release in Japan. As of this writing, very little is known about the novel’s plot.
Imagine a reality television show that pits up-and-coming writers against each other in a series of challenges designed to test their skills and endurance. When the smoke clears, and the bourbon’s gone, one talented writer will be reborn into gritty glory; only one writer will become America’s Next Top Writer!