“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?
In April’s Atlantic, Joseph O’Neill tries to separate Philip Roth from his perpetual themes of family, Newark, and Judaism, and from his many authorial personae. The task proves unmanageable, but the attempt sheds light on the man destined to become Roth’s greatest critic: Roth himself.
On Friday, I wrote about the British writer William Boyd, whose new play, Longing, debuted last week at London’s Hampstead Theatre. The play is based on two of Chekhov’s short stories, one of which (according to Boyd’s new article in The Guardian) sheds light on the great author’s love life. Apparently the young Anton had “at least two dozen” affairs.
“I can’t remember another single work of art ever having had that immediate and powerful an impact, which of course makes the experience quite impossible to describe. As I experienced it, it drove me out of my wretched mind … I do know that I knew immediately that my sense of what science fiction could be had been permanently altered.” William Gibson on having his world rocked (and artistic sensibilities altered) by Chris Marker’s 1962 short film La Jetée.
“You have turned to stone. A hairline crack runs along your entire length from crown to toe. Your feet have turned to liquid, and you are melting onto the kitchen floor.” Are you living in an Elena Ferrante novel? Li Sian Goh at The Toast has compiled a helpful list of ways to tell whether or not you might be a character in Ferrante’s final Neapolitan novel, The Story of the Lost Child.