It is a truth universally acknowledged (and recently addressed in Barclay Bram Shoekmaker‘s Millions review of Mo Yan‘s Frog) that literary translation is an imperfect art, and this list of mistranslated “literary moments” only offers more evidence for the claim. But for every serious blunder there’s also a truly ridiculous one (or more). For example, the French translated the title of Animal Farm as Animals Everywhere!, which sounds a lot like a charming children’s book and not at all like Orwell.
In 1992, William Gibson published Agrippa, a poem coded on a floppy disk such that after one reading it would destroy itself forever. Quinn DuPont, a PhD student studying cryptography, built an emulation of the self-destructing poem and has a challenge to cyberpunks and cryptographers: be the first person to crack the poem’s code and win a copy of every one of Gibson’s books ever published.
After roughly three years and an astounding 2,373 posts, Nick Moran is handing off his duties on the Curiosities blog. When we re-launched the site in 2009, we had the idea that a faster-paced mini-blog would add a lot to The Millions, giving readers fresh material to check out and give us a more “newsy” feel, but we weren’t able to really fully execute on that idea until Nick came along and took it over. First as an intern, and then later as our Social Media Editor, he created the Curiosities blog’s voice and hammered out a process that subsequent contributors have followed. He has brought a lot of readers to The Millions this way. Nick will, thankfully, be sticking around to continue to oversee our social media efforts, intern program and help with various projects and posts, including our Top Ten lists.
Remember that story you were going to write about your neighbor’s dog but never did? When you’re a writer, you have to know when to ditch both the bad and good ideas. At The Atlantic, Bob Brody laments all the stories he’ll never write and concludes: “It’s taken me a long time to learn this—that sometimes the best course of action is inaction.”
Writers of facial stage direction, beware: it is not actually the epitome of irony that smiling and crying can seem so oddly similar. At Aeon, Princeton professor Michael Graziono argues that the seemingly opposite gestures may just share evolutionary origins. (Pair with: Darwinist theories about “the evolution of the novel.”)
RIP Robert Stone, who passed away at his home in Key West on Saturday. The author, who won the National Book Award in 1975 for his novel Dog Soldiers, was 77. You can get a sense of his work by reading Tatjana Soli’s review of his story collection Fun with Problems.
This morning, the longlist for the 2015 IMPAC Dublin award came out, and the nominees include some familiar names. Year in Reading alum Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah is on there, as is Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane (reviewed here by our own Tess Malone), Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (which won this year’s Pulitzer) and The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner (whom you can learn more about in this essay by our own Bill Morris).