What do you get when you combine Jorge Louis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, Pablo Neruda, and W.H. Auden? You get a list of the losers of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature. The prize was won by the controversial Soviet author Mikhail Sholokhov, who had spoken out against granting the Nobel to Boris Pasternak a few years earlier. Not such bad company on the losing side, there.
Five years ago, Jacques Lezra was asked to translate a book of untranslateable words. “The project provided me, and my co-editors,” he writes, “with a vivid sense of the history of how people think, and how societies think differently from one another.” This week, the fruits of their labor were published by Princeton University Press, and to celebrate the occasion, the publisher has released six PDFs of sample entries: begriff, kitsch, media, polis, right, and saudade.
The deadline for DIAGRAM’s annual essay contest is fast approaching. Past winners include Peter Jay Shippy’s “Goonies: or Wallace Stevens’s ‘The Snowman’–an Essay in 7 Films” and (my all-time favorite) Cheyenne Nimes’s “SECTION 404 OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT AND THE SANTA CRUZ RIVER SAND SHARK, SUBTITLED ‘THIS TROUBLESOME REGULATORY CONSTRAINT’.”