Vladimir Nabokov spent twenty years translating “the first and fundamental Russian novel,” Aleksandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. His battle with the text sparked an intellectual debate with his former friend, Edmund Wilson. The Paris Review has his notes. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s thoughts on Lolita.
At Bloom this week, check out the feature on novelist Jon Clinch, and the accompanying Q&A, where Clinch talks in-depth about his decision to self-publish his fourth novel after having his first two published by Random House. He says that his second novel, Kings of the Earth, “was set up for success: Oprah’s magazine put it at the top of their summer reading list, and it went on to be named one of the best novels of the year by theWashington Post. But the Oprah nod came six or eight weeks before publication date, and Random House either couldn’t or didn’t capitalize on it. By the time the book hit the shelves, it was already forgotten. I simply couldn’t bear the possibility that The Thief of Auschwitz might slip into the abyss.”
A couple weeks ago, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll argued in a Salon piece that David Foster Wallace, who wrote an essay about the television and irony back in the early ‘90s, presciently diagnosed the danger of snark in our own age. Now Peter Finocchiaro, a senior editor at Salon, argues instead that we need irony more than we ever have. You could also read A-J Aronstein’s notes from the DFW Symposium.
At The Chronicle of Higher Education, Rachel Toor channels George Orwell, immortal champion of good writing in English, to help young scholars avoid the ghastly prose style that dominates contemporary academic writing.