“To survive, we learned to be great actresses. We cocked our heads just so, we laughed with just the right lilt, we batted our eyelashes and pursed our lips. Sometimes we were innocent, weak and in need of protection; other times we teased and tortured, until our customers raged for release.” Beautiful new fiction by Karissa Chen for Catapult.
“0.5 hrs: Read this week’s New Yorker fiction. 0.7 hrs: Hated on New Yorker writer with her derivative characters & mise-en-scenes. 0.1 hrs: Looked up ‘mise-en-scene’ on Wikipedia. 1.3 hrs: Phone call with writer friend; discussed how much New Yorker fiction sucks. 0.5 hrs: Drafted & emailed query letter to New Yorker (for super postmodern story).” The good people at McSweeney’s imagine an impossibly tedious world where writers and poets bill by the hour.
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.