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1. The Contemporary Spanish-American Novel

From World Literature Today, review of The Contemporary Spanish-American Novel: Bolaño and After:

This unique collection of essays by fifty scholars and writers on the work of sixty-nine contemporary novelists from Spanish America is a valuable resource for scholars and readers alike. The authors included for discussion were born between 1949 and the early 1970s and have published the bulk of their work since 1996. The essays on individual writers are organized in six chapters based on their point of origin from one of the following geographical and cultural regions: Mexico, Central America, the Spanish speaking Caribbean and Venezuela, the Greater Andean region, the Southern Cone, or the United States. Although much of US Latino literature is currently being written in English, the editors conclude that the influence of these writers and their works on Spanish American letters, both in English and in Spanish translation, merits their inclusion in this volume. For readers who do not read Spanish, information is provided on recent novels that have been translated into English, and, for film aficionados, cinematic adaptations of novels by the authors studied are also cited. MORE...

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2. Short stories from the Danish capital

From the narrow twisting streets of the old town centre to the shady docklands, Copenhagen Tales captures the essence of Copenhagen and its many faces. Through seventeen tales by some of the very best of Denmark’s writers past and present, we travel the length and breadth of the Danish capital examining famous sights from unique perspectives. A guide book usefully informs a new visitor to Copenhagen but these stories allow the reader to experience the city and its history from the inside. Translator Lotte Shankland is a Copenhagener by birth who has lived many years in England. In the videos below she discusses the collection, decribing the richness of Danish literature, as well as the Scandinavian noir genre.

Lotte Shankland on the greater significance of short stories within Denmark:

Lotte Shankland discusses her favourite short story, ‘Nightingale’, by Meir Goldschmidt:

From Hans Christian Andersen to Søren Kierkegaard, Denmark has been home to some of the finest writers in Europe. In the National Museum in Copenhagen you will find stories from as early as 1500 BC, covering myth and magic. A walk through the city will most likely involve an encounter with the emblematic statue of the Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen’s famous tale. The Danes continue to tell great stories, as evidenced by the hugely popular Danish TV series The Killing and the Sweedish co-production The Bridge. Copenhagen Tales offers a way to understand the heart and soul of this diverse city, through the literature and art it has generated.

Featured image credit: Copenhagen, Denmark. Public Domain via Pixabay.

The post Short stories from the Danish capital appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour Tristesse Francoise Sagan, translated from the French by Irene Ash

Cecile loves the carefree and glittering lifestyle she and her father live in Paris. The summer is shaping up to be perfect--her father, his current mistress, and Cecile are spending the summer in a rented beach house. There’s even Cyril-- a nearby university student that Cecile tastes first love with. But then her father invites Anne, a friend of his late wife, to join them and it turns sour. Anne’s understand elegance forces out the mistress Elsa and the lifestyle that Cecile loves. When her father and Anne get engaged, Cecile, Cyril and Elsa hatch a plot to break them up, with tragic consequences.

While Sagan has some interesting and insightful comments about the type of people in Cecile’s life, especially her father, her age when writing this really shows. It’s written as Cecile looking back, mostly regretful for her actions, but then you realize that only a year has passed, and Sagan herself was only 18 when the book came out (younger when she wrote it) so while it well captures the emotions and logic behind Cecile, the older-and-wiser gets a bit tiresome as readers that actually are older and wiser will realize she still doesn’t get it, and it’s pretty obvious that it’s the author who still doesn’t get it, not the character.

THAT SAID, I did like a lot about it and I think it would lend itself really well to a modern YA-reworking, and it would work really well when aimed at an age-contemporary audience instead of adults. It’s a short book (without back matter, it’s only 130 pages in a small trim size) and she captures the languid summer beach atmosphere really well.

Not sure if I recommend it, but I am glad I read it.

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4. “Young girl, I declare you are not like most men”: retranslating The Poetic Edda

Not every scholar of medieval English has the privilege of translating a major poetic text, and fewer still have the chance to do it all over again, eighteen years later. My first edition of the Poetic Edda was published in 1996 and about two years ago, I was invited to think about a second edition, one which would expand the number of poems and which could be brought up to date in other ways. But what could have changed as far as this classic work was concerned in the meantime?

Well, unlike a single poem, such as Beowulf or Piers Plowman, the Poetic Edda is a collection of poems. Most of these are to be found in a single manuscript, known as the Codex Regius, kept in the Árnar Magnússonar Manuscript Institute in Reykjavík, Iceland. But, preserved in other Icelandic manuscripts, are a good number of further poems in the same kind of metre, which relate more stories of Norse gods and heroes. Four or five of these poems have always been considered part of the Poetic Edda and I translated them in the first edition. But now there was room for some more.

Peter_Nicolai_Arbo-Hervors_død
“Hervors død” by Peter Nicolai Arbo (Hervor was a shieldmaiden in the cycle of the magic sword Tyrfing, presented in Hervarar saga and of which parts are found in the Poetic Edda). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve added three more eddic poems which I think are interesting in different ways. The first of them is traditionally known as “The Waking of Angantyr.” It tells the story of a warrior-maiden Hervör, who dares to go alone to an eerie island, haunted by her undead father and his eleven brothers. Hervör wants her father’s magical sword Tyrfing, but Angantyr is determined not to give it to her. He’s quite surprised that a girl should dare to come to the uncanny place:

Young girl, I declare you are not like most men,
hanging around by mounds at night
with an engraved spear and in metal of the Goths [armour],
a helmet and corslet before the hall-doors.

At first Angantyr pretends that he doesn’t have the sword, next, he warns (truthfully) that the sword bears a curse, but finally he hands it over to the triumphant Hervör. A bold and determined heroine and an undead corpse — this seemed like a good addition to the new translation. The other additions are “Groa’s Chant” and the “Sayings of Fiolsvinn,” two related poems. A young man called Svipdag has been cursed by his stepmother to go on a quest to find and woo the lovely Menglod, a task fraught with danger: “she has ordered me to go where she knows there’s no going,” Svipdag laments. Wisely, he first visits the grave of his dead mother for advice. Groa is indeed anxious to help and she sings a number of spells over Svipdag. If he crosses rivers or sea, if he’s chained up or assailed by frost, “may no corpse-cold come to ravage your flesh / nor bind your body in its joints.”

Groa chants spells for her son, from The Elder or Poetic Edda, translated by Olive Bray with illustrations by W. G. Collingwood (1908). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Groa’s last spell will help Svipdag if he must “bandy words with the spear-magnificent giant,” and this is exactly what happens. When the hero finally reaches Menglod’s hall, the watchman Fiolsvinn won’t let him in. Entrance is only permitted to the man who can fulfill a whole series of impossible tasks, set up in a circular fashion. Svipdag is about to despair, but wait! No man can come in unless he has carried out this task — or unless his name is Svipdag! And so when Svipdag reveals his name, he gains entry to the hall and is rapturously embraced by Menglod, who chides him lovingly, “A long time I’ve sat on Healing-rock / waiting day after day for you!”

What constitutes a medieval poem? One of the most important poems in the Poetic Edda, “The Seeress’s Prophecy” exists in three different versions in medieval Icelandic manuscripts. Very often editors have combined the texts of all three versions to try to recover what they think might have been the “original” form of the poem. But nowadays scholars tend to think that this is a pointless endeavor. After all, this poem probably existed in oral tradition for a hundred or more years before it was first written down and there was likely never a definitive version. Newer critical thinking argues that it is better to reproduce what actually appears in the medieval manuscripts than to try to find the lost original. And so I’ve provided two versions of this poem, one written down in 1270, and one which was written down about forty years later. In the earlier version, the death of Baldr the Beautiful ushers in the beginning of the end of the world: Ragnarök. Baldr’s mother Frigg had made everything on earth promise not to hurt him, but she did not bother with the mistletoe, for it was so little and frail. Wicked Loki shaped it into a dart and put it in the hands of Baldr’s blind brother Hod when all the gods were amusing themselves by throwing things at Baldr and watching them bounce harmlessly from him. Here Baldr lounges against a wall, while Loki guides the fumbling and hooded Hod:

The Death of Baldr, from The Elder or Poetic Edda, translated by Olive Bray with illustrations by W. G. Collingwood (1908). Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

In the later version, preserved in the Hauksbók manuscript, which was compiled in the first decade of the fourteenth century, Baldr isn’t even mentioned; that seems to be a difference worth recording, and it suggests that the death of Baldr wasn’t necessarily connected to Ragnarök.

And perhaps most importantly, eighteen years ago talking about the reception of the Poetic Edda meant talking about Wagner, William Morris, and Tolkien. Nowadays the influence of these wonderful poems is felt much more widely, in popular culture as well as in the opera house. Hollywood has its Thor films; novelists such as Neil Gaiman in American Gods (2001), young adult authors such as Melvin Burgess and Joanne Harris, even Game of Thrones, with its dragons, ravens, shield-maidens, its endless winter, wolves and giants, have seized on eddic themes and motifs to capture the imaginations of new generations. I hope that this new version of the Poetic Edda, with its additions, updates, and revisions will also find new readers to thrill to these poems, which speak to us in comic, tragic, grandiose, crude, witty, profound, and commonsense tones.

The post “Young girl, I declare you are not like most men”: retranslating The Poetic Edda appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. A Woman’s Iliad?

Browsing my parents’ bookshelves recently, in the dog days that followed sending Anna Karenina off to press, I found myself staring at a row of small hardback volumes all the same size. One in particular, with the words Romola and George Eliot embossed in gold on the dark green spine, caught my attention. It was an Oxford World’s Classics pocket edition – a present to my grandmother from her younger sister, who wrote an affectionate inscription in curling black ink (“with Best Love to Dellie on her 20th birthday from Mabel, July 3rd 1917”), and forgot to rub out the price of 1 shilling and 3 pence pencilled inside the front cover. Inside the back cover, meanwhile, towards the bottom of a long list of World’s Classics titles, my heart missed a beat when I espied “Tolstoy, Anna Karenina: in preparation”: Louise and Aylmer Maude’s translation was first published only in 1918.

As I drove homethat night with Romola in my bag, I thought about my grandmother reading Eliot’s novel (unusually set in Florence during the Renaissance, rather than in 19th-century England), and I also thought about the seismic changes taking place in Russia at the time of her birthday in 1917. I wondered whether she was given the new Oxford World’s Classics edition of Anna Karenina for her 21st birthday, and was disappointed on a later visit to my parents to be presented with her copy of Nathan Haskell Dole’s pioneering but wholly inadequate translation, reprinted in the inexpensive Nelson Classics series. I pictured my grandmother struggling with sentences such as those describing Anna’s hostile engagement with her husband. After Karenin has begun upbraiding Anna for consorting too openly with Vronsky at the beginning of the novel (Part 2, chapter 9), we read, for example: ‘“Nu-s! I hear you,” she said, in a calm tone of banter’. The Maudes later translated this sentence into English (“Well, I’m listening! What next?” said she quietly and mockingly”), but they also changed Tolstoy’s punctuation, and the sarcastically deferential tone of Anna’s voice (Nu-s, ya slushayu, chto budet, – progovorila ona spokoino i nasmeshlivo – “Well, I’m ready to hear what is next,” she said coolly and derisively”).

Back in 1917, Oxford Word’s Classics “pocket editions” featured a line-drawn portrait of the author, but no other illustration. These days, nearly every edition of Anna Karenina has a picture of a woman on the cover, even if Tolstoy’s bearded face is absent opposite the title page. More often than not it will be a Russian woman, painted by a Russian artist, and while we know this is not Anna, it is as if the limits of our imagination are somehow curbed before we even start reading. The dust-jacket for the new hardback Oxford World’s Classics edition of Anna Karenina reproduces Sir John Everett Millais’ portrait of Louise Jopling. The fact that this is an English painting of an English woman already mitigates against identifying her too closely with Anna, but this particular portrait is an inspired choice for other reasons, as I began to understand when I researched its history. To begin with, it was painted in 1879, just one year after Anna Karenina was first published as a complete novel. And the meticulous notes compiled by Vladimir Nabokov which anchor the events of the narrative between 1872 and 1876 also enable us to infer that the fictional Anna Karenina was about the same age as the real-life Louise Jopling, who was 36 when she sat for Millais. Their very different life paths, meanwhile, throw an interesting light on the theme at the centre of Tolstoy’s novel: the predicament of women.

Louise Jane Jopling (née Goode, later Rowe), by Sir John Everett Millais. National Portrait Gallery, London: NPG 6612. Wikimedia Commons
Louise Jane Jopling (née Goode, later Rowe), by Sir John Everett Millais. National Portrait Gallery, London: NPG 6612. Wikimedia Commons

Louise Jopling was one of the nine children born into the family of a railway contractor in Manchester in 1843. After getting married for the first time in 1861 at the age of 17 to Frank Romer, who was secretary to Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild, she studied painting in Paris, but returned to London at the end of the decade when her husband was fired. By 1874, her first husband (a compulsive gambler) and two of her three children were dead, she had married for the second time, to the watercolour painter Joseph Jopling, exhibited at the Royal Academy, and become a fixture in London’s artistic life. To enjoy any kind of success as a female painter at that time in Victorian Britain was an achievement, but even more remarkable was Louise Jopling’s lifelong campaign to improve women’s rights. She founded a professional art school for women in 1887, was a vigorous supporter of women’s suffrage, won voting rights for women at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters after being elected, fought for women to be able to paint from nude models, and became the first woman member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1902. None of these doors were open to Anna Karenina as a member of St. Petersburg high society, although we learn in the course of the novel that she has a keen artistic sense, is a discerning reader, writes children’s fiction, and has a serious interest in education. Tolstoy’s wife Sofya similarly was never given the opportunity to fulfil her potential as a writer, photographer, and painter.

Louise Jopling was a beautiful woman, as is immediately apparent from Millais’ portrait. In her memoirs she describes posing for him in a carefully chosen embroidered black gown made in Paris, and consciously donning a charming and typically feminine expression to match. On the third day she came to sit for Millais, however, the two friends chanced to talk about something which made her feel indignant, and she forgot to wear her “designedly beautiful expression”. What was finally fixed in the portrait was a defiant and “rather hard” look, which, as she acknowledges, ultimately endowed her face with greater character. This peculiar combination of beauty and defiance is perhaps what most recalls the character of Anna Karenina, who in Part 5 of the novel confronts social prejudice and hypocrisy head-on by daring to attend the Imperial Opera in the full glare of the high society grandes dames who have rejected her.

Louise Jopling’s concern with how she is represented in her portrait, as a professional artist in her own right, as a painter’s model, and as a woman, also speaks to Tolstoy’s detailed exploration of the commodification and objectification of women in society and in art (as discussed by Amy Mandelker in her important study Framing Anna Karenina). It is for this reason that we encounter women in a variety of different situations (ranging from the unhappily married Anna, to the betrayed and careworn housewife Dolly, the young bride Kitty, the unmarried companion Varenka, and the former prostitute Marya), and three separate portraits of the heroine, seen from different points of view. Ernest Rhys interestingly compares Anna Karenina to “a woman’s Iliad” in his introduction to the 1914 Everyman’s Library edition of the novel. Another kind of woman’s Iliad could also be woven from the differing stories of some of Tolstoy’s intrepid early translators, amongst them Clara Bell, Isabel Hapgood, Rochelle S. Townsend, Constance Garnett, Louise Maude, Rosemary Edmonds, and Ann Dunnigan, to whom we owe a debt for paving the way.

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6. Translating untranslatable words

For most language learners and lovers, translation is a hot topic. Should I translate new vocabulary into my first language? How can I say x in Japanese? Is this translated novel as good as the original? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told that Pushkin isn’t Pushkin unless he’s read in Russian, and I have definitely chastised my own students for anxiously writing out lengthy bilingual wordlists: Paola, you’ll only remember trifle if you learn it in context!

Context-based learning aside, I’m all for translation: without it, we wouldn’t understand each other. However, I remain unconvinced that untranslatable words really exist. In fact, I wrote a blog post on some of my favorite Russian words that touched on this very topic. Looking at the responses it received both here and in the Twitterverse, I decided to set out on my own linguistic odyssey: could I wrap my head around ‘untranslatable’ once and for all?

It’s all Greek to me!

Many lovely people of the internet are in accordance: untranslatable words are out there, and they’re fascinating. A quick Google brings up articles, listicles, and even entire blogs on the matter. Goya, jayus, dépaysement — all wonderful words that neatly convey familiar concepts, but also “untranslatable” words that appear accompanied by an English definition. This English definition may well be longer and more complex than the foreign-language word itself (Oxford translates dépaysement as both “change of scenery” and “disorientation,” for example), but it is arguably a translation nonetheless. A lot of the coffee-break reads popping up on the internet don’t contain untranslatable words, but rather language lacking a word-for-word English equivalent. Is a translation only a translation if it is eloquent and succinct?

Genoveva in der Waldeinsamkeit by Hans Thoma. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Genoveva in der Waldeinsamkeit by Hans Thoma. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Translation vs. definition

When moving from one language to another, what’s a translation and what’s a definition — and is there a difference? Brevity seems to matter: the longer the translation, the more likely it is to be considered a definition. Does this make it any less of a translation? When we translate, we “express sense;” when we define, we “state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning.” If I say that toska (Russian) means misery, boredom, yearning, and anguish, is that a definition or a translation? Or even both? It is arguably a definition — yet all of the nouns above could, dependent on context, be used as the best translation.

If we are to talk about what is translatable and what isn’t, we need to start talking about language, rather than words. The Spanish word duende often features in lists of untranslatable words: it refers to the mystical power by which an artist or artwork captivates its audience. Have I just defined duende, or translated it? I for one am not so sure anymore, but I do know that in context, its meaning is clear: un cantante que tiene duende becomes “a singer who has a certain magic about him.” The same goes for the French word dépaysement. By itself, dépaysement can mean many things, but in the phrase les touristes anglais recherchent le dépaysement dans les voyages dans les îles tropicales, it’s clear from context that the sense required is “change of scene” (“English tourists look for a change of scene on holidays to tropical islands”). Does this mean that all words are translatable, as long they are in context?

Saying no to stereotypes

One of my biggest beefs with untranslatable word memes is the suggestion that these linguistic treasure troves are loaded with cultural inferences. Most of the time they’re twee, rather than offensive: for example, the German word Waldeinsamkeit means “the feeling of being alone in the woods.” Gosh, how typical of those woodland-loving Germans, wandering around the Black Forest enjoying oneness with nature! The existence of an “untranslatable” word hints at some kind of cultural mystery that is beyond our comprehension — but does the lack of a word-for-word translation of Waldeinsamskeit mean that no English speaker (or French speaker, or Mandarin speaker) can understand the concept of being alone in the woods? Of course not! However, these misinterpretations of Waldeinsamskeit, Schadenfreude, Backpfeifengesicht et al. make me think: what about those words that really do have a particular cultural resonance? Can we really translate them?

Excuse me, can I borrow your word?

Specialized translation throws up its own variety of “untranslatable” words. For example, if you are translating a text about the Russian banya into a language where steam baths are not the norm, how do you go about translating nouns such as venik (веник)? A venik is a broom, but in the context of the banya it is a collection of leafy twigs (rather than dried twigs) that is used to beat those enjoying the restorative steam. Translating venik as “broom” here would be wildly inaccurate (and probably generate some amusing mental images). The existence of a word-for-word translation doesn’t provide the whole answer if cultural context is missing. We can find examples of “untranslatable” words in relation to almost any culture-specific event, be it American Thanksgiving, Spanish bullfighting, or Balinese Nyepi. If I were to translate an article about bullfighting and retain tienta rather than use “trial” (significantly less specific), does that mean that tienta in this context is really untranslatable?

So what has all this research taught me about translation? Individual words may not be translatable, but language is. And as for the accuracy of the translation? That often depends on how we, as speakers of a particular language, attribute our own meaning. Sometimes, the “translation” just has to be Schadenfreude.

What do you think? Are some words untranslatable? Share your thoughts in the “Translation and language-learning” board of the Oxford Dictionaries Community.

A version of this blog post first appeared on the OxfordWords blog.

Featured image: Timeless Books by Lin Kristensen. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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7. The Odyssey in culture, ancient and modern

Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey recounts the 10-year journey of Odysseus from the fall of Troy to his return home to Ithaca. The story has continued to draw people in since its beginning in an oral tradition, through the first Greek writing and integration into the ancient education system, the numerous translations over the ages, and modern retellings. It has also been adapted to different artistic mediums from depictions on pottery, to scenes in mosaic, to film. We spoke with Barry B. Powell, author of a new free verse translation of The Odyssey, about how the story was embedded into ancient Greek life, why it continues to resonate today, and what translations capture about their contemporary cultures.

Visual representations of The Odyssey and understanding ancient Greek history

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Why is The Odyssey still relevant in our modern culture?

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On the over 130 translations of The Odyssey into English

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Barry B. Powell is Halls-Bascom Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His new free verse translation of The Odyssey was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. His translation of The Iliad was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. See previous blog posts from Barry B. Powell.

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8. National Short Story Month - Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors, Translated by Martin Aitken

Nors coverA short little story collection, Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors (translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken) from Graywolf Press is full of short gems. Stories that might seem like they'll be cute or simply slide toward the dark or weird.

"The Duckling" begins:

Alongside the big farm, dad ran a duck farm, and because he was a clever man he earned a lot of money from it.

A story called "The Duckling" starting off that way--how dark can it get? Well at some point the dad gives the daughter who narrates the story a duckling born somewhat unhealthy, giving her a chance to raise it. Her thought is to put it in a bowl lined with a towel and put it in the oven to keep it warm. Perhaps not so surprisingly it dies. In a nice upswing however, they have a nice father/daughter moment burying the duckling together.

Another story, "Female Killers" has a married man staying up after his wife has gone to bed and he starts wandering the internet. He ends up looking up various female killers and maybe the only thing stranger than the facts that start to pop up about the killers is the thoughts that pop into the man's head about the female killers--they're odd, they're scary--they're inspired writing. He worries for the son (given up at birth) of the serial killer that will one day find out her name and find there are over 200,000 hits for her on Google; he thinks of chimps killing bush babies with spears they've made when put in the position of being hungry.

Nors' stories are short, but not quite what I'd consider minimalist. They have big ideas and just get to them quickly. It's a very entertaining collection and one you'll read in a day.

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9. Money matters

By Valerie Minogue


Money is a tricky subject for a novel, as Zola in 1890 acknowledged: “It’s difficult to write a novel about money. It’s cold, icy, lacking in interest…” But his Rougon-Macquart novels, the “natural and social history” of a family in the Second Empire, were meant to cover every significant aspect of the age, from railways and coal-mines to the first department stores. Money and the Stock Exchange (the Paris Bourse) had to have a place in that picture, hence Money, the eighteenth of Zola’s twenty-novel cycle.

The subject is indeed challenging, but it makes an action-packed novel, with a huge cast, led by a smaller group of well-defined and contrasting characters, who inhabit a great variety of settings, from the busy, crowded streets of Paris to the inside of the Bourse, to a palatial bank, modest domestic interiors, houses of opulent splendour — and a horrific slum of filthy hovels that makes a telling comment on the social inequalities of the day.

Dominating the scene from the beginning is the central, brooding figure of Saccard. Born Aristide Rougon, Saccard already appears in earlier novels of the Rougon-Macquart, notably in The Kill, which relates how Saccard, profiting from the opportunities provided by Haussman’s reconstruction of Paris, made – and lost – a huge fortune in property deals. Money relates Saccard’s second rise and fall, but Saccard here is a more complex and riveting figure than in The Kill.

Émile Zola painted by Edouard Manet

It is Saccard who drives all the action, carrying us through the widely divergent social strata of a time that Zola termed “an era of folly and shame”, and into all levels of the financial world. We meet gamblers and jobbers, bankers, stockbrokers and their clerks; we get into the floor of the Bourse, where prices are shouted and exchanged at break-neck speed, deals are made and unmade, and investors suddenly enriched or impoverished. This is a world of insider-trading, of manipulation of share-prices and political chicanery, with directors lining their pockets with fat bonuses and walking off wealthy when the bank goes to the wall — scandals, alas, so familiar that it is hard to believe this book was written back in 1890! Saccard, with his enormous talent for inspiring confidence and manipulating people, would feel quite at home among the financial operators of today.

Saccard is surrounded by other vivid characters – the rapacious Busch, the sinister La Méchain, waiting vulture-like for disaster and profit, in what is, for the most part, a morally ugly world. Apart from the Jordan couple, and Hamelin and his sister Madame Caroline, precious few are on the side of the angels. But there are contrasts not only between, but also within, the characters. Nothing and no-one here is purely wicked, nor purely good. The terrible Busch is a devoted and loving carer of his brother Sigismond. Hamelin, whose wide-ranging schemes Saccard embraces and finances, combines brilliance as an engineer with a childlike piety. Madame Caroline, for all her robust good sense, falls in love with Saccard, seduced by his dynamic vitality and energy, and goes on loving him even when in his recklessness he has lost her esteem. Saccard himself, with all his lusts and vanity and greed, works devotedly for a charitable Foundation, delighting in the power to do good.

Money itself has many faces: it’s a living thing, glittering and tinkling with “the music of gold”, it’s a pernicious germ that ruins everything it touches, and it’s a magic wand, an instrument of progress, which, combined with science, will transform the world, opening new highways by rail and sea, and making deserts bloom. Money may be corrupting but is also productive, and Saccard, similarly – “is he a hero? is he a villain?” asks Madame Caroline; he does enormous damage, but also achieves much of real value.

Fundamental questions about money are posed in the encounter between Saccard and the philosopher Sigismond, a disciple of Karl Marx, whose Das Kapital had recently appeared — an encounter in which individualistic capitalism meets Marxist collectivism head to head. Both men are idealists in very different ways, Sigismond wanting to ban money altogether to reach a new world of equality and happiness for all, a world in which all will engage in manual labour (shades of the Cultural Revolution!), and be rewarded not with evil money but work-vouchers. Saccard, seeing money as the instrument of progress, recoils in horror. For him, without money, there is nothing.

If Zola vividly presents the corrupting power of money, he also shows its expansive force as an active agent of both creation and destruction, like an organic part of the stuff of life. And it is “life, just as it is” with so much bad and so much good in it, that the whole novel finally reaffirms.

Valerie Minogue has taught at the universities of Cardiff, Queen Mary University of London, and Swansea. She is co-founder of the journal Romance Studies and has been President of the Émile Zola Society, London, since 2005. She is the translator of the new Oxford World’s Classics edition of Money by Émile Zola.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog.

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Image credit: Émile Zola by Edouard Manet [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Money matters appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Graphic Novel Week: Pluto




Pluto by Naoki Urasawa, based on work by Osama Tezuka.


I'm going to review the entire 8-volume series as one, because that's how I think about it, because that's how we looked at it for inclusion on the Outstanding Books and College Bound list for Science and Technology.

Urasawa takes a story arc from Osama Tezuka's classic Astro Boy series and retells it for an older audience. The first volumes really focus on Gesicht, a top European detective who's looking into the horrible murders of some of the world's leading robots. It's soon evident that the serial killer is targeting the seven most powerful robots in the world. This troubles Gesicht for many professional reasons, but many personal ones as well--most of the seven are his friends, because he is one of them. This killer is unlike anything they've ever seen before--he's too fast to be captured on film, so he can't be human, but he doesn't show up on any robot sensors, so he can't be a robot.

As the mystery deepens, we meet the other robots, get backstories-- many are haunted by what they saw and did in the last great war and many live their lives today as a way to atone for their actions then. There are flickers of something at the edges of Gesicht's memory that he can't quite place, but he thinks it's important.

And through it all it raises questions of what it means to be human and where the line is between Artificial Intelligence and humanity--if we get too good at designing AI, will there be a line any more? Can there be one? What about an injured human with robotic parts? How much robot is too much robot? And through it all, it's just a damn good, engaging story that has many heartbreaking moments. An early one that stands out is the story of North, a robot who is known for the death and destruction he brought during the war. He's now a butler to a composer who loathes him because everyone knows robots can't feel. All North wants to do is make music, to play piano and bring beauty to the world, but the composer won't let him, because robots are emotionless and can't understand or play true music because of it. It perfectly sets up the prejudices many have against robots, while showing that many of these AI systems are so advanced that robots may not be that emotionless after all. It's a tender story that sets up a lot of the larger issues and dynamics in the series.

I love the world Tezuka and Urasawa have built, and it's eerie to realize that the geopolitics read as super-current, but were in the original text from the 60s. As someone whose never read Astro Boy, I'm not familiar with the source material, but that's ok. The story is amazing on its own, but I do like the touch that each volume has a bit of back matter--an essay, an interview, another comic-- from a variety of people--Tezuka's son, manga scholars, other artists-- that help give both works a context to each other and to the larger manga world. It was very interesting and helpful. (Plus, I just love that Japan takes drawn books so seriously that there are a lot of manga scholars out there.)

I highly recommend it.

Books Provided by... my local library

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11. Graphic Novel Week: Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms Fumiyo Kouno, translated from the Japanese by Naoko Amemiya and Andy Nakatani

This isn't currently in print, but many libraries still have it and it's seriously worth tracking down a copy. It's two stories, in one book. "Town of Evening Calm" deals with Minami, a young woman who, 10 years prior, survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. She's still haunted by that day, and has intense guilt about the fact she survived when so many didn't. (Including many members of her immediate family.) "Country of Cherry Blossoms" is in two parts and takes place in 1987, the second part in 2004, and on one hand is a story of changing friendships and aging parents, but on the other is a look at how the bombing still lingers in Japanese society and thought. They're connected, but I won't tell you how.

This is an Outstanding Book for the College Bound, on the History and Cultures list. I didn't read it when we were working on the list, because I was on different subcommittees, but hearing the History and Cultures people talk about it, it was on my list of ones to pick up immediately.

The author's note at the end explains why Kouno wrote the story. She's from Hiroshima, where they avoid the subject. When she moved to Tokyo she discovered that the rest of Japan (excepting Nagasaki) don't talk about it because they don't understand it. They don't the scars those cities still bear, and how they're different than the ones the rest of Japan has.

The result is beautifully drawn book. "Town of Evening Calm" is rather heartbreaking, but "Country of Cherry Blossoms" is often very funny. It's a fascinating look into a time and place and effects events still have decades down to the line.


Book Provided by... my local library

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12. The Voyage

The Voyage (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Veronica Salinas

Illustrated by: Camilla Engman

Translated by: Jeanne Eirheim

Published by: Groundwood Books

Published on: September 17, 2013

Ages: 4+

Book provided by the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.




"You are who you are" is such a simple message but one that can take a long time to sink in. It's nice of this adorable duck who learns this lesson to want to share with us.

This wee duck is in a strange forest and he can't understand the people he meets. He feels out of sorts until he meets another creature who looks a bit like him who gives him the confidence to keep going and meet new people.

The book really reminded me of how I felt when I first showed up in a tiny town in the Japanese countryside and didn't know the language. But someday, after a lot of work, something just clicked and I started to understand a lot, and I felt really at home. This book would be great for a kid (or adult!) going on a trip to a new country or new immigrants.

The limited palette of mostly browns and greys is really stylish and makes me think of Scandinavia. There are a lot of little details that make these illustrations, like Easter eggs in a video game. Engman has coloured sketches of tiny animals doing cute things on each spread, like the ant going sailing in a lake of tears.

An adorable book great for kids who feel out-of-place.






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13. A New Anthology of Russia's Greatest Gothic Writers

Muireann Maguire's Red Spectres: Russian Gothic Tales from the Twentieth Century, a new collection of supernatural fiction featuring eleven short stories from both classic and lesser known Russian writers, is out later this week. Featuring nine pieces never before translated into English, the anthology combines many of the best-loved aspects of the traditional ghost story with the full Gothic

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14. Gained in translation - Lily Hyde

The first I knew was when I got an e-mail from someone called Leila. She wrote that she had translated my novel, Dream Land, and wanted to publish it.

With someone else, my pleased but surprised response would have been to refer her straight away to my agent to deal with permissions and fees. But Leila is different.

'Like the heroine of your book, I was born in Samarkand in exile’ she wrote. ‘My childhood was often darkened by shadows, because of the deportation of our people. In 1989 we were able to return to our homeland. I lived through everything that you describe in your book. You’ve managed to perceive and impart the reality… I want to tell you that I’ve translated it into Crimean Tatar. I thought that this novel about our tragic fate should be read by every Crimean Tatar.’


The English Edition of Dream Land (Walker) 

Dream Land is about the ethnic group Leila belongs to: the Crimean Tatars, who inhabited Crimea (now part of Ukraine) until 1944, when the entire nation was forcibly deported. It is estimated that up to 46 percent died on the way to labour camps in Central Asia and the Urals. Those that survived had to rebuild their lives from scratch. They were banned from speaking their own language. They were discriminated against in education, employment, housing. And they were not permitted to return home to Crimea until fifty years later, when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Dream Land is based very closely on the stories people told me; what happened to them before, during, and after the deportation; their sufferings and struggles and dreams. The book is fiction in that I made up most of the characters. But their fictional lives are an amalgam of the many real ones I encountered. I tried to imagine myself into the lives of the Crimean Tatars, to understand how they feel and where they come from, to be as true as possible to what they told me.

I was aware, though, that not only do I myself not speak the Crimean Tatar language, I was writing this book in English, for a British young adult audience who in all likelihood have never heard of the people it is about.

Moreover, I realised that the majority of Crimean Tatar young adults would not be able to read it. I don’t know what percentage speak English well enough to read a novel, but in my experience it is fairly small.

I do know how many Crimean Tatar children are estimated to speak their own language of Crimean Tatar. It is five percent.

Crimean Tatar is recognised by UNESCO as a ‘severely endangered’ language. During their fifty years of exile, the Crimean Tatars fought ceaselessly to keep their identity alive. It is a sad irony that now the central right for which they fought – to live once again in their own country – has been won, something else is being lost. A physical home gained at the cost of a mental home, perhaps.

If only five percent of Tatar children speak their native tongue, is there any point in publishing Dream Land in Crimean Tatar? I believe so, and want to support the campaign to keep Crimean Tatar alive. Barbara, a volunteer at the Gasprinskiy Library in Simferopol, writes here about what the loss of a language means. She sums up:

Their songs would go unsung, their poetry only read by language scholars, the wealth of their literary heritage only known in translated form. As my counterpart at the library, Nadjie Yagya, said to me when I first came to the library: “If a person does not know the language of his ancestors, the spiritual losses are irreplaceable, and he cannot fully understand the culture of his people.” 

The French edition of Dream Land (Naive Livres)

Leila, and everyone else informed about the situation, agrees that ultimately, Dream Land should be translated into Russian, to reach not only more Crimean Tatars but also the Ukrainians and Russians who now make up the vast majority of the Crimean population. As Barbara wrote to me:
The longer I live here [in Crimea], the more I am aware of the tremendous discrimination the Crimean Tatars face and the undercurrent of ignorance and prejudice from much of the Russian speaking population. Having a Russian version of Dream Land available to school children would give them another side of a story they perhaps hear in a twisted version.  
We’re looking for funding for a small print run of Хаял Мекяны – the Crimean Tatar title – and then, we hope, for Земля Мечты, in Russian. But I want to say thank you to Leila, for translating this book. And to Taner, who is translating it into Romanian, so that the Crimean Tatar Diaspora there can share the story with their Romanian neighbours and perhaps through it more understanding and tolerance can be built.

Dream Land is just a novel, and one I had many fears about writing – that I would get it wrong, that I was appropriating a culture and story in a crass act of cultural imperialism. But I’m so excited and humbled by these translations. It feels like the Crimean Tatars are taking the book back and making it into something bigger, and more important, and their own.

www.lilyhyde.com


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15. I'M BORED Process: How a picture book is translated into other languages

 

 I was thrilled to find out that the French version of I'M BORED was available for ordering online, and then got curious about the process.

How does a picture book get translated? Are there any issues that children's book writers and illustrators need to be aware of, when working a project?

I interviewed Tracy Philips from the S&S UK Translation Rights team about the process, over the I'M BORED Scrapbook Blog.

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16. THE ISLAND OF SECOND SIGHT: New York Times Review + Translator Interview

Albert Vigoleis Thelen's The Island of Second Sight received a glowing review in last weekend's New York Times Sunday Book Review. Today, translator Donald White joins us on the blog for an interview to discuss the first English edition what Thomas Mann famously called "one of the greatest books of the twentieth century." How did you first come across A.V. Thelen’s Die Insel des zweiten

1 Comments on THE ISLAND OF SECOND SIGHT: New York Times Review + Translator Interview, last added: 10/30/2012
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17. An Order of Amelie, Hold the Fries

An Order of Amelie, Hold the Fries Nina Schindler, translated from the German by Rob Barrett

You gotta love a book that references Leonard Cohen on the second page. With a big ol' picture of him, too.

Tim's a student who sees the woman of his dreams. He doesn't know her, but her address falls out of her bag, so he takes a risk and emails her. Only... it wasn't her email address. Amelie is NOT the girl of Tim's dreams, but her reply charms him, so he writes back and writes back, until she caves. It's a very sweet relationship the develops as Amelia tries to figure out what to do about her new feelings for Tim and some negative feelings with her very serious long-distance boyfriend.

Format wise, this one's much closer to Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf as we get a much better visual on the notes, flowers that are also sent, phones used in text messages (you actually tell the who's texting who because their phones are different.)

Interestingly, even though this is a German book, it takes place in Canada.

It's a short, sweet read that's a great use of the stuff format.

Book Provided by... my wallet

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18. The Lily Pond

The Lily Pond Annika Thor, translated from the Swedish by Linda Schenck

In this sequel to A Faraway Island, Stephie is on the mainland, studying at school and lodging with Soderbergs. Unfortunately, the Soderbergs aren't as warm as Stephie expected. She's to eat her meals in the kitchen and once Mrs. Soderberg keeps her from going back to the island one weekend because she's throwing a big party. Stephie's excited to attend, until she discovers that she's to be hired help, not a guest.

The one highlight of the Soderberg home is Sven, on whom Stephie quickly develops a crush (oh, such a painful storyline to read.)

In addition, on the mainland, Stephie learns that the Nazi threat grows ever closer and even though Sweden is a neutral country, there are more than a few Nazi sympathizers. And, of course, letters from home show how desperate the situation is getting for her parents-- for modern readers who know what the truth ends up being about the fate of some many European Jews, it is heartbreaking to read, and rage-inducing to read the reactions of the Swedish adults Stephie tries to get to help her family.

There are four books in this series and I cannot wait for the next two to come out in the US. Sadly, there was a two-year lag between the first and second one. Maybe they'll speed up the publication cycle because the first two have both won awards? I don't want to wait until 2015 to see how it all turns out!!!

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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19. Translations

I recently got interested in translating a middle-grade novel written by a well-known and long-dead foreign author. Do I have to get some sort of permission from his estate? Also, once I translate it, what's the next step? Are agents open to translations?

I love questions like this. It’s not something I ever would have thought of myself.

Yes, absolutely, you must get permission from either the author’s estate or the author’s publisher. That would depend on who holds the rights for foreign translations. My suggestion is to start with the publisher, who will probably direct you to the agent for the author or the author’s estate.

Before you do that, though, let me explain a little about how selling foreign rights typically works. When a book is sold to a foreign publisher to be translated, the publisher has it translated using their own people. Very rarely is a book translated and then sold to that country. In the case of Stieg Larsson, for example, the book was sold to the U.S. publisher and then the publisher brought in a translator to translate the book. My guess is that the agent or the publisher has worked to get this book published in many other countries, but because of low sales or lack of interest they never got a buyer.

All that being said, it can never hurt to contact them to see what they say.


Jessica

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20. reading in new ways at Three Percent

Surprise is surely one of narrative’s virtues, but do Americans overlook, in its favor, other narrative rewards and satisfactions, other priorities and uses? Pop and pulp especially, by standardizing story forms and making, so to speak, formula racers—sleek, streamlined thrill machines capable of hugging hairpin plot reversals and sudden narrative curves—have made us canny consumers of plot.

Edward Gauvin is guest blogging at Three Percent, a blog run by the translation program and publishers at the University of Rochester to promote the art of translation. I enjoyed his post about the challenges of reading translations, and thought this marriage of formulaic narrative to its image was...well, rather sleek and streamlined too.

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21. Talking permaculture and the Russian soul with nyrb classics contributors

Every now and then our translators manage to shut down their computers, put the dust-cover on the typewriter, and talk about their work in the wild.

First, Larry Korn—who lived on Masanobu Fukuoka's farm in Japan in the 1970s and returned to the US, where he translated The One Straw Revolution and spread his sensei's teachings—will co-teach a two-week intensive permaculture design course at Restoration Farm in Oregon, beginning June 13.

Next, Robert Chandler, who has been translating the work of Vasily Grossman since the 1980s and who is very much responsible for the author's acclaim as one of the most important Soviet writers, has three events in London this month. The first is taking place tonight at the Free Word Center. And in the upcoming two, he'll be discussing Grossman's recently released novel Everything Flows and talking with Grossman's daughter, Yekaterina Korotkova-Grossman:

June 15, 7.30pm, Pushkin House
June 20, 2pm, British Museum, Stevenson Room

(thanks to Sarah J. Young for rounding up these Grossman-related events, as well as for linking some recent press in praise of Vasily Grossman, on her blog)

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22. Antiquity Corner: V-Mail from Rome's Northern Frontier


For those of you not old enough to recall aspects of life on the home front during World War II, the families of GIs waited eagerly for the arrival of V-mail from their loved ones. These were letters, usually handwritten, from armed forces personnel overseas, which had been reviewed by military censors who often blacked out anything they thought might be of value to the enemy if intercepted. (No e-mail, texting, or Twitter in the 1940s, but plenty of signs with warnings such as LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS).

Katherine Hoare’s lovely little book, V-Mail: Letters from the Romans at Vindolanda Fort Near Hadrian’s Wall, was published in 2008 by the British Museum Press. It is a selection of documents written by Roman military personnel in the late first and early second centuries. Written in vegetable dye on thin pieces of wood, these writing tablets were preserved by the anaerobic soil of northern England. Commencing in the 1970s, more than two thousand of these writing tablets were discovered by archeologist Robin Birley and his staff in the course of the excavation of the Romano-British fort of Vindolanda.

Today, the writing tablets are on display in the British Museum. Vindolanda remains a permanent excavation and research center in northern England at which new discoveries about life on a Roman frontier continue to be made.

Let’s read what the soldiers and vicani (residents of the vicus, or village outside the walls of the fort) had to say:

First, the famous birthday invitation, the earliest known example of handwriting in Latin by a woman:
Claudia Severa to her Lepidina greetings. On 11 September, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, it will make the day more enjoyable for me if you are present. Give my greeting to your Cerialis. My Aelius and little son send him their greetings. I shall expect you.

Sulpicia Lepidina was the wife of Flavius Cerialis, commander of the gar

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23. Selling Books Overseas

I love seeing our titles translated into multiple foreign languages and enjoyed by children around the world.  While all our books are of high quality, not all of them will work in all countries. Here are a few interesting things I’ve learned about selling our titles at international book fairs:

  • Science and math titles always get the attention of both rights agents and distributors, especially in the East-Asian market.  All I need to do is flip to the catalog page featuring a new Robert E. Wells title and a contract will be signed within months.

    What's So Special about Planet Earth? in Spanish

  • American holiday titles and illustration styles considered “American”, however, generally do not stir interest overseas.
  • Surprisingly, we have some interest in the Korean market for African American titles for they see those as encouraging, obstacle-overcoming lessons.
  • Speaking of Korean market, our title of Princess K.I.M. and the Lie That Grew put a smile on all the Korean publishers’ faces when it was first presented.  Why?  Because Kim is a very popular surname in Korea!

    Princess K.I.M. and the Lie That Grew in Korean

  • New born babies and titles on siblings are generally not too popular in China due to the One Child Policy.
  • Muslim regions do not accept any stories with pigs in them.
  • In general, illustrated animal characters sell.  The cuter they are, the more sample review copies are requested. 

    When I Feel Sad in Chinese

  • We also learned throughout the years that bunnies do particularly well in Germany.

Do you know of any other fun facts that I missed?  Feel free to share them with us!


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24. New books, old story?

By Natalia Nowakowska


As the Catholic Church embarked upon its observance of Lent last week, many congregations will be holding in their hands brand new, bright red liturgical books — copies of the new English translation of the Roman Missal (the service book for Catholic Mass), introduced throughout the English-speaking world at the end of 2011 on the instructions of the Vatican.

This is not a new experience for Catholic congregations and clergy. The rare book collections of the world’s research libraries are full of the ‘new’ liturgical books produced for European dioceses between 1478 and 1500, on the orders of bishops making enthusiastic use of the recently developed printing press. Some of these books, missals printed on vellum in full folio size, are too heavy for me to pick up. Others, tiny breviaries with heavily-thumbed pages, would fit in your pocket, or that of a late medieval priest. In their prefaces, bishops explained that the point of printing these new liturgical books was to reform the church. Their aim was to provide parishes with new liturgies which were an improvement upon the service-books already in use, both the “crumbling” liturgical manuscripts from which communities had been praying for centuries, and recent, pirated printed editions. This fifteenth-century initiative was reprised during the Counter Reformation; echoing the actions of late medieval North European bishops, Pope Pius V’s Breviarium Romanum (1568) and Missale Romanum (1570) provided the entire Catholic world with new liturgical editions in Europe and beyond. The printing of improved liturgical books was therefore at the forefront of many high clerical minds in Renaissance Europe, just as it is a priority for the Vatican today.

Pope Pius V by El Greco. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The links between these Renaissance-era projects and what is currently happening in English-speaking Catholic churches go beyond a general impulse by high clergy to roll out improved worship-books, however. I’ve been struck by how similar the language used by fifteenth-century bishops, Pius V, and the current Roman Catholic hierarchy is. Late medieval bishops, in their neatly printed prefaces, complained bitterly at the “corruption,” “distortion,” and “manifest errors” of old liturgical books. The provision of the 2011 Roman missal is, meanwhile, justified with reference to the oversimplified, “plain,” and possibly inauthentic words of the earlier translation. Fifteenth-century prelates stressed that an authorised, printed liturgy would ensure a “unanimity” in worship which symbolised the essential unity of the church; the modern Congregation of Rites states that the new missal translations will function as “an outstanding sign and instrument of… integrity and unity.” Late medieval bishops took care to stress the academic credentials of the clergy-scholars who had prepared the new editions; Benedict XVI has thanked the “expert assistants” who worked on the new missal, “offering the fruits of their scholarship.” The language of liturgical reform, corruption and renewal, unity and authenticity, which we hear today is also that of the sixteenth and fifteenth-century church, which had in turn inherited it from the early medieval church.

New books, same story. Yet the introduction of new books for worship is about power and authori

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25. Guest Columnists: Lucha Corpi And Nuria Brufau Alvira, From Eulogy To Loa. Banned Books. Carlos Fuentes Conference. On-Line Floricanto.

From Eulogy to Loa

Loa a un ángel de piel morena, NuriaBrufau Alvira’s translation into Spanish of my novel Eulogy for a Brown Angel, was released late in 2011 by theUniversity of Alcalá de Henares’ Instituto Franklin, to whom I am indebted for makingthis possible. I was thrilled, of course, and posted the news on my Facebookwall. Michael Sedano sent his enhorabuenato me. He commented that he was looking forward to reading the opening scene atthe National Chicano Moratorium march and riot in the novel in Spanish. He thenasked for my impressions, for my feelings when Gloria Damasco first “spoke” tome in Spanish. I had asked myself similar questions when I had read the firstand the final drafts of Nuria Brufau Alvira’s splendid translation of my GloriaDamasco mystery novel. Long before, I had also assisted Catherine Rodríguez-Nieto when she translated my poetry into English, and voice in translationbecame one of my concerns.
Of course,literary provocateur that he is —in the best of ways— Michael then invited Nuriaand me to write companion pieces about our respective experiences as author andtranslator for La Bloga. And here we are:
LuchaCorpi
Oakland(California), 2012

A translator´s account of the process

And onceagain, Lucha and I have intertwined our discourses in order to ease the access tothe translation chamber, that frontier space between languages and cultures,where we, as author and translator, have met. And it has been a real encounterbecause we were coming from different locations with dissimilar ways of lovingthe text we were going to work on.
Allowingsomeone to translate one’s text constitutes the maximum act of generosity, becausedespite the impossibility of having absolute control over the meaning of ourown words, we all write in the hope that we will be transmitting certain ideasand values, and that we will be stimulating certain senses in our readers. Honestlyspeaking, all writers aim at spreading a specific message, be it aesthetic or ofanother kind. By allowing someone who is alien to such a creative act torewrite our text we assume the risk of that someone not sharing or even misunderstandingits intended sense, or purpose. For that reason, having one’s text translated reallyis, as I see it, an act of bigheartedness and trust. On the translators’ part, acceptingsuch a task implies the need to welcome each new text with the open attitude ofsomeone that is willing not only to understand and feel, but also to helpothers to understand and feel too. After all, translating is allowingcommunication between those who are different.
Luckilyenough, in this case our efforts of generosity and warm welcome, as well as ofmutual trust, have been greatly and mutually corresponded. Lucha had writtenthe text thinking of an American audience who is more or less familiarized withthe Chicano movement and its claims, but who might als

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