Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Art of Translation: A Different ‘Darkness at Noon’

INK BOTTLE“The unpredictable and the predetermined unfold together to make everything the way it is.”
~Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

Earpiece translates foreign languages... even Slavic ones

The critic Korney Chukovsky summed it up best and most brutally when he wrote, “Who does not feel the convulsions, the nervous trembling of Dostoevsky’s style? . . .
Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, The Art of Translation No. 4 Paris Review

SPOILER ALERT!  Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, I’m a Leninist Corey Robin

 How the race to translate Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky continues to spark feuds, end friendships, and create small fortunes The Translation Wars

Whose interests should the translator serve? Those who want to be entertained, or those “of the more masochistic school” who want to know what the original was like?... Translating Anna

Last July a German doctoral student named Matthias Weßel made a remarkable discovery. He was examining the papers of the late Swiss publisher Emil Oprecht for a dissertation on Arthur Koestler's  transition from writing in German to writing in English at the end of the 1930s. Oprecht was a left-wing fellow traveler who had founded his famous publishing house Europa Verlag in Zurich in 1933, and was well known for his anti-Nazi views and support for writers in exile, including Thomas Mann, Stefan Zweig, Ignazio Silone—and the young (Road Warrior) Arthur Koestler. Weßel told me that at the time, “I was looking for letters and royalty reports, because I wanted to know how many copies were printed of the first German edition of Koestler’s Spanish Testament.” He failed to find the answer to his question, but while looking over the Europa holdings in the Zurich Central Library he came across a cryptic entry: “Koestler, Arthur. Rubaschow: Roman. Typoskript, März 1940, 326 pages.”
A Different ‘Darkness at Noon’

When I translated The Gift and The Defense, my way of thinking was very close to Nabokov's. I believed it was the translator's job to follow every twist and turn in the original language, and to try to capture every lexical and cultural nuance on the level of the sentence...
Translation is a bastard form - Michael Scammell

I have been especially glad to read Michael Scammell's Koestler (Faber, £30). Full disclosure: I commissioned the book as long ago as 1985. Sometimes, Scammell's publisher must have despaired of the project. Actually, the frustrating passage of 25 years has done this enthralling biography two favours.
The double life of Arthur Koestler, intellectual and sexual adventurer


Arthur Koestler: flawed crusader 

It is right, but also not quite right, to celebrate the journalist and contemporary historian, Svetlana Alexievich, this year’s laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature, as a Belarusian writer. The force of her work, the source of its power and plausibility, is the choice of a generation (her own) as a major subject and the close attention to its major inflection point, which was the end of the Soviet Union Svetlana Alexievich: The Truth in Many Voices

“Aside from stories that he was writing in a more traditional form, Chekhov’s young, experimental pen wrote stories in the form of census reports, statistical surveys, diary excerpts, stories in the form of lists of mathematical problems, lonely hearts advertisements, mini-plays – he even wrote a one-page love story in the form of a legal deposition, with a place in the upper left-hand corner of the page for a government stamp.” Literary Hub Memoirs in Russian at Randwick

Translated fiction

Dangerous Fictions:
What and how much were the Soviets eating?

There is a new and intriguing book out by Benjamin Peters called How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet, which outlines exactly what it claims to.  Here is one introductory excerpt:
In late September 1970, a year after the ARPANET went online, the Soviet cyberneticist Viktor Glushkov boarded a train from Kiev to Moscow to attend what proved to be a fateful meeting for the future of what we might call the Soviet Internet.  On the windy morning of October 1, 1970, he met with members of the Politburo, the governing body of the Soviet state, around the long rectangular table on a red carpet in Stalin’s former office in the Kremlin.  The Politburo convened that day to hear Glushkov’s proposal and decide whether to build a massive nationwide computer network for citizen use — or what Glushkov called the All-State Automated System (OGAS, obshche-gosudarstvennyi avtomatizirovannaya system), the most ambitious computer network of its kind in the world at the time.  OGAS was to connect tens of thousands of computer centers and to manage and optimize in real time the communications between hundreds of thousands of workers, factory managers, and regional and national administrators.  The purpose of the OGAS Project was simple to state and grandiose to imagine: Glushkov sought to network and automatically manage the nation’s struggling command economy.

Is Translation, As It Wins Literary Prize Money, Finally Being Recognized As An Art? 

“Something skewed does occur during the translation process, at least when you are translating a good book: as a translator, while you pick away at the prose and twist the kaleidoscope of possible meanings to create the most subjective and vital translation you can, you become closer to the book than the author, who is often usually already onto the next project. You become the book’s guardian.” LitHub 

Translating the horror of the Pre Velvet Revolution into Earth's far future ... Dangerous Non-Fictions:

The Watergate  scandal produced a number of far-reaching effects. It brought down a president. It created a new era of disillusionment with politics. And, more important for my purposes, it spawned one of the most flexible, enduring suffixes in modern history. Since the ’70s, we’ve had countless -gate iterations, including Nipplegate (Janet Jackson, Super Bowl XXXVIII, Janet Jackson’s nipple), Donutgate (2015, singer Ariana Grande licking a donut and saying “I hate America”), and, in Canada, the 2011 election-fraud scandal known as Robogate.
Just two months ago, Canada was once again the site of a -gate when Edmonton mayor Don Iveson waded into the shark-infested waters of punctuation. In late March, city council’s executive committee voted in favour of a motion to name a neighbourhood “Rivers Edge.” There was, however, only one river with an edge in that location. It was clear—to the mayor, at least—that an apostrophe was needed. Iveson was aghast: “I will cringe forever when I go past that sign,” he said. After making his objections clear, the committee passed yet another motion, amending the name to “River’s Edge.” “Apostrophe gate […] has come to an end,” declared the CBC Cold River's Edge at Iron-gate

Hidden Microphones Exposed As Part of Government Surveillance Program In The Bay Area CBS SFBayArea

I see no reason not to consider the Brontë cult a religion. What are Peoples of the Book, after all, if not irrepressible embroiderers of fetishized texts? The Jews have a word for the feverish imaginings that run like bright threads through their Torah commentaries: midrash, the spinning of gloriously weird backstories or fairy tales prompted by gaps or contradictions in the narratives. Midrash isn’t just a Jewish hermeneutic, by the way. You could call the Gospels a midrash on the Hebrew Bible, the lives of the saints a midrash on the Christ story, the Koran a midrash on all of the above. The Brontes secret kabala

All who are capable of absorption in an inward passion must have experienced at times the strange feeling of unreality in common objects, the loss of contact with daily things, in which the solidity of the outer world is lost, and the soul seems, in utter loneliness, to bring forth, out of its own depths, the mad dance of fantastic phantoms which have hitherto appeared as independently real and living. 
The first and most direct outcome of the moment of illumination is belief in the possibility of a way of knowledge which may be called revelation or insight or intuition, as contrasted with sense, reason, and analysis, which are regarded as blind guides leading to the morass of illusion. Closely connected with this belief is the conception of a Reality behind the world of appearance and utterly different from it. This Reality is regarded with an admiration often amounting to worship; it is felt to be always and everywhere close at hand, thinly veiled by the shows of sense, ready, for the receptive mind, to shine in its glory even through the apparent folly and wickedness of Man. The poet, the artist, and the lover are seekers after that glory: the haunting beauty that they pursue is the faint reflection of its sun. But the mystic lives in the full light of the vision: what others dimly seek he knows, with a knowledge beside which all other knowledge is ignorance.

Indeed, art is in a sense a mystical experience — something Saul Bellow captured beautifully in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, in which he observed:“Only art penetrates … the seeming realities of this world. There is another reality, the genuine one, which we lose sight of. This other reality is always sending us hints, which without art, we can’t receive.” But what Russell is concerned with is how mystical experience relates, and whether it should at all, to science.

Said the magistrate, “This is one of the clearest cases for [an acquittal] that I’ve seen in my 26 years being here.”
Canberra Times

“Bill Kristol Isn’t a ‘Renegade Jew.’ Just a Sore Loser Throwing a Tantrum,” David P. Goldman writes:
It is a shame, really. As I wrote in this space last year (“Two Cheers for the Neo-Conservatives“), the movement that Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz incubated at Public Interest and Commentary during the 1970s provided the bulk of the ideas and the cadre for the Reagan Revolution, most importantly supply-side economics. They got heady with success. As I wrote then:
To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To the neo-conservatives, every country looks like Poland, whose democracy movement in the 1980s was the thin end of the wedge that ruptured the Iron Curtain.
I come from the neocon movement. As chief economist for Jude Wanniski’s consulting firm Polyconomics, I was a card-carrying member of the Kristol Kindergarten back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But a stint of consulting for the governments of Nicaragua and Russia persuaded me that American democracy couldn’t be exported, and I went my own way.
CODA: Here's an old TCS column in which I weighed in on the corks versus screw cap debate:
A friend recently gave me a bottle of Chapoutier's 1999 La Bernardine Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I was very much looking forward to trying this wine, which had received high 80s scores from both Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator. I rarely drink Rhone wines, so I was eagerly anticipating comparing this wine to the California Rhone Rangers and Australian Shirazes with which I am more familiar. Unfortunately, this bottle was corked to the point of being undrinkable, so it went down the drain.... Art of Corks

“For years it’s been a major boon in business to know a second language—and for the sake of relationships, it may still be. But it looks like in a few years you’ll be able to attend a German cocktail hour and know what’s being said, or make that trip to France and understand directions.”
The Daily Beast