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The End of Oulipo?

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Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

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Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

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Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

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The Provenance of Barthes' Continuance

The FSG blog Work in Progress has an insightful interview with Richard Howard, responsible for some of the most beautiful translations from French that I’ve ever read.

On the blog he’s talking about his most recent translation, Barthes’ Mourning Diary, which seems that it must have been a very difficult translation to do.

Here he’s talking about one particular translation choice:

I’d like to talk about the last stretch of the sentence. I find the English word continuance beautiful. Do you would recall the strategy, the process that led you to this transposition? In French we have ça continue in italics. We have continuance in italics, too, in English.

Howard: The two versions, the French and the English, are italicized for different reasons. In French, they are italicized because that is a kind of manner of speaking, which is really not quite proper. It’s from a realm of discourse which is more intimate, and more informal. Ça continue.

I was not comfortable with translating it that way. It would have had, the world deafens me with. And then it would be, it keeps going on, or something like that. That’s very much what the French is. I just felt that it was not a moment where I could lapse into the colloquial, that I wanted some kind of conclusion to the sentence and the observation. So I said, No sooner had she departed; then, the world deafens me with; and then, its; and then all those things which in French mean ça continue, “it keeps going on” or “it continues.” So I just came up with the noun continuance, which is not a frequently used word in English, though available to anybody: one understands what it means.

And here’s a little bit from Howard’s remarks on his professional relationship with Barthes:

I would call him up in France, when I was translating, and say, “What is this? I don’t understand it. Can you help me?”

“Of course,” he’d reply. Wonderful to have a living author who is there, who can do that for you, as a translator. I frequently, in translating works by dead authors, am simply stuck, and have to cast my net far and wide to find out exactly what it is, and often—sometimes—do not find out, and have to make up something else, or cover it over in some way. In the case of Roland, I don’t think I performed with that kind of inadequacy because he was there, and I could call him. And I feel, ever since his death, I feel—not that I’m inadequate for the work but that it’s a resource that I lack now; and it’s a terrible thing for me, to suddenly feel, “Oh, I’ll just call Roland; ask him what to do.” And I can’t. That’s a terrible thing.

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  2. Zone Translator Interviewed Translator Charlotte Mandell will see her translation of French giga-novel The Kindly Ones published here in March (and already garnering review attention); her translation of...
  3. Translation A pretty darn good piece on translation in the NYTBR. Here’s a good quote: Rabassa[, the major translator of Latin AMerican magical realist texts,] is...
  4. English Title Translation The Literary Saloon: Strictly speaking, 'English' is the correct translation; however the Chinese title — 英格力士 — is the phonetic rendering of the word 'English'...
  5. Thirwell on Wright/Queneau Adam Thirwell's homage to the amazing translator Barbara Wright is worth reading. Here's a bit: It begins with a digression in Paris. In 1929, Samuel...

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