In his books, the narrator and the characters, regardless of education or social background, are liable to set off on conceptual excursions, and the difficulty for the translator, for this one, anyway, is following the train of thought, because it moves so quickly and it’s so playful. It’s a bit like watching a brilliant, mischievous mathematician at the blackboard, working through a proof: he’s skipping the “obvious” steps and at some point he may start pulling your leg.

Chris Andrews on César Aira

As translators, we often say that our job is to be as invisible as possible—you, the reader, shouldn’t notice we’re there at all. You should reach the end of the novel and be brought up short, thinking, “But hang on a sec, I don’t speak Portuguese! How did that happen?” It should be the ultimate compliment when our work is ignored. So why, when reviewers praise a book and omit to mention the translation, do we always complain? Is it ego? No—or not exactly.

Daniel Hahn on Words Without Borders, on reviewing translations. 

Do you really understand how important a good translator is? Read this

(via hmhlit)

Reblogged from hmhlit

hmhlit:

“Despite the quietude of Fair Play, it is nevertheless a work of remarkable courage. Jansson’s is not the flashy sort of artistic boldness that proclaims itself by way of constant transparency and self-revelation. Rather, she is brave enough to occasionally withhold information, to provide confidential glimpses into her characters’ lives, while still maintaining a distance from them—a sort of respectful privacy.”
-Larissa Kyzer reviews Fair Play by Tove Jansson over at Three Percent 

My heart just melted a little. I didn’t know NYRB had another Jansson coming out. I adore (x100) The True Deceiver and The Summer Book by her. This quote captures one of the many, many things I love about Jansson—that distance between the narration and the characters. There is also a quiet, lurking cruelty that runs through her work. Reading Jansson is like sitting next to a knife, knowing if you move too quickly it could slice you, so you’d better stay still, quiet.
Anyway, buying Fair Play as soon as it comes out. (March 15th!! I love when I’m not forced to wait too long…)
also, moomin!

hmhlit:

Despite the quietude of Fair Play, it is nevertheless a work of remarkable courage. Jansson’s is not the flashy sort of artistic boldness that proclaims itself by way of constant transparency and self-revelation. Rather, she is brave enough to occasionally withhold information, to provide confidential glimpses into her characters’ lives, while still maintaining a distance from them—a sort of respectful privacy.”

-Larissa Kyzer reviews Fair Play by Tove Jansson over at Three Percent 

My heart just melted a little. I didn’t know NYRB had another Jansson coming out. I adore (x100) The True Deceiver and The Summer Book by her. This quote captures one of the many, many things I love about Jansson—that distance between the narration and the characters. There is also a quiet, lurking cruelty that runs through her work. Reading Jansson is like sitting next to a knife, knowing if you move too quickly it could slice you, so you’d better stay still, quiet.

Anyway, buying Fair Play as soon as it comes out. (March 15th!! I love when I’m not forced to wait too long…)

also, moomin!

Reblogged from hmhlit

more from Chekhov’s Three Sisters

I give you, lines out of context:

What do you say? If there’s no tea, let’s at least philosophize.

and

It seems to me, a person ought to believe in something or look for something to believe in; otherwise his life is empty, empty … To live and not know why cranes fly, why children are born, why stars are in the sky … Either you know why you live or else it’s all senseless, gobbledy-gook.

and

Yes. I’m sick and tired of winter. I’ve already forgot what summer’s like.

and

With what intoxication, what ecstasy he recalls the birds he saw from his prison window and which he failed to notice before when he was a cabinet minister. Of course, now that he’s released and at liberty, he’s stopped noticing birds, just as before.

Love.

Also, check out this post from The Casual Optimist on Ben Wiseman's great design of Chekhov's plays Three Sisters, The Seagull, and The Cherry Orchard. I love his designs, but also kinda wish Norton had gone with his alternates:

obviously I’m not smitten at all. nope. nada.

Chekhov, Three Sisters, and Egyptian Doves

I just began reading this edition of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Barely two pages in and I’m already smitten.

There’s this footnote, a note Chekhov sent to Olga Knipper on January 2, 1901, about the character Masha, a role she originated. 

"Don’t pull a sorrowful face in any of the acts. Angry, yes, but not sorrowful. People who go about with inner sorrow a long time and are used to it only whistle and often grow pensive. So you may every so often grown pensive on stage in the course of the dialogue."

Also, Knipper was Chekhov’s wife. Here is a photo of her:

Another footnote, from a page earlier:

According to V. V. Luzhsky: “… as Stanislavksy’s concept has it, birds are singing. These sounds were usually produced by Stanislavsky himself … [Chekhov] listened to all these shenanigans, and, walking over to me, said: “Listen, you bill and coo wonderfully, only it’s an Egyptian dove!” And of the portraits of the sisters’ father … he remarked, “Listen, that’s a Japanese general, we don’t have that kind in Russia.”

I was supposedly ‘going to bed’ an hour ago. Oh Chekhov (and writing about Chekhov), keeping me up.