Category Archives: Literature

“Translator’s Note” by Amanda DeMarco

Translator’s Note

A TRANSLATOR must naturally take certain liberties with other people’s words in order to wrest the most truth into the text. In this essay on translation, composed strictly of quotations, I have taken the liberty of replacing select words and phrases with “translation,” “translator,” and the various verb forms of “translate.”

Read the essay by Amanda DeMarco at the Los Angeles Review of Books

Amanda DeMarco is the founder of Readux Books. She is currently translating Franz Hessel’s Walking in Berlin (Scribe Publications, 2016), as well as Gaston de Pawlowski’s New Inventions and the Latest Innovations (Wakefield Press).

Visualization of the grammar behind literature’s most famous last lines


In their latest print A Diagrammatical Dissertation on Closing Lines of Notable Novels, data visualization company Pop Chart Lab breaks down literature’s most famous last lines and diagrams them. Now you can see exactly what it took to create some of the most memorable closing scenes to grace the book world.

Via Mashable.

So Thou Wantst to Write Olde-Timey Speech

writing old english
Let’s say you’re a writer or a translator. Wouldn’t you like your work to not only evoke the time period you’re replicating, but actually work?

To that end Jezebel started a new series of posts filed under “Memeievalism” and aimed at giving a few tips toward improving the verisimilitude of your attempts to capture the speech of bygone days.

Read the first post here. The word ‘thou’ is the first lesson.

A good source in this context is the Middle English Dictionary by the way.

Why English Changes More Slowly Today Than It Did A Thousand Years Ago

“As languages acquire new speakers, spread to new geographic areas, and mingle with other languages, they change. But is that change happening as quickly as it once did?” (IO9)

What might a future version of English look? Perhaps not quite so different from the version we see today — and we owe that to the widespread growth of the written word.

Read the story at IO9 here.

Top image: A 15th century edition of Recuyell of the Histories of Troy from Brandeis University’s Special Collections

A project to translate public domain German Sci-Fi novels

der rote Komet Übersetzung deutsch englisch berlin

Bradley Hall writes, “I am trying to get funding via Indiegogo so that I can spend more time translating old public domain German sci-fi books. So far I have translated Robert Heymann’s ‘Der Rote Komet’ (The Red Comet) and am currently working on Bernhard Kellerman’s ‘Der Tunnel’ (The Tunnel). Neither of these books have been translated to English before.”


Orhan Pamuk attacks ‘marginalisation’ of non-English writers

Orhan Pamuk signs books at the first day of the Jaipur literature festival. Photograph: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian: “Speaking at the Jaipur literary festival in India, Pamuk, whose much-feted novels including My Name is Red, Snow and The Museum of Innocence were all written in Turkish, lamented the western world’s dominance over literary culture.

“Most of the writers at a festival such as Jaipur [write] in English,” he said. “This is maybe because English is the official language here. But for those writing in other languages, their work is rarely translated and never read. So much of human experience is marginalised.”

Pamuk, who teaches humanities at Columbia University, also accused literary critics of constantly trying to “provincialise” his work. “When I write about love, the critics in the US and Britain say that this Turkish writer writes very interesting things about Turkish love.”

Maureen Freely: How I got lost in translation and found my true calling

“Translation can be an underpaid, anonymous job. Yet it is crucial for the cross-fertilisation of literature and for Maureen Freely, it has become a deeply satisfying life’s work

Outside the Anglophone world, it is not unusual for novelists and poets to work at some point in their lives as translators. Though most will say that they did so mainly to subsidise their own writing, it is often clear, when you look at that writing, that it has been enriched by the imaginary conversations they’ve had with the poets and novelists whose words they have translated.

If there is such a thing as world literature, it is because today’s most interesting writers are also well‑travelled readers and a lot of what they read is in translation. An up-and-coming Colombian novelist might be inspired not just by Borges, Conrad and Faulkner, but by contemporary novelists from Asia, Africa and Europe; his literary response to their work will go on to influence what his contemporaries on the other side of the world write next. These complex patterns of cross-fertilisation would end overnight if it were not for literary translators and the publishers who support them. So you’d think people would thank us, wouldn’t you?”

Read this essay at The Guardian


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