Translating Proust

Yale UP ripropone l'opera di Marcel Proust, che compie 100 anni. E' da poco uscito Swann's Way, nella traduzione degli anni '30 di C. K. Scott Moncrieff, ma con note aggiornate di William C. Carte. Una traduzione bella, ma controversa. Ne parla Leland de la Durantaye (una bella lezione di traduzione):
"The translation Moncrieff produced was a masterpiece. That said, it was not without its share of controversial choices—beginning with the very title. Faced with the formidable challenge of rendering the supple À la recherche du temps perdu, with its final words meaning both lost and wasted time, Moncrieff decided simply to rename the book. The title Remembrance of Things Past was one he took, as more than a few authors of the period were inspired to do, from Shakespeare. (William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury is from 1929, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World from 1932.) Moncrieff renamed Proust’s work after Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30 (nowhere referred to in Proust’s novel), going so far as to add Shakespeare’s lines as an epigraph. In a letter written from his deathbed, Proust thanked Moncrieff for his efforts but took issue with the title, pointing to the lost register of lost time—the past the narrator is trying, through the magic of memory, to recover". bostonreview.


Becoming Freud

E' uscita una nuova biografia di Freud, Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst, di Adam Phillips (Yale UP). Ce la presenta, di nuovo, Joshua Rothman, "Becoming Freud, by the British psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, is short for a biography—less than two hundred pages—and it contains no startling revelations. But, in its own way, it’s an audacious book. It’s a revisionist history of Freud and his enterprise; its implicit goal, never stated but always clear, is to help us salvage the best parts of Freud’s work while leaving behind the rest—the outmoded theories and unwieldy jargon that make Freud a caricature rather than an intriguing thinker. (Whether that’s a worthy goal is an open question.)"

Poi Rothman continua, in modo un po' inquietante (e ci fa venir voglia di leggere il libro), "Phillips is probably today’s most famous psychoanalyst, and a quietly controversial figure. For seven years, he was the principal child psychologist at Charing Cross Hospital, in London. (He’s now in private practice.) Famously, he spends most of the week with his analysands and writes only on Wednesdays; somehow, on that schedule, he’s produced eighteen books. Phillips is obviously brilliant—John Banville has called him “an Emerson of our time”—and yet it’s never quite clear how seriously you should take his writing". newyorker.


Harvey's Dream

Una vecchia storia di Stephen King, "Harvey's Dream", adatta all'estate. La ripresenta Josua Rothman, "Like many stories in The New Yorker, “Harvey’s Dream” takes place in Connecticut. That said, Stephen King’s Connecticut is very different from John Cheever’s. As the story begins, Janet Stevens is in her kitchen, making hard-boiled eggs on “a summer morning in late June.” Her husband, Harvey, is also there—a sixty-something guy in a T-shirt and boxers, a little worse for wear. (“He looked like what the goons on ‘The Sopranos’ called a mope,” Janet thinks.) She’s ruminating about how well she sleeps in summertime, when, because of her allergies, she and Harvey sleep in separate beds. Then Harvey pipes up. He had a bad dream last night, he says; in fact, “I screamed myself awake.” He continues..." newyorker.


I nuovi scrittori di racconti

Il racconto, dopo essere stato dominato da Updike, i minimalisti, ecc. sta ora esprimendo toni e forme nuove. "... it’s been a thrill in the last five years or so to watch the revitalization of the genre by writers with more various and daring emotional aims. There was the shock of seeing Lydia Davis’ unprogrammatic shorts collected in a single volume, for instance, and one reason I think George SaundersTenth of December was embraced with such joy, in fact nearly relief, is because it was full of stories in which stuff actually happened (serial killers! lottery victories!), with a kind of tender irony cutting back against any resulting hazard of melodrama". 
Poi Charles Finch passa a parlare - molto bene - di questo scrittore, Stuart Dybek (nella foto), che non conosco neanche di nome e di cui FS&G sta pubblicando una serie di raccolte di racconti. slate.


Two Serious Ladies

Two Serious Ladies è il titolo del romanzo scandaloso di Jane Bowles, la moglie di Paul Bowles. Uscito originalmente nel 1943, parla della relazione di una donna borghese di mezz'età con una giovanissima prostituta a Colon, Panama. "The recent reissue of the novel by HarperCollins, the second since Bowles’s collected works were released in 1967, provides an occasion to revisit the underknown half of a famous couple—she was married to the considerably more prolific and ultimately more celebrated Paul Bowles. Hard drinking, hard living, and neurotic, the outlines of Jane’s exhaustingly dramatic persona very often overshadowed her art. At forty, while living in Tangier, she suffered a debilitating stroke that would send her into premature convalescence. She died sixteen years later, alone, in a Spanish convent. And yet her literary output, small but perfect, puts her on a stylistic planet all her own". Negar Azimi, newyorker.


Do Fathers Matter?

Do Fathers Matter? è il titolo di un libro di Paul Raeburn, giornalista scientifico e padre di cinque figli (FS&G). Il punto del libro sta tutto nella domanda del titolo, la cui risposta in parta è ovvia - se non ci fossero i padri non esisteremmo - in parte molto complicata. Per es. "Raeburn’s book aims to dispel this uncertainty about fathers’ roles in their children’s lives. It turns out, for example, that, just as the healthfulness and mental state of a pregnant mother can influence her child’s health and wellness, a father’s health at the time of conception can affect his children’s health: stressed-out fathers tend to produce more stressed-out children". Joshua Rothman, newyorker.


Ancora sulle Humanities

La situazione è più tragica di quel che si pensa. "Everyone knows that English departments are in trouble, but you can’t appreciate just how much trouble until you read the new report from the Modern Language Association. (The M.L.A. is the professional association for teachers of literature and language.) The report is about Ph.D. programs, which have been in decline since 2008. These programs have gotten both more difficult and less rewarding: today, it can take almost a decade to get a doctorate, and, at the end of your program, you’re unlikely to find a tenure-track job. Motivated by “concern about the future of humanistic study,” the M.L.A. asked a committee of eight scholars to go on a listening tour, talking to professors, administrators, students, and “employers outside the academy” about how the system might be fixed. Professors are always complaining about “committee work”; judging by the report this one produced, this was the least fun committee imaginable". Joshua Roth, newyorker.


A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing

A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing è il titolo di un romanzo di Eimear McBride (Faber & Faber), una giovane scrittrice inglese che ha vinto il Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. E' un libro angosciante e scritto con una prosa molto sperimentale. Non amo questo tipo di libri, ma stranamente sono arrivata fino in fondo, trascinata dal ritmo della lingua più che dalla storia. Non so se è un libro che consiglierei, certamente sarebbe una sfida per un traduttore. Una delle frasi fa: "Have this yours mine his hers whose that and what's the matter don't you care at all?". nyt.


Why Liberal Education Matters

Michael S. Roth, presidente di Wesleyan University, ha scritto un libro interessante e non banale sulle humanities e la loro importanza, Beyond the University (Yale UP), sottotilo, Why Liberal Education Matters. Ce lo presenta Christopher B. Nelson, "The book’s supporting framework, which Roth borrows from the education scholar Bruce Kimball, is the idea that two distinct traditions of liberal education have “uneasily co-existed” in America. The first is a philosophical tradition emphasizing preparation for inquiry; its aim is freeing the mind to investigate the truth about things physical, intellectual and spiritual. The second is a rhetorical tradition emphasizing initiation into a common culture through the study of canonical works; its aim is learning to participate in the culture, to appreciate its monuments and to create new monuments inspired by the old. Roth characterizes the philosophical thread as “skeptical” and the rhetorical thread as “reverential.”
The central argument is that liberal education is some combination of these two traditions that aims at serving the needs of the “whole person.” washingtonpost.


The literary adventures of Stephen Greenblatt

L'Harvard Gazette intervista Stephen Greenblatt, professore di inglese a Harvard. 

Q: Tell me about your boyhood. What might have put you on your path to being a scholar?

A: One constant theme in my whole life is a fascination, somewhat compulsive fascination, with the power of stories. Anyone who works on the kinds of things I do must, I imagine, have something of the same compulsion. For me, as for most everyone else, the sense that stories are powerful and important has its origin at home, that is, locally and intimately. In different ways both my mother and father were storytellers — my mother quietly and rather shyly; my father in a much more florid, performative way. When we walked to his law office in Boston, it was very difficult to get up or down State Street in a reasonable amount of time because he would constantly run into people and they would immediately begin to trade stories — this being Boston in the 1950s they were largely ethnic stories, often with punch lines I did not understand.
I grew up with the rhythms of these stories in my ears, and on my mother’s side more intimate stories, made up specially for me, and in which I figured as a character. If I were to ask myself, why have I thought my whole life that stories are an enormously powerful way of conveying things that are most important to a human being, it must be this peculiar inculcation in the family and home. harvardgazette.



"Ailourophilia" è il titolo di un raccontino di Muriel Spark inserito in The Informed Air (New Directions), una raccolta di saggi dell'autrice appena uscito. Parla dell'amore per i gatti e inizia così, "If I were not a Christian I would worship the Cat. The ancient Egyptians did so with much success. But at least it seems evident to me that the domestic cat is the aristocrat of the animal kingdom, occupying a place of quality in the Great Chain of Being second only to our aspiring, agitated and ever-evolving selves". bookforum.


Scrittori che si invidiano

Il New York Times chiede a scrittori di indicare quali scrittori invidiano. Ecco come risponde Daniel Mendelsohn, "For all these reasons, the writer whose life and career seem to me most enviable is Sophocles, whose “Oedipus” — considered by many (not least, Aristotle) to be the greatest of all Greek tragedies and written, it’s worth pointing out, when the author was nearly 70 — ends with that dire warning about too-hasty appraisals of people’s lives. He himself had no cause for alarm. In his private life, he was almost uncannily blessed; in his art, even more so". nyt.