“L’invitation au voyage” by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Richard Wilbur

Translation can be a controversial topic, and poetry translation is even more so. In any act of translation, the obstacles posed by the two languages’ differing histories, cultural contexts, and nuances of meaning can be almost insurmountable. Add to that the fact that the very existence of a poem depends on its being intimately involved with the features of its own language. Sound, rhythm, denotation, connotation, and even the histories of individual words or phrases can all carry meaning. To move a poem from one language to another and keep the poetic aspects of it is nearly impossible. Some believe that it is impossible. I personally prefer to take a more optimistic view: will Baudelaire in English ever be the same as Baudelaire in French? Of course not. Can we hope that some intrepid Anglophone might create for us, if not the same thing, at least something similar to the experience of Baudelaire in French? I think so.

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Bookish Links — June 2018

Joy Clarkson, of the podcast Speaking with Joy, is running an online book club for C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce! We’re five chapters in already, but the chapters are short so there’s time to catch up. More info here. Just in time for Bloomsday, The New York Times dropped this longform article about anContinue reading “Bookish Links — June 2018”

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Bookish Links — May 2018

“In Brodsky’s view, politics was one level of human existence, but it was a low rung. The business of poetry, he thought, is to ‘indicate something more … the size of the whole ladder.’ He held that ‘art is not a better, but an alternative existence … not an attempt to escape reality but theContinue reading “Bookish Links — May 2018”

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Bookish Links — February 2018

Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard went on a trek through Russia to pay homage to classic Russian authors and to collect stories from the locals. The resulting essay is quite fascinating. “We are not aiming for anything beyond the excitement of content and craft. The rest is logistics”: Naveen Kishore, the founder of Seagull Books,Continue reading “Bookish Links — February 2018”

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Literary Rediscoveries of 2017

These lists just keep getting longer! Per usual for this time of year, here’s a list of classic literary paraphernalia that was released or rediscovered for the first time this year. I’ve tried to make it as complete as possible, but if you know of any other previously “lost” works that were found or published this year, let me know in the comments.

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First Impressions: Madame Bovary

At night, when the carriers passed under her windows in their carts singing the “Marjolaine,” she awoke, and listened to the noise of the iron-bound wheels, which, as they gained the country road, was soon deadened by the soil. “They will be here tomorrow!” she said to herself. And she followed them in thought upContinue reading “First Impressions: Madame Bovary”

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