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Posts Tagged ‘Laszlo Krasznahorkai’

What We’re Loving: Lawyers and Criminals

April 26, 2013 | by

Albertine Sarrazin

Albertine Sarrazin

In spring of 1971 the New York Times got hold of a top-secret, seven-thousand-page history of the Vietnam War. When the Times ran a series based on the Pentagon Papers, it sparked one of the biggest First Amendment battles of the last century. Leading the Times’s defense was the young lawyer James Goodale. In his new memoir, Fighting for the Press, Goodale gives a fascinating blow-by-blow account of the legal arguments, personal rivalries, and inspired teamwork behind that famous defense, which started from the principle that there is nothing inherently illegal about publishing classified information. “My philosophy as a publishing lawyer,” Goodale writes, “was that anything could be published. I had always found that if you took a word out here and there, shifted a paragraph here and there, anything was possible.” In later years, Goodale worked his way up to become house counsel for The Paris Review: we look forward to volume two. —Lorin Stein

When Albertine Sarrazin’s L’astragale was published in 1965, the autobiographical novel, about a young woman who escapes reform school and embarks on a life of prostitution and petty crime, became an overnight sensation. The fact that the glamorous, enigmatic author died at the height of her fame, at only twenty-nine, has only added to the book’s mystique. In her introduction to a fresh edition from New Directions, Patti Smith describes the book as her youthful talisman and Sarrazin as “my guide through the nights of one hundred sleeps.” I think it is a book to read when you are young; in some ways I am too old to have just discovered it. But even knowing this, I reveled in its entertaining, gritty weirdness. It bears mentioning, too, that the translator is Patsy Southgate, writer and fellow traveler of the Paris Review. —Sadie Stein

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What We’re Loving: Tropical Paradise, Anxiety, Translation

January 18, 2013 | by

When the novelist Adam Thirlwell told me his idea, I was skeptical: to publish a work of fiction in many translations, each version being a translation of the one before. But Adam Thirlwell is Adam Thirlwell, “schemey like a nine-year-old,” as one collaborator describes him, with “weird vibes, as if he does unorthodox things to the books he carries to the bathroom.” Multiples, the new issue of McSweeney’s, edited by Thirlwell, is an unorthodox thing of beauty, a stunt that only a kid would attempt, and an absolute pleasure to read—though almost nobody on earth will be able to read every page. What Thirlwell has done is to assemble new or obscure works by Kierkegaard, Vila-Matas, Krasznahorkai, et al., translated (and retranslated, and retranslated) by a dream team of polyglot writers. So, for example, Dave Eggers translates a Spanish translation by Alejandro Zambra of an English translation by Nathan Englander of a Hebrew translation by Etgar Keret of an English translation by John Wray of a previously untranslated short story by Franz Kafka. It’s a game of pro-level Chinese whispers, and—thanks to Thirlwell's list of contributors—a wide-angle snapshot of our literary firmament, circa now. Plus, the afterwords by Thirlwell and Francesco Pacifico have persuaded me not only that it would be fun to read Emilio Gadda in Italian, but that a translator can have more fun with an untranslatable writer than I ever dared to dream. —Lorin Stein

The editors of the New York Times blog Anxiety recently asked Laszlo Krasznahorkai to contribute an essay on the theme. This is the writer who eschews paragraph breaks and short sentences because he feels they are artificial and whose subjects are often very bleak—which is to say, he’s their ideal contributor. The author himself describes it as “a lyrical essay about the terrible meeting between boorishness and aggressiveness,” but with Krasznahorkai, it’s so much more than that. There are paragraph breaks and the occasional brief sentence (one wonders if the former appeared in the original version), but this is a hard little gem, a Möbius strip of what feels simultaneously like madness and utter logic. —Nicole Rudick

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