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Posts Tagged ‘Wyatt Mason’

Staff Picks: ‘Betsy-Tacy,’ Doomed Quests

December 16, 2011 | by

If you have children to shop for, you can do them no greater favor than to introduce them to Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series, the first four volumes of which were just rereleased with original Lois Lenski illustrations by Harper Perennial. —Sadie Stein

“This is going green 1949 style, bitch. Believe that.” That’s Ice Cube rhapsodizing on Ray and Charles Eames’s Case Study House #8 in the Pacific Palisades. The short video, in which Ice Cube praises L.A.’s architectural sublimity, is part of “Pacific Standard Time,” an exhibition I wish (impossibly) were traveling to the East Coast. —Nicole Rudick

Life is full of doomed quests—and then it tosses up the weird happy ending, with naked children wandering around on the dinner table. See for instance Wyatt Mason’s amazing profile of Ai Weiwei, now an e-book from GQ.  —Lorin Stein

If you are in New York this winter, stop by the Asia Society to see Sarah Sze’s kinetic new show “Infinite Line.” I’ve always been drawn to Sze’s webbed sculptures, but this time I particularly liked a series of pen-and-ink llustrations, each of which depict twelve seminal (but confidential!) events in the lives of friends and collectors. Each unfurls with Escher-like intricacy—but also pluckiness and whimsy. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

Check out Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 film, The Wages of Fear, this weekend, either here in New York at the Film Forum or on DVD. It’s kind of like Speed, but with no love story and an overlay of existentialism. Oh, and more entertaining than that implies. —S.S.

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Join Us This Saturday on the NYC Lit Crawl!

September 8, 2011 | by

Saturday, September 10, brings us the extravaganza that is the fourth annual NYC Lit Crawl. We’ll be there, with our dancing shoes on! Join us as we unveil our fall issue to the rock and country stylings of the Dog House Band—featuring Sven Birkerts, David Gates, Wyatt Mason, and James “Sin Killer” Wood, among others. The new mag will be hot off the presses: Lydia Davis on translation, Dennis Cooper and Nicholson Baker on writing dirty books, Terry Castle’s stash of anonymous kiddie photos, and more.

When: Saturday, September 10; the band plays from 8:15–9:45 P.M.; drinks till ??.

Where: Fontana’s Bar (21+)
105 Eldridge Street
New York, NY 10002

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Tonight! Celebrate the Nonfiction of Roberto Bolaño

June 13, 2011 | by

To celebrate the publication of Roberto Bolaño’s collected nonfiction, New Directions and Galapagos Arts Space host translator Natasha Wimmer, novelist Francisco Goldman, writer and Believer editor Heidi Julavits, Harper’s contributing editor Wyatt Mason, and our very own Lorin Stein as they they read from and discuss Between Parentheses, a collection of the late Chilean author's essays, reviews, speeches, and personal musings. The event is free; doors open at 7:00 P.M. Galapagos Arts Space, 16 Main Street, Brooklyn, New York. Further details here.

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Responding to Lydia Davis: Exercises in Style

October 8, 2010 | by

For the last three weeks, Lydia Davis has shared her thoughts and experiences in translating Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. She writes, “I did not study the other translations during my first draft because I had to establish my own style and my own understanding of what I was reading before I could risk the rhythms and eccentricities of the others striking my ear and possibly creeping into my prose.” We asked others to weigh in on the matter from their own work in the field. Here is what they had to say.

Edith Grossman, translator:

I admire Lydia Davis’s writing, and it is always extremely interesting to learn how another translator works, especially one as eloquent as Davis. I don’t often have the opportunity to read about another translator’s methods and attitudes toward the work, and I was intrigued by her essay.

The one point on which I disagree with her absolutely concerns reading other people’s translations. Although most of my translations, like hers, have been of texts not previously brought over into English, in the past few years I’ve had occasion to translate classic Spanish works, each of which has had countless versions in English. But it always seemed crucially important to me not to consult them or study them—to what end, I asked myself, when the point of a new translation is to be a new translation, with a fresh voice and a different point of view.

On the other hand, I agree with her absolutely regarding the importance of the translator’s ability to write the second language. Hearing the first text, and finding appropriate phrasing that recreates its tonalities and intention in the second, is the fundamental translating skill. Nothing else compares.

I’m curious about her not reading the entire text before beginning the translation. Even though she states her reasons, I still don’t quite understand why she doesn't. We are the translators, after all, not ordinary readers, and we have a different kind of obligation to the text.

I assume there are seven translating sins to match the seven mortal ones. I’ve never thought about this in terms of sins, deadly or otherwise, but I imagine the first—right up there with pride—is having a tin ear in English.

Wyatt Mason, translator and critic:

Every translation is an interpretation. As with all acts of literary criticism of which translation is only the most thoroughgoing, there are richer and poorer specimens. Not unreasonably, when a translation doesn't seem to cohere, when its parts do not quite cleave together, we look at its string of choices and worry its beads one by one. This is not heavy work. Any state trooper with a bilingual dictionary can ticket any translation for the betrayal of its original. A more complicated undertaking is to divine why, when a translation does cohere, it does cohere. The same trooper with the same bilingual dictionary will, as often as not, discover that the coherent translation is no less a word by word betrayal of its original than its incoherent demon twin. To succeed, then, a translation depends as much upon deliberate choices as upon indiscriminate magic. A steady accretion of dutiful particulars cannot alone compound into something finer than the merely finely wrought: Fine writing is not made by magic, only industry. The magic of the achieved work of literary art, whether borrowed or made, is always nested deeper than its visible pieces. The magic of the achieved translation, like its maker, and no less inexplicably, is that it is a thing that possesses a living soul, or does not.
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