Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.
This week, we’re looking back at work previously published in the Review from three contributors to our current issue: Isaac Bashevis Singer’s 1968 Art of Fiction interview, Peter Orner’s short story “Foley’s Pond,” and Carl Phillips’s poem “The Swain’s Invitation.”
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Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Art of Fiction No. 42
Issue no. 44 (Fall 1968)
The problem is that it’s very hard to find a perfect equivalent for an idiom in another language. But then it’s also a fact that we all learned our literature through translation. Most people have studied the Bible only in translation, have read Homer in translation, and all the classics. Translation, although it does do damage to an author, it cannot kill him: if he’s really good, he will come out even in translation. And I have seen it in my own case. Also, translation helps me in a way. Because I go through my writings again and again while I edit the translation and work with the translator, and while I am doing this I see all the defects of my writing. Translation has helped me avoid pitfalls which I might not have avoided if I had written the work in Yiddish and published it and not been forced because of the translation to read it again.