Alarmingly elegant translations: The White Review


If Paris calls London “alarmingly elegant”, it’s worth taking another look.

Especially if it’s in translation from all around the globe.

This month’s online issue of The White Review is a box of delights. I like to claim my favourites first, even if they aren’t on the top layer, before trying something new. Here is a bite out of some of the best.

First, a story by the Swedish Finn Tove Jansson (tr. Thomas Teal):

“I ran to Uncle Einar again and shouted, ‘So what did you do? What did you do the first time you had your own money?’

He said, ‘It was burning a hole in my pocket. I had to get rid of it, as quickly as possible. I had to buy the most important thing I could think of.’

And he went out and bought a dreadfully tiny bottle of attar of roses.

I think he did exactly the right thing.”

Second, a review by the German-Romanian Nobel winner Herta Müller (tr. Philip Boehm):

“Reading the book we get the impression that Blecher’s words don’t merely describe the objects – they dig their talons into the things and hoist them high, straight into the sentences.”

Third, an interview with the Pole Magdalena Tulli (tr. Bill Johnston):

“I believe that the word builds the image. That’s what it’s for. All words, with the exception of the words: yes, yes, no, no. As you know, the Bible says that everything beyond those words is from the Evil One. And so any games involving literature are dangerous. We’re taking a risk, but we want to play the game. You think there are innocent words beyond those two? There are none. Even the word ‘or’ is poised to construct an image, though it may be an abstract one. And if we take the word ‘because…’ There, you see. Let alone the whole rest of the dictionary.”

And finally, one that was new to me, an Argentine poet in Paris, Alejandra Pizarnik (tr. Yvette Siegert):

“you have built your house
you have feathered your birds
you have beaten against the wind
with your own bones
you have finished on your own
what no one ever started”

Don’t eat the whole box at once – but enjoy them all, whatever way you like.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in literature, poetry, translation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

advent Alice in Wonderland American And Other Stories Antonia Lloyd-Jones Arabic Argentina Beowulf Berlin Best Translated Book Award Bible books Brazil Brazilian Portuguese British British Library Buddhism Catalan Children's Books China Chinese Christmas Christmas Carols Contemporary Czesław Miłosz Danish Dari David Hackston Dublin Literary Award English Estonian Fantasy Farsi Fiction Finland Finland 100 Finlandia Prize Finnish Flemish Free Word Centre French George Szirtes German Greek Hebrew Herbert Lomas Herta Müller history Hungarian Iceland Idioms Illustration India international International Translation Day Irish Gaelic Italian J. R. R. Tolkien Japanese Jenny Erpenbeck Johanna Sinisalo Korean Language language learning Languages Latin Literature Lola Rogers Lord of the Rings Mabinogion Man Booker International Prize Maori Maria Turtschaninoff Moomins New Year Nobel Prize Nobel Prize for Literature Norwegian Old English Olga Tokarczuk Owen Witesman Oxford English Dictionary Penguin PEN Translation Prize Persian Philip Boehm Phoneme Media Poetry Poetry Translation Centre Polish Portuguese Pushkin Press Queer Romanian Rosa Liksom Russian Salla Simukka Second World War Short Stories Sofi Oksanen Spanish Stanisław Barańczak Suomi100 Susan Bernofsky Svetlana Alexievich Swedish Switzerland Thomas Teal Tibetan Tove Jansson transation Translation translator Translators Without Borders Valentine's Day Wales Warsaw Welsh Wisława Szymborska Witold Szabłowski Women in Translation Month words Words without Borders writing YA

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow found in translation on
%d bloggers like this: