In a world where everything is becoming faster, cheesier, and more functional – when books are no longer tactile, sensual objects, but characters on Kindle – it’s cheering to see anything swimming upstream. Bonus points if it extols that most underrated of literary trades, translation.
Applause keeps mounting for the Cahiers Series, published by the Center for Writers & Translators at the American University of Paris and Sylph Editions. It’s hard to stay on top of it. But Daniel Medin, one of my more charming correspondents, has been sending me updates from the American University.
The latest plug is in Friday’s New York Review of Books blog, where Colm Tóibín introduces László Krasznahorkai‘s Animalinside (with illustrations by Max Neumann):The prose of Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai is full of menace, but it would be a mistake to read the menace either as political or as coming from nowhere. In novels such as The Melancholy of Resistance and War & War, his imagination feeds on real fear and real violence; he has a way of making fear and violence seem all the more real and present, however, by removing them from a familiar context.
Daniel, now an associate professor at the American University (after teaching at Stanford a year or two back), said this:The allegorical tissue in that text [i.e., Animalinside] is very thick, the “animal inside” a literal and metaphorical thing at the same time – think Herbert‘s Report from the Besieged City, where “a rat became the unit of currency.” We’re in the realm of Kafka and Beckett here, and not just in approach: I believe that Krasznahorkai is a writer of nearly the same magnitude who has the mixed fortune of having been born Hungarian – mixed because of that country’s embarrassment of (literary, cultural) riches on one hand and its linguistic isolation on the other...
All this love coming from the Stanford University blog. Nice.