Friday, May 15, 2015


 The new edition of Hyperion: The Future of Aesthetics is out (or "up"). And it is really astonishing. Not only does it include my translation of Hofmannsthal's own answer to his Lord Chandos Letter, "Letters from a Returning One," but also a marvelous essay by Nancy Kline on translating Eluard and Char, a fascinating introduction and translation by Rainer J. Hanshe of Blaise Cendrar's "I Killed," an essay by Andrey Bely on Friedrich Nietzsche, and a translation by Fulya Pekar of the Turkish author,  Ferit Edgü, but also excerpts from Contra Mundum's forthcoming edition of Otto Dix letters, plus much much more (I am only beginning to explore its riches). It is beautifully designed and edited, and the theme of translation and of the challenges and pleasures of verbal communication runs through the whole like a red thread, illustrated by these two epigraphs:

Les beaux livres sont écrits dans une sorte de langue étrangère. Sous
chaque mot chacun de nous met son sens ou du moins son image qui
est souvent un contresens. Mais les beaux livres, tous les contresens
qu’on fait sont beaux. — Proust, Contre Sainte-Beuve

For a translator, the supreme authority should be the author's
personal style. But most translators obey another authority: that of
the conventional version of “good French” (or good German, good
English, et cetera), namely, the French (the German, et cetera) we
learn in school. The translator considers himself the ambassador
from that authority to the foreign author. That is the error: every
author of some value transgresses against “good style,” and in that
transgression lies the originality (and hence the raison d'être) of his
art. The translator's primary effort should be to understand that
transgression. This is not difficult when it is obvious, as for example
with Rabelais, or Joyce, or Celine. But there are authors whose
transgression against “good style” is subtle, barely visible, hidden,
discreet; as such, it is not easy to grasp. In such a case, it is all the
more important to do so. — Milan Kundera, Testaments Betrayed

Here is the link. Enjoy! And do shower Rainer with accolades when you are finished. It can be a strangely silent world, the world of words, and it always helps to hear a murmur, an echo, a stammer or stutter of recognition from the wide, wide world.