Translations

‘The singularity and importance of [Pier Paolo Pasolini’s] artistry lies largely in the protean, multimedial quality of his vision,’ Stephen Sartarelli rightly reminds us in this bilingual edition of Pasolini’s poetry. Nonetheless, to an Anglophone world Pasolini (1922–75) is best known as the rebellious and audacious director of such films as The Gospe ...

The Wild Goose by Mori Õgai, translated by Meredith McKinney

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December 2014, no. 367

Elegantly evoking Japan with cream paper and ink-painted foliage on the cover and inside pages, this slim paperback from the small Braidwood publisher Finlay Lloyd is headed by the single, bold character for ‘wild goose’ (karikarigane). The events recounted in Mori Õgai’s novella occur in Tokyo in the late nineteenth century, in the area north of Kanda around Ueno’s Shinobazu pond, near the residence of the Iwasaki family and the campus of Tokyo Imperial University. A map shows the regular walks taken by Okada, a medical student, along meticulously named streets and lanes, past temples and shrines, restaurants and bookshops, some of which are still there. According to the seasons, the residents in this small area silently change their screens, blinds, and shutters, able to look out while remaining barely visible.

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The Divine Comedy by Dante, translated by Clive James

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December 2014, no. 367

During a visit to Adelaide in 2013 as a keynote speaker at the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies ‘Re-imagining Italian Studies’ conference, Professor Martin McLaughlin (Agnelli-Serena Professor of Italian Studies and Fellow of Magdalen College) made the following observation about Clive James’s translation of The Divine Comedy

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J.M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing by J.C. Kannemeyer, translated by Michiel Heyns

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February 2013, no. 348

When I heard that someone was writing Coetzee’s biography, I thought he must be either brave or foolish. After all, Coetzee’s own approach to autobiography is slippery, to say the least. J.C. Kannemeyer was (he died suddenly on Christmas Day 2011) a South African professor of Afrikaans and Dutch, a veteran biographer, and a literary historian. Coetzee co-operated fully, granting extensive interviews, making documents available, answering queries by email, and offering no interference. ‘He said he wanted the facts in the book to be correct. He did not wish to see the manuscript before publication.’ In other words, he behaved impeccably. Any suspicion that Coetzee’s Summertime (2009), in which a biographer researches the late J.M. Coetzee’s life, is based on his experience of being Kannemeyer’s subject is removed by the epilogue. Summertime was conceived and largely written before the biography was contemplated.

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Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life by Artur Domosławski, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

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February 2013, no. 348

A famous Polish communist foreign correspondent? It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but actually Ryszard Kapuściński did achieve international fame towards the end of the Cold War, after a highly successful career covering the Third World for leading media in the People’s Republic of Poland from the 1950s. Africa and, later, Latin America were his specialties; he was an enthusiast for decolonising liberation movements and an admirer of Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, and the French-Algerian theorist Frantz Fanon. 

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The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash, translated by Jason Grunebaum

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September 2012, no. 344

Continuously inhabited since at least the sixth century, Delhi is fabled to be the city that was built seven times and razed to the ground seven times. Some believe the word Delhi comes from dehali or threshold, and the city is seen as the gateway to the Great Indian Gangetic plains. In 1912 the British moved their colonial seat of power from Calcutta to New Delhi, which also became the capital of independent India and celebrates its hundredth anniversary this year. It seems apt, then, in 2012, to read about the older Delhi that lies and lurks behind the shining veneer of India’s National Capital Territory, a Delhi that the rising Asian power seems eager to forget and obliterate.

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HHhH  by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor

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September 2012, no. 344

What we need from history is a sense of narrative. The masses of statistics, dates, artefacts, and voices are nonsensical without it. Laurent Binet’s HHhH, winner of the 2010 Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman and the 2011 Prix des Lecteurs du Livre de Poche, is a loving tribute to the Czech resistance, and to all who resisted the Nazification of Europe in the first few terrifying years ...

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel

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March 2012, no. 339

Admirers of Haruki Murakami who waited for two years while successive parts of his twelfth novel sold millions in Japanese, are now rewarded for their patience with a big nugget of a book in English, which is already an international bestseller. The elegant cover shows an enigmatic night sky with two moons, which reappear on the endpapers and between the three parts. Rather than clutter one single page with publication details and Murakami’s numerous other fiction and non-fiction titles, the book’s designers run these in tiny print across the top and bottom margins of the eight endpapers. In the side margins of the text, ‘1Q84’appears halfway down every page, arranged as a cube, above and below which the page numbers move up and down. On the opposite pages, the page numbers also move, but both they and the title are in mirror reverse. What’s more, this idiosyncratic pattern switches over at various, apparently random intervals, from odd to even pages. Q is ku, nine in Japanese, and the letter is said to look like ‘a world that bears a question’, although the answer escapes me. Nothing in 1Q84 will be as it seems.

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Mamang   by Kim Scott, Iris Woods, and the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project & Noongar Mambara Bakitj by Kim Scott, Lomas Roberts and the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project

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February 2012, no. 338

Mamang and Noongar Mambara Bakitj are retellings of traditional Noongar narratives by the Miles Franklin Award-winning author Kim Scott, in collaboration with a team of others. The books are part of a broader Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories reclamation and revitalisation project currently under way in the south-western coastal region of Western Australia, an area roughly traversing Albany to Esperance. Like many other Australian languages today, Noongar is barely hanging on. These modest diglot books, charmingly illustrated by Noongar people in simple, unaffected, and direct style, therefore represent a timely intervention into the continuing post-colonial destruction of this critically (and globally) endangered language.

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Kokoro  by Natsume Soseki, translated by Meredith McKinney

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October 2011, no. 335

Australia is supposed to have a knowing relationship with East Asia, but the embarrassing truth we keep under wraps is that you can count on one hand the number of first-class translators we have produced. There are no doubt complex cultural reasons for this, but it is hard to escape the impression that many academics teaching Chinese and Japanese have not been earning their keep.

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