Talking About Books . . .

Probably the best translators of Russian literature today are the husband and wife team Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.   He is a native English speaker and she is a native Russian speaker.  How do they work?  Fortunately, we have an article in which they discuss exactly how they go about their prize-winning translations.

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Robert McCrum of The Guardian has been thinking about key moments in English literature’s and has come up with a list of 50 key moments from Marlowe to JK Rowling.  Though this list represents his thoughts only, his selections might give you something to think about.

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Philip Roth’s retirement seems to have struck a nerve in the writing community, and caused many to think about whether or not a writer can ever – or should ever – really retire.  The Millions presents an article about six authors who have followed different paths.

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There are lots of historical fiction novels about successful men, but lately there are more and more about the women behind them (or perhaps I should say beside them).  One of the first novels was Nancy Horan’s excellent Loving Frank about the tragic love affair between Mamah Cheney and the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  Now we’re getting a new crop of books about women like Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Hadley Richardson Hemingway, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Read more here.

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Some people called author Rebecca West a feminist, but she claimed not to know what that meant.  “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.”  Slate gives us ten reasons to worship the once popular writer.

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Michael Dirda, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and critic for The Washington Post, wrote a series of essays for The American Scholar over the past year.  He has now moved on to other things, but his essays offer many hours of pleasant, and informative reading to those who enjoy good writing.

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The title of novelist Arthur Phillips’ recent book The Tragedy of Arthur can be interpreted in a number of ways.  It could be referring to a “lost” play by William Shakespeare, to Phillips himself, or to his con artist father who is also named Arthur Phillips.  I say that his father is a con artist, but are we really sure?  Well, not absolutely.  Maybe the lost and found play really was written by Shakespeare.  These uncertainties, and the entire Elizabethan-style play included in the book are what make Phillips’ novel so interesting to read.

The Tragedy of Arthur is one of ten contemporary novels that have tie-ins to the Bard.  You can read about them here.

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