Lily’s Impatience is a family story. Lily, a 24-year-old student, leaps to her death from a bridge. Her father, architect Sebastian Zinnwald, stops working and ensconces himself in his farmhouse in Switzerland. He breaks off all contact with the outer world. In a psychotic crisis, he loses his ability to speak.
Zinnwald also breaks off his relationship to his older daughter Veronika, single mother of two sons and a successful pediatrician in Berlin. Veronika suffers under her father’s silence. She wants to be able to speak with him about Lily and the circumstances leading to her death, but he rejects her.
Zinnwald had once been quite successful as a painter, and in his solitude he begins to paint again. Again and again he paints Lily’s dead body as he saw her lying on a gurney in the department of forensic medicine. A gallery owner who had exhibited Zinnwald’s paintings in the past plans to include these new pictures in a major retrospective exhibition.
Twelve years after Lily’s death, Zinnwald, now 71 years old, asks his daughter Veronika to visit him. Veronika travels from Berlin to Switzerland. But their conversations end in mutual accusations: grief has made both of them lonely and callous. It turns out that, above all, Zinnwald needs Veronika to participate in his exhibition. Veronika is doubly disappointed.
During a visit by a journalist who is gathering material about Zinnwald’s paintings, a bitter argument about art arises. Zinnwald delivers a monologue about portrayals of sorrow in Christian iconography. He laments the fact that, in contrast to the numerous portraits of the grieving Mary, there exist no portraits of grieving fathers.
The story reaches its climax some months later in the Dinosaur Halls of the Museum of Natural History in New York.
First published in 1924, Pierre Mac Orlan’s “Simone de Montmartre” takes us along on a dash through the Paris of the First World War. The underbelly of Paris opens up for our inspection as we follow first Simone, and then her jealous and worried lover Georges and his associate Léon the Marseillais, through the Montmartre night. Penned around the same time as Dashiel Hammet’s first published stories, “Simone de Montmartre” is a wonderful example of early French noir stylization packed full of the rich imagery often found in the narrative poetry of the post-Symbolist era.
Gnedich (Vremya, Moscow, 2012) is a novel-in-verse about the first Russian translator of the Iliad, the romantic poet and librarian Nikolai Gnedich (1784-1833), who was also the author of the first Russian Gothic fiction. His brilliant translation, still the standard one in Russia, was both highly praised and mocked by Alexander Pushkin. Gnedich has been awarded the Anthologia prize and the Russian Prize (II category), was the finalist for the NoS and the Andrei Bely literary awards, and is currently nominated for the Bunin prize. Since Gnedich spent almost his entire life translating Homer’s epic poem, Maria Rybakova (usually a writer of prose) has chosen verse as the most appropriate stylistic means in recreating his life. To the English-speaking world, this genre of poetic biography is best exemplified by Ruth Padel’s Darwin: A Life in Poems. Gnedich consists of 12 songs (cantos). The novel depicts the lives of Gnedich and his best friend, Batyushkov, who is slowly losing his sanity, among the motifs from their poetry and the archaic imagery of the Homeric world. The space of the novel extends from St. Petersburg and Vologda to Paris and Naples, and from the boudoir of the famous actress (and Gnedich’s unrequited love) Semyonova to the Petersburg public library and the cubbyhole of Gnedich’s superstitious maidservant. The novel culminates in Batyushkov’s final breakdown in the lunatic asylum in Pirna (later a Nazi killing center) and Gnedich’s ruminations on the future tragic fate of Russia. Two excerpts of the novel have appeared on the Contemporary Russian Literature at the University of Virginia website.
Something Will Happen, You’ll See, the 2010 short fiction collection by Christos Ikonomou from which “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” is taken, is a wrenching yet optimistic elegy to Greece’s working classes. It won the prestigious Best Short Story Collection State Award and was the most-reviewed Greek book of 2011.
Ikonomou takes us to the heart of the western suburbs of the port of Piraeus and builds sixteen luminous stories around characters such as pensioners, protesters, laborers, and the unemployed. The author’s greatest strength lies in his ability to convey silences, to interpret gestures and the unseen, and translate them into images both vivid and haunting.
Something Will Happen, You’ll See has been translated into Italian (Editori Riuniti, 2012), and the Italian newspaper La Repubblica described Christos Ikonomou as “the Greek Faulkner.” A German edition (C.H. Beck) is forthcoming.
Monica Sarsini was born in Florence, where she lives and teaches writing. She is also an artist who has shown her work in Italy and other countries. Libro Luminoso (Exit Edizioni, 1982) was followed by Crepacuore, Crepapelle and others. A collection of her work was published in English under the title of Eruptions (Italica Press, 1999).
Not long ago, a few poems surfaced from the Dun Huang archives–five short poems that are attributed to Xuanzang. Prior to the rediscovery of these poems, Xuanzang’s literary reputation primarily rested on his status as a hero of legend in the pages of Journey to the West, where his pilgrimage to India provides the narrative thread for Wu Cheng En’s great epic tale. Xuanzang has also been highly regarded as an author in his own right. In the seventh-century travel narrative entitled The Great Tang Record of the Western Territories, he provides a no less remarkable account of his journey traversing countless mountain passes, encountering peoples of more than a hundred different tribal nations, finding holy scriptures, and visiting stupas that glowed with mysterious light all along the way.
The rediscovery of these five poems rounds out our picture of Xuanzang as a poet, too. We now can understand Xuanzang’s journey as real, legendary, and metaphorical all at the same time, an inner and outer voyage for enlightenment that’s fully described in these lines.
George Pavlopoulos’ second novel evokes the ideological crisis of Europe, its ambivalence about its glorious past, and its mounting crisis of identity. The author takes us into the heart of a fragile Europe plagued by the death of -isms and the struggle between collectivism and individualism. Why do Europeans seem to be steeped in melancholy? What does the future hold for the next generation?
The story unfolds in a nameless city of unspecified locale, which in turns evokes Paris, London, and Berlin. It all starts at the historic cinema Steam, which is about to close down in order to be replaced by a contemporary museum: the brainchild of ruthless plutocrat Max Plinkie. At the core of the heterogeneous group that decides to spend the last night at the cinema as an act of protest is a group of close friends, former children of the wild ’60s. That night will turn out to be a unique opportunity for them to reminisce on the past and redefine their position in an ever-changing present. For young Lis, who stands as their natural successor, that night will serve as the impetus for a peculiar quest into her own identity. Armed with her camera, she will try to keep alive the images of a gradually vanishing world by embarking on a lonely and evocative journey whose path will be irrevocably marked by the presence of legendary artist, Flogenis.
No Third Parties Are Involved is a collection of ten stories about the follies of modern life. They feature a mix of odd situations–ridiculous, decadent, comic, or endearing–and a broad array of characters that includes a Nobel Prize-winning writer, a journalist who doesn’t use a tape recorder or notebook, a late-night game show host, and an actress who has turned the corner into middle age. Author Empar Moliner presents–as she usually does–sketches of the everyday whose authenticity can touch a nerve, as many people, men and women alike, can easily recognize aspects of themselves in her characters. With her customary energy, she portrays situations of contemporary urban life through a filter of perceptive irony: Empar Moliner strips the world naked, amid wine, music, the internet, drugs and the city.
Contemporary Concrete Poetry (in Finnish: Nykykonkreettista runoutta) presents traditional concrete poetry and YouTube comments. The book seeks to highlight how YouTube comments sometimes evoke the aesthetics of early concrete poetry (especially the writing of Eugen Gomringer).
The concrete movement was very international, and one of its goals was to create poetry that was universal and understandable even if the poet and the reader did not speak the same language. The YouTube comments area is likewise international. Maybe the urge to be understood by other commentators from all over the world is the reason behind YouTube comments’ occasional resemblance to concrete poetry? Or maybe it is just our natural impulse to play with letters, words, and images. In a literary context such play is called art, and in other contexts it’s called…well, nothing. In this book, hopefully, the boundary between high and low is blurred, not so that concrete poetry is seen as trivial, but so that the reader can perceive the poetical dimensions in YouTube comments.
This transposition of “The Nose” by Russian writer Nikolai Gogol represents the first publication of a story in this newly developed genre. It takes Gogol’s original narrative (about a man who loses his nose) and shifts it from Saint Petersburg, Russia in the 19th century to New York City in the 21st century on a systematic basis similar to translation.
In the essay accompanying his transposition, Henry Whittlesey explains some of the differences between translation, transposition, and adaptation, since transposition falls between translation and adaptation. The transposition of “The Nose” represents a purely literary transposition that retains the form and shifts the content of the original story. This essay looks into five important aspects related to a transposition of content: character, setting, consciousness, identity, and the narrator’s voice. As the content shifts from 19th-century Saint Petersburg to 21st-century New York, these five elements undergo various degrees of transfiguration, depending on the extent to which their manifestation in the original is commensurate with the given phenomenon in the present day.
The Brooklyn Rail welcomes you to our web-exclusive section InTranslation, where we feature unpublished translations of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic writing. Published since April 2007, InTranslation is a venue for outstanding work in translation and a resource for translators, authors, editors, and publishers seeking to collaborate.
We seek exceptional unpublished English translations from all languages.
Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry: Manuscripts of no longer than 20 pages (double-spaced).
Plays: Manuscripts of no longer than 30 pages (in left-justified format).