Thursday, June 28, 2007

Merchant of Noises / World Literature

First off, a quick note about the very nice review at this month's Library Journal of the Godine children's titles The Merchant of Noises and Little Red Riding Hood. Kirsten Cutler seemed to really get the off-beat, funny title Merchant: "This quirky offering spoofs the highbrow world of 'sophisticated' visual-arts appreciation. The title gives a hint of the tongue-in-cheek humor so wonderfully expressed within. . . .this creative gem is sure to appeal to savvy children who will appreciate their roles as creators and consumers of sounds." Joy Flieshhacker had high praise for our Little Red Riding Hood as well: "Visual details abound, and observant youngsters will notice that a calico cat plays a heroic role in the story. An eye-catching addition to folk and fairytale shelves."

Second, and related, Scott Esposito at Conversational Reading has been doing an interesting series of entries regarding world literature, specifically translation. Personally I have always loved literature in other languages, and in my youth I at times forgot that writers like Dostoevsky or Kafka were in translation at all (aside from just being young, I'd like to think this speaks of the translators' work). Since then I've come to appreciate works in translation and the work of translators (such as with Merchant of Noises, an excellent translation from the French) more and more. I've translated short prose and poems myself with greater and lesser degrees of success, and am continually in awe of works of translation such as A Void, whose avant-garde prose poses enormous challenges of language and meaning, and where the two conform or split.

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