For those interested in translation, this slim, delicate book will be a revelation.

TRANSLATION AS TRANSHUMANCE

A personal meditation on the challenging art of translation.

This extended essay by the gifted translator Gansel, a fine translation unto itself, weaves together memoir and a discussion of the nuances involved in translating foreign texts, especially poetry. The book is divided into three autobiographical sections: the author’s early years, her time spent in Vietnam during the U.S. bombings, and the challenges she faced translating the Jewish German-language poet Nelly Sachs. Gansel’s elaborate methodology, carefully developed over the years, was to do extensive research about the lives of the poets she was working on, meet with them personally whenever possible, and immerse herself in the language and the writers’ habits and writing processes. For her, translation was like a “hand reaching from one shore to another where there is no bridge.” It became the “clay from which I would fashion my own interior language.” Gansel grew up surrounded by languages: Hungarian, French, German, and some Czech and Yiddish. Early on, in Berlin, she worked on Bertolt Brecht and then the East German poets Reiner Kunze and Peter Huchel, both of whom she was able to meet and learn from. The repressive political milieu of the German divide loomed over her work. After struggling with a key word in a Kunze poem, Gansel recalls returning to the West side after a Kafkaesque checkpoint experience, smuggling “back the word I had come to seek.” In Vietnam during its darkest days, she worked with a small group of Vietnamese poets on a “vast and entirely different kind of poetry.” Gansel concludes with her personally difficult experiences translating the “deeply painful poetry” of Sachs. The poet escaped Nazi Germany, but many of her family members were sent to concentration camps and died.

For those interested in translation, this slim, delicate book will be a revelation.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55861-444-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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