If we want to do sociology of literature, let’s get away from texts for a bit.
The canonization of the Moscow poet Kirill Medvedev (born 1975) seems to be taking place in real time.
Sonnet by Day
Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855) is a towering figure in Central and East European literary history. You'll find monuments to him in three national capitals—Warsaw, Minsk, and Vilnius—as well as the Ukrainian city of Lviv. In Krakow, he's buried in the Wawel, alongside Polish kings. Haven't heard of him? Me neither, not till long after I finished my Ph.D.
I've recently returned from an American studies conference on "transnational poetics" at Ruhr-University Bochum. Many of the papers were first-rate, but there was a recurrent problem, namely, a lack of certainty regarding the meaning or value of the word "transnational." What differentiates a "transnational" approach to a literary topic from an "international" or "comparative" one?
Taste in Translation
To what extent should literary taste be thought of as a given, especially when applied to literature from elsewhere?
Blogging, Translation, and the General Reader
A comment by Lee Konstantinou to Natalia Cecire's amazing post about academic blogging, in which he writes that Arcade doesn't have the general reader as its main audience, got me thinking about relationships between readership and translation.
Globalization: Déjà vu all over again?
You’d think from current writing on transnationalism that our interconnected society is an exceptional time in human affairs. Reading work on globalization, by either academics or journalist, you get the impression that we are experiencing a unique phenomenon. Writers are so taken by contemporary developments that they forget to set them in a historical context.
Let It Snow
It snowed yesterday in Seattle. The locals acted like it was the Second Coming. I received an avalanche of identical Facebook status updates ("It's snowing!") and the news shows went into wall-to-wall breathless-coverage mode.
I Am Not a Peasant
Kopna means stook or haycock. Skird means rick. I'm looking up words in my trusty Russian-English dictionary, and things remain clear as mud. Sometimes translation from one language to another is only a prelude to figuring out what a text says.
Quevedo, Borges, and Translation
Borges felt great admiration for Quevedo as a writer, but at a certain point he began to feel suspicion of writers whose genius is purely verbal. Borges begins to elaborate the idea that the particular way in which something is phrased is somewhat arbitrary, and that the important thing is the archetype, the idea itself.