Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Found in Translation: Across a Bridge of Words

left: Marina Tsvetaeva, 1925. (Photo: Roger Viollet); right: Nina Kossman (Photo: courtesy of American Pushkin Society)

“A real translation is transparent; it does not cover the original, does not block its light, but allows the pure language, as though reinforced by its own medium, to shine upon the original all the more fully.” – Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator,” 1921.

The Poets & Traitors Press series "seeks to showcase authors who travel between writing and translation" and "views translation as forming part of a continuum with the creative writer’s work". This imprint series began in 2013 and arose from the New York New School's translation workshop readings, which explored a shared format: featuring the original poems of translators of major poets alongside their translations of writers with whom they share a deep poetic resonance. Other Shepherds is the fifth book from Poets & Traitors, an independent press which continues to offer intriguingly hybrid books of poetry in conversation by a single author-translator.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Older Women, Younger Men: Devil in the Flesh, A Cold Wind in August, The Stripper

GĂ©rard Philipe and Micheline Presle in Devil in the Flesh (1947).

If you ask movie fans to come up with a classic drama about a romance between a young man and an older woman, the one they’re most likely to mention is The Graduate (1967), which, coming back to back with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, led Mike Nichols from celebrity as a Broadway director to (premature) celebrity as a moviemaker. But it wasn’t the first movie to dramatize this sort of relationship, and it’s far from the best. What keeps it in the memory is the interplay between Dustin Hoffman as the anxious, confused twenty-two-year-old Benjamin and Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson, whose pretty daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross) he thinks he’s in love with but whose mother has already seduced him. Hoffman is hilarious and sympathetic, and despite the fact that Calder Willingham and Buck Henry’s script can’t resist demonizing Mrs. Robinson, Bancroft is sensational. She was at the end of her too-brief great phase as a film actress, when she also starred in The Miracle Worker (opposite Patty Duke as Helen Keller) and The Pumpkin Eater (opposite Peter Finch). In the eighties and nineties, when she turned out one scenery-chewing performance after another, one wondered what the hell had happened to that complex, unpredictable actress, who could convey ferocious strength or fragility or a mixture of cynicism and melancholy with equal conviction.