How to Translate Anything

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m teaching a new course this semester, with a title I have borrowed (with permission) from Benjamin Paloff at the University of Michigan. “How to Translate Anything” is a course I have been threatening to teach for many years, and I’m finally doing it, beginning on Monday of… Continue reading How to Translate Anything

Those Taciturn Swedes

Prepping for my spring course “How to Translate Anything,” I came across this insight from David Bellos in his Is That a Fish In Your Ear?: Filmmakers dependent on foreign-language markets are well aware of how little spoken language can actually be represented in on-screen writing. Sometimes they choose to limit the volubility of their… Continue reading Those Taciturn Swedes

Box No. 26

As I mentioned in my legacy post last week, some of the books in the Heim collection are labeled with both Michael’s and Priscilla’s names, often with a date. Others have Mike’s name only. Quite a few, it turns out, have only Priscilla’s name in them. Their home library was a collective affair, with titles… Continue reading Box No. 26

Teaching Russian Culture: weeks 1-3

In an earlier post I explained a revised approach to a course I’ve taught for many years, Introduction to Russian Culture, a general survey for undergraduate students, many of whom have little background with the topic and most of whom are fulfilling a world civilizations requirement. This is a course I’ve taught at two institutions… Continue reading Teaching Russian Culture: weeks 1-3

Legacy

Priscilla Heim, Michael Henry Heim’s widow, was looking for a place for his books, and I volunteered to take them and find homes for them. Seventy-six boxes showed up last week, and I started going through them on Friday. As some readers of this blog will know, Mike was my teacher at UCLA, a mentor… Continue reading Legacy

Tolstoy versus God on Humor

I’ve been thinking lately that Tolstoy’s relative lack of a sense of humor might have something to do with his habitually assuming the perspective of God. This is unlike Dostoevsky, whose humanism includes at least some of the absurdity of our place on earth in it. This can be funny (“funny Dostoevsky” — kha, kha,… Continue reading Tolstoy versus God on Humor

Translation, Exile, and ALTA

The annual American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) conference, the virtual portion of which is taking place this weekend, always makes me think deeply about translation. After a roundtable today organized by Diana Thow and Jamie Richards, which left me feeling stimulated but also isolated and nostalgic for the in-person ALTA conferences of the past, I… Continue reading Translation, Exile, and ALTA

Translating Identifying As

(Available as a podcast here.) This is a very strong essay by my friend Alta Ifland at East West Literary Forum. It becomes especially powerful when one reads the Russian translation by Tatiana Bonch Osmolovskaya, where the key phrase “identify as” feels as strange and culturally specific as Ifland claims. The meta-phenomenon she identifies (not… Continue reading Translating Identifying As

Kin praise from the music world

A friend from across the country sent me a note today to say that Marissa Lorusso and Lyndsey McKenna’s NPR music newsletter had plugged my translation of Jergović’s Kin, which made me say what!? Here’s what seems to have happened. They contacted a handful of their favorite musicians and asked them to tell them about… Continue reading Kin praise from the music world

Teaching Russian Culture through Artifacts

A couple of months ago, I decided to make my Russian culture survey into an artifact driven class. Rather than lead with the history and then place the culture on top of it, as I used to do it, using the cultural component almost like examples, I would lead with the cultural artifacts, and then… Continue reading Teaching Russian Culture through Artifacts