So, it’s been a little longer than planned. But the time was not lost – in fact, a few things have come to fruition in the past weeks. As a way of jumping back in, and before I post my review of El secreto de sus ojos, which is on its way, I thought I’d indulge in a little shameless self-promotion. Or the shameless promotion of extremely cool projects to which I was fortunate enough to contribute a bit.
Last spring, I worked with powerHouse books on translations for a collection to commemorate Mexico’s dual anniversary: this year marks the bicentennial of the country’s War of Independence and the centennial of its famed Revolution. The book is called Revealing Mexico, and I really am so impressed with the way it turned out. John Mack’s photography is gorgeous, and the design of the volume is absolutely spot-on. Obviously, I’m a little biased. But that doesn’t change how impressive the collection is. Its meditative and beautifully composed black and white photographs taken across the country are interspersed with interviews from prominent cultural and political figures, as well as grassroots community activists and a housekeeper trying to make ends meet in a dangerous border town.
There’s also a great interview with Carlos Fuentes (who qualifies as both a cultural and a political figure, I suppose), in which he talks about the inspiration for his groundbreaking 1962 novela, Aura. I’ve loved this text since the first time I read it as an undergrad, and just recently had the pleasure of teaching it to my own class. In fact, it’s inspired me to start a new category here on the blog for the classics of Latin American literature.
Speaking of the classics, Two Lines just put out its newest anthology, Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, and my translations of two poems by the avant-garde Argentine poet Oliverio Girondo are in it. I’ve loved Girondo’s work for a long time, and am thrilled to see it getting out a bit, if only for a little stretch of the legs. I wrote a brief piece on him, titled “Oliverio Girondo is a Violent Man,” for The Center for the Art of Translation’s blog, and I’ll be following up here with a bit more. Now that we’ll have a CLASSICS section. Why didn’t I think of this before?
Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, edited by Natasha Wimmer and Jeffrey Yang, also includes an excerpt from Lydia Davis’ anticipated translation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Wimmer’s translation of an essay on translation by Roberto Bolaño. A line from her introduction to the volume gives some sense of the impetus behind its title:
Some kind of beautiful signal: that’s what each of these stories sends us. When we read in translation, those signals may come from far away, but they are strong and insistent.
It’s a striking image, and an important nod to the idea that the information transmitted by a work in translation is only one part of a much broader encounter, much of which may not be articulated but rather sensed in an abstract but no less powerful way.