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Wiggle, Wiggle

Daniel Soar: Elena Ferrante, 21 September 2006

The Days of Abandonment 
by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein.
Europa, 189 pp., £7.99, May 2006, 1 933372 00 1
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... the mystery around her led some people to insist that she must be a man. Her English translator, Ann Goldstein, who sends queries via her Italian publisher and has never been permitted to talk to or email the author, appeared in the Italian papers to say that ‘it would take a man of extraordinary sensitivity to penetrate so deeply into the mind of a ...

Full of Words

Tim Parks: ‘Arturo’s Island’, 15 August 2019

Arturo’s Island 
by Elsa Morante, translated by Ann Goldstein.
Pushkin, 370 pp., £9.99, May 2019, 978 1 78227 495 7
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... in the US in Isabel Quigly’s 1959 translation. Now the book appears in a new translation by Ann Goldstein. Comparing their versions, one is struck by how differently two people can read the same text. Morante begins her story with Arturo remembering his childish enthusiasm for his own name. The chapter is called ‘King and Star of the Sky’. Here ...

Bang, Crash, Crack

Elizabeth Lowry: Primo Levi, 7 June 2007

A Tranquil Star: Unpublished Stories 
by Primo Levi, translated by Ann Goldstein and Alessandra Bastagli.
Penguin, 164 pp., £20, April 2007, 978 0 7139 9955 6
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... last two sections that the selection in A Tranquil Star is drawn, in what one of its translators, Ann Goldstein, has described as ‘a sort of antipasto’ for a projected English language edition of the complete Levi in 2010. The Levi we meet in A Tranquil Star is not the ‘well-mannered cicerone of hell’, in Cynthia Ozick’s memorable phrase, who ...

Infinite Artichoke

James Butler: Italo Calvino’s Politics, 15 June 2023

The Written World and the Unwritten World: Collected Non-Fiction 
by Italo Calvino, translated by Ann Goldstein.
Penguin, 384 pp., £10.99, January, 978 0 14 139492 3
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... distinctive Calvinian voice – erudition worn lightly, humanism balanced by ironic detachment – Ann Goldstein restores a wit and sharpness, its residual communist starchiness dissolving over time.Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923, but raised in Liguria. His parents, both botanists, were rational, scientific, austere (in a laudatory sense). He fought in ...

Vaporous Shapes

Tim Parks: Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Whereabouts’, 1 July 2021

by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Bloomsbury, 176 pp., £14.99, May, 978 1 5266 2995 1
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... a newly-acquired language as well as a tension between cultures. In Other Words was translated by Ann Goldstein, who tends to preserve the supposed flavour of the Italian in lexical and syntactical calques, so that the prose often seems less accomplished than we have come to expect of Lahiri. The Clothing of Books, by contrast, was translated into lucid ...

I was blind, she a falcon

Joanna Biggs: Elena Ferrante, 10 September 2015

The Story of the Lost Child 
by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein.
Europa, 473 pp., £11.99, September 2015, 978 1 60945 286 5
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... Are​ Elena Ferrante’s four Neapolitan novels even books? I began to doubt it when I talked about them with other people – mostly women. We returned to life too quickly as we spoke: who was your Lila, the childhood friend who effortlessly dazzled everyone? Or – a question not happily answered – were you Lila? S. said she had got back in touch with an estranged friend to give her the first volume in the series; K ...

‘We’re identical’

Christopher Tayler: Elena Ferrante, 8 January 2015

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay 
by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein.
Europa, 419 pp., £11.99, September 2014, 978 1 60945 233 9
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... A woman’s husband​ leaves her, she’s determined not to lose it, she loses it, she gets herself back together: that’s the plot of Elena Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment (2002). Olga, the narrator, a mother and stalled writer who’s 38 at the time of these events, knows that words like ‘angry’ are often used to diminish and dismiss legitimate grievances, and understands the staginess of ‘those moments that you read about in books, when a character reacts in an unexpectedly extreme way to the normal discontents of living ...

The Politics of Translation

Marina Warner: Translate this!, 11 October 2018

This Little Art 
by Kate Briggs.
Fitzcarraldo, 365 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 910695 45 6
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Translation as Transhumance 
by Mireille Gansel, translated by Ros Schwartz.
Les Fugitives, 150 pp., £10, November 2017, 978 0 9930093 3 4
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Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto 
by Mark Polizzotti.
MIT, 168 pp., £17.99, May 2018, 978 0 262 03799 0
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The 100 Best Novels in Translation 
by Boyd Tonkin.
Galileo, 304 pp., £14.99, June 2018, 978 1 903385 67 8
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The Work of Literary Translation 
by Clive Scott.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £75, June 2018, 978 1 108 42682 4
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... work in another language; it may make their fortune: Anthea Bell (Englishing Sebald) and Ann Goldstein (voicing Elena Ferrante) propelled the authors to cult status beyond their own shores. Like a shrub moved to a sunnier position, writers may thrive when transplanted. Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Human Acts have won startling numbers of ...

I hate Nadia beyond reason

Patricia Lockwood: I’m Lila, I’m Lenù, 18 February 2021

The Lying Life Of Adults 
by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein.
Europa, 322 pp., £20, September 2020, 978 1 78770 236 3
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... Do​ you understand what a pleasure it is not to have to begin with this little biographical section? Sometimes a writer goes to school somewhere, and you have to know which years. Sometimes a writer gets married three times, or is a sex freak, or stabs people at parties. The cry BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHO ELENA FERRANTE IS, EXCEPT FOR THOSE OF US WHO LOOKED UP HER REAL ESTATE RECORDS! is met from me only with the words: ‘Thank God ...

Politics and the Prophet

Malise Ruthven, 1 August 1996

Lords of the Lebanese Marches: Violence and Narrative in an Arab Society 
by Michael Gilsenan.
Tauris, 377 pp., £14.95, February 1996, 1 85043 099 3
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The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World 
edited by John L. Esposito.
Oxford, 480 pp., £295, June 1995, 0 19 506613 8
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Unfolding Islam 
by P.J. Stewart.
Garnet, 268 pp., £25, February 1995, 9780863721946
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Islam and the Myth of Confrontation: Religion and Politics in the Middle East 
by Fred Halliday.
Tauris, 256 pp., £35, January 1996, 1 86064 004 4
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... systematically unravelled by the God who feeds his chosen agents contradictory messages. Baruch Goldstein, who was responsible for the massacre of Arab worshippers in Hebron in 1994, is, like the late Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, a martyr for those Jews who believe that the divine manifests itself in real estate. The suicide-bombers of Hamas take things a ...

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