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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, 978 1 78227 495 7
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... its spell, winning Italy’s most prestigious literary prize, the Strega, and becoming a bestseller in the US in Isabel Quigly’s 1959 translation. Now the book appears in a new translation by AnnGoldstein. 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 ...

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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... avoid self-censorship, since with no public persona to maintain she can say what she likes. Naturally, the mystery around her led some people to insist that she must be a man. Her English translator, AnnGoldstein, 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 ...

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A Tranquil Star: Unpublished Stories 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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... interesting enough for an English market and have, until now, never been translated. It is from these last two sections that the selection in A Tranquil Star is drawn, in what one of its translators, AnnGoldstein, 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 ...

I was blind, she a falcon

Joanna Biggs: Elena Ferrante

9 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 ...

‘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 ...

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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... everlasting shame on New Labour). A translator’s interest is often key to the appearance of a writer’s work in another language; it may make their fortune: Anthea Bell (Englishing Sebald) and AnnGoldstein (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 ...
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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... between Israelis and Palestinians, the brave and painful efforts of human peacemakers are being 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 ...

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