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Two Sad Russians

Walter Kendrick

5 September 1985
The Confessions of Victor X 
edited by Donald Rayfield.
Caliban, 143 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 9780904573947
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Novel with Cocaine 
by M. Ageyev, translated by Michael HenryHeim.
Picador, 174 pp., £7.95, February 1985, 0 330 28574 2
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... was first published, in Paris, in ‘the early Thirties’, according to its English translator, Michael HenryHeim. It appeared in the émigré journal Numbers and shortly thereafter as a book; fifty years of oblivion later, a copy turned up in a second-hand bookshop and was translated into French, bringing overdue ...

Bohumil Hrabal

James Wood: The life, times, letters and politics of Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal

4 January 2001
Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Michael HenryHeim.
Harvill, 103 pp., £6.99, May 1998, 1 86046 215 4
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Too Loud a Solitude 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Michael HenryHeim.
Abacus, 112 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 0 349 10262 7
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I Served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Picador, 256 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 330 30876 9
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Closely Observed Trains 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Edith Partiger.
Abacus, 128 pp., £5.99, May 1990, 0 349 10125 6
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Total Fears: Letters to Dubenka 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by James Naughton.
Twisted Spoon Press, 203 pp., $13.50, June 1998, 80 902171 9 2
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... What is funny and forlorn, where is the comic pathos, in the following sentence? ‘A fortune-teller once read my cards and said that if it wasn’t for a tiny black cloud hanging over me I could do great things and not only for my country but for all mankind.’ Instantly, a person opens before us like a quick wound: probably a man (that slight vibration of a swagger), grandiose in aspiration but glued to a petty destiny, eccentric and possibly mad, a talker, rowdy with anecdote ...

Witchiness

Marina Warner: Baba Yaga

27 August 2009
Baba Yaga Laid an Egg 
by Dubravka Ugrešić, translated by Ellen Elias Bursác, Celia Hawkesworth and Mark Thompson.
Canongate, 327 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84767 066 3
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... sounds like Chandler, the heroine muses in a Woolfian fugue and so on (the veteran translator Michael HenryHeim was in action here). This time, Canongate has reproduced her polyphony of registers by commissioning three translators to work on the different parts of the book and give the memoir, fiction and essay a ...

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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... dead, Your wife, your child? Ros Schwartz is quoting here from a selection of Sachs in English by Michael Hamburger and others, whereas when it comes to rendering from Vietnamese, she offers the original transliterated, and then, working closely with Gansel, translates from her French versions, thereby forging a powerful echo chamber (even two steps removed ...

The Iron Rule

Jacqueline Rose: Bernhard Schlink’s Guilt

31 July 2008
Homecoming 
by Bernhard Schlink, translated by Michael HenryHeim.
Weidenfeld, 260 pp., £14.99, January 2008, 978 0 297 84468 6
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... Towards the end of Bernhard Schlink’s best-known novel, The Reader, the narrator is pondering his future after taking his state exam in law. He has just seen his former lover, Hanna Schmitz, convicted of war crimes: she had been a concentration camp guard, something he hadn’t known when she seduced him as a 15-year-old boy. None of the roles he saw played out in court appeals to him: ‘Prosecution seemed to me as grotesque a simplification as defence, and judging was the most grotesque oversimplification of all ...

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