Literary roundup: Dueling Mandelstam reviews and German writers in fashion

The new issue of The Critical Flame has a pair of reviews devoted to a new translation of the selected poetry of Osip Mandelstam, Stolen Air, by Christian Wiman and Ilya Kaminsky. Editor Daniel E. Pritchard pens a brief essay on the unusual practice of running two reviews of the same book. Then there’s Henry Gould’s highly positive review, which places the translation in an Anglo-American poetic tradition with echoes of “Dickinson, G.M. Hopkins, Pound, Eliot, Plath, Bishop, Lowell, and others, flowing into a stream of a more contemporary, immediate speech — not far from today’s conversation or street talk.” The review by James Stotts eviscerates Wiman’s translation, to put it kindly, using examples from previous translations and showing the liberties he took. Both reviews are very much worth reading and, in regard to reading Mandelstam’s poetry, the lesson learned might be that you ultimately have to stop being lazy, learn Russian and read it in the original.

Roth, Zweig, Mann, Feuchtwanger

A review of Joseph Roth’s correspondence in The Weekly Standard is the occasion for the interesting but odd mention of the revival of interwar German-language writers like Roth and Stefan Zweig (I’m with you so far) as well as Lion Feuchtwanger and Klaus Mann. Now the writer of the review is currently translating Mann’s Mephisto, and it is a fantastic novel, but otherwise I seem to have missed this particular revival. The same is true for Feuchtwanger, very few of whose books are even available in English. Then again, maybe these two writers have noticed what’s been happening with their former compatriots and begun putting the processes in motion for their own revivals to get started.

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5 Comments on “Literary roundup: Dueling Mandelstam reviews and German writers in fashion”

  1. 26/11/2012 at 4:49 pm #

    I have to disagree with you about the availability of Feuchtwanger’s works in English: http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=lion+feuchtwanger&dblist=638&fq=dt%3Abks+%3E+ln%3Aeng&qt=facet_ln%3A
    Most of his oeuvre is available in English, at least via interlibrary loan.

    • 26/11/2012 at 7:34 pm #

      If you look at that list, the translations of his work date from 1928 through 1951. There is one more recent translation, which hardly counts as “being in fashion” as the article implied. Definitely not in the interest category of a Joseph Roth or Zweig.

      • 26/11/2012 at 7:45 pm #

        <— (slaps own head) Duh! "Revival!" – I have to read more slowly. You are right that Feuchtwanger is not (yet) at the level of Joseph Roth or Zweig despite the existence of the Villa Aurora artists grants program.

      • 27/11/2012 at 5:31 pm #

        What I have no idea is whether will/should/could be – in spite of the fact that I’ve seen a lot of Czech translations of his books lying around. Have you read him?

      • 27/11/2012 at 10:54 pm #

        I read Erfolg and Jud Süß back when I was living in Munich in the late ’80’s. I thought Erfolg (Success) was pretty good. The chapter satirizing Oberammergau was priceless, especially since I grew up nearby.

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