Literary roundup: Marxism de Sade and Valentine’s Day Zweig

Boris Akunin’s Sebald Lecture delivered in London on February 4, is now available online. He talks about motherly manipulation, being tramautized by Steinbeck – i.e. everything you’d expect a lecture on translation to be about. But he also talks about the specific place of translation in the Soviet Union and how it was “cleaner” than politically compromised literary work (the kind that could be published, at least) and how great writers like Akhmatova, Pasternak and Zoschenko turned their efforts to translation (the latter to Finnish prose, while Akhmatova translated Chinese and Korean classics). It’s a fascinating read (and, in reference to the headline above, he also mentions “the most celebrated misprint in the history of the magazine” Foreign Literature, where he worked.)

Zweig and a box of chocolates

On February 14 at London’s Austrian Cultural Forum there will be a Valentine’s Day evening devoted to lovers of Stefan Zweig. While they are a year off in noting the 70th anniversary of his death (it’s the 71st – and for his 70th last year the National Library of Israel uploaded his suicide note) there has been and continues to be a wave of publications and republications of Zweig’s work in English.

Most recently, Pushkin Press published Letter from an Unknown Woman and other stories in a translation by Anthea Bell. This adds to the already considerable number of beautifully designed books from the same author-publisher-translator combination. It’s gotten to the point that when I see a shelf of them in a bookstore I’m not sure which stories I already have but want to get the book anyway.

Pushkin Press will also be putting out some of Zweig’s biographical non-fiction later this year, first with the Mental Healers: Mesmer, Eddy, Freud, followed by Magellan.

Antony Beevor, Ali Smith and Amanda Hopkinson will be participating at the London event, which will involve music, reading and discussion. If you want to go and don’t have tickets yet, too bad – it’s sold out. But then if you’ve read Zweig’s books you should know that life is full of disappointments.

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Categories: Literary Events


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