paper trail

Oct 4, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

Lydia Davis

Tonight at the 92nd Street Y, Lydia Davis reads from her new translation of Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Davis's translations are as bracing and revelatory as her acclaimed short fiction, and her reflections on the process are always edifying (she's been blogging about translating Bovary at the Paris Review's Daily). Quick quiz: How would you translate the phrase, bouffées d’affadissement, from Bovary: 1. Gusts of revulsion 2. A kind of rancid staleness 3. Whiffs of sickliness? According to Davis, these are just some of the ways it has been rendered into English over the years. In a 2009 interview, she remarked, "Translating makes me much more acutely aware of shades of meaning. You have a set problem and you can’t get around it by avoiding it. You have to pick just the right word."

This weekend Jonathan Franzen revealed that the UK printer of his new novel, Freedom, accidentally opened the wrong file and printed the wrong version. HarperCollins UK is scrambling to recall the 80,000 copy print run, of which about 8,000 have already been sold. Franzen told The Guardian that the errors were, "a couple of hundred differences at the level of word and sentence and fact [and] small but significant changes to the characterisations of Jessica and Lalitha."

Alyson books, the small press that's published some of the best LGBT literature since it began in 1980, has been forced by financial problems to become an e-book only imprint. Alyson's difficulties have been public since earlier this year, when author Michael Musto's essay in the Voice detailed the delays and frustrations of waiting for his book to be published. Alyson Publisher Don Weise is leaving the imprint as part of the restructuring. Under Weise's tenure, Alyson has published many intriguing books, including David McConnell's recent novel, The Silver Hearted, and Weise was planning to publish Laurie Weeks's highly-anticipated novel Zipper Mouth. Weeks is among the twenty-four Alyson authors with contracts that are now in limbo.

English language readers can follow The Frankfurt Book Fair on this blog.