Friday: Translation Night Out

As so often happens in this town, it never rains but it pours. So there’ll be two great translation events taking place this Friday, Sept. 14, in different parts of New York:

1. The wonderful publishing house Archipelago Books is hosting a celebration of its fall books, featuring several wonderful translators reading from their latest books.

The readers include:

Alyson Waters, translator of Prehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard

Ross Benjamin, Job (Joseph Roth) and Hyperion (Hölderlin)

Sinan Antoon, In the Presence of Absence by Mahmoud Darwish

Peter Wortsman, Selected Tales of the Brothers Grimm (forthcoming from Archipelago Books, April 2013), Travel Pictures (Heine), Telegrams of the Soul (Altenberg), Selected Prose of Heinrich von Kleist, Posthumous Papers of a Living Author (Musil)

Richard Sieburth, Stroke by Stroke (Michaux), The Salt Smugglers (Nerval), Emblems of Desire (Scève), Lenz (Büchner) There’ll be wine and cheese and assuredly good company.

The celebration will take place at Book Court in Brooklyn, 163 Court St. between Dean and Pacific St., beginning at 7:00 p.m.

2. Meanwhile at Deutsches Haus at NYU, my erstwhile dissertation advisor Stanley Corngold will be presenting his new translation of The Sufferings of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, though the book was written when Goethe was young, before was invited to add the “von” to his name. Goethe’s subsequent ennoblement is ironic, given that most of the protagonist’s sufferings are directly related to the fact that he is excluded from the social circles of the nobility. Meanwhile young men around the world were empathizing with Werther’s plight so drastically that they ended their own lives in imitation of him. That’s one sort of literary success I hope never to achieve. Corngold’s new translation of the novel was recently praised lavishly by J.M. Coetzee in the New York Review of Books; I wish Coetzee had also chosen to compare this translation with the other recent one by Burton Pike, whose work I also admire, but so it goes.

Corngold will be joined by Christoph Bartmann, director of the Goethe Institut New York and North America. Deutsches Haus is at 42 Washington Mews, just north of Washington Square Park. 6:30 p.m. Rsvp recommended: deutscheshaus.rsvp@nyu.edu.

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