The Sunday Post for July 31, 2016

The subtle art of translating foreign fiction

This collection of interviews by Rachel Cooke provides an interesting insight to translators’ thoughts, writing processes, and how they became translators. Some think of translation as its own art, while others adhere to the original text as best they can.

There is no such thing as a literal translation – languages are entirely different systems and you can’t impose Spanish on English or vice versa. English has its own structure and its own lexicon and Spanish has its own structure and its own lexicon, and they don’t occupy the same space. If it’s a question of my not being able to translate a passage because there are words I don’t know and I can’t find them anywhere, I can’t find them online and I can’t find them in my dictionaries, then I’ll ask the author. And if the author is no longer with us, then I will wing it, as we say, and just do the best I can.
How Exhaustion Became a Status Symbol

It’s undeniable that “I’m exhausted” is a common phrase and very much a part of our lives. I think I said it twice or thrice just yesterday. Even in high school and college, students smugly complain that they pulled an all-nighter, or that they’re running on an obscene amount of coffee/Red Bull. Hannah Rosefield discusses Anna Katharina Schaffer’s Exhaustion: A History and how being tired means prestige.

Today, exhaustion still hints at status, but of a different sort. To say that you’re exhausted is to telegraph that you’re important, in demand, and successful. It’s akin to the humblebrag of ruefully describing yourself as “so busy” — naturally, since exhaustion follows from busyness. In Schaffner’s telling, the associations of exhaustion with prestige have crystallized in the form of burnout. First used in the 1970s to describe exhaustion suffered by workers in the social sector, “burnout” was characterized by increased cynicism and apathy, and a decreased sense of personal accomplishment. Since then, its application has widened to include all worn down, overburdened workers, especially in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, where burnout is a subject of regular media debate. Burnout, caused by workplace conditions rather than by a worker’s mental and physical composition, is depression’s more palatable, more prestigious cousin. As the German journalist Sebastian Beck puts it: “Only losers become depressive. Burnout is a diagnosis for winners, or, more specifically: for former winners.”
'Stronger Together' and 'I Am Your Voice' — How the Nominees' Convention Speeches Compare

A few NYT writers assembled an interesting visual of the speeches at the RNC and DNC from these last couple of weeks. Look at the breakdown of the nominees’ speeches, with everything from their tone, to topics, to attacks on each other. They also analyzed the VPs’ speeches. For more visuals: Politico published some graphs depicting people’s reactions to Trump and Clinton’s speeches, including how confident they are that each candidate will win/lose this November.

Making an argument for how poorly things are going in the country is to be expected from a nominee whose party has not been in the White House recently. But Donald J. Trump’s speech was particularly grim, offering a collection of statistics and anecdotes on crime and violence.

In her speech, Hillary Clinton responded directly to Mr. Trump’s dim portrait of the United States, reflecting on the “courage” and “common purpose” of its founders and the contributions of its troops, police officers, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs and mothers.

The first Harry Potter book wasn’t perfect, but it was magic

I don’t think I’ve ever read a review of a Harry Potter book. But Constance Grady lays it down—the series starts with the British boarding school trope and evolves into a coming-of-age hero’s journey. It all started 19 years ago, and today — July 31 — is Harry’s birthday, celebrated by the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It seems readers simply can’t let go of the story. Also, props to JK Rowling for not letting editors change the title of the first book to Harry Potter and the School of Magic.

Rowling has a knack for crafting exact, specific details that make a world feel solid and lived-in. The witch Harry passes in Diagon Alley who’s complaining about the price of dragon liver, Ollivander measuring the space between Harry’s nostrils to fit him for a wand, the cart full of magical candies on the Hogwarts Express: It all comes together to create the sense of a vast, breathing world with its own rigorous rules and systems, one that keeps on existing when Harry’s not looking. It’s teeming with life, and it’s enchanting.