3.5 The Romance of Recovery: Ben Bateman talks to Shola von Reinhold (AV)

Shola von Reinhold is the author of  LOTE, a novel about getting lost in the archives and finding what the archives have lost. LOTE won the 2021 James Tait Black prize so who better to join Shola on Novel Dialogue than Ben Bateman of Edinburgh University, lead judge of the prize committee? This conversation takes listeners back to all yesterday’s parties as Shola, Ben, and Aarthi time travel to the Harlem Renaissance and the interwar modernist era. Shola offers up Richard Bruce Nugent as their current figure of fascination (or “transfixion” to use a key image from LOTE), and wonders what it would have been like to move through Harlem and London by Nugent’s side.

Recovering the stories of black writers and artists is essential to Shola’s literary project.  It is also inseparable from restoring queerness to the once hyper-masculine and “muscular” paradigm of modernism. In a stirring discussion of the aesthetic forms and moods of historical recovery, Ben and Shola sink into the “purpleness” of the fin-de-siècle and explore the critical power of black sensuousness. Talk of decadence, ornamentality, and frivolity shapes the latter half of this episode, and Doris Payne, the West Virginian jewel thief, emerges as an exquisitely improbable modernist heroine!

Mentioned in this episode:

Richard Bruce Nugent
Dorothy Heyward and DuBose Heyward, Porgy
E.M. Forster
David Levering Lewis, When Harlem was in Vogue
Saidiya Hartman
Benjamin Kahan, The Book of Minor Perverts
James Joyce, Ulysses
Willa Cather, “Paul’s Case”
Ornamentality via Kant, Hegel, and Adolf Loos
Susan Sontag
Doris Payne – a.k.a “Diamond Doris”

Édouard Glissant

Listen and Read:

Audio: The Romance of Recovery

Transcript: 3.5 The Romance of Recovery

4.6 Translation is the Closest Way to Read: Ann Goldstein and Saskia Ziolkowski Novel Dialogue

In our season finale, Ann Goldstein, renowned translator of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, gives a master class in the art and business of translation. Ann speaks to Duke scholar Saskia Ziolkowski and host Aarthi Vadde about being the face of the Ferrante novels, and the curious void that she came to fill in the public imagination in light of Ferrante’s anonymity. In a profession long characterized by invisibility, Ann reflects on her own celebrity and the changing orthodoxies of the book business. Where once having a translator’s name on a book cover would be sure to kill interest, now there are movements to display author’s and translator’s names together. Ann reads an excerpt in Italian from Primo Levi’s The Truce, followed by her re-translation of the autobiographical story for The Complete Works of Primo Levi. She then offers an extraordinary walk through of her decision-making process by honing in on the difficulty of translating one key word “scomposti.” Listening to Ann delineate and discard choices, we are reminded of Italo Calvino’s assertion (echoed by Ann) that translation is indeed the closest way to read. This season’s signature question on “untranslatables” yields another brilliant meditation on word choice and the paradoxical task of arriving at precise approximations. Plus, Ann and Saskia reveal some of their favorite Italian women writers, several of whom Ann has brought into English for the first time. Mentions: –Elena Ferrante –Jennifer Croft –Primo Levi, The Periodic Table –Primo Levi, The Truce, from The Complete Works of Primo Levi –Stuart Woolf, original translator of Levi, If This is the Man –Catherine Gallagher, Nobody’s Story –Italo Calvino –Marina Jarre, Return to Latvia –Elsa Morante, Arturo’s Island –Emily Wilson, only female translator of The Odyssey –Jenny McPhee –Cesare Garboli Find out more about Novel Dialogue and its hosts and organizers here. Contact us, get that exact quote from a transcript, and explore many more conversations between novelists and critics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  1. 4.6 Translation is the Closest Way to Read: Ann Goldstein and Saskia Ziolkowski
  2. 4.5a Novel Dialogue Bonus: Jean-Baptiste Naudy Reads from Claude McKay’s "Amiable with Big Teeth"
  3. 4.5 The Best Error You Can Make: Brent Hayes Edwards and Jean-Baptiste Naudy on Claude McKay
  4. 4.4 “A short, sharp punch to the face”: José Revueltas’ The Hole (El Apando) with Alia Trabucco Zerán and Sophie Hughes.
  5. 4.3 Strange Beasts of Translation: Yan Ge and Jeremy Tiang in Conversation

Photo credit: Retouched by Mmxx, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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