Alchemical Thoughts

Small note on literature around the world

Posted on: April 20, 2009

One of the things I wish I could be is fluent in a few more languages. I am bilingual, but I wish I could be fluent (or at least read) in some more languages just so I could experience some of the great works of world literature in their original. OK, I will also admit that it is not just for the high literature. For instance, I would love to learn Japanese just so I could read mangas in the original. Anyhow, since I am only fluent in two languages, it means I have to read the rest of the stuff in translation. Sadly, there is a lot of good stuff out there that does not make it to the United States, or simply it does not make it into English at all. The two small articles I am linking now show us a different perspective: what happens when literary works do not make it in translation in other nations. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Here is one on reading in Vietnam. Apparently, young people there have an interest in reading foreign works. One work they want to read: Indian author Vikas Swarup’s Q&A (the basis for the movie Slumdog Millionaire).
  • Here is one on reading in India.
  • Here are three on Spanish works; now these I can read in the original, and I do. Here is a note on Roberto Ampuero of Chile and another one on Tomas Eloy Martinez of Argentina. Here, Carlos Fuentes reviews Eloy Martinez's work (this review is in Spanish). The third one is on Bolaño, author of 2666, this time about another work of his: Nazi Literature in the Americas. 2666 is on my to read list, but right now, I am in the middle of rereading One Hundred Years of Solitude (yes, in Spanish), so it may be a while.

Of course, another challenge for me is time. Even when I can find good translations, finding the time to read them can be a challenge. Then again, it does mean I will not be without a good book to read anytime soon. And that may be a good thing–having reading choices. 

A hat tip to The Literary Saloon.


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