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The Translator by John Crowley

The Translator

by John Crowley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this book. It focuses on the relationship between a dissident Russia poet who is a professor at a midwestern college and his student, a female undergrad who helps him translate his work from Russian to English one summer. It is also a study of the early 1960's in America. During the course of the novel the Cold War is on, America is getting involved covertly in Viet Nam, the Cuban Missile Crisis takes place, and JFK is assassinated. These events are an integral part of the story. The characters were never as alive for me as I would have liked, but I was blown away by the poems and the description of what translating them was like. Not only did English words have to be found for Russian ones, but rhythm and meter had to be maintained. More difficult yet to handle were Russian phrases that would trigger automatic cultural connections among Russian readers but which had no counterpart in English. If this was the work of an American novelist who was also a poet I would have been impressed. But John Crowley is know for his large body of fantasy writing. I am both mystified and bowled over by his choice of subject matter and the manner in which he carried it off. = ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
John Crowley is a great writer. I love the way he uses language. I enjoyed reading the words of this book, the way he strung sentences together, and it was a quick read. Which was for the best, because, frankly, it was kinda boring. So, I liked it, but it's not one I'd be really quick to pass along. ( )
  librarybrandy | Mar 29, 2013 |
What amounts to a minor work from Crowley (though to be fair, a 'minor' work from him is still pretty amazing). Much quieter and a little less ambition than Little, Big or the Aegypt novels, though with many of the same preoccupations - an unknowing individual caught up in the winds of history. The poetry is wonderful, and the writing is pristine and complex. ( )
  kougogo | Feb 20, 2011 |
I'm not quite sure what I thought of this book. As always, Crowley's writing is beautiful in its simplicity, and he has an amazing way of expressing complex emotions in deceptively simple terms. I guess my problem with the book is that it all took place from Kit's point of view, and it was hard to see why Falin felt the way he did about her.

It's also hard for me to say what this book was about. Obviously I can tell you what the story is about, but I had a little trouble seeing why the Cuba Missile Crisis had such an important role in the story. It is hard to connect the personal and the political plots.

I suspect I read it too quickly because Crowley's writing is so enjoyable, and I probably need to spend some more time with some of the pivotal passages and think about them more clearly.
  Gwendydd | Dec 6, 2008 |
Translating and interpreting > Fiction/Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 > Fiction/Russians > United States > Fiction/Translators > Fiction/Exiles > Fiction/Poets > Fiction/Historical fiction. gsafd
  Budzul | Jun 1, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Crowleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Taggeselle, AndréTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Poetry is power," M[andelstam] once said to Akhmatova in Voronezh, and she bowed her head on its slender neck.

—Nadezhda Madelstam, Hope Against Hope
For Tom Disch, who knows why
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The first time that Christa Malone heard the name of Innokenti Isayevich Falin, it was spoken by the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380815370, Paperback)

John Crowley's The Translator is a novel with a time bomb ticking over its head. It takes place during the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as an American coed develops a complicated relationship with an exiled Russian poet who is her college professor, poetic collaborator, and perhaps lover. Innokenti Falin is a man of many secrets--but then, so is Christa Malone. Growing up, her father spoke only vaguely about his work with the government and computers; her Green Beret brother died under mysterious circumstances in Southeast Asia; and Christa herself has a few things in her past that she'd rather not contemplate.

In their power to evoke the physical pleasures of poetry, the scenes in which Falin and Malone work together evoke A.S. Byatt's Possession, another gripping novel about language and the life of the mind. Improbably, Crowley even makes the act of translation sexy:

She thought, long after, that she had not then ever explored a lover's body, learned its folds and articulations, muscle under skin, bone under muscle, but that this was really most like that: this slow probing and working in his language, taking it in or taking hold of it; his words, his life, in her heart, in her mouth too.
The novel's principal shortcoming is that it can't quite make up its mind whether it's a cloak-and-dagger cold war novel or a less realistic fable about love, loss, and the power of art. Nonetheless, as the depiction of an era, a passion, and one woman's helplessness in the face of history, The Translator succeeds. Much can be forgiven of a book that makes us feel that words are important--that they can in fact change the world. --Mary Park

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:00 -0400)

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"In 1962, at a large college in the Midwest, a young woman with a troubled recent history registers for a class - a class that is to be taught by an exiled Russian poet. A writer herself, Kit Malone is drawn to Innokenti Falin, as he is called. The two forge a friendship that develops into something more: He asks her to help translate his work." "With the tension of the cold war accelerating toward a crisis in Cuba, the atmosphere on campus becomes contentious. Meanwhile, working on each poem with Falin, Kit finds herself able to face the secrets that made her swear never to write her own poetry again. And as the summer slips away, a delicate love grows between two displaced people." "It will not be until years later, though, that Kit will realize what really happened on the last night she spent with Falin, while the country held its breath against the threat of war."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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