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McSweeney's Issue 42 (McSweeney's Quarterly…
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McSweeney's Issue 42 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern): Multiples (2013)

by Dave Eggers (Editor), Adam Thirlwell (Editor)

Other authors: Nathan Aslam (Translator/Contributor), Tash Aw (Translator/Contributor), John Banville (Translator/Contributor), Frédéric Beigbeder (Translator/Contributor), Laurent Binet (Translator/Contributor)53 more, A.S. Byatt (Translator/Contributor), Orly Castel-Bloom (Translator/Contributor), J.M. Coetzee (Translator/Contributor), Lydia Davis (Translator/Contributor), Joe Dunthorne (Translator/Contributor), Nathan Englander (Translator/Contributor), Álvaro Enrigue (Translator/Contributor), Péter Esterházy (Translator/Contributor), Jeffrey Eugenides (Translator/Contributor), Adam Foulds (Translator/Contributor), Julia Franck (Translator/Contributor), Rodrigo Fresán (Translator/Contributor), Tristan Garcia (Translator/Contributor), Francisco Goldman (Translator/Contributor), Andrew Sean Greer (Translator/Contributor), Arnon Grunberg (Translator/Contributor), Yannick Haenel (Translator/Contributor), Rawi Hage (Translator/Contributor), Aleksandar Hemon (Translator/Contributor), Sheila Heti (Translator/Contributor), Chloe Hooper (Translator/Contributor), Ma Jian (Translator/Contributor), Heidi Julavits (Translator/Contributor), Daniel Kehlmann (Translator/Contributor), Etgar Keret (Translator/Contributor), Jonas Hassen Khemiri (Translator/Contributor), László Krasznahorkai (Translator/Contributor), Jonathan Lethem (Translator/Contributor), M.F. Lethem (Translator/Contributor), Valeria Luiselli (Translator/Contributor), Sarah Manguso (Translator/Contributor), Javier Marías (Translator/Contributor), Clancy Martin (Translator/Contributor), Wyatt Mason (Translator/Contributor), Tom McCarthy (Translator/Contributor), David Mitchell (Translator/Contributor), Gees Nooteboom (Translator/Contributor), Lawrence Norfolk (Translator/Contributor), Julie Orringer (Translator/Contributor), Francesco Pacifico (Translator/Contributor), Alan Pauls (Translator/Contributor), José Luís Peixoto (Translator/Contributor), Gary Shteyngart (Translator/Contributor), Sjón (Translator/Contributor), Zadie Smith (Translator/Contributor), Peter Stamm (Translator/Contributor), Colm Toíbín (Translator/Contributor), Camille de Toledo (Translator/Contributor), Jean-Christophe Valtat (Translator/Contributor), Ivan Vladislavic (Translator/Contributor), John Wray (Translator/Contributor), Alejandro Zambra (Translator/Contributor), Florian Zeller (Translator/Contributor)

Series: McSweeney's Quarterly Concern (42)

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I absolutely love the imagination that goes into some McSweeney's issues, and this one is definitely one of my favorites so far. Edited by Adam Thirlwell, this volume consists of 42 "Multiples," or twelve stories, appearing in up to six versions each. Sixty-one authors contributed, and the texts come in eighteen different languages. Say what now? Each of the twelve stories goes through a couple rounds of "translator telephone" (as one example, A.L. Snijders' story "Geluk" is translated from the original Dutch into English by Lydia Davis, then Davis' English text is translated into French by Yannick Haenel. Haenel's French text is translated back into English by Heidi Julavits, then Julavits' text into German by Peter Stamm, Stamm's into English by Jeffrey Eugenides, and finally Eugenides' English is translated into Icelandic by Sjón). Each translator can only see the version immediately preceding, and can't read the original text. This makes for some fascinating changes, interpretations, markedly different readings, &c.

Since I read only English fluently (plus a smattering of a few other languages) I mostly concentrated on comparing the different English versions, reading them closely (and sometimes multiples times) to see where the versions differed and where the changes originated. While occasionally the translators just struck out on their own right away, leaving very little of the previous reading in their own version, I was quite surprised at how closely a few of the stories resembled each other even after repeated re-translations, sometimes right down to the same very distinctive phrase passing through multiple languages but returning to the same English wording.

After the whole chain of translations had been finished all the contributors got to read the different versions, and their notes on the experience, which appear after each story, make for great reading. Sometimes they lay out their philosophy about translation in general or the process they used for this project in particular, often they highlight parts that were interesting or problematic for them as they worked, and frequently they discuss their version in the context of all the others.

Really enjoyable, both for the stories themselves and as a study of the translation process and its role in our perception of translated literature. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Jan 16, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eggers, DaveEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thirlwell, AdamEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Aslam, NathanTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aw, TashTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Banville, JohnTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beigbeder, FrédéricTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Binet, LaurentTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A.S.Translator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Castel-Bloom, OrlyTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Coetzee, J.M.Translator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, LydiaTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dunthorne, JoeTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Englander, NathanTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Enrigue, ÁlvaroTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Esterházy, PéterTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eugenides, JeffreyTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Foulds, AdamTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Franck, JuliaTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fresán, RodrigoTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garcia, TristanTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goldman, FranciscoTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greer, Andrew SeanTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grunberg, ArnonTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haenel, YannickTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hage, RawiTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hemon, AleksandarTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heti, SheilaTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hooper, ChloeTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jian, MaTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Julavits, HeidiTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kehlmann, DanielTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Keret, EtgarTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Khemiri, Jonas HassenTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Krasznahorkai, LászlóTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lethem, M.F.Translator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Luiselli, ValeriaTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Manguso, SarahTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marías, JavierTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Martin, ClancyTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mason, WyattTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCarthy, TomTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, DavidTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nooteboom, GeesTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Norfolk, LawrenceTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Orringer, JulieTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pacifico, FrancescoTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pauls, AlanTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Peixoto, José LuísTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shteyngart, GaryTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
SjónTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, ZadieTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stamm, PeterTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Toíbín, ColmTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Toledo, Camille deTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Valtat, Jean-ChristopheTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vladislavic, IvanTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wray, JohnTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zambra, AlejandroTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zeller, FlorianTranslator/Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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