Trace “Cosmic Connections” in Asymptote’s Spring 2019 edition, including 27 countries and 17 languages from every corner of our beautiful globe! Start with our double-whammy interviews with Viet Thanh Nguyen and Dubravka Ugrešić, or dance upon our “big old blue sphere” with the illustrious co-founder of Oulipo, Raymond Queneau. And don’t miss this quarter’s Special Feature, spotlighting creative reflections on the art of translation!
Translation can transport us to exotic locales—near or far. Daniel Guebel travels the lost world of Jewish pilpul, or “spicy thought,” an ancient method of interpreting the Talmud, while reconciling with the fact that the sages’ dialectical complexities cannot heal his dying father. Yet a life isn’t a mere journey from beginning to simple end: “All roads lead anywhere,” sings acclaimed Bulgarian poet Georgi Gospodinov, “not only to death.” For Mohsen Namjoo, the road must lead beyond nostalgia for hallowed national pasts to address the problems of the present.
Katherine Beaman, in contrast, considers a new translation of 17th-century Korean writer Kim Man-Jung’s Nine Cloud Dream, and compares it to the 1922 translation of this work set during the Tang Dynasty: reinterpreting the past can be a lesson for the present, and sometimes a modern translation can immerse us more deeply in the world of a bygone era. Abdelfattah Kilito likewise plunges into the long-ago in his detailed exploration of a tale from A Thousand and One Nights, while in our Drama section, translator Aaron Poochigian revisits a passage from Euripides’s Bacchae. Curiously, the recent past often seems no less foreign than the most distant of tales. Among our discoveries this issue is the long-neglected figure of Gertrud Kolmar, advocated by Walter Benjamin but only now celebrated as one of the great forgotten poets.
Past or present, literature helps forge our future paths. You can make the future of world literature bright by posting our Spring 2019 flyer (pictured below) in real life, or by giving us a shout-out on Facebook or Twitter! If you like what we do and want to support our work, please consider joining us as a sustaining member or a masthead member from as little as USD5 a month. We couldn’t do it without you!