Adam and His Tuba by Ziga X Gombac, illustrated by Maja Kastelic (translated by Olivia Hallewell, NorthSouth Books, February 2023) is a sweet story about the youngest child of the Von Trapeze family, which, as you may surmise, is a talented circus family. But Adam cannot do the highwire, be part of a human pyramid,

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Aucassin et Nicolete was written in medieval France, but it’s not your typical roman d’amour. I haven’t actually read any other medieval romances. My expectations of “typical” are all formed on stereotype. In many ways, Aucassin and Nicolette meets those fairy tale stereotypes. On the other hand, something goes quite “wrong” in this love story,

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Reading Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales was a repetitive process. My 630-page leather edition (from Barnes and Noble Books; not same version as the Amazon link at left) included numerous retellings of stories very similar; it felt as if the compilers were taking translations from multiple sources. Then again, maybe the Grimm brothers wrote down similar

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Ficcciones by Jorge Luis Borges is about 170 pages in Spanish; the English translation of the same book is about 120 pages (within Borges’ Collected Fictions). Why, then, has this book taken weeks to get through? Borges’ writing style is powerful. In some sense, I’m glad I struggled through Borges just to get a feel

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Reading The Iliad (trans. by Robert Fagles) isn’t like reading a modern-day novel: I think it did take a level of concentration I’m not accustomed to. But that just proved to me that the “difficult pleasure” of reading is highly worth experiencing. The Robert Fagles translation was poetic and rhythmic. Once I became accustomed to

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When I decided to read The Iliad, I knew essentially nothing about it. All I knew was that it was Greek, it was written by Homer, and that it was somehow a precursor to The Odyssey (which I read in high school). Having read The Iliad, I can say now that while it certainly is

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What am I looking for when I read the Iliad this month? I’ve been wondering that, especially now that I have four translations before me. As I mentioned when I wrote about Aesop’s writers last week, a translation can make a big difference in how a story is portrayed. I’m not against a literal translation,

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I knew that Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert was about an adulterous woman. But for some reason, I assumed that the title character was a despicable, ugly, tricky middle-aged woman. “Madame” makes one sound old. Besides, when I was young, my mother had a copy of Madame Bovary; it must have been an old copy

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