Translation is a Love Affair, Jacques Poulin, tr. Sheila Fischman. (Archipelago Press) $15
A simple tale recounted with equal parts melancholy and whimsy, Translation is a Love Affair explores the asexual relationship between an elderly Quebecois writer and his young translator, who embark together on a journey to solve the mystery of a young girl with bandaged wrists. The thin novel is one of over 125 (mostly Quebecois, like this title) that have been translated from the French by Sheila Fischman, and though the publication of our French neighbors to the North is important, this selection, while enjoyable, might not be their literature’s most exemplary text.
Lao-Tzu’s Taoteching, tr. Red Pine. (Copper Canyon Press) $18
Red Pine continues to contribute to the translation of Classical Chinese literature, with his version of Lao-Tzu’s Taoteching. His introduction to the volume is superb, and the scholarly excellence of the volume’s commentary is always balanced by the lyricism of his translations themselves. Though the Taoteching has always been considered a literary book in the West, Red Pine has accomplished its most literary translation yet, rendered in a beautiful bilingual edition by Copper Canyon.
Erotic Poems, E.E. Cummings. (Liveright) $12.95
E.E. Cumming’s erotic poems and drawings are now collected in a single, elegant bedside volume. The poems range from the famous “may i feel said he/(i’ll squeal said she/just once said he)/it’s fun said she” to the more obscure “…just as we turned the corner of Divinity/avenue i touched the accelerator and give//her the juice,good,” and the book also includes his surprisingly capable erotic drawings, line figures of human forms that complement the poems nicely. From “xvi.”:
twentyseven bums give a prostitute the once
-over. fiftythree(and one would see if it could)
eyes say the breasts look very good:
firmlysquirmy with a slight jounce,
thirteen pants have a hunch