Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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Yours seems a narrowly circumscribed view of close reading as applied to narrative prose. While the argument is appropriate for poetry, the subject of most exemplary close readings, the novel redistributes critical weight among more nonlinguistic features. A good translation is accomplished through a close reading and subsequently supports the same on the reader's part. The translator's attentiveness to language may be comparable to writers who came to English late but with a vengeance (e.g., Conrad, Nabokov, Hemon). And so far as means of production are concerned, the novel rarely represents the unmediated voice of the author, given editorial intercessions along the way. So the rationale positing inauthenticity of translated works seems, well, inauthentic.

Dan Green

There is no such thing as a nonlinguistic feature of a novel, except in a metaphorical sense. We can talk about character, or setting, or even form, but all of these things are, irreducibly, linguistic. How can they not be, since a novel "contains" only words?

You can do a close reading of a translation, but that's not doing a close reading of the text that's been translated.

I have not said that translations are inauthentic, merely that they're translations.

the wandering jew

"As to what else might mark a writer as "definably American": Who cares? It's an exercise for an American Studies scholar, perhaps, but otherwise not a question relevant to the our encounter with the text."

For a short review of a long anthology organized along cultural ideas, the cultural-studies approach seems like a fine strategy. A close reading of such a book would end up as a selective crazy-quilt that would likely venture into lazy shorthand. ("Portuguese fiction is less dynamic, as evidenced by this one short story.") Instead, Franklin's attempting to critique the motivation for assembling such an anthology so that the book is part of a "think piece." Faced with the same book to review, I'd likely try the same thing.

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