I have recently come up with the idea to add a new rubric to my blog that will deal with the forthcoming translations of important works of literature or the anticipated publication of already completed translations. I am especially interested in the books that had remained untranslated into English for too long. All these posts will bear the title “Forthcoming”. I hope the few readers that check out The Untranslated from time to time will get as excited at the prospect of finally immersing themselves into the work previously unavailable in English as I did.
As many of you might know, the giant of literary translation from German John E. Woods, after years of what must have been arduous and humanly impossible labour, has completed the English version of Arno Schmidt’s magnum opus Zettel’s Traum. The translation will bear the title Bottom’s Dream. You can read the latest interview with John E. Woods on the website of Dalkey Archive Press, the intrepid publisher of this behemoth of a book.
For English-language readers this publication is a literary event of the decade, if not the century. Already this autumn we’ll have the chance to approach the intransigent genius of Arno Schmidt’s major novel that has been compared to no less than Finnegans Wake. Just like Joyce’s creation, Zettels Traum is believed to be impossible to translate, and, of course, what we will get will be as much Woods’ accomplishment as that of Arno Schmidt. Personally, I am looking forward to comparing Woods’ translation to the original which contains thousands of puns, many of which are multilingual. The good news is that Bottom’s Dream is by far more affordable than the recent hardcover German edition: one has to be really well-heeled to buy that.
In the summer of 2015, tired of waiting for the translation whose publication was kept being postponed, I embarked on reading Zettel’s Traum in German. It’s hard, but not impossible. You are more than welcome to follow my torturous journey through the Schmidtian labyrinth pending the appearance of Bottom’s Dream.