Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)
First, Gift Shop Manager Debra Comeau–from the Essex Steam Train in Essex, CT–telephoned. It was a year–almost to the day–after I sent a review copy of Reflections of a Civil War Locomotive Engineer. She ordered six copies because she wants more books aimed at adults. You just never know!
Then, my friend Lydia Razrun Stone sent me a review copy of the introduction she wrote for an up-coming issue of Chtenia, a bilingual journal of readings in Russian literature. This particular issue will be a bilingual tribute to Tolstoy. She selected the readings, edited the translations, and asked me for suggestions on the English versions.
I began re-reading Anna Karenina–coincidentally–just before Lydia asked if I’d like to help. Awed by Tolstoy’s ability to delineate memorable characters, I was delighted to help. I love to play with words and I’ve read that copying great literature is a good way to get the feel of it. Being involved in Tolstoy’s wonderful story-telling and vivid imagery in such an intimate way was very good practice. Look for this particular issue of Chtenia: the scene from War and Peace in which young Petya’s eagerness for battle transforms the background sounds of horses and men in the cavalry encampment into a magnificent choral symphony in Petya’s fevered imagination is a brilliant gem that Lydia says has never received the recognition it deserves.
Lydia was highly complimentary of me in her introduction: “My translations were reviewed by my friend Diana Bailey Harris, who does not speak Russian, but is a wonderful writer and translates from Italian. She made suggestions for smoothing out my syntax when it got too Russian, and for substituting words – I accepted many of them and am very grateful for the improvements they made.”
By the way, if anybody’s interested, I do have available a fresh, new translation of Leonardo Sciascia’s innovative novella The Day of the Owl–complete with 57 footnotes for 21st century Americans, to explain references that would have been very familiar to Italians in the 1960s.
Finally, I posted in June that I’d submitted a piece in the womensmemoirs Food Memoir and Recipe Contest. Guess what! Mine actually is one of the twenty-five pieces that Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett selected for their forthcoming e-book. Matilda said she particularly liked the comparison photos of me and my grandmother.
Yes, a little encouragement definitely goes a very long way.