On Translation

Been thinking about Lydia Davis recently and remembered the piece she wrote for Paris Review about translating Madame Bovary. It is fantastic and it contains this lil’ nugget:

How many ways, for instance, has even a single phrase (“bouffées d’affadissement”) from Madame Bovary been translated:

gusts of revulsion
a kind of rancid staleness
stale gusts of dreariness
waves of nausea
fumes of nausea
flavorless, sickening gusts
stagnant dreariness
whiffs of sickliness
waves of nauseous disgust

"Stagnant dreariness" FTW.


This is my Mom’s “Appearance Cardex” from United Airlines, circa 1972. There is a weight maximum. And lip standards. Note: they also penciled in “lipstick” because she didn’t commonly wear it, and they wanted her to. This is insane to me.