From Corfu to Crete & Dante to Ferrante: Ann Goldstein + Mary Norris
Ann Goldstein (Arturo’s Island) and Mary Norris (Greek to Me) discuss how learning a new language enriches one’s life and how translating from Italian (Goldstein) and Greek (Norris) has made life sweeter for each of them.
Once considered the greatest writer of Italy’s postwar generation, Elsa Morante is experiencing a literary renaissance, marked not least by Ann Goldstein’s translation of Arturo’s Island, the novel that brought Morante international fame. Imbued with a spectral grace, as if told through an enchanted looking glass, the novel follows the adolescent Arturo through his days on the isolated Neapolitan island of Procida, where—his mother long deceased, his father often absent, and a dog as his sole companion—he roams the countryside and the beaches or reads in his family’s lonely, dilapidated mansion.
Greek to Me is a charming account of Norris’s lifelong love affair with words and her solo adventures in the land of olive trees and ouzo. Along the way, Norris explains how the alphabet originated in Greece, makes the case for Athena as a feminist icon, goes searching for the fabled Baths of Aphrodite, and reveals the surprising ways Greek helped form English. Filled with Norris’s memorable encounters with Greek words, Greek gods, Greek wine—and more than a few Greek men—Greek to Me is the Comma Queen’s fresh take on Greece and the exotic yet strangely familiar language that so deeply influences our own.