We were up in San Luis Obispo and took a walk to the campus of Cal Poly.
In the college bookstore, among the unsold textbooks, I found this and bought it:
Man, I felt like Keats looking into Chapman’s Homer reading this thing. These lifeless translations can kill you when you take on foreign literature. The bad translation can put you off a whole literature for the rest of your life. In college I was supposed to read one of Chekhov’s plays. Trying to save a couple bucks bought the Dover Thrift translation, which is probably worse than putting the Russian into Google Translate. (We didn’t have Google Translate then, children).
I KNEW something was wrong here. There was something about Chekhov that moved people to tears, there was a reason theater people were still talking about Uncle Vanya.
Well, anyway, in this Annie Baker edition, you can feel it. The pain and the sadness and the funniness and the absurdity and the humanity of the whole situation. Man.
After Barry Lyndon did you begin work straight away on The Shining?
When I finished Barry Lyndon I spent most of my time reading. Months went by and I hadn’t found anything very exciting. It’s intimidating, especially at a time like this, to think of how many books you should read and never will. Because of this, I try to avoid any systematic approach to reading, pursuing instead a random method, one which depends as much on luck and accident as on design. I find this is also the only way to deal with the newspapers and magazines which proliferate in great piles around the house — some of the most interesting articles turn up on the reverse side of pages I’ve torn out for something else.