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THE TRANSLATOR

Crowley, John

696 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0380978628 / ISBN 13: 9780380978625
Published by NY, William Morrow,, 2002
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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23rd Lane Books
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About this Item

First Edition, First Printing, SIGNED BY JOHN CROWLEY on the title page. Bookseller Inventory # F295

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE TRANSLATOR

Publisher: NY, William Morrow,

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

In John Crowley's new novel, he tells a tale of tremendous scope and beauty, set in a time when a writer's words -- especially forbidden ones -- could be powerful enough to change the course of history.

In 1962, at a large college in the Midwest, a young woman with a troubled recent history registers for a class -- a class that is to be taught by an exiled Russian poet. A writer herself, Kit Malone is drawn to Innokenti Falin, as he is called. The two forge a friendship that develops into something more: He asks her to help translate his work.

With the tension of the cold war accelerating toward a crisis in Cuba, the atmosphere on campus becomes contentious. Meanwhile, working on each poem with Falin, Kit finds herself able to face the secrets that made her swear never to write her own poetry again. And as the summer slips away, a delicate love grows between two displaced people.

It will not be until years later, though, that Kit will realize what really happened on the last night she spent with Falin, while the country held its breath against the threat of war.

Review:

John Crowley's The Translator is a novel with a time bomb ticking over its head. It takes place during the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as an American coed develops a complicated relationship with an exiled Russian poet who is her college professor, poetic collaborator, and perhaps lover. Innokenti Falin is a man of many secrets--but then, so is Christa Malone. Growing up, her father spoke only vaguely about his work with the government and computers; her Green Beret brother died under mysterious circumstances in Southeast Asia; and Christa herself has a few things in her past that she'd rather not contemplate.

In their power to evoke the physical pleasures of poetry, the scenes in which Falin and Malone work together evoke A.S. Byatt's Possession, another gripping novel about language and the life of the mind. Improbably, Crowley even makes the act of translation sexy:

She thought, long after, that she had not then ever explored a lover's body, learned its folds and articulations, muscle under skin, bone under muscle, but that this was really most like that: this slow probing and working in his language, taking it in or taking hold of it; his words, his life, in her heart, in her mouth too.
The novel's principal shortcoming is that it can't quite make up its mind whether it's a cloak-and-dagger cold war novel or a less realistic fable about love, loss, and the power of art. Nonetheless, as the depiction of an era, a passion, and one woman's helplessness in the face of history, The Translator succeeds. Much can be forgiven of a book that makes us feel that words are important--that they can in fact change the world. --Mary Park

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