Snatched phrases: on translation

But a certain dullness of mind seems an almost necessary qualification, if not for every public man, at least for everyone seriously engaged in making money.

From ‘The Idiot’
by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Hmmm … read and weep. Dostoevsky’s observation about people is as relevant now as it was when he wrote it in the late nineteenth century. If only our public figures, our business people, our politicians would take heed!

But onto other things — no more weeping for now. One of the overarching reasons I’ve had for writing this blog in the last few years has been to give myself (and hopefully you, my readers) the chance to explore the joys of reading: to revel in other people’s words, to find meaning in their thoughts and the way they express them, to learn from them, to find communion and kinship with them. As I’ve remarked before, without books and reading, I would be a far lonelier person.

Recently, I’ve found a different kind of companionship in my reading. On Mother’s Day earlier this year, my mother and I started a reading ‘project’ together, our own little two-woman book club. At her suggestion, we have decided to read works of translation. We take it in turns to pick a title and read it, and then we exchange titles, and, having read them, meet up for coffee or for a walk to talk about them. The Idiot was one of her choices.

My mother is an inveterate reader. She reads widely, hungrily, curiously. Her joy in reading is contagious and almost palpable. I’m glad — and privileged — to have ‘caught’ that joy from her. And I’m extra glad to be exploring new books with her, to be having my world opened by her and by the writers she chooses.

Meanwhile, while we’re on the subject of translation, here’s the thing about reading, and the happiness you can find in it: it translates into life.

And that happiness is only amplified when it is shared.

4 thoughts on “Snatched phrases: on translation

  1. I admire your voracious love of reading and deep thought you bring to it. While I read mostly for entertainment, I’ve never given much thought to how it might change me, or add to my life in any way. Your sharing here gives me pause to reconsider this!

    1. Thanks, Eliza. Reading can mean so many different things to so many different people. If you read for entertainment, that’s great! I do, too.
      But I do also love the ‘deeper’ aspects of reading, which I talk about here on my blog. Some of the books I’ve read over the years have changed my life, even if only in the sense that I’ve felt an incredible sense of accord with their writers and/or their characters, and that sense of accord has translated into my life, renewing my sense of ‘belonging’ in the world …

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