How to Compare Translations Despite Not Knowing any Foreign Languages

Thanks to an eagle-eyed peer reviewer, I just realized that Poul Anderson's epigraph to a short story "Chain of Logic," a translation of verse 45/46 of the Elder Edda's   Völuspá , is not actually his  translation. Rather, Anderson took it almost verbatim from A.G. Chater's English translation of The Long Journey by Nobel Prize-winning Danish author, Johannes V. Jensen. Except that the  Völuspá  verse isn't Jensen's own translation, either. Jensen had, in turn, borrowed the verse from H. G. Møller's original Danish translation in 1870. So this has led me on a merry-go-round of trying to compare various translations in languages I don't actually speak. Thank god for Google Translate, online ebooks, and amenable colleagues! First things first -- Jensen took the verse straight from Møller without changes, so that's simple.** Next question. We got two English-language versions of verse 45/46, one by Chater, another by Anderson. The latter, as I m

Kalevala Day!

So I just learned (or re-learned) that today, February 28th, is Kalevala Day in Finland, the day when they celebrate the Finnish national "epic" collected by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century. Tolkien, of course, had an early fascination with this poem, which he first saw in W.F. Kirby's translation as a teenager. By pure coincidence, though, I was reading The Collected Poems of C. S. Lewis just last night, and saw that CSL also read and admired Kirby's text. Here's a part of it: After Kirby's K alevala Sound of weeping in slender grasses Rose, a mourning in the pretty woodland. Round him mourning were the tender grasses, Flowers of leaved glade were grieving, Fading for the maiden's marring; Woodland weeping for a mother's daughter. In one place no grass was growing, Flower-forsaken, earth was naked, Where he had done the unholy thing, Where maid had fallen and man stolen Maidenhead of his mother's daughter. Lewis, as you can see, keeps the trocha

MLA 2021 .... complete!

Well, there it is -- my first MLA completed. Despite the unfortunateness of an online-only conference, I'm glad I participated .... although, granted, MLA doesn't have much to offer a scholar of SF and fantasy, as there was virtually nothing worthwhile about those topics there. (The International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts will always be better!) All in all, I attended two panels on Fredric Jameson,* and all the CEJL (Council of Editors of Learned Journals) panels about academic publishing. My own panel, "Publishing While Precarious," was a CEJL panel, in fact. So, since I'm unlikely to ever publish an article out of this presentation, here's my conference paper that I presented at MLA 2021: “ Treating Contingent Labor with Compassion: Strategies in Journal Publishing for Reducing Wait Times ”. At least a few people really liked it ... and one respondent, too, really appreciated the point made between wait times and academic "Quit Lit."

Amusing story about journal refereeing: serendipity edition

Back in October, a cool journal asked me to review one of their submissions. Of course, I said! But this was back when I was getting swamped with my five classes, and anticipated having to design a new online Film & Literature course that I eventually ended up not getting. Plus, I would have had to order and read the two novels discussed by the submission. Thus I pre-emptively ordered the two novels ... but mentioned that I might need until December to complete the review. Although I normally complete academic work like this quickly, my work schedule and my "how quickly can I read this books?" had me sppooked. Anyway, that December date was only a three-month turnaround, which is normally pretty acceptable for academic journals, but a few days later my contact told me that the journal was hoping for a quicker turnaround, so they offered the review to someone else. No problem, I replied .... despite ordering two (now) unnecessary novels, I highly applaud journals who striv

Fiction Reading List (July - December 2020)

As per my usual policy, I'm excluding the academic titles I've read -- just fiction here. For this latter six months, I've managed to get through 8,250 pages over 184 days, or 44.8 pages per day. (If you're interested, counts for 2019 can be found  here  and  here ; counts for 2018  here  and  here .) So, how did I do for the year? (The first half-year  found here .) FINAL STATS FOR 2020 : 16,550 pages (or 41 books) over 366 days, which averages out to about 45.2 pages per day. July - December 2020 Robert Jordan, The Eye of the World , 700 pg. Saladin Ahmed, The Throne of the Crescent Moon , 350 pg. Steph Swainston, Our Year of the War , 300 pg. Terry Goodkind, Stone of Tears , 1000 pg. David Farland, The Runelords , 600 pg. Brandon Sanderson, Elantris , 600 pg. Piers Anthony, A Spell for Chameleon , 350 pg Piers Anthony, The Source of Magic , 350 pg Piers Anthony, Castle Roogna , 350 pg. Piers Anthony, How Precious Was that While , 300 pg. Piers Anthony, Bio of an Ogre

Reading Tolkien (a podcast): I get interviewed by Dr. Ben Basset

Just did a fun podcast where Dr. Ben Basset interviews me about the field of Tolkien Studies, how Leo Strauss might be relevant to it, plus other topics like SF, Chip Delany, the Silmarillion, and metafiction. For some background, he found me because he really liked an article I published in Journal of Tolkien Research right before COVID hit, " On Ways of Studying Tolkien: Notes Toward a Better (Epic) Fantasy Criticism ." For my part, I was just fascinated to be talking with this subject with someone like Ben, who's an Aussie archaeologist but a major Tolkien fan as well. Anyway, if you're interested, it's about 71 minutes long. Find it here --  Reading Tolkien: An Interview with Dennis Wise . Check it out!

Fall 2020 semester is now over

And that's a wrap, folk -- final grades posted for all my courses. Overall, I taught 5 courses this semester (4 different preps, including one grad course), wrote one article, revised two others, did normal Fafnir stuff, and made some desultory progress on the monograph. Outlining, an awful rough draft of the introduction, etc. This last task makes me kinda blah on this semester -- I *know* I could have done better, but just couldn't. Still, everyone's saying how you can't judge this semester like normal semesters, and, even though I don't really believe that in my heart, I'll go with that for now.