Kirsten Lodge’s New Translation of Notes from the Underground

Notes from the UndergroundKirsten Lodge’s new translation of Notes from the Underground has been receiving high commendation from academics and readers alike. The following review by Jefferson Gatrall at Montclair State University praises both Lodge’s translation and her contextual materials for students:

Kirsten Lodge has performed an invaluable service for modern readers with her new translation of Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground. This classic novel has long been notorious for its nameless hero, an “Underground Man” whose psychological complexities and philosophical provocations remain as revolutionary now as they once were for Dostoevsky’s contemporaries. Lodge manages to capture the full range of the Underground Man’s unpredictable rhetoric through subtle style choices of her own. For the extended monologue in Part I, she keeps intact the Underground Man’s long, winding sentences in all their cynical and seductive lucidity. By contrast, Lodge peppers the dialogs in Part II—in a restaurant, in a brothel, etc.—with cutting and even vulgar language taken from contemporary American vernacular. Dostoevsky prided himself on his mastery of Russian slang. Lodge not only remains true to the letter and spirit of the original through her well-timed use of such words as “bitch” or “morons”; following in Dostoevsky’s footsteps, she also pushes the boundaries of good taste in a way likely to startle readers. The Underground Man, an intellectual recluse, admits that he can sound “bookish”; but he is also an angry college grad working in a dead-end job. Lodge’s translation preserves both the rigor and the venom of his hard-hitting paradoxes.

Teachers in particular will find highly useful the historical documents that Lodge includes with her translation, from excerpts of works by Dostoevsky’s literary rivals to photographs of the “Crystal Palace”—a cutting-edge London pavilion that provoked the horror of the novelist and Underground Man alike. Dostoevsky wrote his novel in part as an urgent intervention at a very specific moment in prerevolutionary Russian history. For teachers and students, Lodge surrounds the novel with a wealth of fascinating materials for understanding what was at stake for Dostoevsky and his political opponents. Lodge’s introduction is especially noteworthy, as it provides what may well be the most clearheaded summary of the novel and its polemics as exists in print. Yet beyond this historical context, Dostoevsky also wrote the Notes from the Underground as a literary experiment, one in which he stretched the conventions of the novel to their breaking point so as to engage the present in as direct a manner as possible. Here Lodge’s translation admirably succeeds in conveying all the energy and urgency of the original for a new generation of readers. From his first word to the last, she lets the Underground Man speak for himself.

-Jefferson Gatrall, Montclair State University

For more information about the edition, please click here.

Victor Ramraj (1941-2014)

Concert of Voices 2e

It is with great sorrow that we at Broadview heard news of the death of Victor Ramraj, editor of our esteemed Concert of Voices anthology. An internationally-recognized scholar at the University of Calgary, Victor was a distinguished expert in postcolonial studies and Canadian literature. He was the author of several books, dozens of articles, and works of creative writing. Concert of Voices, the anthology of world writing in English that he edited for Broadview, has been highly-regarded by students and teachers alike since its first publication in 1995; it exemplifies Victor’s expertise and his dedication to sharing that knowledge and passion with students.

Victor was always a great supporter of the press, and served on our editorial board for many years in the 1990s. In that capacity (as in so many others over the years), he displayed good judgement, infectious enthusiasm, and a warm spirit of humanity.

Victor will be sadly missed by us at Broadview, and by the academic and literary communities to which he contributed so much.

The Rules of the Game

An Excerpt from The Grasshopper, Third Edition, by Bernard Suits

grasshopper

In this passage, the Grasshopper explores the possibility of playing a game without any rules.

Ivan and Abdul [I began] had been officers of general rank before each was retired and ‘elevated’ to the post of ambassador in the backwater capital of Rien-à-faire. Both had established brilliant military careers in the service of homelands which had frequently been at war with one another, and Ivan and Abdul had in fact been opposite numbers in many engagements. So the two warriors were overjoyed at the opportunity their appointments afforded them for going over all of their old campaigns together. But after a few months, when they had reviewed all the victories and defeats from every possible angle and refought all the old battles under every conceivable modification of logistics and tactics, they grew weary of their reminiscences and sought other diversions.

Sport seemed an obvious pastime for a couple of shelved warriors to take up, since sport seemed to them to be a kind of substitute, or polite, kind of warfare. It soon became evident to them, however, that sports were like warfare in only the most superficial respects. Specifically, they found that sports were hedged round with the most outrageously arbitrary restrictions. In golf, for example, you were expected to use a golf club to get your ball out of a sand trap even when your opponent could not see what you were doing. And in tennis, you were expected to call a ball foul or fair honestly even when your opponent was not in a position to check your call. Chess was no better, since surreptitiously to alter the location of pieces on the board – obviously an effective tactic – was ruled out.

But since they could find nothing better to do to occupy their time, they continued to play these games, although – as the diplomatic colony to its delight soon became aware – with a difference. Whenever the rules could be broken without detection or retribution, they were broken. Although this approach was ultimately doomed to failure, it worked very well for a time, and a number of breathtaking refinements were added to most of the conventional games. Thus to golf was added, among other things, the use of self-propelling radar-controlled golf balls, and to chess the use of hallucinogenic drugs as an offensive weapon. On the tennis courts Abdul achieved a much admired coup by hiring two men to raise and lower the net at appropriate times, until this was countered by Ivan’s introduction of the net-piercing tennis ball. Things reached their fated conclusion in a climactic chess match.

In preparing themselves for the contest both contestants had countered the possible use of drugs by taking suitable antidotes, and each was determined to keep a very keen eye upon the other throughout the match. The first game proceeded normally for six moves. Then Ivan made the move which was the beginning of the end. Utterly ignoring the rules governing movement of the pieces, he illegally moved his queen to a square which put Abdul in check. The fascinated audience waited breathlessly for Abdul’s response to this outrage. It was not slow in coming. He simply removed Ivan’s queen from the board and put it in his pocket. Ivan in turn was quick to respond. In a trice he had nimbly rearranged the pieces on the board so that Abdul’s king was in checkmate, crying, ‘I’ve won!’

‘Wrong, my friend,’ screamed Abdul, and gathering up all of the pieces except his king, he flung them to the floor.

‘Abdul, you can’t do that,’ said Ivan in outraged tones. ‘I won the game the moment you were in checkmate.’

‘So you say,’ responded Abdul, ‘but you were obviously mistaken, for there stands my king, quite free to move.’

Ivan had not, of course, expected such a transparent tactic to succeed with the wily Abdul. It had merely been a diversionary move so that he could, while his opponent was momentarily distracted, secure Abdul’s king to the board with the quick-drying glue he had all along held ready in his hand beneath the table. Then, of course, before you could say ‘scimitar,’ Abdul snatched a bottle of solvent from his tunic and freed his king. Ivan’s hand immediately shot out towards the king, but Abdul grabbed his wrist in time to forestall the assault. For a full minute they were locked in a frozen tableau of force and counterforce (evoking spirited applause from the audience), before they broke apart, leapt from their chairs, and began to circle each other warily. Then they joined battled in what was to become a truly mythic contest, for

They fought all that night

Neath the pale yellow light,

And the din it was heard from afar.

Huge multitudes came,

So great was the fame

Of Abdul and Ivan Skavar.

Broadview Junior Essay Award Winner

pride and prejudice

Broadview is proud to support and recognize outstanding student writing. We are happy to announce that Kiera Keglowitsch, a first-year student at the university of Alberta, has won the Broadview Junior Award for an Essay in Prose. Please click here to read Kiera`s essay on love in Pride and Prejudice.

The essay was selected by a panel of three professors at the University of Alberta: Don Perkins, Sylvia Brown and Chri Bracken.

Arguing with People

Arguing with People

ARGUING WITH PEOPLE

In the following interview, Michael Gilbert talks arguments with Stephen Latta, Broadview’s Philosophy Editor. Gilbert’s new book draws together insights from Argumentation Theory and our experience of everyday arguing to challenge and deepen how we approach critical thinking.

SL: What is Argumentation Theory?

MG: Argumentation Theory is an area of study that draws upon philosophy, social psychology, communication theory, rhetoric, linguistics, and discourse analysis. Its roots lie in the 1950s, but it really came into its own in the 1970s. Scholars in all these disciplines came to realize that their interest in interpersonal disagreement intersected in many ways, and that by looking across disciplines we would come to understand interpersonal argument in a deeper and more realistic way. Today in numerous journals and conferences we share interdisciplinary approaches and thereby enlarge our stock of tools for understanding everyday argumentation.

SL: In the introduction to your book, you indicate that knowledge of recent advances in Argumentation Theory can be of use to “the many people whose occupations and interests involve them in argumentation on a daily basis.” Can you give an example of how such knowledge may be useful in an everyday context?

MG: We engage in arguments all the time. Some are important and loom large, while others are virtually trivial. Once you commit to an argument you need to understand its dynamics, its importance to you, and its importance to your argument partner. If you become aware of the goals involved in a dispute, pay attention to the personalities, and take into account the context and relationships involved, a difficult argument can become a simple and straightforward one. Whether it’s in business or at home, there’s always a lot in play. While knowing about argument is important, it is not the same as knowing how to argue, and that knowledge is vital in everyday contexts.

SL: Students of philosophy are often taught that arguments are good or bad independent of context or method of presentation. Do you believe that this view is mistaken?

MG: Most university students take a course in Critical Thinking or Critical Reasoning, and those are important courses. They teach argument structure, relations between premises and conclusions, and the importance of relevance and evidence. However, in real arguments that take place in the office, boardroom or kitchen, there is much more going on. Who you are arguing with, why you are arguing, where you are arguing—these are all factors ignored by the traditional structural approach, yet they can often be the most crucial. For example, I would even go so far as to state that it is not always a good idea to point out your partner’s argument mistake, be it a logical error or the commission of a fallacy. Sure, recognizing it is important, but how that knowledge is used is something else entirely.

SL: You note that we most often argue with our “familiars” (friends, family, and others with whom we are in regular contact). But some people hold that it is best to avoid arguments with friends and family whenever possible. Do you think this is good advice, or is there something valuable or important about engaging in arguments with familiars?

MG: The first questions any arguer should ask are these: Should I enter into this argument? What’s in it for me, and what’s in it for my partner? Sometimes the outcome is not all that important, and you may choose to ignore the statement or attitude and move on. At other times, the belief or values being expressed are something you care about and want to try and change. So sometimes there is something very valuable in arguing with friends and family, at other times it’s just not worth the effort, and in still others the emotional costs may be too high. You need to remember too that when we argue with familiars, we know a lot about them, and they about us. It is also important to keep in mind that many arguments do not take place in a set time and place. They frequently boil up and simmer down, and they can take weeks or months to resolve themselves. So avoiding arguments is relative to time and place as well as to the person with whom you are arguing.

SL: In some ways, academic writing seems designed to strip away the direct, interpersonal elements of conversational argument – threads of discussion in academic journals often take years or even decades to play out, and scholarly reviewers are typically blind to the identity of authors. Do you think this is in any way a hindrance to progress in scholarly arguments?

MG: This is a difficult question for me to answer, if for no other reason than I have been trained in this approach and it is deeply instilled in me. I certainly wouldn’t want academic journals to become like so many Internet bulletin boards, loaded with personal attacks and diatribes. On the other hand, I do try personally to make my academic writing a bit contextually rich, and do not pretend I am writing in a vacuum. The other consideration is that the counterpoints to the aridity of journal writing are the conferences we all attend. The interactions there are where the context, personalities, and interpersonal elements come into play. Sometimes minds even change!

SL: You have published other books on argument. How do you see Arguing with People fitting in with those?

MG: The first book I ever published on argumentation was in 1979 and is How to win an Argument, now in a 3rd edition. That book was very introductory and focused primarily on the topics popular in Critical Thinking. The new edition contains more modern material but it is still a popular introduction to Critical Reasoning. Later, in 1997 I published Coalescent Argumentation, which is a more scholarly work (i.e., harder) that introduces many of the concepts I developed in my research over time. Arguing with People, on the other hand, takes much of the more scholarly material and makes it available and understandable to the lay reader or college student. In this way I hope to make the general public aware of the breadth of research going on in Argumentation Theory.

Michael A. Gilbert is Professor of Philosophy at York University.

The New Yorker talks Amazon

“Amazon has successfully fostered the idea that a book is a thing of minimal value—it’s a widget.” – Dennis Johnson

George Packer presented an interesting, in-depth look at books in the era of Amazon in the February 17th installment of The New Yorker, urging readers to consider this important question: Amazon may be good for customers, but is it good for books? Read the full article here.

Announcement – Broadview Press/Freehand Books Management Roles

Broadview Press/Freehand Books is pleased to announce a shift in management roles for the new year. Effective this week, Leslie Dema assumes the position of President, taking over from Don LePan. Leslie, who has been the company’s Vice President since 2011, holds an MA in Philosophy from the University of Guelph; she held the position of Sales Manager before becoming Vice President.

Don, who founded the company in 1985 and has been president for most of its history, will continue to work full time for Broadview, acting as CEO and as the general editor of The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. (His new title is CEO and Company Founder.)

The shift in management roles does not signal any change in policy or direction for Broadview; we look forward to continuing and extending the company’s traditions of excellence—and to continued good relations with our authors and our customers.

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Broadview Press is an independent academic publisher in the humanities. Based in Canada, the company is internationally oriented, both in its publishing program and in its approach to marketing; Broadview employs more than 25 people across Canada, and has sales representation around the world. Founded in 1985, Broadview now publishes over 40 titles per year and has annual sales of more than $3,000,000.

Freehand Books, Broadview’s Calgary-based literary wing, was founded in 2008 to publish new works of fiction, poetry, and literary non-fiction. It currently publishes 4 titles per year.

 

The Value of Poetry

I’m writing this time about poetry. To my mind, one of the most unfortunate trends of recent years is the decline in poetry sales for university and college courses. (Yes, I do have Broadview’s interests at heart here, but it’s more than that—really!) Increasingly, instructors have turned away from assigning anthologies of poetry or individual volumes of poetry for their students, and turned instead to course-packs or online readings for the poetry component of their courses. That’s an understandable move; most books of poetry (both anthologies and single-author volumes) have become more expensive, and students sometimes complain if their assigned reading totals only a small percentage of a full volume. But the result, sadly, is a vicious cycle. Publishers face larger unit costs on lower print runs and this increases prices further, making instructors ever more reluctant to assign poetry in bound book form to their students.

That might not be such a bad thing were it not for the implicit message it can send about different sorts of literature. If, as often happens, novels for a course are assigned in handsome editions while the course’s poetry component consists of an unattractive little course-pack of grainy photocopies, the implicit message is clear: poetry is not something that one might consider keeping on one’s shelf at home and pulling down from time to time (as I have countless times over the years with The Broadview Anthology of Poetry), reacquainting oneself with old favorites and discovering new ones; poetry is not something one would ever read for pleasure; poetry just isn’t of much importance.

It strikes me as particularly ironic that we so often send that implicit message about the reading of poetry to students even as the expansion of creative writing classes implicitly places an ever-higher value on the writing of poetry.

We at Broadview would like to send a different message about the reading of poetry. Already we’ve made it a policy to price The Broadview Anthology of Poetry very reasonably. Whereas most other poetry anthologies of comparable size are priced these days at $70 or more, the original edition of the Broadview is currently priced at $42.95, while the second edition* is priced at $49.95. For 2014 we’re going to make those prices even more reasonable—bringing them to $24.95 for the original edition, and to $29.95 for the second edition. We want to break the cycle. In business terms, we want to be able to sell enough copies to allow us to keep reprinting in large quantities, thereby achieving economies of scale such that we’ll be able to keep prices reasonable in the future. In cultural and pedagogical terms, odd as it may sound, we’re lowering prices in the hope that this will lead to poetry being valued more highly.

We will also be setting low prices on some individual poetry volumes, including Robert Browning’s The Ring and the Book; our editions of selected poems by Anna Letitia Barbauld, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Letitia Landon, and Augusta Webster; and, from our Freehand Books list, Jeannette Lynes’ It’s Hard Being Queen and Ian Williams’ acclaimed Personals (short-listed this past year for the Griffin Poetry Prize).

If you’d like to receive a complimentary electronic copy** of any of these titles (or of other Broadview titles you think might fit your courses), please email us at examcopies@broadviewpress.com.

Don  LePan
CEO and Company Founder

*for copyright reasons available only in Canada.

** If after you’ve had a chance to look through a complimentary e-copy you decide you would indeed like to choose that book as a text for one of your courses, we will of course be happy to send a complimentary copy of the bound book, too.

The Dawn of Ebooks

kingIn 1999, the development of the Open eBook (OeB) format—which would later become the EPUB format—was the first step in moving publishing into a digital age. Early e-readers such as the Rocket Ebook and the Softbook were issued, and publishers began implementing systems of digital production. In 2000, Stephen King became the first author to publish a work that was available solely in electronic format; his novel Riding the Bullet is still considered a landmark of digital publishing.

Despite the industry’s initial enthusiasm, it was nearly a decade before the technology was in place to truly support digital readership. The improvement of wireless networks, the growing popularity of smartphones, and the prominence of online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble in the late 2000s contributed to a new generation of readers that were digitally conscious and technically savvy; people now had the tools and the skill set to greet the dawn of ebooks and e-readers with new enthusiasm.

To read more on the development of ebooks and on digital publishing, see Chapter Four: Modern Times: From Paperback to e-Books, in Solveig Robinson’s The Book in Society.

 

The Linotype and the Mechanization of Typesetting

linotypeThe invention of the typewriter in the 1860s spurred a fervent interest in speed, legibility, and precision among writers and publishers alike. As individual writers experienced the various advantages of typescript over a handwritten manuscript, printing houses began looking for ways to replicate the efficiency of the keyboard in large-scale printing practices. An increasingly mechanical age called for systems of production that could turn out a high quantity of high-quality books with minimal physical effort.

Early experimentation with keyboard-driven typesetting involved releasing cast type from large font storage bins into “composing sticks,” which would make the impression and then release the type. Type produced this way was often inaccurately aligned, and this method still required the labour-intensive process of collecting and sorting type once a printing job was complete. These problems were solved with the development of “hot metal composing.” A keyboard was used to produce letters one at a time throughout the typesetting process; when a particular key was selected, a brand new piece of type would be cast and sent into the composing stick, thereby creating new type and fresh impressions for each new project. This process of hot metal composing was the concept behind the first commercially successful typesetting machine: the Linotype, invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1886.

To read more on the Linotype and on early typesetting procedures, see Chapter Three: The Printing Revolution, in Solveig Robinson’s The Book in Society.