Book News: Memoir Coming From Obama's Half-Brother
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
A Turkish court this week suspended the trial of a translator and publisher accused of "corrupting public morals" with a 2009 edition of the century-old French novel The Exploits of a Young Don Juan. Thought to have been written by the surrealist poet Guillaume Apollinaire and originally published in 1911 the novel describes the sexual awakening of a teenage boy. Publisher Irfan Sanci and translator Ismail Yerguz won't be tried for another three years because of a legal technicality, but Sanci told Agence France-Presse that, "this decision is like the Sword of Damocles over my head." Sanci's lawyer added, "They tell us not to commit a crime for three years. For them, publishing a book is a crime." Sanci says he plans to go forward with the book anyways.
Charles Simic translates Radmila Lazic's poem "Psalm of Despair" from Serbian for The New York Review of Books:
"In despair we make children
In despair we strangle them
And feed our desperate offspring
With our own despair
So that they may multiply
By giving birth to ever more desperate children..."
Cynthia Russett, the historian whose book Sexual Science: The Victorian Construction of Womanhood described the efforts of Victorian scientists to find evidence that women were inherently inferior, has died at the age of 76. The book, which is her best-known work, suggests that scientists responded to women's "new claims to a life beyond the domestic hearth," by "measuring limbs, pondering viscera, [and] reckoning up skulls" in an attempt to demonstrate scientifically that women are naturally subordinate. After earning a PhD at Yale, Russett joined the faculty there and taught from 1967 until her death.
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