Friday, February 24, 2012

Rothfuss in translation

If you are a fan of fantasy literature, or just good books in general, I cannot recommend Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles enough. The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear have made it into the small circle of books that I force upon all my friends because I know that they'll thank me in the end.

The third book in the series, The Doors of Stone, is on its way but not soon enough, so I was lurking on Rothfuss's blog trying to get my Kvothe fix when I found two lovely posts on the subject of translation.

Rothfuss makes the point that one of the reasons his books take so long to translate is because "If you haven’t noticed, I tend to make a lot of anormal word usements." This is a great example of why you should read Rothfuss if you are a language lover: He is crafting a story that hinges on the idea that language is power, but not in your typical LeGuin-ian fantasy way.

By the end of the book, it's clear that every sentence of these two (very long!) books is a work of art. It's not usually very flowery language, though when he tricks me into reading poetry by leaving out the line breaks or switches to rambling dialogue, it usually breaks my heart it's so beautiful. (Kvothe to Denna in Wise Man's Fear: "You are my bright penny by the roadside. You are worth more than salt or the moon on a long night of walking. You are sweet wine in my mouth, a song in my throat, and laughter in my heart.")

But the real craftsmanship is realizing that the answers to the mystery you are so desperately trying solve have been right under your nose all along; that after 1600 pages, you're still not sure if you can trust your narrator; and that every single word was carefully placed in a pattern you are just beginning to see. Give me the red pill, Pat!

1 comment:

  1. I've never heard of any of this, but it sounds interesting/cool enough that I now want to know all about it! I'll have to put them next on my list.