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Why political scientists and linguists are now talking about language politics in the Himalaya

by Selma K. (‘Sam’) Sonntag

Why a book on The Politics of Language Contact in the Himalaya and why now? The title of the book might provide some answers. As the title indicates, the contributions to the book address: 1) politics, 2) language contact, and 3) the Himalaya region. Most important are the connections between the three.

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Why the politics of language needs examples from beyond the Global North

by Rémi Léger, Simon Fraser University

I was invited to reflect on and situate The Politics of Language Contact in the Himalaya in the broader multidisciplinary debate on the politics of language. Let me preface my thoughts and comments with two important caveats. The first is that I am a political scientist, particularly a political theorist, whereas most of the authors involved in this book project are anthropologists, linguists and sociolinguists. My training in contemporary political theory and theories of linguistic justice necessarily influences my reading of the broader debates and of the chapters in this edited volume.

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Hölderlin, Gaskill, and the art of translation

OBP: Zsofia Hesket https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0095

Among scholars and enthusiasts of romantic literature, Hölderlin is certainly best known for his beautiful lyric poetry. Engaging themes of exile, divinity and the natural world, his poems ingeniously incorporated classical Greek syntax and mythology. He married both Greek and German linguistic traditions to create a language “foreign to, yet complicit in both”.[1] Clearly, this idiosyncrasy makes Hölderlin notoriously difficult to translate into English, and likely contributed to his other writings remaining quite unknown. With his new translation of Hyperion or The Hermit in Greece, available in Open Access, Howard Gaskill hopes to bolster interest in Hölderlin’s prose. A masterpiece of the romantic era, the novel deserves far greater recognition in the Anglophone world.  

Hyperion consists of a one-way correspondence addressed to a friend of whom we know virtually nothing. In this sense it is similar to Goethe’s Werther, another romantic classic. Yet, Hölderlin’s novel is a personal narration of events deep in the protagonist’s past, rather than a telling of present happenings. It is also set apart by its use of critical reflection, in which the character of Hyperion evaluates the experiences that have shaped his life. Returning to Greece after German exile, he takes up a hermitic existence that is peppered with remarkable relationships and encounters. Confronting and commenting on his past, Hyperion undergoes an evolution in consciousness that culminates in the realisation of his poetic vocation. Notice the characteristic theme running through Hölderlin works – in some way or other, linguistically or in the plot, he links the two countries of Greece and Germany. This ‘trademark’ unites the author’s poetry and prose, and fully appreciating his writing requires attention to the latter, too. Gaskill’s elegant translation is bound to encourage this, as it transports English-speaking readers directly into Hyperion’s mind.

With these many aspects to bear in mind, the translator is much like a juggler, performing a complex routine of mental gymnastics with each successive sentence. Gaskill does not shy away from this task. His meticulous rendition of Hyperion dares to replicate the contractions, colloquialisms and Swabianisms of Hölderlin, staying true to the rhythm of the original German. A concession to the modern reader, Gaskill introduces inverted commas to clarify which character is speaking. Hölderlin’s punctuation style is otherwise retained, leaving intact a unique characteristic of his writing. An accessible text with the charm of its native German, this translation is bound to appeal to those unfamiliar with Hyperion’s story.

Gaskill’s efforts to popularise Hyperion deeply resonate with me. Reading more foreign literature, I believe, is valuable to everyone. Not only does it expose us to a wealth of exciting stories, but it sheds light on the circumstances and perspectives of people in other countries. I have myself considered translating – and converting into plays – the works of renowned yet globally-overlooked Hungarian authors and poets, like Petőfi Sándor, József Attila, or Karinthy Frigyes. Addressing topics as universal as family, these writers also illuminate specific historical incidents, like Hungary’s revolt against the Habsburgs and its condition after the World Wars. Much like Hölderlin’s German, however, the complexities and intricacies of Hungarian are a great barrier to effective translation. This is the eternal vice of translation, and it can never be fully solved. Ultimately, it appears that all texts are destined to retain some degree of mystery for all but their native speakers.


[1] Guevara, F., Words Without Borders, August 2009, https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/book-review/friedrich-holderlins-selected-poems-and-odes-and-elegies

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Tolerance: Student Perspectives

OBP: Alice Meyer https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0068 “We produced translations for Tolerance in a small group, made up of the 2nd year students in my college. We were given the French copies of two texts, produced our own translations, and then all met … Continue reading

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From George Romero to The Walking Dead: The Meaning of the Zombie

Christopher Mastropietro https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0065

A few weeks ago, filmmaker George Romero passed away in Toronto. Across the city and elsewhere, remembrance vigils were held for him. It was the kind of treatment usually reserved for great musicians, artists who bared some cardinal human aspect in their work that was hitherto unexplored. In the case of Romero, the artistic reflection was a grotesque one, but estimably more profound than most people realized.

People have called him the father of the modern zombie movie, and deservedly. His innovations in the genre formed the most iconic prototype of the undead walker. A similar version is still featured in shows like The Walking Dead (set to return for its eight season in October), which presides somewhere near the crown of modern broadcasting success stories. The popularity of the genre has reached its crest in the 2000s, and has become more pervasive than its progenitors could have ever predicted. Much of the credit for this must surely go to Mr. Romero. Continue reading

Create your own OBP book with OBP Customise!

OBP: Lucy Barnes https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1425-6985 https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0059

Did you know you can create your own books using OBP content? This can be as simple as requesting a customised cover for one of our existing books (OBP Personal), but we can also work with you to create a volume that samples different chapters from various publications, complete with a new introduction and cover.

Recently, the International Philosophy Olympiad ordered 400 customised copies of our anthology Tolerance for their conference on the same theme. The books had a cover customised with the conference branding, and each delegate received a copy as a keepsake of the event. We have also produced bespoke copies of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 21st Century, with an individual dedication page for each member of the Global Citizenship Commission.

Our author Caroline Warman at the International Philosophy Olympiad 2017 with a customised copy of Tolerance.

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Our Top Five Most Read Books of 2016

OBP: Katie Bray https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0049

Happy New Year from Open Book Publishers! As we leave 2016 behind, join us in taking a look at our top 5 most read books of the year.top5.
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Libraries and Open Access – The December Series

OBP: Katie Bray https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0042

dec-seriesFor Open Access Week 2016, OBP published a series of blog posts by librarians, in which they shared their thoughts on Open Access books – all the blog posts can be read here.

But we didn’t want the conversation to end there!

We are releasing a follow up December Series of Libraries and Open Access, and we’d love it if you participated!

The blog post would preferably consist of around 500-700 words, discussing your thoughts on Open Access books – it doesn’t matter what your role within the library is, or the angle that you come at the post from; we just want to hear your experiences!

If you’d like to participate let us know asap, and please send your blog post and a picture of yourself to libraries@openbookpublishers.com by 01/12/2016. Of course don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

What does it mean for a work of literature to be “against criticism”?


https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0031

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What does it mean for a work of literature to be “against criticism”? After all, it is a sure fact that the market
conditions for the reception of much literary fiction are fostered within the walls of university English departments. Many others have also charted the ways in which contemporary fiction seems to “write back” to the academy or how the American creative writing programmes influenced a whole generation of novelists. Doesn’t this show that literary works and university English just get along?

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Open Access Week – Librarian Bloggers Needed!

OBP https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0173.0030

oa-blogOpen Access week is fast approaching! There are some fantastic events and other projects in the OA Week lineup, all available to look through on the OA Week website.

Here at OBP, we are planning some of our own projects for OA Week – we will be publishing a series of blog posts by librarians, regarding Open Access books, discussing topics such as: Continue reading