Summer Will Show is the third novel by Sylvia Townsend Warner to appear as an NYRB Classic, having been preceded by Lolly Willowes and Mr. Fortune’s Maggot. Warner is one of the most inventive, intelligent, and plain astonishing British writers of the twentieth century, fully the equal of such contemporaries of hers as Elizabeth Bowen and Henry Green, not to mention the slightly older Virginia Woolf.
There are certain writers who feature in a large way in the NYRB Classics series—some, like Simenon and Victor Serge, I’ve written about in the past; others, like Sylvia Townsend Warner, perhaps the most purely original of modern English storytellers, I mean to. Here I want to say a little bit about Andrey Platonov, whose Soul and Other Stories we published last year and whose great and harrowing novel The Foundation Pit we have just put out in a striking new translation by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler and Olga Meerson, the first translation of the book in English to be based on the recently established definitive Russian text.
Everything’s up in the air at the start of Theodor Storm’s novella, The Rider on the White Horse, written in 1888 when Storm, who was not only a celebrated author but also a distinguished jurist, was on his deathbed.
Pinocchio has long been one of my favorite books, so I was overjoyed when, a few years back, Geoffrey Brock, the poet and translator of Roberto Calasso, Umberto Eco, and Cesare Pavese, wrote me saying that if I was in the business of bringing neglected books back to light, why didn’t I consider Pinocchio, a very great book, as all Italians knew, but so taken for granted and, in English, so haphazardly translated, that it had hardly received its due.
I wanted to follow up my recent note about Stefan Zweig and The Post-Office Girl with a few words about Der Nister’s The Family Mashber, written around the same time as Zweig’s novel. Leonard Wolf’s wonderful translation from the original Yiddish came out some twenty years ago, but the NYRB Classics edition marks the first time this unclassifiable masterpiece—a message in a bottle from another world, or even, you might at times feel tempted to say, the otherworld—has appeared in paperback.
June is the month of Reading the World, a program in which publishers and independent booksellers team up to promote literature in translation throughout the country. NYRB is a happy participant in Reading the World, and this letter gives me a chance both to plug the whole endeavor and to write about Stefan Zweig’s The Post-Office Girl.