Tim Parks is Associate Professor of Literature and Translation at IULM University in Milan. He is the author of many novels, translations, and works of nonfiction. A version of his essay in this issue will appear in Drawn from Life: Selected Essays of Michel de Montaigne, which will be published by Notting Hill Editions in November.
 (November 2016)


Montaigne: What Was Truly Courageous?

Remarking on a painter he had hired to decorate his house, a man whose habit was to fill in the empty spaces around his central painting with “odd fantastic figures without any grace but what they derive from their variety,” Montaigne draws a comparison with his own writing. “And in …

The Pleasures of Reading Stephen King

Stephen King, Bangor, Maine, August 2013

Mr. Mercedes

by Stephen King

Finders Keepers

by Stephen King
Is it right for a single mother spending a cold night outside so as to be among the first for a job handout at her town’s government center to bring her croupy baby along with her? Isn’t that irresponsible? But what if she can’t find anyone to babysit, and couldn’t …


Jhumpa Lahiri, Rome, February 2013

In Other Words

by Jhumpa Lahiri, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
Many readers will be aware of Jhumpa Lahiri as the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning collection of short stories The Interpreter of Maladies (1999), elegant, unsettling tales that invariably draw the reader into a state of anxiety for the welfare of a group of characters living for the most part …


The Color of Consciousness

Julián López Escobar, Seville, Spain, 2002

Riccardo Manzotti: Science tells us there’s no color in the world. It occurs only in our brains. But, when scientists look inside the brain to see what’s going on, they find only billions of neurons exchanging electrical impulses and releasing chemical substances. They find what they call correlates of consciousness, not consciousness itself; or in this case, they find correlates of color, but not color itself. There is no yellow banana in the head, just the grey stuff.

The Challenge of Consciousness

Virna Haffer: Inside the Mind of Man, circa 1935-1942

Riccardo Manzotti: For most people “consciousness” will have various meanings and include awareness, self-awareness, thinking in language. But for philosophers and neuroscientists the crucial meaning is that of feeling something, having a feeling you might say, or an experience. It’s all very problematic. The truth is that we do not know what consciousness is. That’s why we’re talking about it as a problem.

When Not to Translate

Day one, fourth story of The Decameron (detail) by Giovanni Boccaccio, fifteenth century

We live in a time of retranslation. The logic behind this phenomenon is clear enough. A translation inevitably reflects the language and style of its time. Are new translations always better, or always feasible, even?

Bob Dylan: The Music Travels, the Poetry Stays Home

Bob Dylan with Tom Petty, Modena, Italy September 13, 1987

The most interesting thing about this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature is that it divides the world, geographically and linguistically, in a way no other Nobel has done. The award has laid bare a fact that international literary prizes usually ignore, or were perhaps designed to overcome: that a work of art is intimately bound up to the cultural setting in which it was created.