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 Ice Cream Problem

Wayne Thiebaud: Four Ice Cream Cones, 1964

Riccardo Manzotti: I lick a strawberry ice cream and a chocolate ice cream. The action, licking, is the same, the sensory motor contingency, that is the affordance that the two ice creams present to the mouth, is the same, but the taste quite different. There simply isn’t a different action, a different engagement of the body with the environment, to match every different experience we have.

Does Information Smell?

John Constable's drawing of a mouse with a piece of cheese, inscribed

Riccardo Manzotti: We must distinguish between internalism as an approach to the problem of consciousness (the idea that it is entirely produced in the head) and neuroscience as a discipline. The neuroscientists have made huge progress in mapping out the brain and analyzing the nitty-gritty of what goes on there, but the way they describe their experiments by way of a computer analogy—in particular of information processing and memory storage—can give the mistaken impression that they’re getting nearer to understanding what consciousness is.

A No-Nonsense Machiavelli

Translators come to The Prince with prejudices; one is tempted to play to the reader’s expectations, laying on Machiavelli’s supposed cynicism at the expense of the text’s surprising subtlety. When translating The Prince, rightly or wrongly I fell for the challenge of looking for every possible way to make the sentences sharp and direct while delivering exactly the sense of the original and keeping the no-nonsense tone. Rather than a liberty, this seemed right in line with Machiavelli’s desire that the work be free of all “irrelevant flourishes.”

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. There is no yellow banana in the head, just the grey stuff.