To See the Moon So Clearly

My colleague Ian Appleby sent me a copy of his and Simon Geoghegan’s translation of To See the Moon So Clearly by Gai Sever a shamefully long time ago. Sadly, both boys are too inclined to suspicion of new books and authors for either of them to have let me read the stories to them, so what follows are my own impressions only.

For an extract from the title story, see here.

Gai Sever is a philologist by inclination and training, specialising in Horace, Martial, Petronius and the Nine Lyric Poets. He has worked as a web designer and programmer, and also in the publishing industry. He currently manages a small publishing house dealing with new translations of classical works, among them Virgil, Persius, Martial, and Homer. He finds recreation in writing fiction in Russian, and translating from English. Among his publications are two fantasy collections, one science fiction collection, and translations of works by Jerome K. Jerome and Arthur Conan Doyle. At the moment, he is translating Isaac Asimov’s “The End of Eternity”.

The book is a collection of three stories, which in turn form part of a cycle of five novelettes. They have an enchanting, whimsical quality which I enjoyed, and Ian’s translation draws on the English fairytale tradition while preserving a Russian flavour.

In some respects, I found the stories a little disjointed, both in terms of lacking a connection with each other, and because the reader is launched straight into three very distinct worlds without introduction. Perhaps you need to read the entire cycle to really get to grips with them. But then again, perhaps that’s also in keeping with the fairytale nature. Certainly the stories have greater depth than fairytales, and are worth reading as an adult too. They pull you in without the “Hey? What? That doesn’t make sense!” element and prompt you to think about what lies beneath.

I really hope to persuade the boys to read them, and if I do, I’ll let you know what they think. Apart from anything else, there’s a certain Tree Fu Tom-ishness to the story about the wood sprite that ought to appeal.

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About forwardtranslations

I'm a freelance literary translator from German and French to English. The title of my blog comes from Mary Schmich's description of reading: it struck home with me, and seems especially apt for translated fiction. Here are some of my musings on what I'm reading, re-reading, reading to my children, and translating.
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