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Ancillary Mercy: completed

I adored the book. My review is here. The one thing I'll add here on LJ is this: In Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy, there's some urgency about making sure that the Presger translators understand that organs, viscera, blood, etc., are supposed to be kept *inside* the body--sometimes with humorous effect, sometimes with pathos (and always with a hint of anxiety: this is a basic fact of how humans need to operate that we'd like others to understand about us).

That got me thinking about imagination. Imagination is something that's inside us--like (ideally) blood. But imagination works best (or at least, most generously) if we don't leave it there: if we get it outside us and into the world. We're all translators of our imaginations, struggling to find a language that will make it intelligible to others. When someone manages this, when they share their marvelous interior worlds with us, what a fabulous thing that is. Translator Leckie has done this. Well done, Translator Leckie--your imagination does belong outside your head, shared with the world.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 13th, 2015 06:58 am (UTC)
I saw Ancillary Justice at a local bookstore. I may have to pick up a copy. The problem here is getting the sequels.
Nov. 13th, 2015 11:38 am (UTC)
Guess what I can send you!
Nov. 13th, 2015 01:38 pm (UTC)
Merry Christmas to me? ;)
Nov. 13th, 2015 02:26 pm (UTC)
Nov. 13th, 2015 01:28 pm (UTC)
You remind me of this wonderful whirling talk on translation I attended when I was in Hebrew class. I was particularly struck by the aptness of Nathan Englander's remark that all writing is an attempt at translation from the writer's head to the reader's-- and that our contexts infest our writing and our reading, invisibly to us.
Nov. 13th, 2015 01:40 pm (UTC)
Which nicely echos the quote that accompanied my daily word email today:

I know what I have given you. I do not know what you have received. -Antonio Porchia, poet (13 Nov 1886-1968)
Nov. 13th, 2015 01:40 pm (UTC)
Nov. 13th, 2015 02:26 pm (UTC)
There's magic and transformation--and danger--in that moment when something passes from one person to another.
Nov. 13th, 2015 02:25 pm (UTC)
Our contexts really do infest! I'm thinking of the story--maybe I shared it before?--of the well-to-do young girl making up a story and saying, "The family was very poor. The mother was poor, and the father was poor, and the children were poor, and their maid was poor, and their gardener was poor, and their cook was poor..." --yeeeeahhh.

One invisible context that I see infesting writing is sense of [or, more often, lack of sense of] family. Many writers that I wander across grew up in nuclear families with not many siblings--they default to this sort of family situation (if they mention family at all) even when creating invented societies--whereas for many people, the experience of family is one that's rich in (or burdened with, depending on how the experience goes) cousins, grandparents, grown aunts and uncles, siblings, nieces and nephews, etc. .... Sorry to go on about this, but it was definitely a blind spot I had, myself, so it's one I think about.
Nov. 13th, 2015 03:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, very true.

You know the funny thing about the story of the poor family? The relativity of poverty!

My mother grew up in a most insecure family-- the Great Depression, her father being an unsuccessful con man-- and I was raised on stories from that context. (My father's family also suffered from the Great Depression, but they were steady peasant types, so the additional tipsiness of a particularly up-and-down earner was irrelevant-- also, while my maternal grandmother was too neurasthenic and aristocratic to work for pay, my paternal grandmother wasn't, and did, sewing. She helped to make a prototype for the first spacesuits when my brother was tiny.)

Our own family was quite radically thrifty compared with other faculty families, not that faculty families were well off, but we never lived precariously.

And I loved Little Women, and quite took it that the March family, with cook/maid Hannah [No surname?], was indeed poor. And so many things were so mysterious-- tin from the pickle factory? funds from the ragbag?--

And there were the servant-laden poor Bennets of Pride and Prejudice (what was loo? when the party was at loo I pictured small boats in a harbour-- and what was a ragout, and a plain dish? let alone shoe roses)....

So in fact, in relative terms, the poor family with poor servants has some traction-- within that child's context.

"Cannot we retrench? Is there no way in which we might retrench?" (memory, not lookup)

Edited at 2015-11-13 03:23 pm (UTC)
Nov. 13th, 2015 03:25 pm (UTC)
Very true about having servants! In lots of places, that's how the social safety net works, and you can indeed be quite poor and still have servants. I've known of people living in SE Asia (this was decades ago) who had very little to eat--but had a family servant.
Nov. 13th, 2015 03:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, indeed.
Nov. 15th, 2015 09:52 pm (UTC)
"We're all translators of our imaginations, struggling to find a language that will make it intelligible to others." - This is so wonderful a thought. How hard job it is time to time!
Nov. 17th, 2015 01:22 am (UTC)
Definitely very difficult at times. We are so alien to one another.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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