Category: Translator

  • Best Dressed: How Cinderella Got into the Ball

    Best Dressed: How Cinderella Got into the Ball

    I’ve been thinking about balls a lot lately, thanks to my translation of Memoirs of a French Courtesan Volume 2: Spectacle. The author, Céleste Mogador, attends her first ball as young woman and eventually earns fame and her sobriquet, Mogador, while dancing with and for all the high-born young men in Paris.

  • This Was Supposed to Be a Book Review

    This Was Supposed to Be a Book Review

    I have notes, quotes, and a half-assed draft of a book review waiting in the Wingback wings. This was the weekend I was going to pull it all together and publish it on Monday. However. Memoirs of a French Courtesan Volume 2: Spectacle has been to the proofreader and the layout has been completed. I…

  • Today Was a Good Day

    Today Was a Good Day

    As I opened my book to read for a while before going to bed, I realized I had had a very good day. I made a list in my bullet journal to remind myself what made it good; I thought it might be worth sharing and spelling out—briefly!—why these were good things. The Morning Run…

  • Ineffectual Thorns

    Ineffectual Thorns

    I recently pruned my roses, as I do every February. I used to do this on or after Valentine’s Day, but climate change is real and upon us, so now this chore gets done at the beginning of February. It’s a pleasant chore, the kind that makes a noticeable and immediate difference when it’s done.…

  • Hot Takes on Cold English

    Hot Takes on Cold English

    When winter storms bring the city to a halt, I apparently think of poetry, which I’m kind of surprised to learn about myself. In 2021, when ice encapsulated every twig and leaf of every tree and shrub and bent them to the ground, I thought of Robert Frost’s “Birches.” This year, as a storm that…

  • Rebellion: Behind the Scenes

    Rebellion: Behind the Scenes

    Tomorrow, January 16, 2024, my translation of Memoirs of a French Courtesan Volume 1: Rebellion will be published. I’m really proud of this project, and it’s gotten great reviews from advance readers. So far it’s earned four out of five stars on NetGalley, which makes me happy. Paperback and ebook copies will be available just…

  • Miraculous Nuns of the 7th and 21st Centuries

    Miraculous Nuns of the 7th and 21st Centuries

    The New York Times is reporting from towns across the country to explore “how America defines itself one place at a time.” On September 9, the dispatch came from an abbey in Gower, Missouri. The founder of the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus, Sister Wilhelmina—a real firecracker, from the descriptions—died in 2019. She was…

  • Mogador: A Translation Diary

    Mogador: A Translation Diary

    When I started revising my translation Celeste Mogador’s memoir from 1848, I thought I’d try keeping a translation journal, similar maybe to the writing journals Steinbeck kept while he worked on his novels. I took a month off of editing work over the holidays just to work on this book, so it was a limited-duration…

  • That One Time I Was Wrong

    A few weeks ago, I was struggling with a paper I needed to write for my course on Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf. We’re reading his translation as well as the original in Old English, and critiques of and essays about both poems, plus many of Heaney’s other poems. The assignment was to respond to…

  • Bête of Burden

    Bête of Burden

    During the first summer of the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, I decided to tackle my first translation of a book from French to English. Voyage Around My Room by Xavier de Maistre seemed like an obvious choice that summer, since it’s a novel about the author’s house arrest in the late eighteenth century. He spent…

  • Kickstarter in the Time of COVID-19

    It’s official: the Kickstarter campaign for Life Among the Paiutes did not fund. Despite my best efforts, and the efforts of friends, family, and complete strangers who believed in the book, we weren’t able to reach our funding goal. Boo. April 2020 was admittedly a weird time to launch a campaign for a book. Lots…

  • A Translation for the Quarantimes

    A Translation for the Quarantimes

    I’m working on a translation of Une Voyage autour ma Chambre (A Voyage Around My Room), by Xavier de Maistre, from French to English. He was confined to his room for 42 days in the 1790s as a punishment for dueling, so this is a perfect project for these quarantimes.  It includes his thoughts on the soul, his…

  • Life’s a Beechnut

    Life’s a Beechnut

    Lesson thirteen brought such useful vocabulary as le verger (orchard), the difficult for me to pronounce yet slightly more likely to come up in conversation l’écureuil (squirrel), and the very unlikely term la faine (beechnut). There were many sentences to write about squirrels gathering beechnuts in the autumn in this lesson, which was actually about…

  • Does the Carriage Driver Have Your Cane?

    My great-grandmother Velma was not a rich person. She lived all her life in small communities in northern Pennsylvania, teaching in tiny schools, raising a bunch of kids, and running a small farm with my great-grandfather. Not fancy, but educated for sure. The first few lessons in the Shorter Course focused on classroom vocabulary: pens,…

  • Des Mots Gros et Petit

    That title is “Words Big and Small,” if you were wondering, but I bet you figured it out. I posted on Instagram (@kristen_hg) about my adventures in century-old French, and an online friend in France offered to help me “with the big words.” I told her that it’s not the big words that are the…

  • Tools Old and New for Learning French

    I’m using a book published in 1913 as my French refresher course, but I’m not against modern technology. I mean, I am creating blog posts as I learn, which are the height of internet fashion in 2019. I am writing these posts on a brand-new Microsoft Surface Pro. I even sprang for the fancy Alcantara…

  • Diving into French c. 1913

    I spent a couple of days on the intro of the Shorter French Course. It had the alphabet, a guide to accents, and an extensive pronunciation guide. It was a good reminder for how those nasal vowels are formed in the mouth, and now I’m less lazy about it. Or maybe more lazy, actually, in…

  • Velma: Twentieth-Century Student

    I have spent more than a decade researching and writing and fact checking and editing, so you know I couldn’t just dive into French lessons from 1913 using my great-grandmother’s college textbook without looking some things up. Like, for example, the fact that she went to college during World War I. I grew up one…

  • Shorter French Course

    For every plan or project I start, three more pop up. Same with books — while I’m reading one, I buy five more. And Netflix — every time I log in to watch one thing, I add two to My List. I am positive that I am not alone in any of these things. One…