The Playgoer: More Franzen

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More Franzen

New York Mag does a promo interview for the novelist's Spring Awakening translation, out this week.

Why brought this project on?

Fifty dollars made me do it in 1986 for the Swarthmore College theater department. It was a memorable production. It sat in a drawer for twenty years, and when the musical came along I remembered it. I knew it was a good translation, better than anything else out there.
So, okay, maybe he is cashing in on the musical. But he also seems genuinely motivated to argue against the musical. Besides, how much cash would the publisher really shell out for a play? (Let alone a translation of a play!)

As for the musical...
what happened to the play is, I think, it became dishonest on the road to being that musical. The real way to any theatergoer’s heart is to tell some kind of truth about their experience, not flatter them with some kind of pleasant lie they’d like to tell themselves. It turns it into a kind of self-righteous Avril Sévigné…[A follow-up e-mail confirmed that, in fact, he meant pop star Avril Lavigne.]
Well pop culture just ain't the guy's thing. (Google turns up nothing on any Avril Sévigné!) But he's right about the other stuff.

He also acknowledges "four good musical numbers" in the show, admits to loving Drowsy Chaperone, and hating Embedded. I'm just glad there's a respected literary figure who admits going to the theatre!


Anonymous said...

I picked up the Franzen translation tonight--I'm hoping I might find time to read it this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Does/Did Franzen read German?

J. Kelly said...

Well, OK. Any man who loves Drowsy and hates Embedded can't be all bad...

Anonymous said...

Yes, rdavis, he does. The article notes that he was a German Lit major, and this article mentions that he spent time studying in Berlin.