Issue Five: Untranslatable & A Letter from the Editor


Dearest readers,

When our editorial triumvirate first set out preparing our theme for this issue, we tossed around a number of different words that might encapsulate the mood we were trying to go for. We wanted something melancholic, bittersweet, and intangible. We almost settled on the Russian word “Toska,” but realized that Vladimir Nabokov had already described it better than we ever could.

“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness.”

There were other strong contenders: the Portuguese “Saudade,” the German “Weltschmertz,” and the Spanish “Duende.” We eventually alighted on the more mutable “untranslatable,” which gave us the opportunity to branch out from mere sadness. After all, Spring is just beginning to bring itself out of its’ self-imposed exile.

We have thirteen marvelous contributors in this issue, each tackling the struggle of words on the tongue that are too scared to slip off. (Of course, our March 13th publication date was exceedingly well planned.) Caleb Lovelace creates a deconstruction of the body that dwells in “a constant state of un/control.” Zoe Guttenplan writes that, “translation is never an a=a equation, but more of an a=α=א etc. etc.”

There is something wondrous in the intransigent. We hope that you enjoy this issue and thank you for your continued support in helping to make this issue possible

-The Editors