Open Fan Letter: Susan Reynolds

I wanted to write a fan letter to Susan Reynolds, who recently published a new translation of Kytice, a collection of Czech fairy tales. Having trouble finding contact information for her, I shall post the letter here, and maybe she’ll find it someday. Even if she doesn’t, let this be a recommendation from me of this book to anyone who does read this.

Dear Susan Reynolds,

I recently finished reading your translation of Karel Jaromír Erben’s Kytice, and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I appreciate how hard it must have been to write your translation in verse, and your efforts yielded great results. The bilingual edition is a treat for me. I don’t speak or read Czech, but I was trained as an Egyptologist, so seeing a language I know next to a language I don’t is an invitation to decipher the latter.

I love traditional folktales and wonder tales, so when I heard about this collection, I had to check it out. My favorite is probably “The Treasure.” As a mother of young children, it had me biting my nails. I thought I knew how it was going to end, but I was surprised. “The Noonday Witch” painted a portrait of a complaining child that was charming, but only because I wasn’t taking care of him, and I had great sympathy for his mother.

I was touched by the story you tell at the end of your introduction, where you cast the creation of this translation as a fairy tale. These poems did indeed lead me “into new worlds of magic and beauty.”

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