December 8, 2023

PALA Academic Director of Continuing Education Jenny McPhee’s Translation of Elsa Morante’s Novel ‘Lies and Sorcery’ Wins Accolades

The NYU SPS Center for Publishing and Applied Liberal Arts (PALA) is renowned as a vibrant center of knowledge and innovation in the literary world. Among its many accomplished educators is Jenny McPhee, Academic Director of Continuing Education and faculty member in the MS in Translation and Interpreting and the MS in Publishing. This fall, McPhee has published her latest literary work, a captivating translation of Elsa Morante’s debut novel, Lies and Sorcery

Critical praise for the new translation of Lies and Sorcery

From The New York Times

Ferrante Before Ferrante: Elsa Morante’s propulsive 1940s saga of women’s lives, Lies and Sorcery, brings its penetrative insight to a new generation.

   “What made this door-stopper of an Italian soap opera feel like great literature to large numbers of sophisticated readers 75 years ago? The same thing that makes it wonderful today. The writing, pure and simple.”—Vivian Gornick

And from The New York Times Editor’s Choice: 

“Morante’s novel was written in 1948, but until now it has never been published in English in its entirety. It was worth the wait: This multigenerational Sicilian family saga may run to nearly 800 pages in Jenny McPhee’s fantastic new translation, but it’s so pleasurable that you’ll welcome the scope.”

From The Times Literary Supplement:

The Scars of Love: Elsa Morante’s urgent, exhilarating novel of falsehood and secrecy

 “Elsa Morante’s is, undeniably, a grim vision of the world; yet to read Lies and Sorcery in this heroic new translation by Jenny McPhee, always admirably attentive to the original’s delicate balance between archaism and fluency, is exhilarating throughout.”—Tim Parks

From The Washington Post:

A classic Italian novel finally gets the translation it deserves. Lies and Sorcery from Elsa Morante is an ornate epic about family life in Sicily

“McPhee translates, expertly, to convey a sense of the original baroque syntax and the heightened register, without feeling fusty or overwrought.”—Bailey Trela

From The New York Review of Books:

Elsa Morante’s Lies and Sorcery, originally published in 1948, is a slippery, feverish, dreamlike book that refuses to adapt to the conventions of what a novel ought to be

“What struck me the most about Lies and Sorcery is its thrilling peculiarity, Morante’s obstinate refusal—or unapologetic unsuitability—to adapt herself to any conventions of what a book ought to be like.”—Deborah Eisenberg

From Words Without Borders:

Lies and Sorcery, like the novels of Ferrante and Ginzburg, delves into the deepest recesses of the feminine psyche, reveling in its flows and flaws

“If each translation of a book is a metamorphosis, Lies and Sorcery restores the winding, labyrinthine prose to its author, bringing English readers closer to Morante’s original vision. Although it sets out to be a book of lies, I found while reading it that, perhaps more than anything else I have read, this new translation of Morante seemed to express something true about the desire to unravel family history.”—Brianna Di Monda

From The Wall Street Journal:

“An enormous work of literary disenchantment… Lies and Sorcery now appears in a deliciously ornate translation by Jenny McPhee.”—Sam Sacks

These accolades serve as a testament to Jenny McPhee’s commitment to bringing the best of Italian literature to English-speaking audiences. 

Front profile of Jenny Mcphee: Female presenting person with blue eyes and blond hair wearing a necklace of pearls and a black dress in front of a gray background.

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