The Art of Helen DeWitt

Becca Rothfeld at The Nation:

DeWitt is famous for her ebulliently multilingual prose—which is unsurprising, given her itinerant childhood and rigorous schooling. She was born in Maryland in 1957, but her father was a member of the Foreign Service who would be posted to Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador. Later, first as an undergraduate at Smith College and then as a DPhil candidate in classics at Oxford, DeWitt had the opportunity to hone her Latin and Greek.

Her perfervid eclecticism drives The Last Samurai, which contains excerpts from grammar textbooks, snippets of Japanese and Greek, and outbursts in the idioms of math and music. A work of breathless erudition, the novel whirls from art history to aerodynamics without braking or breaking stride. It follows Sibylla, a fanatically cerebral single mother struggling to educate her son Ludo, a genius who devoured the Odyssey in the ancient Greek at the age of 4.

more here.