Monday, January 12, 2009

Time Travellers can also speak English...

I just got back from the Firing Range Center. Botched some at first (tired, short of breath), and then I was precise. Some American poet or other, I've forgotten which, once wrote these two lines: "a nice quite paradise / over the shambles". That's my state of mind when I'm training. Up there, if I manage to think as little as possible, there's blue sky, luminous quiet. Down below, exlosions and tears.
I focus on the word "word". I see it over there in my sights. It's breathing a little, growing; that's what I aim at, what I want to hit and pierce WORD. Add a single letter and you get WORLD. In French you'd have MOT and MORT. I fire at the world, I fire at death. Just a little joke, but it helps. My neighbor in the stand, Viva, congratulates me for hitting the target. I don't know anything about what she does, nor does she know what I do. We just smile at each other. That's enough.
[My own English rendition of the two paragraphs Sollers chose to represent his new novel on the back cover of the nrf Gallimard edition which has just appeared, as I noted a couple of posts down. Perhaps the translation will need revision after I have read the whole work, but this is what you get without knowing the context. A cover blurb you could call this, but one directly from the narrative. I hope it might make more people in the English speaking realm aware that French culture is far from dead and that they might be missing something when publishers don't offer them such works in translation. Your only hope: Learn French !]

By the way, "some American poet" is Ezra Pound and those verses are the 49th and 50th from Canto CXVI (1969), one of the last of his Cantos. I don't know why Pound was immediately my idea, but after only a little research I was able to verify it. Perhaps that's part of the power of Sollers' writing! (And Pound's!)

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