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Semiotexte

  • August is Women in Translation Month. For this post we have Penny Hueston, translator of the forthcoming Being Here Is Everything: The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker by French author Marie Darrieussecq. Penny discusses translating this book, as well as providing biographical information on Marie Darrieussecq, and the subject of the book, Paula Modersohn-Becker.

    Marie Darrieussecq reads the testament of Modersohn-Becker—the letters, the diaries, and above all the paintings—with a burning intelligence and a fierce hold on what it meant and means to be a woman and an artist.’—J. M. Coetzee

    A brief, powerful artistic life that went painfully unrewarded—until after the painter’s death.’—Julian Barnes, Guardian

    The prose of contemporary French writer Marie Darrieussecq is a joy to translate. It is elliptical, spare, supremely clever, slyly comic, and brilliantly structured. Translating it sends me into a heightened state that is both trance-like and electrically charged. In the mysterious process that is translation, I try to enter this zone in which both languages hover in my mind, until the patterns and style of each emerge, and I feel I have reached some way into the author’s mind. As Marguerite Yourcenar said, ‘translating is writing’.

    Darrieussecq is a classicist (she has translated Ovid), a translator from English (she has translated James Joyce and Virginia Woolf into English), and she has written a brilliant study of literary plagiarism. In her novels, Darrieussecq often uses words and expressions that connect with her Basque origins. She uses dialect to express obscene or sexual layers of expression and is fascinated with the ways in which language shapes us and our dreams—she is also a psychoanalyst. In her novel All the Way (2011), fault lines between language and sex are a source of comic confusion for the character of the adolescent Solange as she negotiates her sexual initiation. Translating the plays on stock phrases and stereotypes, or word plays, double-entendres and jokes, is like working out a complicated puzzle.

    Posted at 11:45 am on Tue, 22 Aug 2017 in art, gender, Semiotexte
  • As the polls tighten between presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, many are left wondering where the bulwark of Trump’s support comes from. A recent New York Times article entitled “The One Demographic That Is Hurting Hillary Clinton” shows that Trump has a large lead among less-educated white voters and white working-class voters. To a casual observer it may seem strange that the latter group is the main support behind the GOP nominee, given that many of his brand products are made overseas, thus implying that Trump’s businesses are likely benefitting from free trade policies and cheap foreign labor. Yet despite this, Trump’s anti-immigration and anti-free trade message seems to be resonating with this demographic. Why is this? Didier Eribon reflected upon this same apparent contradiction in France in Returning to Reims, published in English translation by Semiotexte.

    Posted at 10:00 am on Tue, 02 Aug 2016 in current affairs, Semiotexte

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Books, news, and ideas from MIT Press

The MIT PressLog is the official blog of MIT Press. Founded in 2005, the Log chronicles news about MIT Press authors and books. The MIT PressLog also serves as forum for our authors to discuss issues related to their books and scholarship. Views expressed by guest contributors to the blog do not necessarily represent those of MIT Press.