Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This item is taken from PN Review 243, Volume 45 Number 1, September - October 2018.

AT UNIVERSITY IN 1968 I read the Penguin edition of Albert Camus’s Exile and the Kingdom translated by Justin O’Brien, originally published a decade earlier. I was especially taken with the story ‘Jonas, or the Artist at Work’. Wanting to read it again a year or two ago, I acquired a much later Penguin translation. The book was unrecognisable to me. Either memory played me false, or the gulf between the two versions was deep indeed. Half a century separated my readings and almost half a century stood between the two translations, with all the changes in language and custom entailed. Camus was alive when O’Brien published; indeed he was already at work when Camus received the Nobel Prize in 1957, the year the stories were first collected in France. O’Brien was a male translator; the later version was by Carol Cosman (2006).1

My Camus experience came to mind when I read Benjamin Moser’s evaluation of Kate Briggs’s This Little Art (Fitzcarraldo Editions, $20) in the New York Times Book Review of 1 July. His piece released a social media firestorm and provoked an orchestrated reply signed by nine of the little art’s big guns, including Susan Bernofsky, Lydia Davis, Karen Emmerich and Lawrence Venuti.

I knew Moser as a re-translator of the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector whose work featured in PNR in Giovanni Pontiero’s translations in 1986 when Carcanet was publishing his versions of Lispector’s major works. I did not warm to Moser’s collaborative translations, but they cut the mustard with New Directions in New York and have been instrumental ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image