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This article is taken from PN Review 176, Volume 33 Number 6, July - August 2007.

In the Beginning was the Translation Anthony Rudolf

And send imagination forth
Under the day's declining beam, and call
Images and memories
From ruin or from ancient trees,
For I would ask a question of them all.
(Yeats, from 'The Tower')


1) Cambridge

I remember, late in 1963 or early in 1964, browsing in Bowes and Bowes bookshop on the corner of Market Square and Trinity Street, Cambridge and, struck by the title, picking up Yves Bonnefoy's book Hier régnant désert. This was my final year as a student at Trinity College, down the road from the bookshop. Rooted to the spot, I levitated. At once, I knew my life would be changed forever. Shortly afterwards, I bought Du mouvement et de l'immobilité de Douve in the same shop. A few months later, I posted YB my first translations of his work, doubtless c/o his publisher Mercure de France. Around the same time, I mimeographed (in the beautiful days before photocopying machines) and stapled together some translations, and sent them to George Steiner, already a Fellow of Churchill College, who that year was lecturing on Friday mornings to a full house - even at 9 a.m. - on 'Marx, Freud and Lévi-Strauss'. He rightly gave these early efforts of mine a somewhat guarded welcome. More than twenty years later, when YB was reading and lecturing at Trinity, I brought him as a present a photocopy of his reply to ...


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