Happy BD, FD!!

Posted in Events, On writing, Writers at 5:46 pm by Marion

THIS WEEK: It’s a celebration in Fiction Dailyland, marking one year of quirky posts on writing, writers and why we read. (It’s a little early … but what the hay, the world needs a party!!)

Here’s my first entry, posted October 11, 2007.

Welcome to Fiction Daily

We love to read. Gossip magazines, novels, non-fiction and even poetry. We read online, too. It has always been a dream of mine to post about fiction, and this blog takes the name of that dream: Fiction Daily.

Nobody has read all of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, right? I know one person who dedicated a full year to reading all seven volumes, from Swann’s Way to Finding Time Again. He tells me it was a life-changing experience, dwelling in another world while continuing to function in this one.

I read the first part of the first volume, Combray, and it took forever, having to read and re-read over and again to figure out what was going on. Proust writes with a dreamy, rambling style that escorts you deep into his mind, his world, and it takes a while to get there, but once there, I found a remarkable glimpse at what makes us human.


From Gene-O:

Not to turn this conversation in the dreary direction of weighing the limitations of reading great works in translation, but to experience Proust in his native language must be a transporting experience. Think about what is lost, inevitably, in translations of Shakespeare. For us English-only folks, it’s the same, in reverse, for Proust, Tolstoy, Balzac, Dante … anyone we can’t read in the original.

The creator and moderator of this blog fails to mention that she read “Combray” in French! One would certainly need to stumble around a good while to glean everything gleanable from that field. My reading of the novel, in translation, was not nearly so studious or precise; it took until about the end of the third volume before I started to “get” what Proust was trying to do. Before that, I just slogged along blind. For that reason alone, it’ll be worth re-reading the whole all over again … this time, not the warhorse mostly-Moncrieff translation but the new one with multiple translators. (FYI: Apparently, U.S. publication of the last three volumes will be held up for years due to copyright issues.)

On a related note, isn’t it too bad that the novel’s title is now widely rendered in English as “In Search of Lost Time”? OK, OK, so it is a more accurate translation of “La Recherche du Temps Perdu”; but it has none of the poetic redundancy of “Remembrance of Things Past.”

From Marion:

Yes, it frightens me to think how much is lost reading works in translation. The Russian language is a great vehicle created by hundreds of struggles and years. It pains me to think how much English translations drain it of meaning.

From Gene-O:

Have you noticed how trendy it has become to say that one has read “ISOLT”? “Newsweek” has a feature in each issue where they ask an author to name his or her favorite/most influential novels. Three of the last four weeks, the author has included “ISOLT”! It’s becoming the ultimate highbrow cliche, the literary equivalent of corporate execs who compete in triathlons.

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