Posts Tagged ‘translation’

Novels in Three Lines by Felix Fénéon

Fénéon, Felix. Novels in Three Lines. New York: New York Review of Books, 2007.
ISBN: 9781590172308
Call number: PQ2611 .E565 N613 2007

In 1906, French anarchist, art critic, and former clerk Felix Fénéon went to work for Le Matin, a Paris broadsheet, where he wrote the small news clips known as “faits divers” – sometimes translated as “hard facts”. Never more than a few lines, they covered the outliers of the everyday: oddities, obituaries, and accidents. Today, we would call these “Short Takes” or “News in Brief” and they’d be in a sidebar or tucked away on A17.

Fénéon’s faits divers are, instead, a world unto themselves. Consider this example:

On the bowling lawn a stroke leveled M. André, 75, of Levallois. While his ball was still rolling he was no more.

Or my favorite passage, this one:

The sinister prowler seen by the mechanic Gicquel near Herblay train station has been identified: Jules Ménard, snail collector.

There isn’t much to say, to add, to this work. Fénéon himself wrote anonymously, these stories saved only by the attention of his mistress who clipped them from the paper. He never published any of his own work in his lifetime, despite being closely tied to the vibrant intellectual culture of Paris and championing artists like Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. It stands to reason that one could easily read these works as trifles or period pieces. Just as easily, however, can they sit with Nietzsche’s aphorisms of The Gay Science or Stein’s poetic experiments of Tender Buttons.

And by way of final recommendation, allow me to direct you toward the Fénéon Twitter feed, which is, in its own way, nearly perfect.

-Phil Rollins, Learning Technologies Developer (prllns on Goodreads)

2666 by Roberto Bolaño

2666 by Roberto Bolaño

Bolaño, Roberto. 2666. New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.
ISBN: 9780374531553
Call Number : XX(819121.1) (1 copy in process)

Bolaño’s literary body is woven tightly together without ever being sewn up, and in 2666 – his final novel before his death in 2003 at age 50 – he refuses still to close old wounds and old characters. While the title has been said to refer to the Biblical Exodus from Egypt, a mystical future date of redemption, or simply an earlier novel, the story’s wobbly orbit is Santa Theresa – generally considered to be a fictionalized version of Ciudad Juárez in northern Mexico. It is here that a flood of unexplained murders of young women has threaded itself into a pervasive atmosphere of dread. Like many of Bolaño’s works, the dread is not so much fixed on a point as existential, with the events of the book coloring and being colored by it as they weave to the fore and to the background. The city and its murders are never too far behind, even when globetrotting around Europe (in “The Part About the Critcs”), moving backwards through time (“The Part About Archimboldi”) or following a sportswriter (“The Part About Fate”). A harrowing fourth section – “The Part About the Crimes” – is a masterfully rendered portrait of this landscape, and may have you putting down the book a few times to regroup. No light reading, that.

For those new to Bolaño’s world, it might be said that the equally masterful Savage Detectives or the more compact Distant Star would be better starting points. That might even be so. But, then, that’s the beauty of Bolaño: you can pick up the thread wherever you like and follow wherever it leads. Probably, like Newton’s cannonball, back in on itself. At a high velocity.

Phil Rollins, Learning Technologies Developer, (prlins on Goodreads)