Sunday, December 02, 2018

Farewell interview …

Marguerite Yourcenar, The Art of Fiction No. 103.
The French title is Quoi? L’Eternité, which is from a poem of Rimbaud’s: “Quoi? L’Eternité, elle est retrouvée.” The book is the third volume of my memoirs. The other two are being translated into Engish at the moment. There are certain words one can’t translate literally, and one has to change them. For example the first volume is called Souvenirs pieux in French, and I have translated it as Dear Departed, which conveys the same nuance of irony. The second volume is called Archives du nord, but “the north” in another language evokes a different image: In England the north refers to Manchester, or even Scotland; in Holland it is the Fresian Isles, which has nothing to do with the north of France. So I have changed it completely, and taken the first line of a Bob Dylan song—“Blowin’ in the Wind.” I quote the song inside as an epigraph: “How many roads must a man walk down /  Before you can call him a man?” It is very beautiful, don’t you think? At least it defines well my father’s life, and many lives. But to come to the present volume, I don’t think “Quoi? L’Eternité” would work in English, and we will have to find another title. Among the Elizabethan poets there must be quantities of quotations about eternity, so I think I might find something there.

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