Chad Post offers up an interview with the translator of Proust’s "new" book, one of the 25 nominated for the Best Translated Book of 2008 award.
For those who don’t recall, the new Proust is called The Lemoine Affair and is a sort of pastiche of French literary styles. The translator is Charlotte Mandell, and she is also the translator of a book that is slightly longer than 2666 and very well might appear on 2009’s longlist
Mandell first expplains where exactly this book came from:
The Proust project was my idea—Dennis and Valerie had asked me for some
French ideas for their novella series, so I came up with three:
Balzac’s The Girl with the Golden Eyes (which has been translated a number of times, but not to my liking), Jules Verne’s The Castle in Transylvania (_Le Château des Carpathes_, which was translated as The Carpathian Castle a while ago but is now out of print), and Proust’s Pastiches. (I had already translated Flaubert’s A Simple Heart and Maupassant’s The Horla for Melville House.) My friend Mark Cohen had given me a copy of Pastiches et mélanges a year or so before that, and while I knew the Mélanges (a collection of essays on art and literature) had been translated and published as Against Sainte-Beuve, I couldn’t find any published translation of the Pastiches.
Which is sort of shocking, considering what wonderful material it
is—Proust writing as Flaubert and Balzac!—but then again, it is a
difficult piece to translate, so maybe no one wanted to tackle it
And then later on they get into why Proust wrote the book and what it’s like:
Proust admired Saint-Simon as a writer; I think one of the reasons the
Saint-Simon pastiche is the longest one is that Proust got a little
carried away with it, and it began to sound more like Proust than like
Saint-Simon (the long sentence describing Proust’s close friend Robert
de Montesquiou, the Symbolist poet and one of the models for Charlus,
on pp. 79-80 sounds like pure Proust at his best). Proust said he wrote
the pastiches partly to purge these authors from his system, so that
when he began his great work, A la recherche du temps perdu, his voice would be entirely his own. I think Saint-Simon was the hardest author for him to exorcise!
The entire interview makes for an interesting perspective on what I certainly think is one of the more interesting books to be published here in 2008. And the part where Mandell lists notable literary pastishes is excellent.