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Lights by the Ton

John Sturrock: Jean Echenoz, 18 June 1998

Lake 
by Jean Echenoz, translated by Guido Waldman.
Harvill, 122 pp., £8.99, June 1998, 1 86046 449 1
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Un An 
by Jean Echenoz.
Minuit, 111 pp., frs 65, September 1997, 2 7073 1587 7
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... The weightless characters who track about in Jean Echenoz’s novels are granted a sense now and again that that’s where they are, in someone else’s story, fulfilling burlesque routines not of their own devising. They’re not great thinkers, merely see-through functionaries of the plot. There’s a droll exchange marking one of these twinges of self-awareness in an early novel called Cherokee – named for the Forties song, not for the Native Americans as such – between the driver of a Deux-Chevaux and his captive passenger: ‘ “We could take you somewhere ...

She Doesn’t Protest

Colin Burrow: The Untranslatable Decameron, 12 March 2009

Decameron 
by Giovanni Boccaccio, translated by J.G. Nichols.
Oneworld, 660 pp., £12.99, May 2008, 978 1 84749 057 5
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... this book) and, for that matter, of the more sprightly Oxford World’s Classics rendering (by Guido Waldman). Boccaccio is close to being untranslatable, and this is largely because his textual culture was not a literal translator’s culture. He wanted his readers to be unsettled by the Decameron into retelling his tales. He actively wanted them to ...

Bon Garçon

David Coward: La Fontaine’s fables, 7 February 2002

Complete Tales in Verse 
by Jean de La Fontaine, translated by Guido Waldman.
Carcanet, 334 pp., £14.95, October 2000, 9781857544824
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The Fables of La Fontaine: Wisdom Brought down to Earth 
by Andrew Calder.
Droz, 234 pp., £36.95, September 2001, 2 600 00464 5
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The Craft of La Fontaine 
by Maya Slater.
Fairleigh Dickinson, 255 pp., $43.50, May 2001, 0 8386 3920 8
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... them for their good humour and craftsmanship. English readers can now judge for themselves, for Guido Waldman’s stunning translation of the complete collection conveys all their cheek, delicacy and self-deprecating humour. He has allowed himself space and, against La Fontaine’s tightly controlled prosody, opts for ‘loose-limbed, conversational ...

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