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Like Heaven

Lorna Scott Fox, 22 May 1997

by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated by Rose-Myriam Réjouis.
Granta, 401 pp., £15.99, March 1997, 1 86207 007 5
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School Days 
by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Nebraska, 156 pp., $13, March 1997, 0 8032 6376 7
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... the many shadings between the two’, she might have attempted a similar compote in English, as Linda Coverdale does so well for School Days. Some of the blame for the chewing-gum cadences, both dull and grating, must fall on Réjouis’s co-translator, ‘an American who speaks almost no French’. The insensitivity takes many forms. To the metre and ...

Letting out the Inner Pig

James Peach: Marie Darrieussecq, 16 September 1999

My Phantom Husband 
by Marie Darrieussecq, translated by Helen Stevenson.
Faber, 153 pp., £9.99, July 1999, 0 571 19663 2
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... My Phantom Husband also has a different translator from Pig Tales – Helen Stevenson rather than Linda Coverdale – and suffers from uncomfortable moments. Translation, like contraception, is better if it is never felt. ‘Who had detained him on the streets of the suburb, which clumsy, garrulous neighbour?’ Bof. Safety rather than performance seems ...

Hell on Earth

Stephen Haggard, 8 January 1987

Cambodian Witness: The Autobiography of Someth May 
edited by James Fenton.
Faber, 287 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 14609 0
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The stones cry out: A Cambodian Childhood 
by Molyda Szymusiak, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Cape, 245 pp., £11.95, January 1987, 0 224 02410 8
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... The bloodiness of the events of the Seventies in Cambodia, and the desperate nature of the refugee exodus, have been of such monstrous proportions as to hinder the emergence of detailed accounts about what really happened. Someth May and Molyda Szymusiak (this is her adopted name) are two Cambodians who lived through the Khmer Rouge years and eventually gained refuge in the West ...

Maigret’s Room

John Lanchester: The Home Life of Inspector Maigret, 4 June 2020

... Penguin have used an A-team of translators – Bellos and Whiteside and Schwartz, Anthea Bell, Linda Coverdale, David Coward, Howard Curtis, William Hobson, Sian Reynolds, David Watson – but, or and, one of the remarkable features of the project is how consistent the tone is across the books. When you look at the range of tones and voices in the ...

Extenuating Circumstances

Adam Phillips: Paul Steinberg, 19 July 2001

Speak You Also: A Survivor’s Reckoning 
by Paul Steinberg, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Allen Lane, 176 pp., £9.99, May 2001, 0 7139 9540 8
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... In Primo Levi’s memoir of Auschwitz If this is a man – written, he says, not ‘to formulate new accusations … rather, to furnish documentation for a quiet study of certain aspects of the human mind’ – there is an account that is a kind of accusation of a man Levi calls Henri. There are several character sketches of his fellow inmates, but the two pages on Henri are unusually troubled ...

The it’s your whole life

Iain Bamforth: Jean-Claude Romand, 22 March 2001

The Adversary: A True Story of Murder and Deception 
by Emmanuel Carrère, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Bloomsbury, 183 pp., £14.99, January 2001, 0 7475 5189 8
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... In the small hours of Monday, 11 January 1993, Luc Ladmiral, a GP in Voltaire-Ferney, a dormitory town for Geneva on the French side of the border, received a call to say that the house of his closest friend in the neighbouring town was in flames. When he got there, the firemen were bringing out the charred remains of the two children, Antoine (five) and Caroline (seven), and their mother Florence ...

Love Stories

Edmund White, 4 November 1993

To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life: A Novel 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Quartet, 246 pp., £12.95, November 1991, 9780704370005
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The Man in the Red Hat 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by James Kirkup.
Quartet, 111 pp., £12.95, May 1993, 0 7043 7046 8
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The Compassion Protocol 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by James Kirkup.
Quartet, 202 pp., £13.95, October 1993, 9780704370593
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... Hervé Guibert died on 27 December 1991 from complications resulting from an unsuccessful suicide attempt. He had been ill with Aids for several years and in 1990 had made a spectacular appearance on French television during which he’d discussed his illness and the book he’d written about it, To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life. The thousands of letters he received as a result encouraged him to write another book, The Compassion Protocol, and to participate in another prime-time interview ...

The Meaninglessness of Meaning

Michael Wood, 9 October 1986

The Grain of the Voice: Interviews 1962-1980 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Cape, 368 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 224 02302 0
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Writing Degree Zero and Elements of Semiology 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Annette Lavers and Colin Smith.
Cape, 172 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 224 02267 9
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The Fashion System 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Matthew Ward and Richard Howard.
Cape, 303 pp., £15, March 1985, 0 224 02984 3
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The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art and Representation 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard.
Blackwell, 312 pp., £19.50, January 1986, 0 631 14746 2
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The Rustle of Language 
by Roland Barthes, translated by Richard Howard.
Blackwell, 373 pp., £27.50, May 1986, 0 631 14864 7
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A Barthes Reader 
edited by Susan Sontag.
Cape, 495 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 224 02946 0
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Barthes: Selected Writings 
edited by Susan Sontag.
Fontana, 495 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 00 636645 7
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Roland Barthes: A Conservative Estimate 
by Philip Thody.
University of Chicago Press, 203 pp., £6.75, February 1984, 0 226 79513 6
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Roland Barthes: Structuralism and After 
by Annette Lavers.
Methuen, 300 pp., £16.95, September 1982, 0 416 72380 2
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by Jonathan Culler.
Fontana, 128 pp., £1.95, February 1983, 0 00 635974 4
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... A diary, Roland Barthes suggested, provokes in its writer not the tragic question, ‘Who am I?’ but the comic question: ‘Am I?’ This elegant and amused remark goes some way towards explaining why Barthes, who reflected much on his life and published a book called Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes, should not have kept a diary. The comic question can’t be confronted, it can only be circumvented, played with, smiled at ...

The Palimpsest Sensation

Joanna Biggs: Annie Ernaux’s Gaze, 21 October 2021

by Annie Ernaux, translated by Tanya Leslie.
Fitzcarraldo, 74 pp., £8.99, September, 978 1 913097 68 4
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... there is a depiction of a failing partnership in La Femme gelée (translated as A Frozen Woman by Linda Coverdale in 1995), the last novel she wrote, which was published in 1981 and is dedicated to Philippe. She began to write non-fiction with the book about her father in 1983, then wrote one about her mother, Une femme, in 1988 (translated as A ...

You’re with your king

Jeremy Harding: Morocco’s Secret Prisons, 10 February 2022

Tazmamart: Eighteen Years in Morocco’s Secret Prison 
by Aziz BineBine, translated by Lulu Norman.
Haus, £9.99, March 2021, 978 1 913368 13 5
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... over the partitions, requesting updates.Lulu Norman has done well by BineBine’s original, as Linda Coverdale did by Jelloun’s. Both books belong to a small corpus of detention narratives, fact and fiction, set in the Hassan era. Most, including Diouri’s memories of Dar el-Mokri, are stories we’d sooner set aside, but there are compelling ...

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