Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Where does the time go? to a place when nothing happens

Not quite yet another obligatory post.

Between and betwixt other readings I've been revisiting The Book of Disquiet (Richard Zenith's over-complete rather than Margaret Jull Costa's over-selective translation), which Fernando Pessoa attributes to his foremost semi-heteronym, Bernardo Soares, "because his personality, although not my own, doesn't differ from my own but is a mere mutilation of it". In fact, so too his name, in which Pessoa's initials are augmented with a couple of extra strokes (F-B, P-R) and clipped a bit in the middle (n-r), and then the surname swapped front to back (Ressoa, Soares); the intermediate step is 3rd person singular present indicative (or 2nd person imperative) of the Portuguese ressoar, meaning resonate (the 2nd person future subjunctive [not to mention infinitivo pessoal] ressoares includes both but that'd be pushing it ...)

I was primed for this observation by Alberto Savinio, who plays a similar name-game in Childhood of Nivasio Dolcemare. Other noteworthy translations: Ilf & Petrov's The Golden Calf, Donoso's The Garden Next Door (cf Waggish), Roa Bastos' Son of Man, and Romain Gary (as Émile Ajar), The Life Before Us (previously Momo, filmed as Madame Rosa): for me, required reading after Hocus Bogus (see prior post), but brilliant by its own lights (and translating it must have been arduous fun for Ralph Manheim), sustaining the young narrator's voice in all its malaproposity hard enough but rendering its development harder still, all from a bottom-of-le-banlieue perspective making [non]sense of a time out of joint. And somebody at NDP was having a bit of fun: among other chronomalies, midway through the novel Momo marvels at film running backwards at a dubbing studio (another hint of someone behind Ajar? Queneau suspected a hoax but not Gary) ... the backcover summary of the book (Prix Goncourt, 1975) concludes: "A movie based on the book, Madame Rosa, starring Simone Signoret [appearing on the frontcover], was released in 1968."