Britain's first book blogger (November 2000). Also available in book form.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The aspirin novel

@11.1 But let's consider what is currently happening and will continue to happen in the case of the novel. The same [economic] forces are and will be at work to adapt the universal novel to a single variety: the English-language novel. Any French novel featuring formal or linguistic complexities will be difficult if not impossible to translate without immense effort, and I mean economically impossible.

@11.2 Today more than ever, under two conjugated actions - the universalization of the literature market on the one hand and, simultaneously, the rapid loss of the "shares" that literature still possesses in the ever shrinking sector of the written text - we can say that the demon of standardization is winning. This is born out by the perfect interchangeability of a growing number of novels, lightly camouflaged by a handful of variations. The latter are generally geographic, even touristic in nature. They accompany the globalization of the novel with an accelerated delocalization of its languages, it constructions, its form.

@11.3 The ideal of today's merchandise-novel is to be without borders, that is, ready to be transmitted everywhere and free from such restraining and costly obstacles as difficulties of translation and recreation, products of the uniqueness of languages. The only imaginable differences in such a context are superficial, cosmetic. Aspirin can only be made from the same chemicals in pharmacies around the world, whatever the label under which it is sold. The time of the aspirin-like literary product is coming. And the novel itself, in spite of praiseworthy efforts, may not be able to adapt to this situation, even by turning into something else, the travel story for example.
Jacques Roubaud in Poetry, etcetera: Cleaning House translated by Guy Bennett, published by Green Integer.

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