Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Banville's Todtnauberg, more fall out

Elsewhere I've already expressed astonishment at the nature of John Banville's specially-commissioned BBC Radio 4 play Todtnauberg based on the famously mysterious meeting between Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger in the latter's mountain retreat. The only record is Celan's poem called Todtnauberg.

Others have expanded on my shake of the head. ReadySteadyBook links to one of them and receives a comment from one of Celan's main translators Pierre Joris. He says the play revealed that Banville "is totally clueless as to who Paul Celan was, how he thought and functioned".

Joris not only translates Celan (and Blanchot) but is also a poet and essayist of note. He's now a blogger too. Check out Nomadics.


  1. Anonymous8:43 pm

    Please excuse my English; I'm a Flemish-speaking resident of Ghent, Belgium, and I've only just discovered your blog (searching for some intelligent comment on Gert Hofmann). I'm not at all surprised at Banville's cluelessness; he's got a reputation for being a somewhat cosmopolitan writer (at least he knows there was a poet by the name of Celan), but of course he couldn't be bothered to have a look at the relevant literature, or to question the most blatant clichés of the genre... In general, I must say I'm aghast at how ignorant English writers and critics (and alas! readers) are as to where literature is heading these days. Thinking of the most interesting writers I've been reading during these past few years, apart from Handke, Hofmann, and Sebald - Pascal Quignard, Pierre Michon, Alexander Kluge, Roberto Bolano, Sven Lindquist, Roberto Fresan e tutti quanti - I wonder how many of these are even translated, let alone reviewed?

  2. Many thanks for the list of names! I'm always looking for recommendations of European writers. All but the final name (is Roberto Fresan the correct spelling?) have been translated, and some are due out this year. But they tend to be small press editions.

    I've read a review of Bolano's 2666 in the TLS (though of the original).

    Can you recommend titles we might look out for, or that are worth buying if translated?

  3. Anonymous7:35 am

    The correct name is Rodrigo Fresan, my apologies. I notice that his novel "Kensington Gardens" has been transalted. Fresan was a close friend of Bolano, who died in 2003, only 50 years old. Bolano's "By night in Chile" is a stunning book; "Distant Star" is Borges on speed. Michon's "Masters and servants" is very interesting (I hope "Vie de Joseph Roulin" is included); some of the stories made me think of Gert Hofmann; unfortunately his "Vies minuscules" and his riffs on Faulkner, Flaubert etc. in "Corps du roi" have not been translated yet. The titles of Quignard (who as a 20-year old was acquainted with Celan, Blanchot, Leiris)that have been translated are older work, mostly. His most exciting works are "Petits traités" and a new, as yet unfinished sequence, "Dernier Royaume" (5 books so far), a hybrid mix of fiction and essay.



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