Monday, June 25, 2007

Echenoz's Ravel

It was only in February last year that the TLS ran a rave review of Jean Echenoz's Ravel in its original French. A "miraculous and moving performance" wrote Gabriel Josipovici. No more recommendations are required as far as I'm concerned. But having no French, I thought it would be a long while before I could read it. Yet the LA Times has posted a short summary/review of Linda Coverdale's translation, published by The New Press. So that's nice.

Of course, as the novel is under 130 pages, it would take less time to translate than, say, the 900 of Les Bienveillantes. And Josipovici ends his review by referring to this shortness.
The brevity of the book is part of the reason for its success. As we finish it we feel that Ravel (like all other people) has escaped us. But that is partly what makes us feel him now lodged within us, a living being. Would that biographers more often heeded the lesson of this book. But how could they?

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