Dutch writer Tim Krabbé’s noir novel The Cave explores a choice and the unwitting corruption that follows from it. The most peculiar feature of Sam Garrett’s English translation is that it accidentally exemplifies the kind of corruption Krabbé explores, but on a stylistic level. The weak passages of Garrett’s text are sins of obedience where the closest rendering to Dutch no longer works in English—though at some point in the linked history of the two languages, it might have. That’s precisely the sort of shortfall Krabbé warns against in The Cave: the ease of being influenced, of losing track of one’s fundamental responsibility. The Dutch text in its English version mirrors the novel's preoccupation with small failings.

Tours Elegy: A Poem by Robert Melançon

The streets are the same
and not the same. No longer.
The Town Hall, the Courthouse, the cafés
are still there, the chairs scattered
under the plane trees on the terrace
before the splendid nineteenth-century edifices,
First and Second Empire. You’d recognize
the waiters at the Café de l’Univers.

On Translating Nelly Arcan + An Excerpt from Hysteric

There were two major challenges in translating this novel, and both are perfectly represented by the excerpt below.

The first concerns the habit that literary types have of seeing the act of writing as one of salvation. The idea that there’s something noble about crafting words, be it in the context of creation, translation or otherwise, that Art should save, or so the fantasy goes. Yet in Nelly Arcan’s case, Art was no saviour. What’s more, it feels at times, when delving deeper into her writings, that her Art only aggravated her obsessions, her hysteria. And so, having had to face her obsessions as translators daily for months, with her disorders made worse by her describing them in every minute, painful, awful detail—with the conclusion forgone since she killed herself in 2009—we could be forgiven for losing hope in the idea that Art is salvation.

Welcome to The New Biblioasis International Translation Blog

When the Biblioasis International Translation Blog was created in 2012, it was with the ambition of becoming an online forum for literary translation in Canada and beyond. Although we got off to a decent start, with feature articles from the likes of Douglas Glover, Alberto Manguel, Scott Esposito and others, a litany of minor priorities—running a press? editing a magazine? launching a brick and mortar bookstore? teaching university courses?—kept getting in the way. Go figure. Finite resources, limited energy, and ambition make for a precarious dance. We're still working out the kinks in our steps.

Three Poems by Dariusz Sosnicki

BOA Editions characterizes the poetry of Dariusz Sośnicki by its ability to "open our eyes to the sublime just beneath the surface of the mundane." The Polish writer's poetic inventory includes a train that takes children away from their parents for summer vacation and turns into a ravenous monster; a meal at a Chinese restaurant that inspires a surreal journey through the zodiac; and a malfunctioning printer that reminds of the ghosts that haunt us no matter where we find ourselves. The World Shared, the bilingual edition translated by Piotr Florczyk and Boris Dralyuk in which the three poems below appear, forthcoming from BOA in June 2014, is a dream-catalogue of surrealist riffs and humble strangeness. "Earthly Delights" previously appeared in New Orleans Review, "Monster" previously appeared in The New Yorker, and "A Mouse in a Bucket" appears here for the first time.

André Mathieu and the Lesson of Genius

The following is an excerpt from Of Jesuits and Bohemians: Tales of My Early Youth by Jean-Claude Germain, translated from the French by Donald Winkler and forthcoming from Véhicule Press in May 2014. Writer, playwright, director and actor Jean-Claude Germain is a Quebecois icon
whose memoirs are filled with a Montreal-centric Who's Who of 1950's and 60's Quebecois painters, musicians, composers, writers and politicians, evoking a rich cultural milieu of which few English readers are aware. The except included below focuses on a young bohemian Germain's idealistic pursuit of the notion of genius and his transformative encounter with the eccentric and volatile "Canadian Mozart" André Mathieu. Véhicule Press has published an earlier volume of Germain's memoirs, Rue Fabre, in 2012.

 Pre-Order Of Jesuits and Bohemians from Vehicule Press

I was sixteen, and already too old to emulate Rimbaud. But I still had a chance to assert my genius by Orson Welles's age, when he directed Citizen Kane. He was all of twenty-four.

I don’t remember if it was at the Sainte-Marie film club or the System movie theatre on Saint Catherine Street that I saw his film for the first time. From the opening strains of music over the slow introductory travelling shot bearing down on the fence blocking entry to the castle of Xanadu, Kane’s spell was cast. “No trespassing!” Prohibitions are there to be ignored, muttered the camera, and the fence dissolved.