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.