Friday, 13 November 2009

Maar on Nabokov (via Benjamin)

n+1 has a preview from Ross Benjamin's translation of Speak, Nabokov by Michael Maar - about that manuscript, of which he heartily disapproves: "There was certainly nothing like this in Lolita."

I had the pleasure of admiring Maar from behind last weekend, and I must say he has a fine head of hair. He's also a very eloquent man of letters and an expert on Nabokov, Proust, Thomas Mann and JK Rowling.


Michael said...

Hi Katie, arrived here following recommendation from PD Smith. Am German science writer living in UK, so interested in this cultural interface. Also, my mum translates from French and Spanish to German.

your profile pic left me wondering whether you're enjoying Feuchtgebiete or rolling your eyes at it ? I liked it as an exercise in smashing taboos, but the rest of my family refuses to read it :)

kjd said...

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your comment. As to Feuchtgebiete, it was a bit of both (must change that picture...).

A lot of what I liked about it is irrelevant in translation. Like the way Roche finds new and more liberating names for female genitals, which have such awful and inherently sexist or shameful names in German.

And I have to admit that although I enjoyed it pretty much the same way as you did to start with, I didn't manage to finish the book. Looking back, it was more the shock effect that drew me to it I suppose.

But I think every generation needs a book like Feuchtgebiete, simply because young girls just don't rediscover feminist or ground-breaking writing written by their mothers. And although Roche wasn't saying anything all that new, she was saying it in a new way and raising issues about the body previously completely alien to young women now.

So - if your family are older than you, they don't need to read it. Daughters, nieces, younger cousins, on the other hand, might be missing out.

Michael said...

I was referring to my wife and two daughters -- though the youngest is still a bit young for this, and may come round to reading it.

what also intrigued me was the intercultural aspect -- what kind of book migh Roche have written if her parents hadn't transplanted her from High Wycombe (or was it Milton Keynes? one of the two) to Germany ... probably not this one!