Julien Gracq is the greatest living French author. King Cophetua (trans. Ingeborg M. Kohn) is almost a ghost story, the quasi-ghost being the narrator, who looks back on the dark autumn of 1917 in France, just before the war reached its final, brutal paroxysms.
Julien Gracq is the greatest living French author. He won but refused the Prix Goncourt for Le Rivage des Syrtes. The literal sounds of battle are constantly in the background as the unnamed narrator travels from Paris to Braye-la-Foret to visit an acquaintance, Neuil, a gentleman pilot in the French air force who is also a well-respected musician.
Julien Gracq, Ingeborg M. Kohn (Translator)
A slender beautifully written work takes us into the war-torn French. Julien Gracq, Ingeborg M. Kohn (Translator). He then entered the École Normale Supérieure in 1930, Julien Gracq (27 July 1910 – 22 December 2007), born Louis Poirier in S. Florent-le-Vieil, in the French "département" of Maine-et-Loire, was a French writer. He wrote novels, critiques, a play, and poetry. His literary works were noted for their Surrealism. Gracq first studied in Paris at the Lycée Henri IV, where he earned his baccalauréat.
La Presqu’île (The Peninsula; 1970) is the title of a collection of three short pieces by French writer Julien Gracq that takes its name from its second work, a novella, which is preceded by La Route and followed by Le Roi Cophetua (King Cophetua)
La Presqu’île (The Peninsula; 1970) is the title of a collection of three short pieces by French writer Julien Gracq that takes its name from its second work, a novella, which is preceded by La Route and followed by Le Roi Cophetua (King Cophetua). The Peninsula and King Cophetua have been published separately in English by Green Integer (2011) and Turtle Point Press (2003), respectively. La Route has yet to be translated into English.
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Gracq, now in his 90s, is a former history teacher and Goncourt refusenik. His fiction has a somnambulist poise, and in King Cophetua (1970) the dislocation of the first world war is heightened by a moodily tangential plot. The narrator, invalided out of the war, travels to dank northern France to meet his friend Jacques, a fighter pilot. Jacques, ominously, is still away, so the narrator waits up in the November gloom with the housekeeper.
Translating Julien Gracq is a challenge. But when, a few years ago, I broached the subject of new translation projects to Julien Gracq, to start with his novella Le Roi Cophetua, he was less than enthusiastic. Why new translations?
Translating Julien Gracq is a challenge. His own wish-impossible to realize-had been to write books that were practically untranslatable: Mon -aurait ete que mes livres tiennent tellement a la langue qu'ils en soient pratiquement intraduisibles. Why new translations? His best-known texts, the novels, had already been translated quite some time ago, and well translated; especially by the poet Richard Howard, translator of Andre Breton and de Gaulle's War Memoirs.
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University of California, Irvine.
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