Charlotte Mandell (RSB interview; Charlotte's own site) is one of the very best translators around, with about 30 books under her belt, including works by Apollinaire, Blanchot and Michaux. Her most recent translation is of Zone, December's RSB Book of the Month.

Here she talks to Scott Esposito about the difficulties of translating a book that is written as a 500-odd page run-on sentence:

I think it’s a vividly appropriate conceit for a narrative that takes place entirely on a train, since it feels very rhythmic and also inexorable – the sentence keeps going on, just like the train, and it won’t stop until it reaches the terminus. I like the fact that the book has exactly 517 pages, which is the same number of kilometers from Milan to Rome. So the narrative is very closely linked to the train ride, especially with the chapters in the Table of Contents referring not to the actual chapter breaks but to the towns the train is traveling through at that point in the book. Time and space are very closely linked, both in the narrative and on the page. History in Zone is a very personal thing, and, as Stephen Mitchelmore points out in his review of the book, the narrator discovers that history is not temporal but spatial: it surrounds the narrator as he travels through Italy and crowds in on him like so many vengeful ghosts. (More...)

Readers Comments

  1. I really appreciate these interviews and essays on ZONE, which I have just begun to read and am mesmerized by--

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