A collection of essays on translation, foreign languages, Proust, and one French city, from the master short-fiction writer and acclaimed translator Lydia Davis.
In ESSAYS ONE, Lydia Davis, who has been called “a magician of self-consciousness” by Jonathan Franzen and “the best prose stylist in America” by Rick Moody, gathered a generous selection of her essays about best writing practices, representations of Jesus, early tourist photographs, and much more. ESSAYS TWO collects Davis’s writings and talks on her second profession: the art of translation. The award-winning translator from the French reflects on her experience translating Proust (“A work of creation in its own right.” –Claire Messud, Newsday), Madame Bovary (“[Flaubert’s] masterwork has been given the English translation it deserves.” –Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review), and Michel Leiris (“Magnificent.” –Tim Watson, Public Books). She also makes an extended visit to the French city of Arles, and writes about the varied adventures of learning Norwegian, Dutch, and Spanish through reading and translation.
Davis, a 2003 MacArthur Fellow and the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize for her fiction, here focuses her unique intelligence and idiosyncratic ways of understanding on the endlessly complex relations between languages. Together with ESSAYS ONE, this provocative and delightful volume cements her status as one of our most original and beguiling writers.
"In this riveting and erudite collection (after ESSAYS ONE), Davis documents the adventures and challenges of her work as a translator, moving with ease between the technical challenges posed by a complex text and her personal relationship with literature . . . Thorough, idiosyncratic, and inimitable, Davis is the kind of intelligent and attentive reader a book is lucky to find. Readers, in turn, are lucky to have this collection, a worthy addition to the Davis canon." - Publishers Weekly
"I think a good rule for living is always read Lydia Davis . . . Davis on writing is generous and specific in a way that reveals how much smarter she is than almost everyone without being the least bit alienating." - Lit Hub
"...whatever the topic, Davis is always superb company: erudite, adventurous, surprising."
- The New York Times
"...wonderful..." - i Paper
"We come away from ESSAYS TWO with renewed respect for a writer whose grasp of languages is profound, and whose capacity to shape-shift from one to another is quite exceptional." - TLS