Jean-Yves Masson in The Southern Review

October 29th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The Autumn 2014 issue of that august literary stalwart, The Southern Review, is now out, under the sure-handed editorship of Emily Nemens. It features my translation of Jean-Yves Masson’s short story “A Return,” about a translator who returns to his childhood home. The issue sports a haunting cover: Pieter Hugo’s “Green Point Common, Cape Town.”

Southern Review Autumn 2014

Prizewinning poet Jean-Yves Masson (1962 – ) translates from English (Yeats), German (Rilke, Hofmannsthal), and Italian. In 2007, he won the Prix Goncourt de la nouvelle for his collection Ultimes vérités sur la mort du nageur (Verdier), from which  “A Return” is taken. An editor and literary critic as well, he teaches at the Sorbonne, where he directs the Center for Research on Comparative Literature.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

I don’t usually remember my dreams. A few scattered images at most: loved ones now gone; people I passed in the street and never thought to remember so well; probably places, too, where oddly enough I’ve never been. All this, made to astonish the dreamer, escapes me on waking, and though these fragile images sometimes still float in my consciousness a few moments after I’ve opened my eyes, I cannot recall them in the slightest when, once fully awake, I try to describe my dream or the places I’ve been. A certain regret lingers; this inability is likely due to my lack of interest in anything that isn’t real—or so I’ve sometimes thought, not without a hint of pride. But other times, I have no doubt it’s a regrettable weakness, or worse yet, irrefutable proof of some inner cowardice. It is, at any rate, because of this great talent for forgetting, or this inability to remember, that I paid heed to one of the rare dreams that did cross the barrier into wakefulness with me, an act that seemed all the more extraordinary since I rarely feel the need to piece together my dreams. But it so happens that this dream changed the course of my life: the images I retained on waking were so clear, so brilliant; it took on such an extraordinary density in my memory that the melancholy that took hold of me lasted an entire year and forced me to alter my existence. But now I do not know if that was for the better.

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