sabato 19 febbraio 2011

Beautiful Artists/1: Damion Searls, writer and translator

I've decided to start a series of posts on artists that I know and whose work I love. The first one, quite aptly, is the translator/writer Damion Searls.

As you can read on his website, he is a translator from German, Norwegian, French, and Dutch and a writer in English. He has translated many of Europe's greatest writers, including Proust, Rilke, Robert Walser, Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard, Kurt Schwitters, Peter Handke, Jon Fosse, and Nescio, edited a new abridged edition of Thoreau's Journal, and produced a lost work of Melville's. 

The "lost work of Melville's" is called ; or The Whale, and was published in a special issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 2009. This how the story goes (but you can find more on his website): "In 2007, Orion Books produced Moby-Dick in Half the Time, a Compact Edition 'sympathetically edited' to 'retain all the elements of the originals: the plot, the characters, the social, historical and local backgrounds and the author's language and style.'"
; or The Whale is an abridgment that preserves the elements missing from that list—digression, texture, weirdness—by keeping every chapter, word, and punctuation mark of Melville's original Moby Dick; or The Whale.
Here's a cover story about it published by The Believer magazine:

Searls' fiction includes a collection of short stories, What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going, where he "takes short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, André Gide and others as a point of departure, deviating from them to produce a bewitching snapshot of modern life." (From The Guardian.) You can hear Searls reading an excerpt here:

And last but not least, besides having translated many important authors, Searls also rediscovered (and translated) Hans Keilson, author of masterpieces as The Death of the Adversary and Comedy in a Minor Key (read a review by Francine Prose here:

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