Anaïs Nin, “a vigor and a disorder in the will to say everything”

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Aggregate of English, the novelist Agnès Desarthe (the Luck of their lives, 2018) is also a translator. She gave the French version of more than thirty books, among which, in the editions of L’Olivier, the birds of the sky by Alice Thomas Ellis, and recently A little, a lot, passionately, madly, not at all by Alice Munro. His translation of Lost Timelessness and other news is a model of charm and fluidity.

Translating this news, is it an idea of ​​you?

The proposal came from Claire Do Sêrro who directs foreign literature at Nil and Robert Laffont. She insisted a lot. She seemed so sure of her intuition (according to her, I was the ideal translator for this text) that I agreed to read the manuscript of these unpublished short stories when I had no time to devote to them. ‘time.

What had you read of Anaïs Nin before?

Nothing. Why hide it? But while I was still hesitant to translate it, a friend I spoke to told me: “Without her, I would never have survived my 14th birthday.” This sentence amused me. It was for me like a first reading by an intermediary.

Read alsoAnaïs Nin, woman’s perfume

And now, is she one of the authors you love?

I love it through this news for which I experience an unprecedented blend of tenderness and admiration. She was 27 years old when she wrote them. It is not so young and yet there is a vigor and a disorder in the will to say everything, to embrace everything which would seem almost adolescent in some. I liked her humor, her sense of caricature and the audacity with which she produced, air of nothing, a perfectly enlightened discourse on creation and on literature. Stories like “Alchemy” or “The song in the garden” are real gems that are as much a critical essay as a short story.

Has this collection led you to read other Nin texts?

He will do it. I have no doubt about it. The read path is open. Time to regain the bivouac after having traversed the cleared tracks by Jack London and the customs trails surveyed by Maupassant and I set off.

Was spending time in his company pleasant? Difficult ? Both ?

This meeting with Anaïs Nin was a moment of radiant literary friendship. She baffled me, amused, educated, amazed. I had the impression that we sometimes feel when we spend a moment with a gifted child for whom we have a protective feeling to which are added a drop of dread and a few suspicions of disbelief. “How does it work in your little head?” do we want to ask, overwhelmed by the novelty of what we discover.

There is also a particular pleasure in reading and translating, as if it were a complete stranger, a literary figure who has the status of an icon. I am, in a way grateful to my own ignorance, to this flaw in my culture that made me ignore it and allowed me to approach it without prejudice. His reputation, good or bad, sour or provocative, could not have changed my approach. I came to Nin as a virgin and maybe that was the best way to get along with her so well.

Claire Devarrieux

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