Tuesday, 11 October 2011

In the eyes of God

Who wrote 'Novels are written by men and for men. In the eyes of God, Who cuts through appearances and goes beyond them, there is no novel, no art, for art thrives on appearances. God is not an artist.'? The quotation is translated from French, and would be easier to discuss if we substitute 'people' for 'men'. And who said: 'Every novel worthy of the name is like another planet, whether large or small, which has its own laws just as it has its own flora and fauna."
And, "If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.' The first statement was by Jean Paul Sartre, in an attack on the author of the second,Francois Mauriac born on this day in 1885, died 1970, a Nobel laureate in literature. I re-read: Turgenev; Chekhov, Pushkin; Lermontov; El Romancero Viejo; T. S. Eliot; Philip Larkin; Kingsley Amis; Evelyn Waugh; Graham Greene; Roger Lewis and Andrew Barrow. To name but a few. Off the top of my head. Odd that so many are poets. I am going to an event for translators next week, at which I will meet someone who has lived a life which curiously resembles what mine might have been like, had I made different choices. He studied Spanish and Russian, as I did; lived in Russia and now lives and works in Spain. The similarities between Spain and Russia are not often remarked: they are both enormous countries on the edge of Europe, both suffered centuries of subjugation by an asian Islamic power, both had great empires and suffered revolutions and civil war. Only with such a history could there be a verb, as there is in Spanish that means 'to take the carpets up for the summer' (so that the floor is cool to the feet).

No comments:

Post a Comment