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Nevermore (The French List)

Nevermore (The French List)

Current price: $25.00
Publication Date: November 5th, 2024
Seagull Books


A meditation on loss and recovery through the act of translation and its recuperative powers.

An unnamed translator mourning the loss of a close friend retreats to Dresden to translate the “Time Passes” section of Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse. Translating this lyrical evocation of time and its devastations in a city with which the writer has no connections and where neither her language nor Woolf’s are spoken offers an interruption to the course of her life. She immerses herself in this prose poem of ephemerality. 

The narrator delves into phrases from “Time Passes” and subjects them to the inexact science and imperfect art of translation. This, in turn, leads her to wide-ranging reflections on other instances of loss, destruction, and recovery—the Chernobyl disaster, the High Line in New York City, the bombing of Dresden and Wallmann’s commemorative Bell Requiem Dresden, the evacuation of the Hebridean island Foula, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs of seascapes, Debussy’s “La cathédrale engloutie,” and Ceri Richards’s series of paintings by the same name. She reflects on places that are destined for decay and yet are returning to life, broken worlds in which there is still strength for a new beginning. In Tess Lewis’s visionary English translation, Cécile Wajsbrot’s lyrical exploration of the role of the writer and translator becomes an exquisite meditation on loss and recovery.

About the Author

Cécile Wajsbrot is the author of seventeen novels, a collection of short stories, and numerous essays. Wajsbrot also translates from English and German. Her translations of Virginia Woolf, Jane Gardam, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Olson, Gerd Ledig, and Peter Kurzeck, among others, have won the Eugen Helmle Translation Prize.

Tess Lewis’s numerous translations from French and German include works by Philippe Jaccotte, Peter Handke, Jean-Luc Benoziglio, Klaus Merz, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and Pascal Bruckner.