mjj (flemmings) wrote,


Nightwood is oh too redolent of those early Picador translations- The Man Without Qualities comes to mind, or Canetti's Auto-da-fe- where European people do peculiar things for obscure reasons while saying the oddest things: which might or might not have been odd in the original German or Italian or French, but which come off as both quaint and unlikely in English. 'People don't act like this!' I always thought in frustration. Apparently European people do, and only Europeans, because Randolph Stow's Australians or Ashton-Warners New Zealanders, while possibly odd, were never downright incomprehensible.

Barnes, for all her Americanness, writes like one of those Europeans. Is this supposed to be a surrealist nightmare of sorts? Trapped in hell with a glossolalic American doctor gushing word salad, reminiscent of those many characters in Proust who talk a lot and to no purpose either. (Proust is translated-from-the-French; I can well believe they make more sense in that language, but I'm sure they're every bit as tiresome.)

Also the narrator's pronouncements on The Jew do not make me look foreward to her take on The Tribadist.
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