“The hardest thing of all, don’t you think, is not being able to say the word that’s coming.”
“Well, ‘butter,’ for example. Suppose I’m talking to you. I talk, talk, talk. Sentences, nothing but sentences. At a certain moment, I’m about to say ‘butter.’ I suddenly feel it. I was going to say it. I quickly say something else, fortunately. Because when you feel you’re going to say something, a word, ‘butter’ for example, even if you realize it just before saying it, your head was full of it beforehand willy-nilly. Your head was full of butter. You had to talk, talk, talk so that suddenly you could say ‘butter.’ But if you say it, hey presto, your head’s empty again, and you don’t know what to say next. It’s terrible when, what’s more, you realise that the person you’re talking to already knows that you’re going to say ‘butter’ or she is also thinking about it. Because then her head is also emmptied the moment you say ‘butter’ and you both stand there not knowing what to say next.”
[from Mahu, or, The Material by Robert Pinget]
September 21st, 2013 / 5:51 pm
Treatise on Elegant Living
by Honoré de Balzac, Translated by Napoleon Jeffries
Wakefield Press, March 2010
112 pp. / $12.95 Buy from Wakefield Press
Wakefield Press describes themselves, on their website, as “an independent American publisher devoted to the translation of overlooked gems and literary oddities in small, affordable, yet elegant paperback editions.” The fact that they are a publisher dedicated specifically to translated “buried” texts, so to speak, has kept them on my horizon since their launch in 2010. As the press has developed, they’ve continued to release incredibly interesting (and, as is their goal, elegant) books by many authors and writers that populate the literary landscape that I prefer to frequent. Paul Scheerbart, who I learned of as a devotée to “glass architecture” in my readings on the architecture of the fantastique, has had two books released by the press, many (often absent) key players of French literature have books on the press (Marcel Schwob, Georges Perec & Rene Daumal to name a few), and even the authors I hadn’t formerly heard of seem tailored to my taste. As such, I thought it would be a brilliantly rewarding project to review every title the press has released.
Earlier in the year I reviewed their release of Rene Daumal’s Pataphysical Essays, and my enjoyment of everything about the book (from its content to its translation to the materiality of the book itself) lead me to consider the project. I had encountered the concept of reviewing an entire press’s output before, I think initially in JA Tyler’s review of Calamari Press’s output on BigOther. While I love Calamari press, their output spans, at this point, much wider than Wakefield Press, whose number of titles seemed both manageable and limited enough that I would enjoy the entire project. I had no interest in launching into the project & losing steam half-way through, as I knew that would be disappointing both on a personal level, and also probably a disappointment to the press. With these considerations in mind, I decided to dive in.
As I am a fan of chronology, I’ve decided to approach the Press’s released chronologically. This would serve to give structure to the project, and also provide me with a path through the meta-textual elements of the press itself, as they grew from a press having only published two books (their launch), into having published 10 books at this point, with more titles on the horizon. So without further adieu, I’d like to present the launch title of Wakefield Press (while I think it was released in tangent with Pierre Louys’s The Young Girl’s Handbook of Good Manners for Use in Educational Establishments, Treatise… is granted number “1” in the press’s subdivision of “Wakefield Handbooks”).
July 18th, 2013 / 4:52 pm