‘An Inventory of Losses’ by Judith Schalansky: The Innumerable Items of the Past

by Lily Nilipour

In the human endeavor of preservation, there is an intimate relationship between memory and those tasked with preserving it. In his essay “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire,” French historian Pierre Nora writes that “today…professional archivists have learned that the essence of their trade is the art of controlled destruction.” Among other things, this suggests that a true archivist has a love for not only what remains in the archive, but also what is lost. Memory is an art—the artist the recaller but also the forgetter. Judith Schalansky’s An Inventory of Losses (238 pages; New Directions), newly translated […]

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A Layered Portrait of a Mind at War with Itself: ‘Viviane’ by Julia Deck

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“The cry of the mind exhausted by its own rebellion”—Albert Camus The slim spine of Julia Deck’s first novel, Viviane (The New Press, 149 pages), expertly translated from the French by Linda Coverdale, belies its intellectual heft. Deck’s crystalline language, too, appears innocently transparent, offering up on a silver platter events just as they transpire and thoughts just as they emerge from the narrator’s troubled mind. But this, too, is delightfully deceptive, as the hidden influences of language, and the impossibility of knowing or telling exactly what happens, appear to be part of Deck’s central concern. On the first page, […]

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The Brazilian Bird of Prey: Four New Translations of Clarice Lispector

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In his preface to Clarice Lispector’s A Breath of Life (Pulsations), editor Benjamin Moser calls the four new translations from New Directions of Lispector’s novels—including Água Viva, Near to the Wild Heart, and The Passion According to G.H.—“the most important project of translation into English of a Latin American author since the complete works of Jorge Luis Borges were published a decade ago.” This is hardly a disinterested opinion: Moser himself kicked off the retranslations of Lispector’s work with The Hour of the Star (New Directions), published late last year. He also published a biography of Lispector in 2009, Why […]

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