Thursday, November 12, 2009

PAUL MORAND, ANTAL SZERB, JULIAN GREEN: Essential Books from PUSHKIN PRESS

C

On my shelves by PAUL MORAND:

Black Magic
Earth Girdled
Green Shoots (Preface by Marcel Proust)
Fancy Goods and Open All Night (translated by Ezra Pound)
Open All Night (translated by HBV)
Closed All Night
The Living Buddha (two different translations)
1900 A.D.
World Champions
Nothing but the Earth
Lewis and Irene
Europe at Love
East India and Company
Orient Air Express
Indian Air
The Captive Princess
Montociel
New York
Le Voyage (a photocopy)

All of these books are out of print though the New Directions’ edition of Ezra Pound’s translation of Fancy Goods/ Open All Night is available.

This IS NOT to go on about out of print books.

D

New York though published in 1930 is still a good guide book for New York, much in the same way that The American Scene by Henry James is a good introduction to the United States if read with Henry Miller’s The Air-Conditioned Nightmare.

E

Pushkin Press based in London publishes what are the prettiest and most elegant books in the English language world. Readers already well know this,one hopes, and have read for instance the four novels by Antal Szerb that they have brought over into English and by so doing restored or placed them and him into the pantheon of world literature: JOURNEY BY MIDNIGHT, THE PENDRAGON LEGEND, THE QUEEN’S NECKLACE, and OLIVER VII. Like Sandor Marai, Szerb came to an awful end but their books and those of certain contemporary Hungarian writers would suggest that Hungarian is one of the great world literary languages…

From JOURNEY BY MIDNIGHT: “He was a really devout Catholic, as Jewish converts often are. Their centuries of tradition haven’t been eroded the way they have for us… He cut out of his life everything that was not purely Catholic. He guarded his soul’s salvation with a revolver.”

F

But it is Paul Morand at the moment that Pushkin Press is revealing anew to the English speaking (reading?) world .

They started with VENICES. Note the plural. A book of fragments memories both from reading and from life: An overcast October sky this morning; an opaline grey, the colour of old chandeliers so fragile that they sell marabou feathers with which to dust them …

Then on to THE ALLURE OF CHANEL, the notes to a biography never written, from the time when he was seeing her after World War Two, after that moment when they had both chosen the wrong side, as history revealed only later…
Chanel is speaking: I have dressed the world and today it goes about naked.
All of that delights me. All of that satisfies this deep taste for destruction and evolution that is within me. Life is recognizable through its inconsistencies

G

(Both books were translated by Euan Cameron who also translated for Pushkin Press Julian Green’s THE OTHER SLEEP.

Green is another writer who seems so essential and one finds every once in the while another who dips, as do I, into his Diary and finds no matter what passage is read that as a result the world seems a little larger and not really as... it surely is…)

H

And now HECATE AND HER DOGS:

“What are you thinking?”
“Nothing.”
“And you?”
“Nothing.”
This was the distilled essence of all our conversations, the words most frequently used by lovers everywhere, emblem of the total vacuum in which they coexist.

2 comments:

John said...

on "certain contemporary Hungarian writers":

"This week the Magyar Demokrata (Hungarian Democrat) newspaper called for the "formation of a cultural police force", consisting of three to four special commandos. These would be assigned to remove the works of "left-wing liberal traitors" (György Spiro, György Konrad, Peter Esterhazy and Peter Nadas) from the libraries, and failing this, to at least tear them them or spray them with paint. "We should have no qualms. These people are murderers, we must purge their poison from our organism,' the editor of the paper wrote, and issued a "call to arms, to holy war.'"

from http://www.signandsight.com/intodaysfeuilletons/1960.html

jackgessner said...

Gods mill grinds slow but sure........................................