A collection of essays on translation, foreign languages, Proust, and one French city, from the master short-fiction writer and acclaimed translator Lydia Davis
In Essays One, Lydia Davis, who has been called “a magician of self-consciousness” by Jonathan Franzen and “the best prose stylist in America” by Rick Moody, gathered a generous selection of her essays about best writing practices, representations of Jesus, early tourist photographs, and much more. Essays Two collects Davis’s writings and talks on her second profession: the art of translation. The award-winning translator from the French reflects on her experience translating Proust (“A work of creation in its own right.” —Claire Messud, Newsday), Madame Bovary (“[Flaubert’s] masterwork has been given the English translation it deserves.” —Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review), and Michel Leiris (“Magnificent.” —Tim Watson, Public Books). She also makes an extended visit to the French city of Arles, and writes about the varied adventures of learning Norwegian, Dutch, and Spanish through reading and translation.
Davis, a 2003 MacArthur Fellow and the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize for her fiction, here focuses her unique intelligence and idiosyncratic ways of understanding on the endlessly complex relations between languages. Together with Essays One, this provocative and delightful volume cements her status as one of our most original and beguiling writers.
About the Author
Lydia Davis is the author of Essays One, a collection of essays on writing, reading, art, memory, and the Bible. She is also the author of The End of the Story: A Novel and many story collections, including Varieties of Disturbance, a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award for Fiction; Can’t and Won’t (2014); and The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, described by James Wood in The New Yorker as “a grand cumulative achievement.” Davis is also the acclaimed translator of Swann’s Way and Madame Bovary, both awarded the French-American Foundation Translation Prize, and of many other works of literature. She has been named both a Chevalier and an Officier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government, and in 2020 she received the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story.
"While writing about writing can sometimes wander into theoretical, navel-gazing territory, Davis’s approach here is thrillingly concrete. Several pieces describe, in vivid, granular detail, her process for translating the first volume of Proust. She pops the hood and lets us see how the literary gears turn." —Cornelia Channing, Vulture