Proust in Jewish

November 19, 2008

Liel Leibovitz has written a lovely article for nextbook on his foray first into reading and then — struggling, faltering, and eventually failing — into translating Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu into Hebrew. He seems to have taken Pierre Menard‘s initial approach to recreating the Quixote, becoming a sort of modern-day Marcel, locked in isolation and scribbling madly on a legal pad with a fountain pen. Leibovitz sees in Proust a Talmudic attempt to complicate the straightforward in pursuit of richer understanding. I’m not sure I buy his conclusion, but it does make me wonder if Nabokov’s thorough commentary on his own translation of Eugene Onegin might be merely the continuation of a long tradition of over-elaboration.
-ar

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