I was discussing my novel last night with a chorister, waiting to go on stage with Ganymede. Being an anglophone, this friend asked me why I wasn’t having my novels translated; I would probably have a better chance of getting some success or money.
I smiled at him and replied: “At a dollar a word, there is no investment” and unless governments, with their very special charity, agree to subsidize the operation, my texts will remain where they are, in their solitude as poor people.
Nevertheless, and always stung by this kind of question, I was curious, when I came back from the concert, to count the number of words of my last born child. A little over eighty thousand words, twenty-five thousand dollars for translation. My calculation may be inaccurate, but it still summarizes the barrier erected against such a project.
“You could translate it, I’d correct you,” suggested the friend. This is not the first time I’ve been told this idea. But a novel is not a recipe book or a technical manual. Each language has its own rhythm and already as I try to navigate through the sensitivities of French, how can I, the English gossipster, claim to find the same fervor in this beautiful language full of “w” and “th”?
Nothing is impossible, I will be told. Yes, but I’d like to see you there. And to all the talkers of when-you-can, I silently present this finger of honor that makes you so happy in other circumstances.
I will say this. It’s too late, but it doesn’t matter. I will start by not stepping on my feet, by finishing one by one the tasks that are my responsibility. I will start by removing each of these thorns that irritate my soles. It will already be happy if I achieve the comfort of being a free poet.
“But… “, you may say.
No, no… Shut up, please. Can’t you see that my happiness is not controlled? It waits for its spring; it digs, like a snowdrop, the cold crust of life. After all, it is himself only a flower, forever a prisoner of its short season.