In her third virtual dinner party of the year, Susanna Crossman invites translators and writers Saudamini Deo, Denise Rose Hansen, and Emma Rault to discuss different modes of translating, the fascistic notion of an “original” language, the work of Ann Quin and the ghosts behind translation.
THE DINNER PARTY RELOADED
9th December 2020
Contributor Names & Initials
SC – Susanna Crossman, writer & host
ER – Emma Rault, writer, translator
SD – Saudamini Deo, writer, translator, editor.
DRH – Denise Rose Hansen, writer, translator, editor.
SC: Welcome to my house. Let me open my door. Come in. Take off your coat. There’s tea brewing. Coffee, water and wine. It is early evening. Dark outside. The table is laid, and the fire lit. We have just painted the dining-room. The walls are now gold. Another language of light. Please sit down. Make yourself comfortable, more guests will be arriving soon. In the room next door, my three daughters are giggling. Dinner is on the stove. Let me serve you tea in mis-matched cups. As we drink, we can channel our ancestors, the ghosts, people who held this china between their fingers. Gathering stories and images, to be told, untold, retold. And, I am thinking about new words, and old words, and their origins, digging into the palimpsest, the archeology of a word. Anne Carson calls it “prowling” and Iris Murdoch wrote “I just enjoy translating, it’s like opening one’s mouth and hearing someone else’s voice emerge.” Of course translation is a conversation, and the word ‘translation’ comes, etymologically, from the Latin for ‘bearing across’. And this morning I came across this poem, which I wanted to share with you, by Russian poet, Vera Pavlova. She wrote poems to be read by the light of a single match. I love this idea of light, as here in North-Western France it is nearly winter, the days short, the light low. Here is the poem:
To Converse with the greats
by Vera Pavlova, translated by Steven Seymour
To converse with the greats
by trying their blindfolds on;
to correspond with books
by rewriting them;
to edit holy edicts,
and at the midnight hour
to talk with the clock by tapping a wall
in the solitary confinement of the universe.
SC: Welcome. Hello Denise, Saudamini, Emma. How are you all? I hope you’re keeping safe and well in these strange times.
DRH: Hello Susanna, Emma and Saudamini! Pretty good over here. The church clock just struck 5. I really like that poem you posted. The idea that translation is a conversation with the greats, or at least, someone great! While blindfolded.
SC: Yes the blindfold of moving from one language to another particularly resonated with me. Ursula Le Guin says it’s “entirely mysterious”.
ER: Good afternoon/evening (to you guys), good morning (for me). “another language of light”– I love that.
SC: Yes, we must explain to our future readers that we are on/in four time zones in London, Jaipur, LA and France.
SD: Hello everyone! I must explain my strange mood to everyone present here today / tonight. I just received the news of a very close family friend’s death due to COVID-19. It’s been a hard day but then it’s been a hard year. I feel like I am playing a role in a Beckett play.
SC: Saudamini, I am so so sorry. Would you like us to postpone (we can edit all this out later)?
SD: No, no. Don’t edit this, don’t postpone this. This is the reality of our times. It’s 2020. Let’s capture it as it is.
ER: I’m so sorry, Saudamini.
DRH: That’s devastating news. I’m so sorry to hear that, Saudamini.
SC: It is the reality of our times, so challenging, heart-breaking and relentless. My heart is with you, and thanks for gathering with us.
ER: Hoping that maybe our virtual company can be of some comfort, though there’s nothing that can really mitigate grief, especially not the first raw sting of it.
SC: As this is a dinner party, can I offer you refreshment? I actually have wine and waffles.
SD: Yes, please. I’ve already had an unrecorded amount of rum. I would love some wine!
ER: What a beautiful glass. I’m about to switch from herbal tea to coffee. It’s very early for me to be up and attempting to be functional 🙂 Heart-shaped waffles have become a lockdown staple here too…(scrolling through phone for picture, stand by) Ah, I can’t find it, so let me offer you a slice of the walnut loaf I baked last night:
DRH: Wow, my partner and I were just talking about getting a waffle iron, but we haven’t been able to find one! Seeing that heart-shaped waffle fills me with joy. They remind me of childhood winters. I’m having a liquorice tea, but after seeing that wine glass…
SC: Your loaf is exquisite Emma. My daughter made these heart-shaped waffles for you! Thanks to you all for coming. I’ve been reading up on all of your work, which is astonishing. I wanted to begin by talking about translating. Hilde Domin wrote about a writer’s courage: “To be himself/herself. The courage not to lie and misrepresent and skew, to call things by their right names. And thirdly, to believe in the open mindedness and forthrightness of the others.” What courage do you think a translator needs?
SD: I think a translator requires the same courage as that of any other person living a life: the courage of making mistakes.
ER: I love that you’re bringing up Hilde Domin right away. In some way, I feel like each of those applies to translation as well. (Incidentally, Hilde did a fair amount of (literary) translation herself, way before she began writing poetry.) ‘To call things by their right names’ – that means something quite different when you’re writing compared to when you’re translating, though, doesn’t it? But having faith in the other (both the author & the reader) – yes. And having the courage to be yourself – to inhabit the text, to bring yourself to it – that too, I think. (Which feeds into what Saudamini said, the courage to make mistakes, to be bold.)
DRH: I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: making mistakes as a translator. And who is there to check it, or not. I work with translators Danish/English a lot. These translators are blessed (and sometimes, cursed!) by translating the contemporary work of someone who is not only living, but also very good at English, and so they often have a lot to say in the process of translation. Whereas I work into Danish from English, and my authors are usually not around anymore, and so they have little to object to.
SC: Yes this is a radical difference, Denise. Lydia David says translating is also about “collaborating with the dead”.
SD: I think we spend so much time thinking about if the translation is “good” or not, “authentic” or not, without spending as much time examining the very concept of authenticity. What is authentic? What is original? I don’t know. Can anyone know? Is there really any original that we can trace back the ‘original’ work to? Because even the ‘original’ doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Its language exists in a context. And that context is always corrupt. No language is ever really authentic, is it?
SC: Yes so interesting. Umberto Eco thought translation was the art of failure. I’ve been reading about this today. I wanted to ask you all. In other cultures, and throughout history, translation has played different roles; for example, the Romans distinguished between stricter and less literal translations with terms like ‘verto,’ ‘converto,’ ‘transverto,’ (looser forms of translation) and ‘interpretor’ and ‘exprimere’ (closer translation). The medieval practice distinguished between the kinds of languages involved (translating from a noble to a vulgar language, or between vulgar languages – Don Quixote called “translating among easy languages” and the kinds of texts involved (sacred, didactic, legal, historical or poetic). It was presumed these different kinds of translation would not employ the same methods or seek the same ends. Have you experienced these different forms of translation?
ER: Susanna, I’m immediately reminded of Sophie Collins and Jen Calleja’s brilliant and fascinating essay in Asymptote about the idea of bridge translations: She knows too much: “Bridge Translations,” “Literal Translations,” and Long-Term Harm – Asymptote (asymptotejournal.com)
Saudamini, I like the idea of language always being corrupt. Language, new writing, should always be in some way transgressive, and yet it’s a strange thing – I take liberties when I write without giving them a second thought, but when I’m translating I find myself having to rein in my inner policeman, constantly looking disapprovingly over my shoulder and saying, “But we don’t say it like that! That’s weird! That’s not idiomatic!”.
DRH: These terms are so useful to know, I think. One of the forthcoming translations from us at Lolli Editions, which my colleague Joy is editing, is very decidedly a ‘transverto’ translation; Sheri Hellberg’s translation of Ida Marie Hede’s ADORABLE. It makes sense for this novel, I think, since it is incredibly innovative on both narrative and formal levels, and Hede’s practice in general tends to explode form and bring in scientific, essayistic, conceptual, and consciously artistic elements that one perhaps doesn’t expect from a conventional novel. Since Sheri is in close contact with Ida, it makes sense for this particular translation project that the translation too allows itself to be ‘transverto’. I’m really excited about it; I think for my own part I work quite ‘exprimere’.
SC: Denise, I am so excited about your translation of Ann Quin’s Three into Danish. Writer Hiromi Kawakami wrote, “All language is misunderstanding. In degrees,” and it feels like a lot of Quin’s work deals with broke, shattered language. What are the challenges of translating such experimental prose?
DRH: One major challenge is that the Danish reader unfamiliar to Quin won’t know that it is Quin’s language which is fragmented, and not the translation which is poorly executed. I think this goes back to what Saudamini was saying before about tracing the authentic ‘original’. Here I need to trust the reader immensely, and allow myself to feel at ease in the ‘broken’ Danish until it feels comfortable to just be in that space. Quin often leaves out pronouns, nouns, and places verbs in their passive form, and it can be impossible to mirror this 1:1 since Danish operates very differently. She also uses very sparse punctuation, often blurring cause and effect, or uses one adjective double-duty, where it operates in two directions at once: ‘the clouds were low-lying mountains couldn’t be seen either.’ As such, it becomes a balancing act between understanding the general workings of the original and finding ways to render that in the Danish.
SC: This is so interesting Denise.
ER: I suppose that’s always the fear, that someone will see the stylistic idiosyncrasies in a translation and think they’re (horror of horrors) not on purpose. But it’s such a fine balancing act, figuring out to what extent to… I want to say “patrol the perimeters of the text.” It’s interesting that the metaphors that are coming to mind are so… unfriendly, even “a little fascist,” as Saudamini says.
SD: “That’s not idiomatic”! Yes, I struggled with it while translating both Bhuwaneshwar and Rajkamal Chaudhary. Now these two really well-known, brilliant Hindi writers have never been translated into English before. And I really tried my very best to stay as true to the ‘original’ as possible, all the while knowing that the very concept of the ‘original’ is flawed. Language doesn’t exist in some vacuum … if we talk about the ‘original’ of a language, we have to inevitably encounter the question of the ‘original’ in history … and that creates a lot of problems. What is the original state that we all want to return to? Isn’t that a little fascist? Why become obsessed with the idea of the ‘original’? It’s all very strange to me. I love Anne Carson’s modern take on Greek classics … even though I didn’t quite take the same approach with the translations that I worked on. In my translations, despite myself, I have tried to stay very true to the ‘original’ … knowing that these writers were going to be read in English for the first time. So, perhaps experiments can come later.
SC: SaudaminiI can’t wait to read your brilliant work translating forgotten Hindi writers, Bhuwaneshwar and Rajkamal Chaudhary that are forthcoming from Seagull Books, when will they be published?
SD: The Bhuwaneshwar book should be published anytime … it was supposed to published in August but this year has been unpredictable on so many levels. The Bhuwaneshwar book should be published later this month or maybe early January. Rajkamal Chaudahry, I am expecting spring or summer 2021.
SC: Emma, I read some of your recent translations and wanted to ask what are the challenges of translating contemporary language? For example, in The Dandy by Nina Polak, wryly funny stories about modern relationships, queer love, and non-monogamy ?
ER: I’ve been thinking about that lately. I just reviewed a translation from the Dutch this week (Margriet de Moor’s Sleepless Night, tr. David Doherty –out from New Vessel Press this year, my review will be out in the Riveter later this winter) that’s more of a classic — set/written in the ’80s, but with this measured, melodic prose that often felt very Virginia Woolf to me. By chance, my last few translation projects have all had voices that are quite modern and colloquial. I’m currently translating my first YA book, which comes with its own challenges – trying to figure out how “kids these days” (cringe) talk to each other (and boys, at that, which is even more of a foreign realm to me – thankfully, our lovely downstairs neighbor has a teenage son whom I can “borrow” for questions), trying to curb my own tendency to always use the long, Latinate words, which can be cloggy and stultifying anyway. The Dandy felt like quite a natural fit for me in terms of both the voice and the subject matter. I think it helped that “relationship discourse” and LGBT culture are – by virtue of the Internet and Anglo-cultural imperialism – quite globalized anyway. Polyamory, self-help jargon, third-wave feminism – all of which come up (and are often gently lampooned) in Nina Polak’s short stories – are things we’re quite used to reading and thinking about in English.
SC: Yes, so necessary to have a connection with contemporary language which is “alive” so it can radiate that sense of “now”.
SC: You all write fiction/non-fiction, and I am wondering about the connections between your translation and your other work… Today, I read the French translation of my debut novel ( to be published in 2021) and it is very strange ( I speak and write in French but wrote the book in English) but as I read, I hear an english voice speaking French. Like a bi-ligual ghost. Being bi-lingual for me, means a constant inquiry into words, a digging down into language.
ER: I was reading this Michael Hofmann interview last night…regardless of whether or not you agree with his take on the background that makes for the best translators, ‘the trauma of bilingualism’ and ‘better to not have been born’ just slayed me. I always love his take on translation and the mother wound, or to be more accurate, motherland wound.
“I expect the best [translators] are accidents of migration and biography, who’ve come through the trauma of bilingualism. It’s always better not to have learned a language, the way the Greeks say better to have not been born.” (From An interview with Michael Hofmann – Asymptote (asymptotejournal.com)
SC: Emma this makes me think of your beautiful and haunting piece in LA Review of Books exploring home, safety, identity, confinement, that line, “I think of all the trees I’ve left behind”. How do we/you carry a sense of home?
DRH: I love that SC — it’s your book but then it gets this new life which is at once strange and familiar. I think it was Tine Høeg, when she read Misha Hoekstra’s translation of her work, who said that she loved it so much more in the English, because it somehow felt more real, and apart from herself: a thing in the world more separate from her than the book she had written. For me there are very direct connections between my academic research, my translation work and my writing; like some octagonal shape with all these different facets, some are shiny, some are matt. I think translation gives you the chance to feel a book coming out through your finger tips, sensing the length of it, its scope and structure (even, or perhaps particular, for experimental literature). Translation is a bit like re-writing, and after doing it for many hours I often feel like putting it aside and then just opening the shutters and letting my own words pour out.
SD: A bi-lingual ghost. I love that idea. I think the very idea of a ghost is rooted in bilingualism – someone who exists in two universes, two worlds. A translator is a ghost, a yurei, a demon … going back and forth between two universes, two dimensions. It’s very surreal, very occult … the art of translation … it’s like a religion. Like witchcraft, or alchemy. Or a knowledge of something secret. I think a translator is like a ghost inhabiting two worlds at the same time.
SC: I can picture the words pouring through fingertips. Extraordinary image, linked to what Saudimini mentioned, a kind of channeling.
ER: Susanna, thank you – of course that tree line was partly a riff on Hilde Domin (as so many of my best thoughts are :)), who mentions trees a lot in her work. One of her poems in which she mentions that childhood almond tree is coming out in no man’s land in January, in my translation.
Saudamini, I always love it when people draw that parallel between translation and the occult. Especially when translating authors who are no longer alive, it really does start to feel a lot like communing with another realm.
SC: It also makes me think of the Herman Hesse text on Trees which has haunted me for over two decades. I love this section of this Domin poem on home:
“Let us go inland
where the little plants anchor the earth.
I want a solid floor
green, knotted from roots
like a mat.
Saw up the tree
and build me a house.
A little house
with a white wall
for the evening sun
and a well to be a mirror
for the moon
so that it doesn’t
over the sea.
near an apple tree
or an olive tree
where the wind
will go by
like a hunter whose quarry
ER: Ooh, whose translation? Not sure I’ve seen that one in English before…
ER: Oh yes, I am familiar with that website <3
DRH: That is so accurate.
SD: Like moving between two dimensions, absolutely. Translators are sibyls!
SC: So I now believe we’re having a “Gathering of Sibyls.”
ER: That makes me feel like I should be wearing a velvet cloak! (Rather than glorified pajamas, the 2020 uniform…)
SD: I drew a link between surrealism and translation in the introduction to the Bhuwaneshwar book – especially the ouija / occult sessions. It’s really like inhabiting a ghostly world. There is something almost forbidden about translation. Like Eve tasting the apple.
SC: As this is a party, I feel we need more refreshment. I am making spaghetti and vegetarian meatballs for dinner (and meat for those who prefer). Here’s the tomato sauce, gently spluttering on the stove:
ER: Saudamini, that’s such a sexy way of looking at it, rather than the sort of imposter syndrome-informed, trepidatious-schoolchild kind of ‘should I even be doing this’ that I will admit to feeling sometimes.
SD: My answer to the question ‘should I even be doing this’ is *always* yes! Hahaha. I wrote in the introduction, “The Surrealists were known for their ‘Séance de rêve éveillé’ or waking dream sessions where, influenced by the developing field of neuropsychology, they sought to unlock the terra incognita of the mind. … Mediumship was also popular, where “spirit mediums” use their bodies as the contact point between the living and the dead, where it is impossible to know where the medium begins and where the spirit ends, where truth begins and where performance ends. Translating Bhuwaneshwar is my séance de rêve éveillé. It is my contact with the dead genius of Hindi literature.”
Translation is a way of making contact with the dead. I am thinking about ghosts, not readers.
SC: This brilliant Saudimini, like fishing, casting a line through time.
DRH: Which introduction is this, Saudamini? I really want to read that in full!
SD: It’s the Bhuwaneshwar book, slated to be published later this month from Seagull Books.
DRH: Fantastic. I’ll keep an eye out for that. It sounds terrific!
SD: Thank you. I hope you will enjoy the book as well. I will be sure to keep everyone posted.
SC: Emma can you tell us more about your article that is being published today in Guernica?
ER: I love that, Saudamini. Coincidentally, there’s a book I’m dying to translate (after doing a lengthy sample for the publisher) that has a seance as its pivotal scene. I love working with living authors, because I really do feel like text is so enriched by their input and by being able to ask them questions, but there’s something so special about pulling out these voices from past decades and bringing them to a wider, international audience.
Susanna, your fishing metaphor reminds me, in turn, of a quote from my friend Kate Elizabeth Russell’s brilliant book, My Dark Vanessa: “My breath catches at the thought of what would happen if I spilled a line of gasoline over all this evidence, from thirty-two all the way back to fifteen. The wreckage I’d cause if I dropped a match and let it burn.”The narrator is talking about facing up to trauma from her past – but here I come back again to Michael Hofmann and the motherland wound, the idea that translation is always (at least for me…) about reaching back in time, trying to unearth something, recover something lost.
SC: Stunning. How I love fire metaphors. Bachelard’s The Psychoanalysis of Fire is often by my side. The verticality of the flame.
DRH: OK I’m now dipping into this avocado soup made by my partner. I am very fortunate to be spending COVID-19 with someone who loves cooking.
SC: Bravo to your partner Denise! What a mise-en-place. My partner also loves cooking. He is a real epicurean, whereas I am more of a monk.
SD: In a morbid, almost Zorba way of dealing with uncertainties of life (and especially, 2020) … I made this Udon stir fry after drinking copious amounts of alcohol. It turned out better than I was expecting.
SC: I wish we were sitting around the same table.
ER: To come back to your earlier question, Susanna, my essay in Guernica that just went live this morning is a non-fiction piece about falling in love with my now-wife, who is thirty years older. And it’s sort of my manifesto against the age-gap ‘moral panic’ that’s been making waves on the internet, one of the unfortunate byproducts of the relationship cynicism caused by #metoo. (You can read it here: Mind the Gap – Guernica (guernicamag.com)).
That soup looks stunning, Denise. Cooking (and eating) have really helped us to stay (somewhat) sane this year, too.
SC: This sounds amazing. Yes, very relevant topic and excellent title! It is complex that #metoo has also also produced relationship cynicism and sometimes obliterated “tous les possibles” of love and desire. Love is such an open horizon.
SD: I think I just don’t look at anything as being national or international. Forgive me for sounding almost naive but I think what matters is the human voice … and perhaps even more important than that is the earthly voice. I just naturally don’t view things within these boundaries … and perhaps in the future we will discover something even more universal than ‘earth’. Perhaps we will discover something universal about being alive.
SC: Your words resonate so strongly with me Saudmini, I am also, naively, simply drawn to voice, a gathering of voices. Yet sadly, in the current climate, at least in Europe, we’re in the minority. That is why all of this work is so vital.
SD: As Szymborska wrote, “Again, and as ever, … the most pressing questions / are naive ones.” I think this view is in the minority everywhere on the cursed planet that we call home.
ER: One of the things that this year has driven home for me is the extent to which certain reactions and currents – denial, tribalism, and so on – are sadly ubiquitous. “Human nature,” maybe. I’m so prone to grass-is-greenerism myself, but just as there’s no escaping the pandemic, there’s no escaping the way “the majority” (or just a very vocal and visible minority? I’m never quite sure) is dealing with it. But reading, translating, reading translations – much as focus has been elusive this year, all of that is coming home to a stillness and a generosity that I’m determined to keep cultivating.
DRH: I think translated literature is integral to any culture, especially in times of Brexit, introspection, ‘Making America Great Again’ and so on. Growing up in Denmark, I didn’t think much about translation as such, since so much of the culture we engage with in Scandinavia is from abroad. After many years of living in the UK, it dawned on me that there is this stark division between national and international, inside and outside, and that some people try to make sure they read ‘enough’ translated literature while others show little interest. I started feeling a real urge, and almost a duty(!), to make Scandinavian fiction available in the UK. Very little is translated into English from Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, both here and in the US, and there is this prevalent idea that Scaninavian fiction is restricted to noir, crime writing and the like. It could not be less accurate, it just so happens that the average commercial publisher, for financial but also sometimes rather practical reasons, are scared about taking on distinctly ‘literary’ authors. The oldest Danish literary agency was set up in 2001! So it’s also a matter of these countries perhaps not having been so intent on ‘marketing’ their literature abroad.
ER: Denise, same, having grown up in the Netherlands. (A lot of the YA books I read as a kid were, in fact, Scandinavian, translated into Dutch.) In the English-speaking world, taking an interest in ‘foreign cultural output’ can almost feel like this weird kind of virtue signaling, or at least subtly telegraphing that you’re not an asshole. As a result, there can sometimes be this sort of reifying of translation in a way that I think is ultimately a bit silly.
And yes, nations being ‘typecast’ by the English-language publishing world is a very real thing (just as so-called ‘minority identities’ face that same struggle here in the US, of being expected to tell a certain kind of story, and that kind of story only).
SC: Yes it is so interesting these cultural expectations, a French sociologist Denise Jodelet calls them “répresentation socialise”. It is how we expect a culture or cultural group to behave, and then impose our expectations on them. Saudamini, I think that is what you mentioned about your novella.
SD: I am a little bit drunk at the moment. Yes! I am absolutely sick of the so-called Indian English novel … it’s very colonial … and I don’t mean to critique it from a post-colonial perspective … I don’t mean to critique it in any way. I just think it’s very boring. I think there’s a more interesting way to write about the “Indian experience” … I don’t think it has to be compared to anything else. I am not interested in writing a sad third world narrative about my life when it’s not that at all … I don’t wake up and think about the West every morning. I think the irrelevance of the west is as important as its importance. It’s both.
SC: Friends I am so sad we’re going to have to finish this party soon, and it is so brilliant. This conversation is on fire. Denise would you like to tell us more about your novel based on 1960s women artists. I was so interested in what you wrote about the connection between tangible, physical objects and your writing and research project, as though the sensorial experience rooted the process, an embodied aesthetic.
DRH: Yes! I will be brief! In my academic work, I’m researching 1960s art novels, in particular the work of Ann Quin, Paddy Kitchen, Denis Williams and Franciszka and Stefan Themerson. I’ve spent quite some time in various archives both here and abroad and it was especially when reading Ann Quin’s letters to a much, much older novel (I will be reading Mind the Gap, ER!) that I came across all this luminous material that somehow does not fit into a PhD thesis and yet is so much more enticing and fascinating and sometimes even, perhaps, more important than all the stuff that does. I started collating all this material and gradually a work of fiction has started to morph out of it. I’m still a little bit unsettled by it as I was not planning to start yet another project, but somehow that is just beyond one’s control. Researching for me is a bit like being between two dimensions, the way SD was describing translation. This novel springs from that place and basically imagines what it was like to be a woman in the 1960s; to be a writer, to be non-comformist, refusing to marry out of financial necessity, and leaving everything behind to pursue something blindly – blindfolded! – without knowing what exactly.
ER: Denise, I did a bit of reading up on Ann Quin this morning, and I’m so intrigued! I came upon mentions of a female lover too… And Three reminds me of Simone de Beauvoir’s She Came to Stay, which I remember finding equal parts infuriating and fascinating. I’m always intrigued by characters who try and insert themselves into existing dynamics… that felt so familiar to me, being younger, but also being in different countries/cultures. Is the S character a Quin self-insert? (Is there a self-insert?)
SC: Oh Denise, the ground from where work springs! Three is extraordinary. My favorite Quin.
DRH: Three is my favourite, too! But I’m rereading her short stories and fragments right now and they are almost equally fantastic. Yes! She had a relationship with Carol Annand, who did the illustrations for Tripticks. I think S reflects Quin in many ways, and close-reading her diaries I found that S’s backstory mirrors Quin’s very much. She tended to insert herself into various married couples, both in London and in the US. There are certainly many links there, and yet S is quite stylised and subdued, very much an elegant work of invention.
ER: Stylish and subdued – like X in She Came to Stay, “a little black pearl” (I love that description). But Quin herself sounds more like Anais Nin, exuberant and uncompromising.
DRH: I have She Came to Stay on the shelf beside me! I haven’t read it yet but I most definitely will now that you’ve mentioned it.
SC: I think S has definite Quin links, and the characters’ perspective on english upper middle-class in Three is so incisive. I love Jennifer Hodgson’s collection of the shorts/fragments. I can’t wait to read Jen’s new book, which I think will be part memoir, part Quin.
SC: We’re going to have to finish now. Could carry on all night with this Gathering of Sibyls. Thanks mille fois to all of you for coming. It’s been a brilliant party and amazing to discover all of your brilliant work. And all hearts and thoughts with you Saudamini. Sending love, light and voices out across the seas, mountains and lands. xxx
SD: I absolutely love Quin and Hodgson both! I can’t wait to read everyone’s work and interpretations and poetry and dreams. Thank you for making me a part of this. You guys made a difficult night easier. I will never forget this. Thank you. Sending everyone all my love. Hard year for everyone everywhere.
DRH: Yes, can’t wait for Jennifer’s new book! There’s basically a sparkling new reading list in this conversation. So many good tips, and all your work sounds so dreamy. All the best to all of you! I hope you will have a restorative winter and that 2021 will be a year of in-the-flesh dinner parties.
ER: This was so special. I’m surprised by how intimate and alive this conversation felt, given the format, given how disconnected and isolating much of this year has been. Really grateful to have been a part of this gathering.
SC: I wish you all restorative winters. It really has been special today. These gatherings are extraordinary, and so alive. It does feel as though we have truly gathered. Thank you so much. xxxx
SD: Sending kisses and restorative dreams to everyone. Xoxo
DRH. Love to all, have great mornings/afternoons/evenings/nights xx
ER: Much love to you all, in your respective corners of the world <3 (and the days will be getting longer again soon… the light will come back).
About our TDPR Host, Susanna Crossman
Susanna Crossman is an award-winning Anglo-French fiction writer and essayist, published internationally in print and online. She has recent/upcoming work in Paris Review, MAI Journal, Neue Rundschau, (2019) S. Fischer, We’ll Never Have Paris (Repeater Books, 2019), Trauma, (DodoInk, 2020) 3:AM Journal, Berfrois & more. Susanna regularly collaborates and runs international hybrid arts projects. She is co-author of the French roman L’Hôpital Le Dessous des cartes (LEK, 2015) and her debut novel Dark Island will be published by Delcourt (FR) in 2021. Susanna’s work can be seen via her website http://susanna-crossman.squarespace.com/ or you can follow her via Twitter @crossmansusanna Rep: Craig Literary, NY.
About Saudamini Deo
Saudamini Deo is a writer-photographer-translator from Jaipur, Rajasthan. Her translation of Bhuwaneshwar’s Wolves and Other Short Stories is forthcoming from Seagull Books. Follow Saudimini on Twitter @thesapphirebook and see her website here.
About Denise Rose Hansen
Denise Rose Hansen is the founding editor of Lolli Editions, a PhD Candidate in English, University College London, and a literary translator. An Anglo-Danish Scholar 2020/21, her academic work focuses on the late-modern writers Ann Quin, Stefan Themerson, Paddy Kitchen and Denis Williams, and makes the case for a British art novel. Her translation of Ann Quin’s 1966 novel Three is forthcoming from Basilisk in Copenhagen with an introduction by Tom McCarthy. Follow Denise on Twitter and Instagram @drohansen. Follow Lolli Editions on Twitter and Instagram @lollieditions or go to their website: lollieditions.com
About Emma Rault
Emma Rault is a writer and a literary translator from Dutch and German. Her work has appeared in Guernica, the LA Review of Books, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. Her most recent translation is The Dandy by Nina Polak (Strangers Press). She is a 2019 Idyllwild Arts Non-Fiction Fellow and the recipient of the 2017 GINT Translation Prize. She lives in Los Angeles. For more information see Emma’s website: emmarault.com. Follow Emma on Twitter via @emmarault.
Lucy Writers would like to thank Susanna Crossman for hosting The Dinner Party Reloaded, as well as her guests, Saudamini Deo, Emma Rault and Denise Rose Hansen for attending.