Translation as Transhumance
Published by Les Fugitives
Foreword by Lauren Elkin
Winner of an English PEN Translates Award 2017
Finalist of the French Voices Awards 2015
Longlisted for the Jan Michalski Foundation Literature Prize
Translation as Transhumance is half-memoir, half-philosophical treatise musing on translation's potential for humanist engagement. One of the great contemporary French translators, the author has lived her life as a risk-taker.
Going back to her childhood in post-war France, she reflects on her origins as a translator. Gansel's travels took her to important places at seminal points of the 20th century, such as her encounters with banned German writers in 1960s East Berlin. During the Vietnam war, she went to Hanoi to work on an anthology of Vietnamese poetry.
The book offers a fascinating account of wartime danger, hospitality and human kinship as the city under bombardment. Gansel is brilliant at conveying the sense of exile and alienation that is the price paid for the privilege of not dwelling exclusively in the comforting home of the mother tongue, as she explores her relationship with French, which she has come to know very differently because of her activities as a translator. Her lyrical, delicate text offers a profound engagement with humanist values and a meditation on communication.
Translated by by Ros Schwartz.
“In this series of delicate memoir essays about living in translation and living as a translator, Gansel tunes herself most sensitively into many states of language, from dwelling in a mother tongue to opening ways of surviving in exile and estrangement.” Marina Warner
"This beautiful and moving meditation on her life's work by a renowned translator, though extremely short, yields a history not just of twentieth century poetry but of that dark century itself, from the rise of the Nazis to the American bombing of North Vietnam, and yields too a rare insight into the nature of language and the splendours and limitations of translation." Gabriel Josipovici
“This memoir tells of a life forged by encounters, by the humble desire to reach out to and understand the other. It is a subtle, moving, and at times sad testimony that talks of poetry, the dialogue with consciousness, commitment and values that are essential to literature and to life itself.” La Quinzaine littéraire