Thursday, June 4, 2009

Nancy Huston

Nancy Huston was born in 1953 in Calgary (Canada). Since 1974 she lives in France and is married to the philosopher Tzvetan Todorov. Nancy Huston won many literary awards, amongst them the Prix Femina for her novel Lignes de failles.
She gave her literary debut in 1981 with the novel Les variations Goldberg not in English, but in French. In 1991 she switched her literary language and wrote her first novel in English Plainsong. But as she could not get it published she translated the novel into French. Both versions, the French and the English, were then by chance published at the same time. The French version Cantiques des plaines won the Prix du Gouverneur in the category "Romans et nouvelles en français" in 1993 in Quebec. This decision caused a lot of trouble because obviously Cantiques des plaines was "only" a translation and so some claimed that it could only have been rewarded in the category 'translation'.
Nancy Huston continues to translate her own work. In an interview with the Victorian Writer in 2007 she explained: "[S]ince rhythm and phonetics are of the utmost importance to me, I wouldn’t trust anyone else to translate my work into one of these languages."
As many other self-translators, Nancy Huston is very interested in the work of Samuel Beckett and even dedicated a bilingual book to him: Limbes/Limbo: hommage à Samuel Beckett.

Interviews with Nancy Huston:
Victorian Writer (2007): Finding freedom in a foreign idiom. July-August 2007.
Lire. Le magazine littéraire (2001): Entretien avec Nancy Huston. Mars 2001. [Link updated]

Interesting articles on Nancy Huston:
The Independent (2008): Biography. Nancy Huston: A view from both sides. 22 February 2008.

Interesting research on Nancy Huston as a self-translator for further reading:
Elefante, Chiara (2007): Ecriture multilingue et auto-traduction dans l'oeuvre de Nancy Huston: "désirs et réalités". In: Giovanna Bellati (ed.): Un paysage choisi. Torino: Harmattan, pp. 161-172.
Klein-Lataud, Christine (1996): Les voix parallèles de Nancy Huston. In: TTR. Traduction, Terminologie, Redaction 9:1, S. 211–231, available online.
Senior, Nancy (2001): Whose song, whose land? Translation and appropriation in Nancy Huston's Plainsong/Cantiques des plaines. In: META, vol. 46, n°4, p. 675-686. Available online.
Wilhelm, Jane Elisabeth (2006): Autour de Limbes/Limbo: un hommage à Samuel Beckett de Nancy Huston. In: Isabelle Génin (ed.): Traduire l'intertextualité. Presse Sorbonne Nouvelle, pp. 59-85.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Je prépare une thèse de doctorat sur l'oeuvre de Nancy Huston.

Eva said...

Très intéressant. Quelles sont les livres que vous comparez?

Anonymous said...

Chère Eva,
Oeuvrant dans la traduction, j'adore Nancy Huston et son parcours si riche à tout point de vue. J'admire aussi beaucoup la maîtrise de ses scénarions. A l'heure qu'il est, "Lignes de faille" a-t-il été traduit par l'auteur??
Sissi

Eva said...

Chère Sissi,
oui, la version anglaise est "Fault Lines":
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/mar/15/featuresreviews.guardianreview22

La version francaise était publiée avant la version anglaise, mais cela ne veut pas dire que la version francaise était écrite d'abord. J'ai lu quelque part que la version anglaise était écrite d'abord, mais de toute facon, Nancy Huston écrit normalement les deux versions en même temps, alors il n'y a ni original ni tradution mais tous les deux sont original et traduction en même temps.

Ici un article sur ses problèmes de trouver un éditeur pour la version anglaise:
http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/features/wordfest/story.html?id=3cc6e367-f737-4dfb-ba48-cb43473c86b9

marli said...

I enjoy your blog, thanks!
I'm writing a thesis on Nancy Huston. Do you have any suggestions how I could get a hold of the article 'Finding freedom in a foreign language?'
Noch eine Frage - gibt es bekannte Autoren Deutsch/English im Bereich der Selbstübersetzung?
Grüße aus Spanien, Marlisa

Eva Gentes said...

Hi Marlisa, I can send you a copy of the article. On the topic of German-English self-translators there is Klaus Mann who has self-translated his autobiography and there is also Stefan Heym who self-translated several books from English to German and a few from German to English. Best wishes Eva

marli said...

wow, that would be great. I can't seem to find your email address, so here is mine:
marichters@gmail.com
thanks so much!!

Eva Gentes said...

Hi Marlisa, I sent you the article. Please let me know if you received it. All the best Eva

marli said...

Eva - I can read everything just fine. The article, though shorter than I expected, is most interesting for me and my thesis. So, thanks again. Let me know if I can help you out in anything.
Best, Marlisa

Melania said...

Hi Eva, your blog is very interesting and helpful!
I'm writing a thesis on Nancy Huston. I'm analysing the translation techniques used by her as a self-translator, comparing some passages of a text written in English and translated in French (Plainsong), and a text written in French and translated in English (Instruments des ténèbres). I would like to ask some questions to Nancy Huston, but I don't find some contacts or email adresses or facebook or twitter accounts. Do you know how I can contact her?
Thank you very much and congratulations for your blog!

Eva Gentes said...

Dear Melania,
I went to a public reading in order to ask her a few questions myself. But she has talked extensively about self-translation, and you can find many interviews on the web. You can try to write to her publishing house or her literary agents in order to get in touch with her. Good luck with your research, Eva

Melania said...

Hi Eva,
thank you very much for your suggestions.if you ever know something about any upcoming public readings, could you please let me know? My email is melaniacalvo@gmail.com
Thank you!!!

Melania

Eva Gentes said...

Hi Melania,

it looks like you just missed her at the festival in Quebec:

http://www.quebecentouteslettres.com/programmation/activit%C3%A9s/item/rena-et-les-monoth%C3%A9ismes-2.html

Giorgia Falceri said...

Hello Eva,
I'm a PhD student at the University of Trento and I also am researching about Nancy Huston's self-translations processes.
You're doing a great job with your blog, congratulations and a heartfelt thanks!Your suggestions helped me on a number of occasions.
I read in former posts tht you were so kind as to send Marlisa a copy of the article Finding freedom in a foreign language. Could you do the same favour to me? I'm having troubles finding it...my email address is giorgiafalceri@libero.it. I'm just at the beginning of my reaserch but I look forward to sharing my findings with other PhD students interested in the subject matter.
Thanks again,
Giorgia

Eva Gentes said...

Hi Giorgia, of course, I will send you an email. Good luck for your thesis!

Melania said...

Hi Eva,
I'm Melania and I wrote to you some time ago. I need your help because I can't find an article which you posted about Nancy Huston, titled:Elefante, Chiara (2007): Ecriture multilingue et auto-traduction dans l'oeuvre de Nancy Huston: "désirs et réalités". In: Giovanna Bellati (ed.): Un paysage choisi. Torino: Harmattan, pp. 161-172.
Could you please tell me how can I find it?
Thank you very much :-)

Eva Gentes said...

Hi Melania,

you can read most of the article on googlebooks. I don't have the article anymore,thus I can't scan it for you. I am sorry. You can also try to contact Chiara Elefante: chiara.elefante@unibo.it

Here is a link to the publishing house, where you can buy the book: http://www.editions-harmattan.fr/index.asp?navig=catalogue&obj=livre&no=24609

Klaartje said...

Dear Eva,

Thank you so much for this blog. I see you have had this question a few times before, but may I ask for a copy of the (infamous) 'Finding freedom in a foreign language' - text as well? Thanks in advance :)
klaartje.merrigan@gmail.com

Eva Gentes said...

Hi Klaartje,

you've got mail :)