As I spend time in that cabin in the woods, with Sylvain Tesson, enjoying his writing and marvelling as his Consolations of the Forest builds and develops with each passing day, becoming almost essays at times, Jamie-esque even, demanding to be read several times before moving on to the next day on the mountain or out on the iced lake, I find myself longing for a translation of his Long Walk that I know does not yet exist. Searches find only L’Axe du Loup in his native French.
But all is not lost, for the site stats on these humble pages can sometimes reveal the marvels of this modern age. I do not delve into social media. There are no feeds here for twitter or facebook, but the terms do crop up from time to time.
And a growing back catalogue of articles continues to be found thanks to the wonders of the search engine. Just the other day I had a comment, from a new reader, on an article written a while back. It was on a book, and a translation, and it got me thinking.
I had come across a volume by an unknown author in a certain bookshop. Unknown to me that is, though Annemarie Schwarzenbach had travelled with the redoubtable Ella Maillart in bygone days. Her version of their Afghan journey had been published, in English. Since then Maillart’s The Cruel Way has been given a revamp, and the paperback will join me in the tent in a few weeks time – it’s a no-go zone for hardbacks. Before then I’ll listen to Maillart herself, in a BBC recording from 1987, at the age of 84, part of the marvellous Travel Writers CD, of which I now have two copies having thought the original to be mislaid only for it turn up where it should have been; but I digress.
There is another Schwarzenbach on The Bedside Table, and she’ll shortly be taking me to Persia. For that comment was advising me of the publication of Death in Persia earlier this month. And the post came from Lucy Renner Jones, who just happened to be the translator of the work, and a previous Schwarzenbach publication that remains on the list. I do like it when authors put a word in here and there, like Miriam Darlington has done before, Mark Charlton too.
So whilst I dip into Persia, once I escape from the taiga, I’ve a proposition for our young translator – L’Axe du Loup, in English, pleeease. I can’t be the only one.