Chasing Lost Time
And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before church-time), when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me . . .
With these words, Marcel Proust’s narrator is plunged back into the past. Since 1922, English-language readers have been able to take this leap with him thanks to translator C. K. Scott Moncrieff, who wrestled with Proust’s seven-volume masterpiece — published as Remembrance of Things Past — until his death in 1930. While Scott Moncrieff’s work has shaped our understanding of one of the finest novels of the twentieth century, he has remained hidden behind the genius of the man whose reputation he helped build. Now, in this biography—the first ever of the celebrated translator—Scott Moncrieff’s great-great-niece, Jean Findlay, reveals a fascinating, tangled life
Joining Findlay at Albertine for a discussion will be Esther Allen, who edited The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim & A Life in Translation. When Michael Henry Heim — one of the most respected translators of his generation — passed away in the fall of 2012, he left behind an astounding legacy. Over his career, he translated two-dozen works from eight different languages, including books by Milan Kundera, Dubravka Ugresic, Hugo Claus, and Anton Chekov. But Mike, as he was known to his legion of friends, was much more than that. His classes at UCLA on translation inspired a new generation of translators, and his work altering the way translation is viewed will impact the livelihood of translators for decades to come. If that weren’t enough, upon his death it was revealed that Heim was the anonymous donor responsible for the largest fund in America supporting up-and-coming translators. Hundreds of people in the literary community were impacted by Heim’s life and actions, and this book is a small way of honoring this quiet, humble man who, among many other things, is responsible for the title The Unbearable Lightness of Being (and all its variants) entering the English idiom. Moderated by Chad Post of Open Letter Books.
In English. Free and open to the public. No RSVP necessary.
Jean Findlay was born in Edinburgh and studied law and French at Edinburgh University, then theater in Krakow with Tadeusz Kantor. She ran a theater company, writing and producing plays in Berlin, Bonn, Dublin, Rotterdam, and the Pompidou Centre in Paris. She has written for The Scotsman, The Independent, The Guardian, and Time Out, and she lives in Edinburgh with her husband and three children. She is the great-great-niece of C. K. Scott Moncrieff.
Esther Allen translates from Spanish and French and has worked to promote a culture of translation in the English-speaking world, most notably by directing the PEN Translation Fund from 2003 to 2010 and helping launch the PEN World Voices Festival.
Chad W. Post is the director of Open Letter Books, a press at the University of Rochester dedicated to publishing contemporary literature from around the world. In addition, he is the managing editor of Three Percent, a blog and review site that promotes literature in translation and is home to both the Translation Database and the Best Translated Book Awards. His articles and book reviews have appeared in a range of publications including The Believer, Publishing Perspectives, the Wall Street Journal culture blog, and Quarterly Conversation.