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Christine Lombez

Nantes Université - Institut Universitaire de France

Professional Status
Open to opportunities
“I used to say,” wrote in 1980 the French poet Eugène Guillevic, “that poetry translation is not difficult, it is just impossible, but man has always reached the impossible (...) and missed the possible.” To the widespread opinion that poetry is untranslatable, poets who translated other poets have brought a striking contradiction, especially throughout the 20th century. Christine Lombez dwells here on the case of some prominent European poets-translators such as S. Beckett, Y. Bonnefoy, A. Guerne, E. Guillevic, P. Jaccottet, R. M. Rilke, B. Pasternak, H. Thomas, M. Tsvetaeva, while rediscovering other atypical personalities like Pierre Albert-Birot, Jean Prévost or Armand Robin. Poetry translation has always fascinated the theorists since it deeply questions the understanding of the art of translation itself. To which extent does the poem, when translated by a poet, still belong to his creator? Can (and should) the poet-translator disappear behind the author he translates? Will he dutifully serve him, or seek to make his work his own, to “ingest” him (B. Folkart)? And what if a poet translates himself? Can one still speak here of “translation”? In her essay, Christine Lombez teaches the reader to listen to the translated poems in order to discover the secrets conflicts and (potentially) antagonistic interactions that heavily weigh on the process of poetic recreation. Her book is a masterly reflection on the tensions haunting any poetic writing: to write a poem seems to be closer to translation than one thinks…
An anthology of poets-translators theories on translation completes this book.