Impressions of Africa

Paul Grimstad writes:

In an informative introduction to his translation of Impressions d’Afrique, Mark Polizzotti describes in some detail his effort to arrive at an English comparable to Roussel’s near mathematically concise French. Polizzotti has a knack for finding pleasingly demotic versions of Roussel’s compressed syntax: ‘la coloration imagée’ becomes ‘vivid tints’; ‘apparitions sans mouvement’ are ‘frozen tableaux’; ‘en vendant sur l’heure, à bas prix’ is ‘selling off at rock-bottom prices’. His translation is a welcome alternative to the cumbersome 1967 version by Rayner Heppenstall and Lindy Foord (the only other English Impressions are extracts, among them Ashbery’s fine 1962 translation of its first chapter). And he rightly points out that in this novel about European tourists stranded in Africa, Roussel ‘manages to avoid many of his day’s most prevalent stereotypes about race’.

(LRB 26 April 2012)