Rediscovering the Work of Roger Lewinter at the French Embassy

December 2, 2016 | By French Culture

On Friday, December 2, 2016, Rachel Creau, Lydia Davis, and Saul Anton gathered at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York to discuss the work of Roger Dewinter which was translated into English for the first time this year. The following words were delivered by Bénédicte de Montlaur. 

Good evening everyone,

Thank you for joining us this evening at Albertine Books within the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. I would also like to welcome those who are tuning in via livestream. 

As Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, it is my great pleasure to welcome our guests Lydia Davis, Rachel Careau, and Saul Anton. 

Tonight, they will discuss author Roger Lewinter, whose work has been published in English for the first time by New Directions, translated from the French by our guest Rachel Careau. 

I would also like to thank Brittany Dennison, Director of Publicity at New Directions, who has played an instrumental role in the organization of this evening, and give a warm welcome to Barbara Epler, New Directions’s Publisher, who is here with us tonight. And I would like to express my gratitude to New Directions for having the insight to publish these important works three decades after their original publication in French.  

Roger Lewinter’s intricate prose, innovative use of punctuation, and complex, winding sentences make for both extraordinary literature and an extraordinary challenge for a translator. 

Fortunately, Rachel was up to the task. She began translating the writings of Lewinter in 1989 and recently spent time working with him in his hometown of Geneva. She is the translator of both his works published by New Directions: The Attraction of Things and Story of Love in Solitude. Rachel is currently working on a translation of Lewinter's L'apparat de l'âme. A writer herself, she is the author of Itineraries, a book of prose poetry. 

Our guest Lydia Davis has described Rachel's translations as both "meticulous" and "masterful." 

This is no small compliment given Lydia’s own work. She is undoubtedly one of the most important living American writers. She is known for her innovative works of flash fiction that can be as short as one sentence. Lydia has also received wide acclaim for her translations of Proust's Swann’s Way and Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Her other translations include works by equally fascinating and challenging authors such as Maurice Blanchot, Michel Leiris and Pierre Jean Jouve.

In addition to being named a Chevalier of the Order of the Arts and Letters, she has received numerous awards including the Man Booker International Prize in 2013 and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award of Merit Medal. 

Lydia is a dear friend of the Cultural Services and it is truly an honor to have her come to Albertine regularly. 

Tonight they are joined by Saul Anton, a writer, scholar and critic. Saul currently teaches at the Pratt Institute. He is the author of the critical fiction Warhol's Dream. He has written for numerous publications including Artforum, Cabinet and Frieze. 

We are very fortunate to have these three distinguished scholars and writers here with us tonight to discuss the work of this author who was, until now, unknown but for a happy few in the U.S.

And so, I will now give the floor to our guests. 

I wish you all a wonderful evening.