Ruminations in an Emergency: A new translation of Proust’s late masterpiece

Rebecca Porte in Bookforum:

Patterson, a poet, essayist, and translator, has a good ear for the sonic qualities of the Recherche’s prose. This is particularly notable in the opening of the volume. Finding Time Again begins with one of Proust’s analogies between nature and artifice, couched in a meandering, multiclausal sentence that is, nonetheless, beautifully balanced in its Byzantine way, culminating in one of Proust’s classic, grammatical course corrections in which, after drifting away from the initial subject in a metaphorizing reverie, the sentence begins all over again without ending, usually after the nominal concession of a semicolon: “Toute la journée,” it begins, “all day long” as Patterson renders it, before describing the “slightly too bucolic residence” where the narrator finds himself,

one of those houses where every sitting-room looks like a conservatory and where, in the bedroom wall-paper, either the garden roses or the birds in the trees are brought vividly before you and keep you company, in a rather isolated way—it being of the old-fashioned sort in which each rose was so clearly delineated that if it were alive one could have picked it, each bird so perfect that it might have been caged and tamed, without any of the exaggerated modern décor in which, against a background of silver, all the apple trees of Normandy are arrayed in profile, Japanese-style, to turn the hours you spend in bed into a hallucinatory experience;

This takes us up to the semicolon, after which things start over: “all day long I stayed in my room.”

More here.