Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Translation of yesterday's reading

To know another language is to have a second soul.

- Charlemagne, King of the Franks -
(742-814)

The book cover (for now)
*
On the above book cover, I've stated my name as Elspeth Duncan. However, late last year the perfect French 'pen name' came to me. It's my middle name, Blanche (as the first name) ... and a particular French word which came to mind one day as my surname. This word/surname in itself is fascinating to me on different levels because of what it means and how it came about.

It doesn't resonate to write a French novel as Elspeth Duncan. Something just wasn't feeling right. So, when I start back writing Une Bouteille de Lucioles (A Bottle of Fireflies), I will change to my French pen name. I'm sure this will influence the energy, flow and direction of the novel.

Those who don't speak French didn't understand yesterday's reading of the first few paragraphs of the novel's introduction, so I'm providing a translation of it below. (N.B. you will see in the that I refer to it as 'the invitation' rather than 'the introduction').

****

The invitation

I am going to write a novel in French. This will be a very simple book. No big words, no difficult phrases. French isn’t my mother tongue. I’ve been learning it for some months in evening classes at the University. The language which I’ve been speaking my whole life is English.

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m writing in French if it’s not my mother tongue. Would you believe me if I told you that I don’t have a choice? I must only write in French. You could say that I was given an order … or perhaps, an invitation; an invitation to discover something that I don’t know yet.

Perhaps all that I’m saying now sounds strange. I understand if you think this. I’ll explain the reason soon. But first, let me ask you something:

What do you think of dreams? Do you believe that a dream can tell you something important that changes your life?

I love to dream. Each night when I go to bed, I know that I will see a free film on the screen of my mind. A dream is a window that opens to a vision of another life which we can’t see during the day when our eyes are open and our senses are occupied by the bustling world.

I’m going to explain the reason for this novel.

It all began one night – last week Monday. I was dining with some friends at home, celebrating a birthday. We finished around eleven o’clock and everyone was happy. A delicious meal, good friends, good conversation, laughter … We couldn’t ask for more.


At one in the morning, after washing the dishes, I went to bed. Soon I was sleeping very peacefully, like a baby in the arms of her mother. As usual, I began to dream. I don’t recall all that I dreamed, but I remember very well the woman who came to me in this vision. I was with some friends, somewhere in a white room when she came. Even though there were ten of us in the room, she didn’t look at my friends at all. You could say they didn’t exist. For her, I was the only one. She approached me, slowly, like a cloud in the sky on a day when there isn’t much wind.

She was very old, with skin like a dying flower: fragile, wrinkled, pale. And her hair, long and wild, rested like a silver lining around her small, intense face.

In a way, I wasn’t surprised or afraid when I saw this stranger who, evidently, had come to meet me only. Something about this old woman was innocent and glowing, almost like a cloud of fireflies in a child’s bottle. And her eyes, green and deep like the sea, contained secrets, stories and something else that I couldn’t understand.

(Continued in the rest of the 'the invitation' before launching into the actual novel)

3 comments:

Samantha said...

A huge undertaking, I wish you the best of luck.
I have yet to achieve a basic level in Spanish, even though I am faced with it daily through my husband and his family... good luck with your journey.

Shubhajit said...

Its a great news! I'm immensely happy for you, and also because of the fact that even the slightest self-known person become a huge creative and helpful dynamo.

Apology for using the word slightest but its not necessarily meant for you but as a general statement.

Anonymous said...

I"m so impressed and happy for you that you are writing on your French novel (ah, I'll get to email pretty soon -- just been busy and out-of-it lately!!!)

Andrea!