Monday, 25 August 2008

More holiday reading

This is for the day train to Bern rather than the Night Train to Lisboa but I am at long last reading Pascal Mercier's Nachtzug nach Lisbon. I began the English translation but after about 25 pages got rather cross with it - it limps along in places and obviously has not been as thoroughly revised as a literary translation should be. I imagine the pressure to publish quickly was too great which is a shame. Sorry I know that sounds prissy and snobby, maybe it's been better translated into French and Spanish. Hope so. I suspect the lack of pace in th eEnglish language version is part of what has led to the very mixed reviews of the book in English.
Anyway I think Mercier, who is the philosopher Peter Bieri is perhaps trying to be the Swiss answer to Umberto Eco, using fiction as a foil for philosophy. Anyway I'll see if I get on better with the German than the English - so far so good. The central theme of what it is like to write under an authoritarian regime makes me wonder about how well we cope with the freedoms and constraints of writing under the constraints of the so called free market.