Lydia Davis - Quotes

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Often, the idea that there can be a wide range of translations of one text doesn't occur to people - or that a translation could be bad, very bad, and unfaithful to the original. ---->>>

I started writing the one-sentence stories when I was translating 'Swann's Way.' There were two reasons. I had almost no time to do my own writing, but didn't want to stop. And it was a reaction to Proust's very long sentences. ---->>>

My stories are sometimes closer to poems or meditations, but often there is at least a little narrative in them. ---->>>

Collections aren't really planned. I just keep writing short pieces until I have enough for a collection. ---->>>

I do see an interest in writing for Twitter. ---->>>

I find teaching - I like it, but I find just walking into the classroom and facing the students very difficult. ---->>>

I never dream in French, but certain French words seem better or more fun than English words - like 'pois chiches' for chick peas! ---->>>

Even though I believe a superlative translation can achieve timelessness, that doesn't mean I think other translators shouldn't attempt other versions. The more the better, in the end. ---->>>

I do see an interest in writing for Twitter. While publishers still do love the novel and people do still like to sink into one, the very quick form is appealing because of the pace of life. ---->>>

If a translation doesn't have obvious writing problems, it may seem quite all right at first glance. We readers, after all, quickly adapt to the style of a translator, stop noticing it, and get caught up in the story. ---->>>

If I was writing about an academic or a more difficult person, I would use the Latinate vocabulary more, but I do think Anglo-saxon is the language of emotion. ---->>>

The existence of another, competing translation is a good thing, in general, and only immediately discouraging to one person - the translator who, after one, two, or three years of more or less careful work, sees another, and perhaps superior, version appear as if overnight. ---->>>

I think the close work I do as a translator pays off in my writing - I'm always searching for multiple ways to say things. ---->>>

I would recommend, definitely, developing a 'day job' that you like - don't expect to make money writing! ---->>>

I always interrupt work with other work, either in a small way or big way, so that's normal. ---->>>

I do think novels are overlooked. I did write one some years ago that I think is quite good, called 'The End of the Story,' not to blow my own horn. ---->>>

I don't like to hurt people's feelings, and I don't like to knock other writers as a matter of principle. ---->>>

I first read 'Madame Bovary' in my teens or early twenties. ---->>>

I follow my interests pretty - I don't like the word 'intuitively.' I follow them in a kind of natural way, without questioning them too much. ---->>>

I see people sometimes who remind me of my narrators. ---->>>

I wrote the first draft of 'Madame Bovary' without studying the previous translations, although I gathered them and took the occasional peek. ---->>>

I've gotten very alert not just to mixed metaphor but to any writing mistake. ---->>>

Of course we may have any number of translations of a given text - the more the better, really. ---->>>

All of the little entries in 'The Cows' were written in an irregular way. There might be one or two done one day, and then two weeks might go by or four weeks, and then they were put in an order or sequence. ---->>>

I am basically the sort of person who has stage-fright teaching. I kind of creep into a classroom. I'm not an anecdote-teller, either, although I often wish I were. ---->>>

I don't pare down much. I write the beginning of a story in a notebook and it comes out very close to what it will be in the end. There is not much deliberateness about it. ---->>>

I think I have a sense right in the beginning of how big an idea it is and how much room it needs, and, almost more importantly, how long it would sustain anybody's interest. ---->>>

Ordering is difficult. It's like arranging pieces of music in a concert: What do you put first? What do you put after the intermission? I want the reader to be sort of surprised, to come to each story freshly. ---->>>


Nationality: American
Born: 07-15, 1947
Occupation: Writer

Lydia Davis (born July 15, 1947) is an American writer noted for literary works of extreme brevity (commonly called "flash fiction"). Davis is also a short story writer, novelist, essayist, and translator from French and other languages, and has produced several new translations of French literary classics, including Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (wikipedia)