Miss Herbert

Front Cover
Jonathan Cape, 2007 - Fiction - 558 pages
3 Reviews

The secret history of novelists is often a history of exile and tourism - a history of language learning.

Like the story of Gustave Flaubert and Juliet Herbert, it is a history of loss and mistakes.

Flaubert's niece was taught by an English governess: Juliet Herbert. As Flaubert finishedMadame Bovary, Miss Herbert translated his novel into English. But this translation has since been lost. No photographs of Miss Herbert survive, either.

Translation, and emigration, is the way into a new history of the novel - a history of loss, of mistakes. We assume that we can read novels in translation. We also assume that style does not translate. But the history of the novel is the history of style.

Miss Herbertsolves this conundrum.

The book travels from Rio de Janeiro to Prague, from Moscow to London, from Trieste to Paris, from Warsaw to New York. On its zigzagging flight, it reinvents our ideas of style, and translation - introducing new theories of jet lag, of the time difference.Miss Herbertfinds problems with accurate translations, and praises imperfect ones. It dismisses history and politics, replacing them with the fun of literary games.

This is not a novel, but an inside-out novel - with novelists as characters.

ButMiss Herbertis not just a book. It demonstrates a new way of reading internationally. It is a project, a book of tricks - complete with maps, illustrations, and a variety of helpful diagrams. And it comes with a companion, a slim appendix: 'Mademoiselle O', a story by Vladimir Nabokov, written in French, about his own governess, never before fully translated into English.

Miss Herbertis a bedside travel book, a comprehensive city break: the most original and most stylish beach read.

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User Review  - Poquette - LibraryThing

The Delighted States is a book about writers and writing — but not about just any writers. It concentrates on those innovative writers of fiction whose work put a mark on the art of imaginative ... Read full review

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User Review  - mykl-s - LibraryThing

Lit-crit pretending to be a novel. An extended, maybe too extended, essay on story and the novel. A discussion of style in literature. Not a linear book; any page is a good page to start on, and the ... Read full review


Jorge Luis Borges
Witold Gombrowicz

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About the author (2007)

Adam Thirlwell was born in 1978. His first novel, Politics, was translated into thirty languages. He was named as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists in 2003 and again in 2013. He lives in London.

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