I am proud to announce the publication by Amsterdam Publishers of my first literary translation: Van Gogh durera toujours, comprising 8 short stories written by Kelly Cole Rappleye; introduction and original concept by Liesbeth Heenk.
Now, these short stories are fiction with a twist: they belong to a book-cycle which aim is to popularise the work and the life of Van Gogh for art-lovers all over the world. No wonder then that I felt as if I was translating much more than simple words and plots, and saw hints of the roman à clef in every quote, behind each motivation.
Those short stories truly were a pleasure to read; the author used all her resources to create eight different voices and narrative modes: from the transcription of a speech to the diary of a madwoman, from a second-person narration to the simplicity of the tale of a little girl; all those characters illustrate, in their struggles, a side of Van Gogh’s life.
Most people identify him as a mad artist who chopped his ear off; I’ve known his work for all my life as I’ve been a life-long art-lover and I come from the south of France, not far from Provence. If Picasso, Cocteau and Matisse are a little bit more popular on the Riviera, Van Gogh has always been a character that I have know about… or so I thought… Translating this book and peering over the letters that are published online (there), I realised that I, after all, knew very little about his personal life, his struggles and his aspirations. Only his madness, his propension for drinking absinthe and his liaison with a prostitute seem to be the elements we still dwell on. Yet this fails to do justice to his immense epistolary qualities, which reveal the depth of his convictions, and the struggles of a man who was nothing short of a visionary.
As I kept discovering a new side to him with every story, I could not wait to be finished translating this book for every French reader who is interested in art to discover that Van Gogh’s legacy will last forever. Van Gogh durera toujours…