Posts featuring Louis Aragon

What’s New in Translation: October 2019

October's new translations, selected by the Asymptote staff to shed light on the best recent offerings of world literature.

A new month brings an abundance of fresh translations, and our writers have chosen three of the most engaging, important works: a Japanese novella recounting the monotony of modern working life as the three narrators begin employment in a factory, the memoir of a Russian political prisoner and filmmaker, as well as the first comprehensive English translation of Giorgio de Chirico’s Italian poems. Read on to find out more!

the factory cover

The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada, translated from the Japanese by David Boyd, New Directions, 2019

Review by Andreea Scridon, Assistant Editor

Drawn from the author’s own experience as a temporary worker in Japan, The Factory strikes one as being a laconic metaphor for the psychologically brutalizing nature of the modern workplace. There is more than meets the eye in this seemingly mundane narrative of three characters who find work at a huge factory (reticent Yoshiko as a shredder, dissatisfied Ushiyama as a proofreader, and disoriented Furufue as a researcher), as they become increasingly absorbed and eventually almost consumed by its all-encompassing and panoptic nature. Coincidentally wandering into a job for the city’s biggest industry, or finding themselves driven there—against their instincts—by necessity, the three alternating narrators chronicle the various aspects of their working experience and the deeply bizarre undertones that lie beneath the banal surface. READ MORE…

“Damien, or, Intimations” by Louis Aragon Translated from the French by Damion Searls

“When I was young I brushed my teeth with a straight piece of bone, the bristles were thick and hard like a wheat field, until my mother would rub her finger over them and complain ‘Damien, that’s disgusting, you know you’re supposed to say when your brush is worn out!’ and throw the thing in the drawer of the painted sideboard. Later, in the years when I was still wearing long, striped bathing suits, we had slightly curved implements, the handles I mean. The bristles were in clusters separated by a little gap, like a flowerbed, and on the back there were little holes in the furrows and thin colored lines, like on the bathing suits… They lost their bristles very fast, and then my mother blamed me for getting rid of them too often. I don’t know why we didn’t throw away toothbrushes at our house. There was a drawer full of them, out of commission—a toothbrush graveyard. The sideboard Aunt Cécile had painted was a Campo Santo of objects: we put everything broken, or no longer used, in there… Then came the era of metal brushes. It was after I came back from the regiment. They were pitiful things. The others, the bone ones, turned yellow, but it didn’t help to call the steel in the new ones stainless, it aged very badly.” READ MORE…