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Diary of a Would-be Translator

Juan LePuen

Copyright 2012 Juan LePuen and Fario

Published at Smashwords by Fario

25 June 2002

Just back from an evening out with Melissa. We went for a swim, then to old Nice for socca. Alas, there was no socca to be had anywhere. It was a nice evening.

26 June

Got an amazing rejection letter today. It was, to be fair, a kind of form letter, but still. . . . The editor of Black Warrior Review wrote that my submission, a translation of a Ribeyro story, was good but didn’t quite make the grade, that I should be proud and not discouraged. Imagine: a no-name editor in Bumfuck, Alabama, writing that Ribeyro—Ribeyro!—is not quite good enough for his minor literary journal, where—it’s true—I’d have been happy to see my translations published. It’s like the editors of the student-run literary magazine at Bossier Parish Community College turning down “Le Bonheur” and writing a letter to Maupassant telling him to keep trying. I understand now why Flaubert insisted his publisher not read the manuscript of Salammbô before it was published; and I understand his anger when the publisher disregarded the author’s wishes and praised the novel. I also understand, finally, why most literary magazines have adopted the tactic—wise but infuriating—of sending a mere rejection card with nothing more personal than the illegible initials of some assistant.

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