NTA Longlist: Minute-Operas by Frédéric Forte, trans. byDaniel Levin Becker, Ian Monk, Michelle Noteboom, and Jean-Jacques Poucel (Burning Deck)

Minute-Operas
by Frédéric Forte
translated from the French by Daniel Levin Becker, Ian Monk, Michelle Noteboom, and Jean-Jacques Poucel
(Burning Deck)

Ludic by nature, Forte, a member of the Oulipo since 2005, takes on the Musée du Louvre in this spatially and visually activated collection. Using quick cuts, oblique glances, and slippery connections, Forte creates an associative field around a series of the museum’s pieces from antiquity, one per page, augmented by a complex choreography—a bit reminiscent of those dance diagrams from the 50s—but incorporating the entire repertory of 21st century computer iconography. Translating this work meant not only translating words, phrases, spaces, displacements, leaps, gaps, and an array of symbols, but also a gamut of delicate tones, including irony, slang, several levels of humor, and tinges of melancholy. This translation, done by team of four, all bilingual, is positively acrobatic, even balletic—as is the original.

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