Honeymoon

WINNER OF THE 2014 NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE

Jean B., the narrator of Honeymoon, is submerged in the world where night and day, past and present, have no demarcations. Having spent his entire adult life making documentary movies about lost explorers, Jean suddenly decides to abandon his wife and his career, and takes what seems to be a journey to nowhere. He spends his solitary days recounting or imagining the lives of Ingrid and Rigaud, a refugee couple he met more than twenty years ago. Little by little, their story takes on more reality than Jean’s existence, as his excavation of the past slowly becomes an all-encompassing obsession.

In Honeymoon, Patrick Modiano constructs an existential tale of suspense and longing, and of the past’s hold over a shifting, ambiguous present. Barbara Wright’s translation remains true to Modiano’s simple, melodious prose of a born storyteller. In the words of Le Monde, this novel truly shows “a magician at work.” Jacques-Pierre Amette of Le Point called Modiano, “Possibly the best witness of our generation, and the most ruthless.”

Honeymoon is the first book in the Verba Mundi series which offers the best in modern world literature—whether by such established masters as Cesare Pavese and Georges Perec, or by some of the world’s younger talented writers, these books are meant to invite adventurous readers to partake in a diversity of cultures and enhance our appreciation of the world in which we live.

A beautiful example of Modiano’s fluid storytelling.
—Booklist

Haunting, ambiguous, and more universal than one might expect… [Honeymoon] is shaped by the imperfections and subjectivity of knowledge, and by WWII, the black hole of French memory.
—Publishers Weekly

Patrick Modiano was born near Paris 1945. He was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. His works in English include Catherine Certitude (Godine, 1993), Missing Person (Godine, 2005) for which he won the Prix Goncourt in 1978, A Trace of Malice, and the screenplay Lacombe Lucien (with Louis Malle).

Barbara Wright was an English translator of modern French literature. Wright, born in Worthing, orphaned in 1930, went to the Godolphin School in Salisbury and studied music at the Conservatoire with Alfred Cortot and art in Paris in the years before World War II. Wright began her career as a pianist specializing in the accompaniment of Lieder, supporting herself by working as an art and literary critic, often needing to translate the works that she was writing about herself. As time went on she devoted more and more of her time to translation.

She specialised in “poetic prose” and drama, especially French surrealist and existential writing, but she translated works in several genres including women’s literature, historical fiction, and fantasy. In 1986, she was made a Commandeur in L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In April 2001, she was made a member of the College of Pataphysics, as Régente de Zozologie Shakespearienne, with Fernando Arrabal and Umberto Eco (cacopédiste) as company. She was vibrant and lucid to the very end.

Her literary translation papers are held by the Lilly Library at Indiana University (Bloomington). The files are arranged alphabetically with publisher correspondence and French author–translation queries and notes all in a single alphabet. The authors she has translated and who are represented in the collection include Jean Hamburger (Le Journal de William Harvey), Eugène Ionesco, Alfred Jarry, Pierre Lauer, Robert Pinget, Raymond Queneau, Nathalie Sarraute, and Stefan Themerson. The publishers of Wright’s works, with whom there are extensive correspondence files, include the Gaberbocchus Press, John Calder, Doubleday, Faber & Faber, New Directions, the Atlas Press, and Red Dust. Also present is a large file of correspondence between Wright and Russell Fitzgerald, an aspiring author and devoted fan of her work from San Francisco, California.