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The Rest of the Voyage

Bernard Noël; Translated from the French by Eléna Rivera; Selected and with an introduction by Susan Stewart

Eléna Rivera’s translation of Bernard Noël’s The Rest of the Voyage is at once original and remarkably faithful—indeed, its originality lies in the care and music the translator has brought to her commitment to follow Noël’s forms as closely as possible. Rivera succeeds beautifully in setting the rhythms of the French original into English. The succession of poems has a fluency that becomes as mesmerizing as any mode of transport, for Rivera is remarkably adept at varying the lines, landing with emphasis or muting the effect as she follows the speed and light of Noël’s themes. Those themes are no less than a meditation on the traveler’s encounter with landscape in the late twentieth century. Noël takes on distant shots and close-ups, moving too quickly to see particulars or so slowly that objects become abstractions, conveying the smells, tastes, and sounds of each location in wholes and parts, reflexively considering what is invisible to a visitor, and meditating on the ancient theme of the voyage of life with great vividness and freshness. Noël is one of the most distinguished living writers in France. Yet Rivera’s is the first translation of his poetry into English, and her work thus remedies an unfortunate weakness in English-language letters."—Susan Stewart, from the introduction

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Winner of the Robert Fagles Prize for contemporary poetry in translation

About the Author

Bernard  Noel
Bernard Noël is a poet, novelist, essayist, historian, and art critic. He has received France’s highest literary honors, including the poet laureateship and the Prix National de Poésie.
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Eléna Rivera is a poet and translator of The Rest of the Voyage, and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She lives in New York City.
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  • “Bernard Noël is a cerebral, urban-realist mystic caught up by the extraordinary in everyday language as it passes by, carried in things themselves. He captures the instant of wonder, filled with longing, lust, and above all necessity, grounding it in earthy satisfaction.”—New Pages
  • “[Rivera’s] introduction is essential for understanding the decisions that make for the extraordinary beauty of this difficult work. Rivera has not elided its complexities; instead, she has passed the work’s challenged on to the reader. Put simply, the book is about the soundless and irreparable damage of time’s glacier-like passage over human monuments of faith and bad taste.”—Booklist
  • “[These] poems move quickly and provide much pleasure in their swiftness, their sounds, and the kind intelligence of the speaker.”—Conversations Across Borders
  • "In her introduction, [Elena Rivera] describes translating Noël's work as a resource and gift. The translations convey this sense of wealth in the abundance and mastery of her line variation, rhythm, and pacing. . . . This is a book to read slowly, to feel your own complicity in the creative process."—The American Poetry Review


This book is made possible, in part, through the Robert Fagles Translation Prize, awarded by the National Poetry Series for a book of poetry in translation by a living poet, and by the generosity of Graywolf Press donors like you.
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