Mauve Desert by Nicole Brossard
Annotation by S. D. Stewart
A woman named Maude Laures is translating a novel set in the Arizona desert. She becomes obsessed with the characters and the author, Laura Angstelle, who remains an enigmatic unknown. The arrangement of the book is of a postmodern/metafictional nature, with the following order: a section of the initial text; the translator’s notes on the book’s characters and themes (and her reflections on the author); biographical text about the translator (some or all of which she also wrote herself); and finally her translation of the part of the text included at the beginning. The English translation (from French) includes both the initial text and the “translated” text in English, though they are slightly different from each other to represent the effect of translation on a text. Presumably both texts are in French in the original version, or else it would have been mentioned with the other brief notes from Brossard and the translator. As for the content itself, it varies in ease of comprehension. The “book” text was easy enough to follow, but some of the translator’s notes read like dense prose poetry and/or philosophical fiction, such as that of Clarice Lispector or Maurice Blanchot. These latter sections require close reading to tease out their meaning.