Hélène Cixous, Chapitre Los

I am getting to the end of my translation of HC's book Chapitre Los (Paris: Galilée, 2013). This is the second or third or fourth draft, I forget, and I will leave it on the back burner now for a while, then revise it once more before I send it to Polity Press. I forget what my deadline is, sometime in the Spring, I believe.

I am still going back and forth between the English translation and the French text, but when I do the final read through, I will read only the English to make sure the book is rid of translationese, that it reads like an English book, an imaginative English book, if possible. This is not so easy as you might think, because Cixous doesn't write conventional French, and so the translation must sound unconventionally, experimentally English.

This morning, on page 88 of the French, I worked on this little prose poem, which can, I think, stand alone. Some context: Los is "about" (this is shorthand, I use the word advisedly) the death of Carlos Fuentes with whom Cixous had a "relationship" in the late 60s, and all her memories of him, of them, of the period (I abbreviate, the book is short but dense). She has been informed that her letters are part of his archives:

                        Los, a Chapter 

      "Letters. Ghosts they say. What a laugh. They are so much more alive than we        poor humans, our tired beings, our perishable bodies.

     I thought they’d stopped writing one another. But they go on, writing, talking, exchanging the news. When we forget they remember. That’s why we brought them into the world, to free them from our deaths. What is it to them whether we agree or disagree?

     Where? In numbered files. In boxes filthy as those goods trucks with immigrants stashed under their tarps, after they’ve crossed the planet.

     A part of your soul that completely escapes you and is sealed: a supernatural kind of dream, kept safe, out of reach.


     Under my name another."