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Old 08-10-2014   #51
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

It’s always fun to discover a ‘forgotten’ writer like L. A. Lewis. His book has just arrived and I haven’t had time to decide for myself whether he’s a first-rate talent or not but it will be an adventure. My reading has been slowed down appreciably by my present circumstances.

This thread has reminded me that many writers of the macabre, including some of the very best, have created bodies of work that are wildly uneven in quality and inspiration. I suppose that’s just inevitable. Lovecraft, for me at least, was a great exception. You look at the stories published under his own name during his lifetime and you find almost all tend to fall into the categories of ‘major’ or ‘minor’ classics. M. R. James was also remarkably consistent; Aickman, too, and I’d probably add Ligotti to the list. But Jean Ray, a writer I’m rather fond of, is all over the place. (The Mainz Psalter is really a wonderful tale with its touches of Lovecraft and Hodgson).

I don’t think a certain unevenness of quality in a total output necessarily counts against a writer but it can be a real deterrent for readers if collections aren’t put together with the most meticulous care.
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Old 08-10-2014   #52
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

I'm reading Horrifying Presence and Other Tales and I am enjoying it but some of the language seems a bit "awkward" for lack of a better word. Did anyone else notice that? Is it because of the translation or did Ray just write like that? I don't remember his stories in The Weird as being so.
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Old 08-10-2014   #53
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

Tyger--

You're right. And in general I tend to try and judge an author by their best work. With some author's fiction one just happens to be on the same wavelength almost all the time (in my case HPL, CAS, Aickman, MRJ, Grabinski, Machen, Ligotti, KEW, etc etc). There's also the consideration that one sometimes doesn't tune into that wavelength the first time around, but may do so later.

David--

Re: The Jean Ray translations. I don't know. I also own Ghouls in my Grave, and I thought that deflating too though I very much appreciated the merits of "The Shadowy Street" and "The Cemetery Watchman".

My contributor's copy of The Weird (the Vandermeer book, yes?) never ever showed up and I don't own it. Huge disappointment!

Mark S.

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Last edited by mark_samuels; 08-10-2014 at 07:27 PM.. Reason: too busy listening to Radiohead to concentrate properly
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Old 08-10-2014   #54
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

As someone who has read every volume of Ray translated into english, I can say that there is something distinctly 'off' about the language of the stories in The Horrifying Presence; the book's translator resides in Portugal, and it seems entirely possible that english is not his first language. It is virtually criminal that Jean Ray volumes are so rare in translation; the greatest, in my opinion, is My Own Private Spectres from the now unfortunately-defunct Midnight House (which contains its own quirks of language, although I happen to enjoy the semi-archaic and verbose translation!) is even more expensive and difficult to locate these days than the EO collection. On the positive side, copies of Ray's masterpiece Malpertuis are readily available at reasonable price and in a wonderful translation, despite the book's legendary difficulty to coax into another tongue.
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Old 08-10-2014   #55
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

It's certainly strange the way opinions on the various merits of the Ray translations and the volumes themselves seem to differ widely.

Review My Own Private Spectres | Speculative Fiction Junkie

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"You have no idea how much nastier I'd be if I were not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being." Evelyn Waugh
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Old 08-10-2014   #56
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

I remember this review, as I used to be an ardent reader of the SFJ's site, and although I often found his taste impeccable, this was one instance our views differed dramatically; I still find myself reflecting upon tales from Spectres not infrequently, while the contents of Presence are mostly a blur (with the exception of 'The Choucroute'!)
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Old 08-10-2014   #57
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

I only wanted to make two remarks. Anything longer would be too difficult at present.

I think it was John Updike who argued that a translation should read like a translation. Not all translators agree with this. Reading the review Mark helpfully provided the link to, I thought of Updike’s comment. The comparisons of the different translations are quite interesting. The translations from Ghouls don’t read nearly as much like translations at the ones from Private Spectres. The translations in Spectres don't read as smoothly but I'm betting they preserve more of Ray's original meaning. (My favorite Borges translations are invariably the early ones and they don't read that "smoothly".)

Also, many of the pulp writers, including fine writers like Robert E. Howard, seldom employed extensive revision--or revision at all. This could be a good thing giving their work spontaneity and natural vigor, or it could produce writing that felt hasty and rushed.

Perhaps both these things explain the varying quality of Ray’s stories and translations.
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Old 08-18-2014   #58
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

A freshly translated Jean Ray story, 'The End of the Street' now added to http://www.diseasedgardens.
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Old 08-24-2014   #59
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

I am glad to see that in spite of having orphaned this thread, it keeps living a life of its own.

Last year I was hoping to do some more reading on the Belgian School of the Weird, but haven't had a chance to make much of a progress on this. I did manage to make another trip to Brussels though, during which I have rummaged through piles and piles of books in over a dozen bookstores, including the well-known Pęle-Męle:




Brussels is a true heaven for bibliophiles.
I've just uploaded some of the findings (which I hope to read one day if time permits) to my album on TLO.
THE NIGHTMARE NETWORK - yellowish haze's Album: L'école belge de l'étrange

"In my imagination, I have a small apartment in a small town where I live alone and gaze through a window at a wintry landscape." -- TL
Confusio Linguarum - visionary literature, translingualism & bibliophily
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Old 08-29-2014   #60
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

I posted this once on FB, but since I recently deleted my account, I thought I'd share this in the right place.

The following are some examples of the cover art by Henri Lievens from the series Marabout Fantastique from the Belgian publisher Marabout. The series ran between 1969 and 1977 under the eagis of Jean-Baptiste Baronian, the Belgian writer, critic and leading authority on the French and Belgian fantastic literature. Among this oustanding series you can find many familiar names: Jean Ray, Thomas Owen, Claude Seignolle and Marcel Thiry, Michel de Ghelderode, Gérard Prévot and many, many others. With this imprint, Baronian discovered some new talents forming part of the Belgian School of the Strange, many of them still to be translated into English for the first time.





See more here: Marabout Fantastique. (please note that the scans are not mine, they come from a zipped fine available on IDES et Autres - IDESetAUTRES.be - Téléchargements)

"In my imagination, I have a small apartment in a small town where I live alone and gaze through a window at a wintry landscape." -- TL
Confusio Linguarum - visionary literature, translingualism & bibliophily
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