Exciting news on the Ashbery front: a two-volume collection of Ashbery’s wide-ranging French translations will be published in 2014, edited by Rosanne Wasserman and Eugene Richie. The first book will collect Ashbery’s wonderful poetry translations, including his celebrated renderings of Pierre Reverdy, Max Jacob, Arthur Rimbaud, and many others. The second will feature his translations of French prose, including works by Raymond Roussel and Giorgio di Chirico, along with a number of previously unpublished or unavailable pieces.
The tremendous importance of French literature, and France, to John Ashbery and the New York School of poets hardly needs stressing at this point. But Ashbery’s abundant and excellent translations are a key site for understanding that connection, so having all of this material in one place will be a treasure trove for fans and scholars of both Ashbery and French poetry.
Here’s more from the publisher about Volume 1:
An essential, vibrant collection of masterful translations by one of the finest poets at work today.
Collected French Translations: Poetry, the first volume of a long-awaited two-volume collection of translations by America’s foremost living poet, surveys John Ashbery’s lifelong involvement with French poetry. Beginning in 1955, Ashbery spent almost a decade in France, during which time he worked as an art critic in Paris and was close to the poet Pierre Martory. His translations of Martory’s poems, collected in The Landscapist, were a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation in 2008 and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry; a selection of them appears here. Other poets included are Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, Paul Éluard, and France’s greatest living poet, Yves Bonnefoy. The development of modern French poetry emerges through Ashbery’s chronology, as does the depth of French influences on the poets of the New York School. Presenting 171 poems by twenty-five poets, this bilingual volume also features a selection of Ashbery’s masterly translation of Rimbaud’s Illuminations, published to acclaim in 2011. Ashbery’s choices and translations of French poetry in this book offer unique insights into the wide and varied scope of French cultural influences on his work over the decades of his productive and resonant career.
The volumes will appear in April 2014 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.