Posts tagged Emmanuel Bove
Despite being praised in his lifetime by his contemporaries Rilke, Beckett, and Camus, no one reads Emmanuel Bove—“a writer for true readers,” according to Keith Botsford.
Bove (1898-1945), “an excellent example of the ‘eclipsed’ writer” (Botsford, whose afterword to Bove’s A Winter’s Journal is required reading for any student of writers no one reads), is so forgotten, in fact, that he doesn’t even have an English language Wikipedia entry. Although the Marlboro Press keeps a few of his novels in print, Bove’s work is difficult to find and, if found, difficult to bear. Novelist Peter Handke, who translated Bove into German, wrote of his hesitancy before undertaking that task:
It would take a lot of courage to translate… I couldn’t write such a book. That [Bove] was able to write such books, so black and so right, is a mystery.
Full of heroes—or, rather, antiheroes—living on the razor’s edge of poverty, loneliness, ineluctable mediocrity and misunderstandings, Bove’s novels require a certain bravery and stamina to confront. They promise no redemption, yet for all their bleakness they occasionally evince the kind of humor later perfected by Samuel Beckett.
A typical Bovean passage reads like the following, taken from the end of A Winter’s Journal:
If I do start life all over again, I’ll do so very cautiously, but will I even start? Caution, understanding, it’s all useless. There is weariness, and nothing more. What will become of me?
[Image: Vilhelm Hammershoi, The Four Rooms, 1914]