Derek Beaulieu

... translating Georges Perec
Translation procedure: The Rimbaud-Bök Procedure

Inspired by the front cover image on the 1st edition of Christian Bök’s Eunoia (Coach House Books, 2001), this mode of translation transforms texts of any language into stained-glass-like panels of illuminated text. This visual translation procedure prompts the translator to replace the source text with the alphabetic colour spectrum in Rimbaud’s “Voyelles”:

A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu: voyelles,
Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes:
A, noir corset velu des mouches éclatantes
Qui bombinent autour des puanteurs cruelles,

As a prompt and example, in the attached translation I have replaced every vowel in the first four pages of Georges Perec’s La Disparition with a small rectangle in the colour prescribed by Rimbaud. The white of “e” overshadows the other vowels as it is embraced by the colour of the page itself ... small squares of black, red, green and blue rustling on fields of white.

Perec’s text, being a univocalic lipogram in “e,” does not contain any examples of the most frequently used letter in the French language. Perec’s novel has been translated in to English in unpublished manuscripts by Julian West, John Lee, and Ian Monk; in published fragments by Harry Mathews; and as Gilbert Adair’s A Void—all of which also avoid “e”. La Disparition has also been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, Turkish, Romanian, Japanese and Croatian—with varying vowels omitted depending on frequency of usage. I invite translators to apply this proposed technique to these varied translations to generate a suite of ongoing chromatic vitrail.

Derek Beaulieu

Derek Beaulieu is the author of the collections of poetry with wax, fractal economies, chains, silence, ascender / descender, kern, frogments from the frag pool (co-written with Gary Barwin) and Please no more poetry: the poetry of derek beaulieu (Ed. Kit Dobson). He has also written 3 collections of conceptual fiction: flatland, Local Colour and How To Write (Nominated for the W.O. Mitchell Award). He is the author of two collections of essays: Seen of the Crime and The Unbearable Contact with Poets. Beaulieu co-edited bill bissett’s RUSH: what fuckan theory (with Gregory Betts) and Writing Surfaces: fiction of John Riddell (with Lori Emerson). He is the publisher of the acclaimed no press and is the visual poetry editor at UBUWeb. Beaulieu has exhibited his work across Canada, the United States and Europe and is an award-winning instructor. Derek Beaulieu was the 2014–2016 Poet Laureate of Calgary, Canada.