Saturday, September 26, 2009

ATLAS Press announce "Boris Vian Letters to Stanley Chapman"

Boris Vian, Letters to Stanley Chapman.

Facsimile edition of Vian's letters to Stanley Chapman, all but the first written in English.

SPECIAL PRICE for direct orders from the website: £8, until the end of October 2009.

The occasion of this publication is a sad one: the recent death of Stanley Chapman, President of the London Institute of 'Pataphysics, Regent of the Collège de 'Pataphysique, founder-member of the Oulipo, translator extraordinaire, and good friend...
The Times Literary Supplement also reviewed this title, albeit a little inaccurately, publication was jointly by Bookartbookshop and Atlas Press for the London Institute:

Inspired by our commemoration of Boris Vian (NB, luly 17 and August 21 & 28), Alastair Brotchie sends us a fascinating booklet which he has published himself, under the imprint bookartbookshop, Letters to Stanley Chapman contains a brief correspondence with the English writer responsible for transtatlng Vian's novels L'Écume des jours (Froth on the Daydream) and L'Arrache-coeur (Heartsnatcher). Brotchie reproduces the letters in facsimile — only seven in all, but some run to several pages. The majority are in fluent English, "which I don't speak", Vian explains. "neither do I write it, you know". They are typically full of puns, many of them obscene: in one letter alone (October, 1955), we remarked "arse-stonishingly", "inside aunt Ally" (incidentally), "French vocal bullery" and "cuntemporary".
The better part of the correspondence concerns "some crazy and atrocious lyrics for French 'Rock and Roll' things" by Vian, which he invites Chapman to translate. "Enclosed are three of the worst", he writes in September 1956, at the height of his involvement in the music business (Vian worked for Philips, where his boss was Jacques Canetti, brother of Elias). It would be "nothing" for him to write his own English words "on the horrible music", but he thought "nice little Stanley" might do "an adaptation. We could co-sign and share the income".
The results lack the sprightly idiocy of the original. "Rock and Roll-Mops" is the story of a couple who work up a good appetite by rocking all night. When they ask a local bar- owner what`s on the menu, he offers a variety of dishes — liver of lion, kangaroo escalope, horse's eggs — which the grateful lovers consume before "on va r'toumer s'coucher!"
In his letter to us, Mr Brotchie remarks that there are "not so many Vian enthusiasts this side of the water". There are a few, though. and all will wish to read Letters to Stanley Chapman, available at £13 from 17 Pitfield Street. London Nl 6HB.
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