Pushing at the formal boundaries of the literary essay in witty, speculative prose, Kate Briggs explores the intricacies of translation and narrative structure in revelatory, provocative ways.
Kate Briggs is a writer and translator whose brilliant first book This Little Art (2017) defies categorization. It is at once a memoir, a treatise, and a history, considering Briggs’s own life as a translator from French to English, offering an account of the nature and stakes of translation, and presenting a history of three women translators in the twentieth century. The book articulates and refracts the many strangenesses and paradoxes of translation as a practice and an art. Translation, Briggs shows us, is both lonely and collaborative, disciplined and profoundly educational, a private devotion and a public project. It energizes and frustrates, requiring from its practitioners passion, precision, and an openness to transformation. Briggs is the translator of two volumes of Roland Barthes’s lecture notes at the Collège de France, The Preparation for the Novel (2011) and How to Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces (2013), and co-translator of Michel Foucault’s Introduction to Kant’s Anthropology (2008). She teaches at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, Netherlands and is currently working on a new book: a novel-essay titled The Long Form.
I am astonished by this news—I don’t expect to ever stop feeling astonished! Or endlessly, endlessly grateful. It is the most unexpected gift of freedom and permission. For it to come at this stage in my writing and translating life, when I feel like I am (still) only just beginning, is extraordinary.KATE BRIGGS