Melville : A Novel by Jean Giono
Originally published to promote his French translation of Moby-Dick, Jean Giono's Melville: A Novel is an astonishing literary compound of fiction, biography, personal essay, and criticism.
In the fall of 1849, Herman Melville traveled to London to deliver his novel White-Jacket to his publisher. On his return to America, Melville would write Moby-Dick. Melville: A Novel imagines what happened in between: the adventurous writer fleeing London for the country, wrestling with an angel, falling in love with an Irish nationalist, and, finally, meeting the angel's challenge--to express man's fate by writing the novel that would become his masterpiece.
Eighty years after it appeared in English, Moby-Dick was translated into French for the first time by the Provençal novelist Jean Giono and his friend Lucien Jacques. The publisher persuaded Giono to write a preface, granting him unusual latitude. The result was this literary essay, Melville: A Novel--part biography, part philosophical rumination, part romance, part unfettered fantasy. Paul Eprile's expressive translation of this intimate homage brings the exchange full circle.
Paul Eprile was a co-winner of the French-American Foundation's 2018 Translation Prize for his translation of Melville.