Nicolas Bouvier, Journal d’Aran et d’autres lieux (1990)

I finished this travel book and loved it so much I was sorry to turn the last page, but lucky me, I have another Bouvier on the shelf. Since he seems to be mostly unknown in the English-speaking world, I’ve translated a paragraph, hoping to share the beauty of his narration, even if it won’t tell you much about the landscape or the people he met. On Aran Island, Bouvier fell ill with high fever, but nonetheless walked around the island, enthused by the windblown landscape. He nearly never alludes to his private life, but here, maybe because of the fever, he lets go of his shyness. (Any mistake or clumsiness are mine only, I confess in advance…)

 

Very far away from me, I see the hands laying down on the comforter: my hands. They’re already sleeping; the grazes made two days ago are almost healed. When I was 19, I wanted them to be the hands of a pianist. I didn’t have the courage; or life has decided otherwise. So they have done other things: fixed carburetors or camshafts, played the accordion in a bar in Quetta [Pakistan], washed dishes on white and now defunct, white liners of the Messageries maritimes, used Pentax or Nikon cameras, hunted – on their own initiative and in all parts of the world – dung flies coming to mop up my face, stroked many flee-infested cats and caressed a few ladies, followed with the forefinger the curve of an eyebrow to exchange looks when I really needed to know. For music, I’ll ask to be given another life, and I’ll devote myself only to it. Good hands, already slightly blemished, dozing off before me. I fell asleep in a complete world. Carrabas.

 

[As for the Carrabas reference, it’s lost to me. Bouvier writes to himself as much as to others, it’s part of the charm.]

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One thought on “Nicolas Bouvier, Journal d’Aran et d’autres lieux (1990)

  1. Pingback: Nicolas Bouvier, Le vide et le plein, carnets du Japon 1964-1970 « Smithereens

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