Monday, December 23, 2013

Gobbet of the Day

When I wrote the first words of A. F. I had been already for years and years thinking in English. I began to think in English long before I mastered, I won't say the style, (I haven't done that yet) but the mere uttered speech. Is it thinkable that anybody possessed of some effective inspiration should contemplate for a moment such a frantic thing as translating it into another tongue? And there are also other considerations: such as the sheer appeal of the language, my quickly awakened love for its prose cadences, a subtle and unforeseen accord of my emotional nature with its genius [...] You may take it from me that if I had not known English I wouldn't have written a line for print in my life. C. and I were discussing the nature of the two languages and what I said was: that if I had been offered the alternative I would have been afraid to grapple with French which is crystallised in the form of its sentences and therefore more exacting and less appealing...
from Joseph Conrad's letter to Hugh Walpole, June 7th, 1918