A five-volume edition of Paul Valéry’s Cahiers/Notebooks have awaited my attention for a while now. Beyond inattentively flicking through some random entries, I have waited for some curious alignment of the planets to begin a reading adventure I’ve anticipated with excitement. I’ve allowed the books to rest, like an aged Bordeaux, after their separate journeys from Germany, but this morning I shall start.
Valéry writes, “In these pages I’m not out to enchant anyone.”
To write anything whatsoever, once this act of writing demands thought, and is not a mechanical, uninterrupted transcription of spontaneous speech, is a work of translation which can be precisely compared to one involving the transmutation of a text from one language to another.