Sunday, August 23, 2015
A View of DFW From Israel: Assaf Gavron on David Foster Wallace
I’ve been thinking about David Foster Wallace a lot lately -- catalyzed by the release of the movie End of the Tour, reading David Lipsky’s book on which it is based, and re-reading some of DFW’s pieces, both fiction and non-fiction. When I read about Wallace and his all-too-short life, I feel sad -- but when I read Wallace himself, I don’t feel that way at all; rather, intensely stimulated by his intellect and humor. It was natural to me, given my other interests, to wonder if Wallace had ever been translated into Hebrew. He would be a challenge to translate into any language, since his style incorporates so much idiomatic American speech. Judging from this article, a few books of his have indeed appeared in Hebrew translation (all after his death), though no one (apparently) has yet taken on the task of rendering Infinite Jest into Hebrew.
That doesn’t mean that DFW has no admirers in Israel, however. The above cited Wikipedia article has a link to an appreciation of Wallace that appeared shortly after his death, written for the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth by the novelist, musician, and translator Assaf Gavron, which appeared on October 3, 2008. Since we have a natural interest in views of American letters from abroad, I have undertaken to render this piece of Gavron’s into English, which I give below. Occasional short comments from me are in square brackets. Footnoted comments by me are signaled by asterisks.
TRAGIC-COMIC GENIUS by Assaf Gavron