Nadja in French, and Nadja in English

It is a well-known fact of course that something gets lost when you read a work in translation, but sometimes the loss can be greater than expected. Take André Breton’s Nadja, for instance. To the best of my knowledge, the only English translation available is the one by Richard Howard. It was initially published in 1960 and is still published today by, I think, at least two publishers: Penguin and Atlantic Books. The Penguin edition (pictured below right) dates from 1999 and includes an introduction by Mark Polizzotti. Howard’s translation, however, is of the first edition of Nadja, which was published in 1928, long before Breton brought out his second, revised edition in 1964. Strangely enough, this fact is not mentioned on the front or back covers of the Penguin edition, although Polizzotti does mention it in his introduction, albeit in a footnote. I haven’t ever read the two works closely, but the second edition notably includes an “avant-dire”, a preface of sorts, in which Breton evokes his use of photographic illustrations in the book, of which there are indeed more in the later edition.

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