The sheer shapeliness of his prose recalls Hemingway; the urbanity of his self-destructiveness compares with Fitzgerald's; and his camera eye is as lucidly stroboscopic as that of Dos Passos. He is, like Victor Segalen, Blaise Cendrars, Valery Larbaud, and Saint-John Perse, one of the great nomads of 20th-century French literature, racing through the apocalypse with the haste and glamor of an Orient Express. It is a pity we should have had to wait this long to catch up with him via Pound.—The New York Times
The reputation of Paul Morand (1888-1976) rests squarely upon his short stories from the 1920s, which introduced a fresh and exuberant style into postwar French letters. Yet in spite of his immense popularity and later prestige (he was elected to the Academie Française in 1968), he has remained largely unknown to English-speaking readers. Ezra Pound, shortly after arriving in Paris in 1920, made contact with Morand and, always ready to champion new and distinct voices, was soon translating his short stories for the British publishers Chapman and Dodd. In the end, however, the translations were rejected as ’’unsuitable,’’ partially on the grounds of sexual frankness. The typescripts, left for safekeeping with William Bird’s Paris-based Three Mountains Press, were rediscovered in the mid-1970s and are published here for the first time. As might be expected, the energy and originality of Morand’s style is matched by Pound’s inventive genius. Thus, the texts offer us not only access to a significant French writer long neglected here but an opportunity to re-evaluate the role and dimension of translation in Pound’s own work.