October 23, 2008
Vol. 28 No. 3

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    Press translated Nobelist’s Mexican Dream

    By Josh Schonwald
    News Office

    The University Press had a tie to the Nobel Prizes this year—it once published one of the works of French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature, whose work a Press staff member had translated.

    Among the dozen works by Le Clézio translated into English, the University Press published The Mexican Dream: Or, The Interrupted Thought of Amerindian Civilizations. Unlike most of Le Clézio’s work, The Mexican Dream is nonfiction.

    “What motivated me,” Le Clézio said of the book, “was a sort of dream about what has disappeared and what could have been.” Many dreams unfold in the book: the dream that was the religion of the Aztecs, the dream of the conquistadores and a dream of the present—a meditation on the ways that Amerindian civilizations move the imaginations of Europeans.

    The translator of The Mexican Dream, Teresa Fagan, works at the Press.

    “I am delighted, but not at all surprised, that Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio has won the Nobel Prize in Literature,” said Fagan. “When I read Le rêve mexicain for the first time, I was transported by Le Clézio’s language and message. The author imagined how the thought of early-Indian civilizations might have evolved, if not for the interruption of European conquest—and how our own civilization might have been different had we had the continued input of such advanced, now vanished, peoples. Those questions, and Le Clézio’s recounting of the Conquest in his beautiful, lyrical prose, truly transformed my view of Western civilization. It is an honor to have translated the book and to have worked with the author, a most deserving Nobel Prize winner.”

    Born in Nice in 1940, Le Clézio has studied the Indian civilizations of pre-Columbian Mexico since 1971 and has published translations of Mayan sacred texts and an evocation of three sacred villages in the land of the Maya. An audio interview with Le Clézio appears on the Nobel Prize Web site: http://www.nobel.se.