• RRP: £23.11
  • You Save: £0.38 (2%)
FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 2 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
The Gist has been added to your Basket
Trade in your item
Get a £4.50
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Gist Hardcover – 31 May 2013

1 customer review

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
£19.92 £29.08
£22.73 FREE Delivery in the UK. Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Win a £5,000 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card for your child's school by voting for their favourite book. Learn more.
  • Prepare for the summer with our pick of the best selection for children (ages 0 - 12) across Amazon.co.uk.

Frequently Bought Together

The Gist + The Servants
Price For Both: £29.72

Buy the selected items together

Trade In this Item for up to £4.50
Trade in The Gist for an Amazon Gift Card of up to £4.50, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Product details

  • Hardcover: 74 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press (31 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596065613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596065611
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just what you would expect from MMS - an unusual story that keeps you fascinated all the way through. The idea of translating the tale into another language and then back again is also a first (I think). The print and binding quality of the book itself is excellent, making it a pleasure to own.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Translated 20 Dec. 2013
By Roger Brunyate - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a book you read for style, rather than content. Nobody would claim that Michael Marshall Smith's 12,000-word story, "The Gist," is ground-breaking literature, though it would fit comfortably into a collection by, say, Angela Carter or Karen Russell. A translator named John, a specialist in out-of-the-way languages, is given a volume by a London rare book dealer called Portnoy; his task is not to translate -- the text is like no language he has ever seen -- but merely to give him the gist. John takes the book, spends a good part of Portnoy's advance on beer, and wakes up drunk in a children's playground. He does not get much further with the translation, but the words do begin to insinuate themselves into his mind. The gist, as it were. It is a fine story, with hints of both Poe and Borges in its ancestry, but not by itself worth the price of the book.

The presentation is a different matter entirely. First of all, it is beautifully printed, in Arts-and-Crafts style of around 1900, in double fine-set columns with red accents. It is sheer joy to hold and to read. But the main interest is that this same story is presented three times: in Marshall Smith's original, in a French translation by Benoît Domis, and in a retranslation of that translation back to English by Nicholas Royle. A sort of bilingual game of Postman. The idea fascinated me. But I have to say that, while the French was inevitably different, the two English versions were amazingly close, not only in meaning but also in atmosphere. I had thought that reading each story would be like immersing myself in a new experience, but in fact the second and third versions added little to my overall pleasure, although they threw up numerous smaller points of interest.

I found comparatively few substantial changes in meaning. Here is one. John is thinking what he could do with the promised money: "It meant a small gift for Cass (assuming I could track her down)...". This becomes: "Un petit cadeau pour Cass aussi (à condition que j'arrive a lui mettre la main dessus)...". And Royle translates this back as: "A little present for Cass as well (provided I could put my hand on the right thing)...". That "as well" comes from the French "aussi" which Domis presumably added to shape the rhythm of the paragraph, but it is not in the original. More serious is the change from getting hold of Cass to tracking down the right present; this comes from an ambiguity of the pronouns in the nonetheless perfectly correct French.

Take a longer passage, when John first describes Portnoy. Here is Marshall Smith:

"The man behind the desk in front of me sighed. This made his sleek, moisturized cheeks vibrate in a way that couldn't help but put you in mind of a successful pig, exhaling contentedly in its sty, confident that the fate that stalked its kind was not going to befall him tonight, or indeed ever. A pig with friends in high places, a pig with pull. Pork with an exit strategy."

And here, via the French of Benoît Domis, is Nicholas Royle:

"The man sitting behind the desk gave a sigh that made his shiny, moisturized cheeks tremble in a way that reminded me of a pig in its piggery, the very picture of porcine contentment, convinced that the fate awaiting his fellow pigs would not befall him, not that evening, not ever. A pig with friends in high places, a pig with connections. A pig with a withdrawal strategy."

Both versions are good, and share the same basic meaning. Smith has a rhythm, though, that Royle cannot recapture, because he is coming from a language that organizes thought in quite a different way. But Royle scores some points of his own; "the very picture of porcine contentment" is superb. Not so good, though, as "...a pig with pull. Pork with an exit strategy." Much of Smith's humor comes in the sudden ironic switch from "pig" (the live animal) to "pork" (the cooked meat), but the French uses the word "porc" throughout. Perhaps the translator might have considered making a similar shift, or going for the alliteration of "a pig with pull" rather than the more generic "pig with connections." But to do so without more specific prompting from the French would take him out on a limb, and risk imposing his own humor on another writer's work. So he plays it safe, and rightly so.

Those readers wanting to study the three versions in such detail will find a treasure trove. Others will get an intriguingly surreal story in a beautiful edition.
Was this review helpful? Let us know

Look for similar items by category