Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Trade in Yours
For a 1.12 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Tell the Publisher!
Id like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

The Gist [Hardcover]

Michael Marshall Smith , Benoit Domis , Nicholas Royle

RRP: 20.65
Price: 19.34 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
You Save: 1.31 (6%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 7 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 31 July? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details
Trade In this Item for up to 1.12
Trade in The Gist for an Amazon Gift Card of up to 1.12, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Frequently Bought Together

The Gist + We Are Here
Buy the selected items together
  • We Are Here 10.50

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Product details

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on Amazon.co.uk.
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Translated 20 Dec 2013
By Roger Brunyate - Published on Amazon.com
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 Benot 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 Benot 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

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category