deidrichenstein: (gansokuya)
[personal profile] deidrichenstein
Translated from the italian by Guido Waldman

SILK

1

Although his father had pictured for him a brilliant future in the army, Hervé Joncour had ended up earning his crust in an unusual career which, by a singular piece of irony, was no unconnected with an charming side that bestowed on it a vaguely feminine intonation.
Hervé Joncour bought and sold silkworms for a living.
The year was 1861. Flaubert was writing Salammbô, electric light remained hypothetical, and Abraham Lincoln, beyond the Ocean, was fighting a war of which he was not to see the finish.
Hervé Joncour was thrity-two.
Her bought and sold.
Silkworms.


15

France, sea-voyages, the smell of mulberries at Lavilledieu, steam-trains, Hélène's voice. Hervé Joncour continued the narrative of his life as he had never done in his life before. The girl continued to gaze at him with such a fierce concentration that he felt obliged to charge each word with exceptional meaning. The room seemed to have sliped back into an immutable quiescence when in absolute silence she unexpectedly thrust a hand out from her dress and slid it onto the mat before her. Hervé Joncour noticed this pale blur impinging on the edge of his field of vision; he saw it slide over Hara Kei's tea cup only to continue bizarrely on it's path until it unhesitantly grasped the other cup, which could only be the one from which he had drunk; her hand picked it up lightly and bore it off. Hara Kei had not for a moment taken his expressionless eyes of Hervé Joncour's lips.
The girl gently raised her head.
For the first time she took her eyes off Hervé Joncour and transferred them to the cup.
Slowly she turned the cup until her lips were at the precise point where he had drunk.
She closed her eyes and took a sip of tea.
She moved the cup from her lips.
She slipped it back to the place from which she had taken it.
She withdrew her hand within her dress.
She rested her head once more in Hara Kei's lap.
Her eyes remained open, fixed on those of Hervé Joncour.



blurb:
France, 1861. When an epidemic threatens to wipe out the silk trade in France, Hervé Joncour, a young silk breeder, has to travel overland to distant Japan, out of bounds to foreigners, to smuggle out healthy silkworms. In the course of his secret negotiations with the local baron, Joncour's attention is arrested by the man's concubine, a girl who does not have oriental eyes. Although they are unable to exchange so much as a single word, love blossoms between them, a love that is conveyed in a number of recondite messages. How their secret affair develops is told in this remarkable love story.
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deidrich.

July 2012

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