Le livre d’or de la science fiction: J G Ballard.

On my recent trip to Montmorillon I picked up for six euro a paperback Le Livre d’or de la science fiction: J G Ballard:

ballardlibredor

As French Wikipedia puts it “Le Livre d’or de la science-fiction (en abrégé : LOSF) est une collection d’anthologies de nouvelles fantastiques ou de science-fiction publiée de 1978 à 1987”

The Ballard volume features an introduction (“Le Chirugien de l’Apocalypse”) by Robert Louit, Ballard’s French translator who died a month after him in 2009 according to the Louit obit linked above. The stories are collected in three sections: “Oppressions subtiles”, “Plis du temps” and “Zones sinistreés.” While most of the stories are very familiar to me (from my teenage years on) there is one I had not come across before “Amour et napalm: export USA”

Each story has a paragraph of introduction by Ballard himself. And amongst the stories collected is my own favourite,  The Lost Leonardo – “La Vinci disparu.”

J’ai écrit La Vinci disparu comme un simple divertissement – sans pour cela prendre á légère le problème de son personnage central. De fait, il s’est trouvé quelques lecteurs – surtout aux Etats-Unis, où la nouvelle parut d’abord – pour supposer que le tableau que j’y décris, la <<Crucifixiion>> de Vinci, existant réellement. Certains ont même essayé d’en retrouver la trace dans les musées d’Europe. Et a mon tour, je me suis presque persuadé de son existence. Quand il m’arrive de visiter le Prado, le Palais Uffizi ou le Louvre, je m’attends un peu a l’y découvrir …

Here goes nothing – my attempted translation!

I wrote The Lost Leonardo as a simple entertainment – without giving a thought to the problem of the central character. As it was, it found some readers – especially in the USA, where it first appeared – who supposed that the painting I described, the “Crucifixion” of Leonardo da Vinci, really existed. Some of them even tried to find records of it in the museums of Europe. For my part, I am nearly persuaded it does exist. When I go to visit the Prado, the Uffizi Palace or the Louvre, I expect a little to discover it…

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