Joan Darc, by Nathalie Quintane, translated by Sylvain Gallais and Cynthia Hogue
Nathalie Quintane’s Joan Darc, translated from the French by Sylvain Gallais and Cynthia Hogue, more often asks the reader to imagine the titular saint as an adolescent sitting with her flock, than as a martyr burning at the stake.
This collection, which follows Joan of Arc’s life from young woman to execution, is much more interested in the person than the legend. It shows that the shepherdess, in becoming a general, wasn’t “loosed and lost along the way, but projected, expanded and improved.” Quintaine’s use of language and form—switching between styles, fonts, even points of view—highlights the complicated nature of Joan’s existence and serves “as proof that she had two lives.”
Even as the collection’s form gallops across the pages with frenetic energy, the language of the verse remains simple and direct. Hogue and Gallais expertly recreate this tension in their translation; however, their greatest accomplishment here is the way that they guide such a quintessentially French figure and story so naturally and compellingly into English.