The secret history of novelists is often a history of exile and tourism a history of language learning. Like the story of Gustave Flaubert and Juliet Herbert, it is a history of loss and mistakes. As Flaubert finished Madame Bovary, Miss Herbert, his niece s governess, translated the novel into English. But this translation has since been lost. Translation, and emigration, is the way into a new history of the novel. We assume that we can read novels in translation. We also assume that style does not translate. But the history of the novel is the history of style. Miss Herbert solves this conundrum. This book is not a novel, but an inside-out novel with novelists as characters. It demonstrates a new way of reading internationally complete with maps, illustrations, and helpful diagrams. And it includes a slim appendix- Mademoiselle O , a story by Vladimir Nabokov, written in French, about his own governess, never before fully translated into English.
Adam Thirlwell was born in 1978. His first novel, Politics, was translated into thirty languages. In 2003, he was chosen as one of Granta's Best British Novelists under forty. He lives in London.