As far back as I can remember, the sound of the sea has been in my ears. Mingled with that of the wind in the needles of the sheoaks, the wind that never stops, even when you leave the coast behind and cross the cane fields, it’s the sound of my childhood.
Dickson’s translation captures the hypnotic ebb and flow of Le Clezio’s prose. Readers must find their sea legs and become accustomed to a semi-regular swaying about between tenses: ‘‘It’s as if everything I’m feeling, everything I’m seeing now is eternal. I’m not aware that it will all soon disappear.’’ Past, present and future tug at one another like crosscurrents.
The protagonist, Alexis L’Etang, lives an idyllic life in Boucan Embayment, on the island of Mauritius, when the novel opens in 1892. The Prospector is dedicated to Le Clezio’s grandfather, descended from Francois Alexis Le Clezio, who fled France in 1798 and settled with his wife and daughter in Mauritius before it turned from a French into a British colony.
Although his early life has been one of privilege, Alexis already sees his home as a ship- The Prospector By JMG Le Clezio Translated by C. Dickson Atlantic, 352pp, $34.99