Quotation and reference in Lydia Davis’s “The Walk”

In “The Walk,” Lydia Davis refers to a review of her translation of Swan’s Way, volume one of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. She also compares a passage from her translation with C.K. Scott Montkrieff’s canonical translation of the same passage. Here is the review. It was written by André Aciman, and published in the New York Review of Books on December 1, 2005.

The review is quite long (16 pages). You’re not required to read it at all; and even if you do look at it, don’t feel like you have to read the whole thing. But if you do read it (and, let’s say, even if you don’t), consider the fact that Davis includes “The Walk” in a collection of what she calls ‘stories’. What’s a story? Are these stories fictional? In answering these questions, bear in mind that Davis quotes Aciman’s real, actually unfavorable review in “The Walk.” If “The Walk” is fiction, what makes it a work of fiction? If it isn’t, then what kind of ‘story’ is it? And do you think these questions matter?

UPDATE: Here is James Wood’s review of Davis’s Collected Stories. The New Yorker published it on October 19, 2009.

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