Je Nathanaël is an endangered text. Neither essay nor poem nor novel nor sex-show, what it takes from language it gives back to the body. Through Nathanaël, André Gide’s absent, imagined and much desired apprentice in Les nourritures terrestres (Fruits of the Earth), this text explores ways in which language constrains the body, shackles it to gender, and proposes instead an altogether different way of reading, where words are hermaphroditic and in turn transform desire (consequence). Suggesting that one body conceals another, Je Nathanaël lends an ear to this other body and delights in the anxiety it provokes.
From the Scatalogue:
Books don’t show the way but insist on remaining. So how to leave the book and enter directly into the body? We are jealous of one another’s bodies yet we each have one. I would undress my tongue and dip it willingly into ice cold water would invite you to meet me where the body becomes transparent where lucidity is a function of the flesh where nothing is for sale and everything is given away.
Parts of the book were originally written in French, other parts in English. Some parts exist in one language only. As such, it is truly a hybrid text and throws itself into question as it acts upon itself in translation. It is both originator and recipient of its own echo. In this regard it does not, can not exist, pulls insistently away from itself in an attempt to draw attention to the very things it seeks to conceal. In this way, Je Nathanaël is a book of paradox, negating itself as it comes into being.
Nathalie Stephens writes in English and French, and sometimes neither. Writing l’entre-genre, she is the author of several published works, most recently L’Injure (l’Hexagone, 2004), Paper City (Coach House, 2003), and Je Nathanaël (l’Hexagone, 2003). L’Injure was a finalist for the 2005 Prix Alain-Grandbois and the Prix Trillium (2005); the short fiction, Underground (trois, 1999) was a finalist in 2000 for the Grand Prix du Salon du livre de Toronto. Stephens is the recipient of a 2002 Chalmers Arts Fellowship and a 2003 British Centre for Literary Translation Residential Bursary. Some of her work has been translated into Basque, Bulgarian, and Slovene. She has translated Catherine Mavrikakis and François Turcot into English and Gail Scott and R. M. Vaughan into French. On occasion, she translates herself. She lives between.