For the Bicultural Happy Few Only: Didier Coste’s Days in Sydney

Helene Jaccomard


Written by Didier Coste, a French essayist, translator and academic who worked for some years in Australia, Days in Sydney is a unique bilingual novel. Instead of the accepted custom of the original text printed on the opposite page of its translation Days in Sydney contains no translation. It alternates French and English in a seamless fashion that is the antithesis of the conventions of bilingual texts, resulting in a truly heteroglossic text, elliptical in its construction as it meanders between two languages and two main characters. In the publication announcement Didier Coste stated that this unusual book was the result of an ‘nécessité esthétique et une certaine idée de la bi-culture’ aimed at ‘le petit cercle des bilingues d'Australie’. Alongside his creative output Coste has published scholarly works since the late 1980s up to 2004. In English. By examining the principles and practice of heteroglossia and by drawing on one of Coste’s recent academic article, this paper explores the twin notions of ‘nécessité esthétique”, and ‘bi-cultural’ readership to account for the (not so global) space between two languages and cultures Days in Sydney occupies.

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