Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Madame Bovary - Translations

Given that the main thread on Madame Bovary is getting rather crowded and we seem to be investing a bit of discussion on the various translations from French to English, here is a thread for that topic.

 

One of the more recent translations (2004) is by Margaret Mauldon.  Michael Dirda gives it praise but not much comparison with others in this Washington Post article.

 

Excerpts of Mauldon's translation are here.  I have been unable to determine if the (useful) introduction is by Mark Overstall or  Malcolm Bowie (the reknowned French literature scholar mentioned by Dirda) or someone else.

 

Page xxiii has Mauldon's comments on this translation.  She says it "is based on the Garnier-Flammarian edition of 1986, cross referenced with other editions."  (Haven't traced that one yet, nor have I found a bio of Margaret Mauldon!)

 

Pepper

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Distinguished Bibliophile
dulcinea3
Posts: 4,389
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

I am using the Penguin Classics edition that I bought in college, in the late 70s.  It is translated by Alan Russell, in 1949.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grand Dame of the Land of Oz, Duchess of Fantasia, in the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia; also, Poet Laureate of the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia
Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

I can't help but wonder if French is hard to translate to English.  I read The Red and the Black with another group.  We all had different translations and our group included a native French speaker who we consulted where we found our translations differed.  We found some rather large differences in translation, such that people reading one translation thought two characters had made love, while, according to my translation, they had merely given each other longing looks!

 

Has anyone read The Elegance of the Hedgehog?  I read it with the same group and the native French speaker had to explain somem things to us because they just did not translate well.  There was subtle meaning and cultural knowledge that we Americans were missing.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations


Fozzie wrote:

I can't help but wonder if French is hard to translate to English.  I read The Red and the Black with another group.  We all had different translations and our group included a native French speaker who we consulted where we found our translations differed.  We found some rather large differences in translation, such that people reading one translation thought two characters had made love, while, according to my translation, they had merely given each other longing looks!

 

Has anyone read The Elegance of the Hedgehog?  I read it with the same group and the native French speaker had to explain some things to us because they just did not translate well.  There was subtle meaning and cultural knowledge that we Americans were missing.


The Elegance of the Hedgehog is an upcoming selection for my face-to-face bookclub and at least three of us have finished it and started discussing it.  One of you (chadadanielleKR) on these boards gave me the link for the movie that has been released in France.

 

John Ciardi gave me one of my early lessons on the difficulties of translation with a simple example from Dante -- "daisy" -- day's eye; "marguerite" -- a woman's name.

 

A bi-lingual (French, living in Canada) friend once said to me that French is the language of love and emotions; English is the language of science and practical life.

 

I understand that Red and the Black or perhaps more accurately, Stendal, has been notoriously difficult to translate. 

 

On the Epics board, we regularly get into discussions on the impacts of translations and have come to find them considerable, whether Russian, Latin, Greek, Italian, or ...

 

So much for my anecdotal comments --  hopefully, someone will join us with information closer to the languages themselves.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

Eleanor Marx-Aveling translation of Madame Bovary on-line.

 

 

I believe below is the section that is often cited when talking about the change in tense from French.  Try replacing the past tense here with a "would" construction and, if I understand correctly, one gets a sense of the translator's impact.  Also, the way I read the note was that Geoffrey Wall, in 1992 (?), was the first to restore the "would" type of construction, although he does not describe such in his notes on translation. (Page xliii, Madame Bovary: A Provincial Life.)

 

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

"A gamekeeper, cured by the doctor of inflammation of the lungs, had given madame a little Italian greyhound; she took her out walking, for she went out sometimes in order to be alone for a moment, and not to see before her eyes the eternal garden and the dusty road. She went as far as the beeches of Banneville, near the deserted pavilion which forms an angle of the wall on the side of the country. Amidst the vegetation of the ditch there are long reeds with leaves that cut you.

 

"She began by looking round her to see if nothing had changed since last she had been there. She found again in the same places the foxgloves and wallflowers, the beds of nettles growing round the big stones, and the patches of lichen along the three windows, whose shutters, always closed, were rotting away on their rusty iron bars. Her thoughts, aimless at first, wandered at random, like her greyhound, who ran round and round in the fields, yelping after the yellow butterflies, chasing the shrew-mice, or nibbling the poppies on the edge of a cornfield.

 

"Then gradually her ideas took definite shape, and, sitting on the grass that she dug up with little prods of her sunshade, Emma repeated to herself, 'Good heavens! Why did I marry?'"

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Distinguished Bibliophile
dulcinea3
Posts: 4,389
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations


Peppermill wrote:

Eleanor Marx-Aveling translation of Madame Bovary on-line.

 

 

I believe below is the section that is often cited when talking about the change in tense from French.  Try replacing the past tense here with a "would" construction and, if I understand correctly, one gets a sense of the translator's impact.  Also, the way I read the note was that Geoffrey Wall, in 1992 (?), was the first to restore the "would" type of construction, although he does not describe such in his notes on translation. (Page xliii, Madame Bovary: A Provincial Life.)

 

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

"A gamekeeper, cured by the doctor of inflammation of the lungs, had given madame a little Italian greyhound; she took her out walking, for she went out sometimes in order to be alone for a moment, and not to see before her eyes the eternal garden and the dusty road. She went as far as the beeches of Banneville, near the deserted pavilion which forms an angle of the wall on the side of the country. Amidst the vegetation of the ditch there are long reeds with leaves that cut you.

 

"She began by looking round her to see if nothing had changed since last she had been there. She found again in the same places the foxgloves and wallflowers, the beds of nettles growing round the big stones, and the patches of lichen along the three windows, whose shutters, always closed, were rotting away on their rusty iron bars. Her thoughts, aimless at first, wandered at random, like her greyhound, who ran round and round in the fields, yelping after the yellow butterflies, chasing the shrew-mice, or nibbling the poppies on the edge of a cornfield.

 

"Then gradually her ideas took definite shape, and, sitting on the grass that she dug up with little prods of her sunshade, Emma repeated to herself, 'Good heavens! Why did I marry?'"

 


 

Here is the translation in mine:

 

A game-keeper, whom he had cured of inflammation of the lungs, had given the doctor's wife a young Italian greyhound, which she used to take out for walks with her; for she did go out sometimes, to get a moment's solitude away from the eternal garden and the dusty road.  She went to the beech-copse at Banneville, where the derelict summer-house stands at the turn of the wall facing the fields, and among the grasses in the ditch are some long rushes with knife-edged leaves.

 

First, she cast a glance all round to see if there were any change since last she was there.  She found the foxgloves and wallflowers in their places, the nettles still growing round the big stones, and the patches of lichen spreading along the three windows, whose shutters, always closed, were rotting away on their rusty iron bars.  At first her mind roved aimlessly hither and thither, like her greyhound, which went circling over the grass, yapping after the yellow butterflies, giving chase to the field-mice or nibbling the poppies on the edge of a cornfield.  Then gradually her thoughts took focus.  Sitting on the grass, poking at the turf with the point of her sunshade, Emma said over and over again: 'O God, O God, why did I get married?'

In that passage, there aren't so many examples in my translation, but I know exactly what was meant, because I have noted it often and found it interesting the way he used it; it was unusual enough to strike me.  And this is in 1949!  Really, the only one I bolded above that strictly fits was 'used to take out'.  Many of the other examples I noticed did use 'would'.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grand Dame of the Land of Oz, Duchess of Fantasia, in the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia; also, Poet Laureate of the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

Here is an excerpt on the imperfect past tense usage from a blog on Nabokov's Lectures on Literature:

 

One of his more interesting criticisms is when he says that the translator incorrectly translates Flaubert's use of the French imparfait (the imperfect form of the past tense), a device which allows Flaubert to express the notion of uninterrupted time, things a person "used to do", and any ruptures in that flow (all intentional constructs in his writing).

 

In Tostes Emma walks out with her whippet: "She would begin (not "began" ) by looking around her to see if nothing had changed since the last she had been there. She would find (not "found" ) again in the same places the foxgloves and wallflowers, the beds of nettles growing round the big stones, and the patches of lichen along the three windows, whose shutters, always closed, were rotting away on their rusty iron bars. Her thoughts, aimless at first, would wander (not "wandered" ) at random..."

 

 According to Nabokov, Flaubert used the imparfait to fill the entire book with a sense of suspended animation, giving weight to Emma's feeling of dreary monotony. That a translator would so casually overlook this aesthetic decision must have driven Nabokov insane.

 

Denise, thank you for the additional example you provided.  (See previous post.)

 

The rest of the blog is worth reading.  If your local library has a copy of Nabokov's book, I do highly recommend borrowing it for its entry on Madame Bovary.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Frequent Contributor
Lmfwhite
Posts: 185
Registered: ‎07-07-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

Oops...posted this to the other thread before I saw that a new thread was created.  Sorry.

Here is what is written in my translation by Lowell Bair in 1959 and some of the differences:

 

"A gamekeeper whom Monsieur had cured of pneumonia gave Madame a little Italian greyhound bitch.  She took her with her whenever she went out for a walk, which she did now and then in order to be alone for a while without having to look at the everlasting garden and the dusty road.

 

"She would walk to the beech grove at Banneville, near the abondoned pavilion which stands at the corner of the wall facing the fields.  The bottom of the ditch there is overgrown with grass and rushes with sharp-edged leaves.

 

"She would begin by looking around to see if anything had changed since her last visit.  She always found everything in the same place; the foxgloves and gilly flowers, the clumps of nettles around the stones and the patches of lichen along the three windows, whose shutters, always closed, were rotting away from their rusty iron bars.  Her thoughts were usually vague at first, wandering at random, like her greyhound, which would begin to run in circles in the fields, barking at yellow butterflies, chasing shrewmice and chewing on the poppies at the edge of a wheatfield.  Then her mind would gradually focus; sitting on the grass and poking at it with the tip of her parasol, she would ask herself over and over, 'Oh, why did I ever get married?'"

 


dulcinea3 wrote:

Peppermill wrote:

Eleanor Marx-Aveling translation of Madame Bovary on-line.

 

 

I believe below is the section that is often cited when talking about the change in tense from French.  Try replacing the past tense here with a "would" construction and, if I understand correctly, one gets a sense of the translator's impact.  Also, the way I read the note was that Geoffrey Wall, in 1992 (?), was the first to restore the "would" type of construction, although he does not describe such in his notes on translation. (Page xliii, Madame Bovary: A Provincial Life.)

 

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

"A gamekeeper, cured by the doctor of inflammation of the lungs, had given madame a little Italian greyhound; she took her out walking, for she went out sometimes in order to be alone for a moment, and not to see before her eyes the eternal garden and the dusty road. She went as far as the beeches of Banneville, near the deserted pavilion which forms an angle of the wall on the side of the country. Amidst the vegetation of the ditch there are long reeds with leaves that cut you.

 

"She began by looking round her to see if nothing had changed since last she had been there. She found again in the same places the foxgloves and wallflowers, the beds of nettles growing round the big stones, and the patches of lichen along the three windows, whose shutters, always closed, were rotting away on their rusty iron bars. Her thoughts, aimless at first, wandered at random, like her greyhound, who ran round and round in the fields, yelping after the yellow butterflies, chasing the shrew-mice, or nibbling the poppies on the edge of a cornfield.

 

"Then gradually her ideas took definite shape, and, sitting on the grass that she dug up with little prods of her sunshade, Emma repeated to herself, 'Good heavens! Why did I marry?'"

 


 

Here is the translation in mine:

 

A game-keeper, whom he had cured of inflammation of the lungs, had given the doctor's wife a young Italian greyhound, which she used to take out for walks with her; for she did go out sometimes, to get a moment's solitude away from the eternal garden and the dusty road.  She went to the beech-copse at Banneville, where the derelict summer-house stands at the turn of the wall facing the fields, and among the grasses in the ditch are some long rushes with knife-edged leaves.

 

First, she cast a glance all round to see if there were any change since last she was there.  She found the foxgloves and wallflowers in their places, the nettles still growing round the big stones, and the patches of lichen spreading along the three windows, whose shutters, always closed, were rotting away on their rusty iron bars.  At first her mind roved aimlessly hither and thither, like her greyhound, which went circling over the grass, yapping after the yellow butterflies, giving chase to the field-mice or nibbling the poppies on the edge of a cornfield.  Then gradually her thoughts took focus.  Sitting on the grass, poking at the turf with the point of her sunshade, Emma said over and over again: 'O God, O God, why did I get married?'

In that passage, there aren't so many examples in my translation, but I know exactly what was meant, because I have noted it often and found it interesting the way he used it; it was unusual enough to strike me.  And this is in 1949!  Really, the only one I bolded above that strictly fits was 'used to take out'.  Many of the other examples I noticed did use 'would'.


 

 
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

[ Edited ]

For the record, the translation I am reading of Madame Bovary is by Mildred Marmur.  Mine is a 1964 Signet Classic ($2.95) with an introduction by Mary McCarthy.

 

Madame Bovary   This is the closest current edition that I found in B&N.  Mildred Marmur is the translator, but Robin Morgan provides the introduction.

 

 

This 2004 article from Atlantic by James Cleves takes a whack at still another translation, one by Margaret Mauldon.  (Madame Bovary, Madame Bovary Oxford Edition)  Cleves makes a broad range of comments on the issues that are associated with translation.  Much of his focus is on translations from French to English.  Cleves comments that:

 

"One of the Novel Library's particular jewels was the 1948 translation of Madame Bovary by Gerard Hopkins, who had the elementary tact to render 'mille fois non' as 'a thousand times no.' (I could as easily have used his renderings as [Alan] Russell's in the task of measuring Mauldon's, but the Penguin translation is the one most of us in the old British Empire grew up with, just as most Americans grew up with Francis Steegmuller's translation.)" 

 

(Cleves's article is another one I found worthwhile skimming in its entirety.)

 

Here is another blogger, Eric Pinder, who likes the translation of Paul de Mann, which he says is based on the work of Marx-Aveling.  He is not a fan of Steegmuller.  He writes, "I've read every translation I could get my hands on."

 

I still haven't traced down "the Garnier-Flammarion edition of 1986."  (Note correction in spelling from my original post.)

 

Here is an on-line link to the Lowell Bair translation Lmfwhite commends. 

 

Cleves's concluding paragraph includes this sentence:

 

"Anyone, even starting late, can learn enough French to know that Flaubert didn't actually sound like any of his translators, no matter how accurate."

 

 

 

So, as with my other books written originally in another language or even ancient English,  I enjoy the best that I have on which a translator has lavished her or his time.

Message Edited by Peppermill on 08-18-2009 10:09 PM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Frequent Contributor
Lmfwhite
Posts: 185
Registered: ‎07-07-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

Peppermill - In all of your extensive research, have you come across WHY there are so many translations of Madame Bovary ?  And what translation seems to be the most popular?

 

Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

[ Edited ]

It is beginning to appear to me that "Garnier-Flammarion" is a French publishing house, even that "Flammarion Editions" may have been the original publisher of Madame Bovary.  (I haven't confirmed the latter yet -- perhaps someone has an edition that provides that information?)  Ernest Flammarion is reported to have been an editor of Zola and founder of a publishing house bearing his name.  I haven't fitted "Garnier" into the picture yet -- my lack of knowing French seems to be hindering my searching.

 

This location has a link on the right side to some 382 editions of Madame Bovary, including images of many of the covers (8 pages worth at 50 per page!).  I even spotted an image of my 1964 Signet edition.  The descriptions are frustrating because most lack the translator and the writer(s) of any introductory or supplementary material.  But, the variety of images used for Madame Bovary is fascinating.

 

P.S. This translated French Wikipedia site provides some information on the Garnier Brothers publishing house, including a time-line.  Founded in 1833, the link with Flammarion seems to have come much later, perhaps not until 1964.  Thereafter, the timeline hints at ups and downs in commercial success.

 

For now, I may have run out of my interest in pursuing this topic.

Message Edited by Peppermill on 08-19-2009 09:43 AM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

[ Edited ]

Lmfwhite wrote:

Peppermill - In all of your extensive research, have you come across WHY there are so many translations of Madame Bovary ?  And what translation seems to be the most popular?

 


LMF -- the short answer is "no." But, if I read between lines, one reason would seem to be because the novel is so tightly written.  Madame Bovary has been called a poem in prose. Poems are notoriously difficult to translate because they depend so heavily upon sound and the grammatical and cultural idosyncracies of the language in which they were written. Flaubert was known to read his passages aloud after he had drafted, revised, and then recopied them as he worked through his writing.  (Llosa, for one, has a description of Flaubert's writing process, derived at least in part from his letters [The Perpetual Orgy].)

 

Language changes, too, and idioms that once worked may no longer be understandable.  A translator must decide to what extent to update for understanding versus leave unchanged to suggest the period in which written.  The James Cleves article in Atlantic does a pretty fair job of describing many translator issues, especially as he comments on translating Proust.

 

Cleves suggests that Steegmuller has gotten the audience in the U.S., Alan Russell in the British Empire.  If that is true, the primary influence has probably been academic acceptance. Textbook usage is still a major driver of sales for classics.  Publishers are known to underwrite new translations in an attempt to gain inroads to that business.  On the other hand, the advent of electronic publishing and the availability of high-quality texts whose copyrights have expired (no royalties required) seems in recent years to be increasing the availability and marketing of older editions.  My own perception is that the U.S. reading public has been insensitive enough to the nuances of translations (and other languages) until recent years not to have been a driving factor.  But, editions like those of Fitzgerald and Fagles of the Greek classics may be changing that -- here two top scholars are producing quite different translations that publishers have supported.

 

Please, anyone with a closer sense of the book business, speak up and correct or clarify.

 

Message Edited by Peppermill on 08-19-2009 10:35 AM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Distinguished Bibliophile
dulcinea3
Posts: 4,389
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

[ Edited ]

Peppermill wrote:

 

"One of the Novel Library's particular jewels was the 1948 translation of Madame Bovary by Gerard Hopkins, who had the elementary tact to render 'mille fois non' as 'a thousand times no.' (I could as easily have used his renderings as [Alan] Russell's in the task of measuring Mauldon's, but the Penguin translation is the one most of us in the old British Empire grew up with, just as most Americans grew up with Francis Steegmuller's translation.)" 


 Ah, a shout-out for my edition!  I didn't realize that it was a widespread British standard.

 

After reading your next post, perhaps it is interesting that the Russell, published by Penguin, was the one selected as the text at my (American) college - Colby.

 

The cover on mine is a portrait of his wife by Claude Monet.  I believe it is a fragment of this work:

Message Edited by dulcinea3 on 08-19-2009 10:42 AM
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grand Dame of the Land of Oz, Duchess of Fantasia, in the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia; also, Poet Laureate of the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

Denise -- thank you for the information on the picture!  My Signet Classic, 1964, Marmur translator, Mary McCarthy introduction, has (part of) the same painting.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Inspired Wordsmith
chadadanielleKR
Posts: 368
Registered: ‎10-29-2006

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

A few words from the penguin edition's translator: Geoffrey Wall....

 

 


Peppermill wrote:

Given that the main thread on Madame Bovary is getting rather crowded and we seem to be investing a bit of discussion on the various translations from French to English, here is a thread for that topic.

 

One of the more recent translations (2004) is by Margaret Mauldon.  Michael Dirda gives it praise but not much comparison with others in this Washington Post article.

 

Excerpts of Mauldon's translation are here.  I have been unable to determine if the (useful) introduction is by Mark Overstall or  Malcolm Bowie (the reknowned French literature scholar mentioned by Dirda) or someone else.

 

Page xxiii has Mauldon's comments on this translation.  She says it "is based on the Garnier-Flammarian edition of 1986, cross referenced with other editions."  (Haven't traced that one yet, nor have I found a bio of Margaret Mauldon!)

 

Pepper

 


 

Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

As a French and English speaker/reader Danielle, and used to the Classics, which translation do you prefer?  My Wordsworth edition uses the Eleanor Marx and I do find that very poetic and 'flowing'. 
Inspired Wordsmith
chadadanielleKR
Posts: 368
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

To tell you the truth, I don't think that my English is good enough so as to judge which is the best translation. I can see if the translation is correct: i.e. if the translator as translated

the meaning of the text but it is harder for me to see if the English is good, "flowing" like you said.

 

As far as I know, in the 19thC most translators paid more attention to the language than to the meaning which they sometimes overlooked. Then, recently, much more, even too much attention has been paid to the meaning of the writer therefore the translated language was less pleasant to be read. There is a middle way to be reached...

 

Maud40 (Yvonne), in another thread, brought my attention to the different translation of a short passage book2 chapt XII:

Merloyd Lawrence wrote:

"on which we beat tunes for dancing bears when all the while we long to melt the stars"

Marx Aveling wrote:

"on which we hammer out tunes to make bears dance when we long to move the stars"

Marx Aveling's translation is more faithful to the French version but I don't feel it is the more poetic...

Inspired Wordsmith
chadadanielleKR
Posts: 368
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

I just remember that I read an article related to a new translation of "War and Peace" achieved by two translators, one of whom did not know Russian:

 

"War and Peace is their latest translation. It is an extraordinary achievement, particularly because Pevear does not speak or read Russian but relies on a literal translation (with notes on syntax, nuances of meaning, and literary references) by his wife Larissa to write a more finished English draft. What really makes this wonderfully fresh and readable translation stand out from its predecessors is its absolute fidelity to the language of Tolstoy. Words for particular types of clothing and fashions have been carefully researched: the "aunt" in the opening scene is dressed "in high ribbons"; Prince Ippolit wears a "redingote"; and when she dresses for the ball Natasha pins on a headdress called a "toque" (mistranslated as a "ribbon" by Garnett)."

 

Here is the facinating whole article, which mentions the problems we are talking about.

Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Madame Bovary - Translations

Thanks for your comments on translations Danielle.  I'll go for poetry every time:smileyhappy:.

 

I just cannot imagine anyone undertaking a translation for publication without knowing the language - it must be tremendously time consuming!