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  •  Read the Lydia Davis editions of the text (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, Radiowalla, Brecht, suka

    I've read Swann's Way in both the French and in English. This is considered to be a far superior translation, and I can see why -- it captures Proust's prose (I'm a huge Proustian, in truth):

    http://www.amazon.com/...

    This is the very best translation I've seen to-date.

    Moncrieff doesn't even READ like Proust. Frankly, the liberties he took with the text are fairly egregious and change the flavor of Proust in ways that, to me, are totally unacceptable. Up there with cheap hazlenut-flavored coffee or something -- not quite like the real thing.

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    by mahakali overdrive on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 12:15:30 PM PST

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    •  André Aciman (4+ / 0-)

      wrote copiously about the new translation of  Proust in the NY Review of Books.  I believe Aciman is a Proustian in his own right.  
      Here are a couple of links, behind a paywall if you aren't a subscriber:
      http://www.nybooks.com/...

      http://www.nybooks.com/...

      It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

      by Radiowalla on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 01:37:53 PM PST

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      •  I've only compared the first (5+ / 0-)

        by Davis... the others sound... totrured, although it's behind a paywall for me. Translation is always very, very tricky, and really, I don't believe that literature can be translated, in truth: it can only be approximated. Having read more "bad" translations than I can count, well, I'm still not satisfied by most, and yet short of reading in the original, not much to be done. My usual aggravation is less concerned with syntax, to be honest, and more with vocabulary (just my personal pique).

        They should have really had Davis translate all of these. Argh.

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        by mahakali overdrive on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 01:48:27 PM PST

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        •  Agree completely about translations. (5+ / 0-)

          Too much is lost in the rendering.

          I read Proust in French, but now I'm reading some Russian novels and wondering how much I am missing.  Just finished "Fathers and Sons" and loved it in spite of all that.  

          It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

          by Radiowalla on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 01:52:08 PM PST

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          •  Beowulf is always my example (5+ / 0-)

            of lost in translation. I'd be lying if I said I could read more than a smattering of Old English. Mr. Overdrive, however, is quite fluent. It's one of my all-time favorites. He says there has not yet been a single decent translation of it, and he likes to point out the liberties taken. I like the Heaney translation, but he often points out that much is changed.

            The premise in Linguistics and Literature both, I believe, is that poetic language is not paraphrasable by definition. But translation requires some degree of paraphrase. So there's that.

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            by mahakali overdrive on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 02:03:22 PM PST

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            •  A translator needs to be an alchemist (4+ / 0-)

              and a mind-reader as well as a musician, a historian and a linguist.  It really is asking too much of one person.  Maybe that's why tandem teams make sense (Pevear and Volokhonsky, for example).     If translators seek accuracy above all else, then they wring the very life out of a text.  If they seek to re-create the mood and the poetry of a text, they lose accuracy.  It's not an easy job.  

              I loved the Heaney translation of Beowulf, but I don't read Old English at all so I can't judge.  

              It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

              by Radiowalla on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 02:43:19 PM PST

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              •  Translation is imperfect: Pevear and Volokhonsky (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Radiowalla, RiveroftheWest, micsimov, suka

                show us plenty of ways to aim higher, though:

                The husband-and-wife team work in a two-step process: Volokhonsky prepares her English version of the original text, trying to follow Russian syntax and stylistic peculiarities as closely as possible, and Pevear turns this version into polished and stylistically appropriate English. Pevear has variously described their working process as follows:

                "Larissa goes over it, raising questions. And then we go over it again. I produce another version, which she reads against the original. We go over it one more time, and then we read it twice more in proof."

                "We work separately at first. Larissa produces a complete draft, following the original as closely as possible, with many marginal comments and observations. From that, plus the original Russian, I make my own complete draft. Then we work closely together to arrive at a third draft, on which we make our 'final' revisions."

                Just as Nate Silver has raised the game of prediction, Pevear and Volokhonsky have raised the game of translation. I've read a few articles by them, and am well impressed at their care and comprehension.

                I have their Anna Karenina, Brothers Karamazov, and Gogol's Tales. They themselves said they're best on Dostoevsky (hence their 9 of his) and weakest on Turgenev.

                "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

                by Brecht on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:49:58 PM PST

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                •  I've only read their War and Peace translation (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Brecht, RiveroftheWest, suka

                  and was happy with it, but, as I said before, I don't know Russian so it's hard for me to judge the worth of a translation.
                  All I can say is whether it reads smoothly and without obvious awkwardness.   This one did.  

                  It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

                  by Radiowalla on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:16:26 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  I agree there are problems with Moncrieff (5+ / 0-)

      since he based his translations on the "abominable" Nouvelle Revue Francaise edition (Samuel Beckett) and not on the far superior Pleiade version so when one judges Moncrieff one must keep in mind that he was using NRF and should look for instead the Pleiade English version with Moncrieff AND Kilmartin listed as translators along with 'Revised by D. J. Enright.'

      I've noted in a previous post the translation of Swann's Way by Lydia Davis which is much admired but as Christopher Hitchens has pointed out she did a marvelous job, one only wishes she had translated the rest of Search which was a part of some special project and they assigned separate authors to each volume which lost, after her, some of the singular voiced Proustian flavour; I myself started with Davis's Swann's Way but for the rest have been using the Moncrieff-Kilmartin-Engright.

      The Democrats care about you after you're born. --Ed Schultz

      by micsimov on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 02:51:53 PM PST

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      •  I was wishing Davis would translate the rest but, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, micsimov, suka

        now I've done a little research, I reckon I'd better look into her own fiction instead. Here's a nice 17-line story of hers.

        I'll probably follow in your footsteps, translation-wise. It'd be nice if I could find a library or a friend in possession of all those books. But it'll be awhile before I get there.

        "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

        by Brecht on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:11:38 PM PST

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        •  Thanks so much (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brecht, suka, RiveroftheWest

          I've been meaning to check further into Lydia Davis's work as well.  I believe my library has the whole Proust, but the recommended translations hit-and-miss; I own volumes III-V of the Moncrieff-Kilmartin-Enright, now I just need to obtain and read the final Time Regained -- saw the French film version years ago with Catherine Deneuve and John Malkovich it was wonderful; I believe in the 70s/80s a film version was made of The Captive/The Fugitive but reviews were mixed; Time Regained was most excellent and received rather well.

          The Democrats care about you after you're born. --Ed Schultz

          by micsimov on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 07:10:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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