So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Any discussion related to Victor's Hugo's Les Misérables, in any language.
humanracer
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby humanracer » Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:06 am

In November 1862, the Wraxall translation was released in the USA and the publisher was touting it as the only official translation: http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/ ... 021100.png and http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/ ... 021101.png
By 1887 you had Cromwell publishing the Hapgood translation and Routledge publishing the Wraxall with the omitted parts of the original edition reinstated using the Wilbour. A confusing state of affairs but then copyright did not exist for foreign authors in America at this point.

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Acaila
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Acaila » Sat Nov 02, 2013 5:48 pm

So it looks like the Donougher translation is still due to come out this week: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Wretched-Pe ... +donoghuer
Debating whether or not to treat myself to ordering it for release day.
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Gervais » Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:04 pm

I just want a really good review of it, to be honest. Then maybe get it.
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deHavilland
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby deHavilland » Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:15 pm

Given MB's nightmare tales of people preordering it and then receiving a different translation and no apology or explanation, I think I'll wait until I see it in an actual bookstore.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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Gervais
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Gervais » Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:37 pm

I guess that's true, but the Kindle edition is already supposedly priced at 99 cents (or will be so, rather), if anyone's interested in blowing just a dollar on it. http://www.amazon.com/Wretched-Clothbou ... B00AM7E2DW
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Acaila
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Acaila » Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:56 pm

I'm doubting the kindle option more actually. Particularly as the kindle version is meant to be £11 here, which is much more in line with a new release.
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
Abaisse Chief/Chef
"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
Sings Stars "way better than Russel Crowe"

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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Rachelle » Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:59 pm

The fact that they translated the title isn't filling me with hope.
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humanracer
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby humanracer » Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:19 pm

Like dehavilland, I would rather wait until I see physical evidence of a release, especially since some other sites list the release date as November 2014. I wouldn't take anything from the fact they translated the title as I personally feel this is just a marketing ploy to make it stand out from other other translations. I am more interested in finding out if it is unabridged as if so this will be only the third unabridged translation following Wilbour and Rose.

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Gervais
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Gervais » Thu Nov 07, 2013 1:04 pm

Well, my friends, it has been released. The Kindle edition still says it costs 99 cents, too, and you can read at least the introduction from the translator as a preview. Someone on tumblr has already begun reading it and commenting, and has updated a spreadsheet of the descriptions of Les Amis to include Donougher's descriptions (Hope they don't mind me linking it, sorry).

For comparison's sake, Donougher's translation of the Preface:
As long as through the workings of laws and customs there exists a damnation-by-society artificially creating hells in the very midst of civilization and complicating destiny, which is divine, with a man-made fate; as long as the three problems of the age are not resolved: the debasement of men through proletarianization, the moral degradation of women through hunger, and the blighting of children by keeping them in darkness; as long as in certain strata social suffocation is possible; in other words and from an even broader perspective, as long as there are ignorance and poverty on earth, books of this kind may serve some purpose.
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Acaila
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Acaila » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:12 pm

I'm waiting on my hard copy arriving, I think it was dispatched today. I was planning a duvet weekend with some light movies, but maybe I'll launch into this instead.
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
Abaisse Chief/Chef
"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
Sings Stars "way better than Russel Crowe"

Alouette
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Alouette » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:49 am

WOW how exciting! I had a vague idea this was coming out but didn't realise it was so soon. I have just bought the Wilbour translation today as it happens. Damn, must start saving again!

I quite like the title, it's a better translation than the Miserable Ones or the Poor and of course it's the term used in the musical's finale. It's refreshing. I never understood why the title wasn't translated from the start. Of course, nobody will have heard of 'The Wretched' and yet it'll be put straight in the Classics section beside titles that resonate better with average browsers.

I'm worried about the except posted by Gervais: 'damnation-by-society'? 'Proletarianization'? I get what Donoghuer's doing because the paragraph flows well but they're awkward words. And this is a tiny sample of the work.

PS that's an amazing and super helpful list deHavilland, bravo :)

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deHavilland
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby deHavilland » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:52 am

I always got the sense that the title isn't often translated to English because it's a cognate but one that doesn't transfer over terribly well. Since there isn't really a perfect literal translation per se that appropriately captures what "les Misérables" are in English in a single word, the fact that "Misérables" reads so obviously as the English "miserable" means that you can sort of get the general point across without having to actually translate it.

I mean, in theory you could publish it as The Misérables. It wouldn't be wrong and it wouldn't be right, but it sure as hell would sound tacky.
"Quand vous aurez besoin de Bahorel, capitaine, Bahorel est là! Je sais faire trébucher tous les chevaux du garde-corps avec une ficelle... Rien qu'une petite ficelle. Enfin, pensez à Bahorel du Café Musain!"

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MmeBahorel
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby MmeBahorel » Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:11 am

One has to keep in mind, too, that Hugo himself was a part of the zeitgeist that defined the word as such in the first place. It's an artifact of 1848, particularly in the legislative debates about what to do about the issue of the poor, and it took on the shades of meaning Hugo uses here during those debates, debates in which he was pretty consistently involved and in which he, along with other legislators, were refining their ideas and definitions.

In large part, Hugo invented that word. His inventing of that word is the entire reason the novel exists. If one wants to consider additional complications.

There is no English equivalent in a single, evocative word. Poverty is the state these people are in, not themselves, and The Poverty-Stricken is as crappy a title as The Wretched, though it's far more accurate to the meaning of Misérables in this usage. Look at the number of attempts at translating the title of Père Goriot, because we don't have an English equivalent. Sometimes it's best to leave the title in the native language. Especially when it's an authorial invention.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Acaila
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Acaila » Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:23 pm

Always translated it as "The Wretched Ones". "Miserable" just isn't strong enough in English and things to do with poverty don't quite capture the extremity of that passage where he defines it.
Though of late, I've always thought "The Wretched of the Earth" would be a rather good translation to link in with the musical :D

Alouette wrote:WOW how exciting! I had a vague idea this was coming out but didn't realise it was so soon. I have just bought the Wilbour translation today as it happens. Damn, must start saving again!

I quite like the title, it's a better translation than the Miserable Ones or the Poor and of course it's the term used in the musical's finale. It's refreshing. I never understood why the title wasn't translated from the start. Of course, nobody will have heard of 'The Wretched' and yet it'll be put straight in the Classics section beside titles that resonate better with average browsers.

I'm worried about the except posted by Gervais: 'damnation-by-society'? 'Proletarianization'? I get what Donoghuer's doing because the paragraph flows well but they're awkward words. And this is a tiny sample of the work.

PS that's an amazing and super helpful list deHavilland, bravo :)


Where did you get the Wilbour out of interest? I've been keen to get a copy of that for years, since it was my first translation but I never owned it. I did find one on Amazon, but ended up going for the Donoghuer instead for now. I'll maybe try and post a few choice quotes from that later if I get enough schoolwork done.
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
Abaisse Chief/Chef
"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
"She's basically Enjolras meets Amy Pond"
Sings Stars "way better than Russel Crowe"

Alouette
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Alouette » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:17 pm

I think the title in French also implies non-material suffering so Wretched isn't the worst possibility. Then again, it's a figurative poverty too. Anyway, I still like the new title!

That's interesting about Hugo's part in giving the word meaning.

Acaila - I got the Wilbour in Hodges Figgis, it's the big, iconic bookshop in Dublin. It's owned by Waterstones so if you live near one that could be your best bet. I have the Everyman's Library hardback edition and they've had one in stock for ages (along with Denny and Rose but never any others).


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