So, Let’s Talk About Translations

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

Postby MmeBahorel » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:38 pm

Once it was evident that the Donougher was not coming out (and a couple months after Denny editions were being shipped), the Amazon listings were revised to reflect the correct translator. So any listings now are new. A release date of November 2014 came up for both Penguin UK and Book Depository a few months back, still there on Book Depository though Penguin has updated by a year. Donougher's author page at Penguin UK is still blank, and you have to find her edition by searching for Norman Denny. (seriously.) And why they are sending out a press release with a translated title while showing a cover mockup for that edition with the normal title, I have no clue, but it seems a terrible sign, doesn't it? That's deffo the new cover: the current cover is this one.

I can say that they got some returns thanks to shipping out Denny to people who thought they were buying Donougher, which would affect their sales figures, though probably not in noticeable terms. But I''m very sure it's a year late due to actual translation process, that she just could not get it done in time, because it is a long-ass book. Maybe they hated how she did the slang, so she had to go back and adjust her method, going back through the entire book because stuff sneaks in odd places. It isn't the delay that's as worrying as the press release and trying to sell it under a translated title it has never before been published in coupled with a cover design where that's patently not the title. What the hell, Penguin, get it together!
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard

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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby deHavilland » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:43 pm

Oh man, I'm sure there were returns after people realized they'd gotten a Denny instead of a new translation, but I'd meant on the whole that sales following the movie may not have had as much of a boost as anticipated. Your average movie-goer-turned-Les-Mis-fan probably doesn't care if they're getting a Denny or a Donougher.

And I was pretty much ready to say that the cover image was a placeholder for the translated title reason alone. Maybe they're still hmming and hahing over whether to release it as such. Seems odd.
"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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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby humanracer » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:38 am

The excellent F/M is being reissued with a "new afterword"
www.amazon.co.uk/Miserables-Signet-Clas ... ictor+hugo
The original edition has 1488 pages. The reissue has 1504.

Still no word on Donoughner but you can pre order the hardcover:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wretched-Victor ... ictor+hugo

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:18 am

Oh my. "afterword" by who?
"...all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights."

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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby between4walls » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:10 am

Afterword by author Chris Bohjalian.
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.

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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby humanracer » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:53 am

between4walls wrote:Afterword by author Chris Bohjalian.


Very well spotted between4walls. I have never heard of this author. I wonder why they were chosen. I doubt I will buy the F/M again just for that afterword. I also notice that since the unabridged Rose translation is now in the shops, they are marketing the F/M as the "only unabridged paperback pocket-sized edition". Well I agree that the size is one of the selling points. It fits quite easily into my pocket.

Ideally I would like a deluxe English edition which has the original illustrations and also extensive footnotes and perhaps even outtakes.

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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby deHavilland » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:59 am

So, it looks like Bohjalian mostly writes contemporary. Which is all well and good, but I thought, hey, maybe he's done some deeply researched Les Mis meta once upon a time and that's why they chose him to do an afterword.

Only thing I've found thus far - admittedly it's been all of five minutes of searching - was this blog post regarding the movie:

You would think “Best Singing” would be a slam dunk for “Les Mis,” but it’s not. Exhibit A? Russell Crowe. A lot of people have thrown Crowe under the bus because he has nowhere near the singing voice of everyone else in the cast, but it didn’t matter to me. I thought Crowe was terrific. Also, his character’s body makes what might be the most incredible sound in the whole movie when it cracks into the stones in his (spoiler alert) suicide. Big props to the foley artist for that little moment. Awesome.

Most people who see “Les Mis” have seen the musical on stage somewhere, so I was really pleased that no one around me was mistaking the movie for a French Revolution story and asking where and when the guillotine would show up. I wasn’t able to sit near my daughter because the theater was packed, and so I had strangers on either side of me. They were both sobbing through the final hour. I wanted to reassure them that I had seen Anne Hathaway host “Saturday Night Live” and it was clear she was eating again, but I didn’t. I’m a stickler about not talking during movies.


... can the afterword be written this conversationally too, or...?
"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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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby between4walls » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:08 am

He also does historical. At least, he's written more than one book set in WWII and one set during the Armenian genocide (he's of Armenian descent).

Looks like it's one of his favorite books, at least according to this person's blog:

"Chris Bohjalian was the author that picked Les Misérables as one of his top ten. And thinking of the books I’ve read by him, he also uses fiction to make a social statement. He’s a bit less obvious about it than Hugo, but almost two hundred years can make a big difference in narrative styles and techniques."

The "top ten" would be from this book, "The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books." Maybe Bohjalian wrote something more about Les Misérables in that book (besides just putting it on his list)? "Each of the 125 responses appears in Zane's book -- some in short answer form, some just titles, some annotated -- along with a few essays..."
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.

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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby between4walls » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:27 am

And here he complains about people who think Les Misérables is set during the French Revolution:

"Last month I saw the revival of “Les Misérables” on Broadway, and I have two principal memories. First, the woman to my left did not stop sobbing throughout the show, and “Les Misérables” is a very long show. Very. Long. At one point I had to restrain myself from telling the woman, “This isn’t real. They’re actors up there — honest. For all we know, the barricades are made of Styrofoam.” Second, despite the fact that huge dates are projected onto a screen during the show — 1815, 1823 and 1832 — I am pretty sure that half the audience thought the musical was about the French Revolution, including, yes, the human watering can to my left. Twice she mumbled through her tears that any moment a guillotine would be rolled onto the stage. The French Revolution, of course, occurred between 1789 and 1799. “Les Misérables?” Different century. No guillotine."
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.

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Acaila
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Acaila » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:30 pm

Hmm I can't say he sounds like the ideal person for the target audience since he doesn't seem to quite appreciate the strength of feeling and emotion towards it :D
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"
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby between4walls » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:44 pm

Well, he is talking about the musical in those blog posts and not the book. Personally, I don't feel the same strong emotions from the musical that I do from the book.

However, I have no clue what to expect here since he has no comments about the book online. Maybe he's saving them all up for the afterword.

The Signet version of NDDP had an afterword by Graham Robb, a very different choice.
Here day embraces night, and says: I will die with you and you will be reborn with me. From the heavy embrace of all desolations springs faith.

The real name of devotion is disinterestedness.

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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby humanracer » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:50 pm

At least he has a sense of humour. His Afterword might be more interesting than something written by an academic. I wonder if the Afterword is a marketing ploy since the 1987 edition used the success of the musical as a selling point (hence the cover illustration). As Penguin have the movie tie-in, a new (and hopefully interesting) Afteword might make the book more marketable for Signet. I note it is going to be released just a month before the supposed release of the Christine Donougher translation. Also I believe this is the first time this has been available in the UK as I had to get my current copy as an import.

His list in the Top 10 book is quite impressive although very pedestrian compared to the others. He doesn't mention anything else about the book. Off topic but I was impressed to see that the Scottish classic Sunset Song made one of the lists.

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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby deHavilland » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:04 pm

between4walls wrote:The Signet version of NDDP had an afterword by Graham Robb, a very different choice.


See, Graham Robb I understand. I love Graham Robb. And the connection between Robb and Hugo is very easily made given as he wrote a lovely biography for him. And also if you read any of his books: Parisians, Strangers, eventually some mention of Les Mis happens. Or some specific reference to 1832. Robb is a huge Les Mis fan.

I would like to know why they picked Bohjalian, though. A couple blog posts about the musical and "one time he said it was his favorite book" isn't really all that much to go off of. There must be some other connection somewhere...
"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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Acaila
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby Acaila » Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:50 pm

Lots of people do have strong emotional responses to the musical and the movie though, and realistically, those are probably the people who are going to be buying this version. So his comments seem a bit meanspirited. I sobbed through the movie and the last time I saw the show, doesn't mean I don't know my 19th century French history. Nor do I really like his points that suggest "why are people crying at something that isn't real" or that doing so means that they are somehow doing it wrong.
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"

humanracer
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Re: So, Let’s Talk About Translations

Postby humanracer » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:31 pm

I would have had much rather had footnotes than an Afteword but I will probably skim through it in Waterstones when it is released. Besides I think F/M is a great translation so worth picking up even if the Afterword might be a bit obnoxious.

I have just finished the first part of the novel (Fantine) and I have to say the last few books in particular were among the most dramatic writing I have read in English (even better than Dickens and Shakespeare). The journey to Arras, the trial and the confrontation with Javert had me on the edge of my seat. I read the last few chapters again, this time with Rose and it seemed rather flat in comparision to F/M. Obviously it is a repeat reading so it won't have the same tension as when I first read it. However there is something a bit odd about the language that I cannot put my finger on. Once I got to the bit that described Javert as a "slimy spook", I just burst out laughing. I also don't like that Javert calls Fantine a "slut" in Rose while he calls her a "whore" in F/M. It just makes Javert look common. Her translation actually might be more accurate than the F/M (I am not familar with the French original so have no idea) but the language just fails to grip me at all. I have to say though it is the best presented of all the translations. The cover is lovely, the introduction has a timeline and the footnotes are helpful and appreciated.

If the new translation from Donougher is released later this year then the market will actually be full of translations. The original post by dehavilland is therefore even more useful.


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