'Big couch'! That is about as unfortunate as it gets (feline powder rooms aside). Thanks for the names (you know I eat up these things). Is it only
first names, then? But what does it make of Jean Valjean père, whose last name necessarily has to include his first name in order for the voilà to make sense? Or Champmathieu/Jeanne Mathieu? (OH, and: if Jean Valjean is Jan, then so, I assume, is Jean Prouvaire. Does he then choose a medieval version of 'Jan' for an alias?)
Also, how is argot (both the chapter and the use of it in the text) translated? And how do the Polish translators treat Joly's impaired pronunciation when he has a cold, 'il paraît que décidébent Barius est aboureux'/'it is decidedly abberent that Barius is in lub'? (Random note: when I read that line in English it took me roughly fifty years to realise that what he was saying was 'apparent', not 'aberrant'.) I ask mainly because of Wilbour's English translation, which is remarkable on that point in that it radically exaggerates the extent to which his speech is disfigured (French: 'Courfeyrac, tu aurais dû prendre un parapluie.' - Wilbour: 'Courfeyrac, you b
ust take ad
brella.'; ye-es, the English simply includes more letters that suffer from a blocked nose, but the 'must' for one could have simply been translated as 'should have', which would have been perfectly pronounceable).
Frédérique, I found your information on acts of censorship in German editions extremly interesting! If possible, I'd like to know more on that. I'm now curious if there were any differences between editions in East and West Germany. Probably no chance to have a look at the 1933 German translation, online or anywhere else?
Well, I don't really have
much information yet, but I'm working on it
The 1863 and 1983 versions are the only ones whose text I have at hand, and, as it turned out, only the first seven volumes (out of at least ten) of the former are actually on the internet. There are random white blocks on some of the pages (like so
); I'm not sure whether that's censorship or an error in digitalising - anyway I've not noticed any particular pattern. At any rate, it doesn't seem to be missing any large amounts of text (the complete Bishop story is there, "Parenthesis" is there, "Waterloo" is there and, as far as I can tell, without Prussian bias). Argot is translated into Rotwelsch
(a German equivalent also used in translations of Balzac and Sue) and re-translated into gutbürgerlich
German in footnotes. (I can't help but notice that several of the 'incomprehensible' 'criminal' expressions of 1863 are part of my daily vocabulary. Not sure whether that says more about the development of the language or about my socialisation.) It's really a surprisingly satisfying translation, all in all, especially considering the market for translations of French literature wasn't huge (the people who cared to read French books read them in French) - many of Hugo's Romantic contemporaries weren't translated (or, well, translated and published on a large scale; I suppose there've always been circles of nerds who gathered and went at it with the dictionary ... or at least I like the idea) until the twentieth century (and then usually in a philological context rather than for the broad masses), others never.
a handful of translated names, but very few (because obviously there is no equivalent of the likes of Éponine, whereas names such as Marius are exactly the same in German and 'normal' French names - i.e. Jean or Charles - are/were something the pronunciation of which most Germans would have been familiar with, especially in the areas that were under Napoléonic rule/organisation [the translation was published in Mülheim, which would have fallen into that category]; it's still
quite common in my neck of the woods for men named Hans or Matthias to be nicknamed 'Schang' or 'Mattschö', i.e. 'Jean' or 'Mathieu'): for example, Fantine's neighbour Marguerite becomes Margaretha. Unfortunately, the translator also seems to have thought that 'ou Laigle' was Lesgle's title (or something):
HAHA. Note the footnote explaining the ABC/Abaissé pun. It omits a number of other puns, though, such as the mon calme/Montcalm one. 'Observe my calm' is there, the response is not.
HOWEVER. I have got colossal news re: 'Wiegler/Günther': they never existed as a tandem*. Paul Wiegler actually died in 1949
and Wolfgang Günther 'reworked' his translation for the 1983 edition. Having discovered this I now have
to see the 1959 edition, since that one presumably includes only Wiegler's work, and see what is missing. Something must be: the 1950s and 1960s editions never amount to more than a thousand pages. (Perhaps, if there are passages that were left out by Wiegler or censored at the time and added by Günther, that could explain why the tone seems off only sometimes
HOWEVER (II). Apparently the Wiegler translation first
came out in 1952 (and at Aufbau, not Volk und Welt [where it landed in 1959], which is especially interesting since there is a 2001 Aufbau "Les Misérables" which uses another translation and is even shorter), which means, if he did die in 1949, that it spent at least three years on a shelf. (It also means he worked in a political climate completely different from the one I assumed
he worked in, immediately post-war rather than cold war. According to Wikipedia, he was 'neutral' towards the Nazis.) Or
maybe he had
written a complete translation and it took the censors three years to wade through it and make enough sense of it to decide what had to go.
For other editions I've little to offer but page numbers. Between 1930 and 1950 the book grew progressively shorter:
a)a 1929/1930 version has 766 pages
b)a 1934 version has 578
c)a 1940 version has 550; it was both translated and shortened ('zeitgemäß'ly, that is, 'appropriate to the time') by one Ernst Richard Ecker and is possibly the same as the 1934 one
d)a 1950 Austrian edition has 429.
This is terrible. (What is less terrible is that they're all sold on the internet. I'm definitely going to pick up the 1930 one and the 1934 one in the nearish future to see how they compare.) There is also a 1900 version in at least six volumes of circa two hundred pages each and a version from circa 1920 with 480 pages. Taking into account that the Gothic print was widely used until the 1940s that's really not a lot.
The one I mentioned with the 'Szenen ...' subtitle is from Goldmann (I think it has about five hundred pages: for comparison, an unabridged "Les Chouans" in the same format has three hundred and fifty, annotations not counted) and was published at a time at which the company was seated in Munich, so it's 'a Western edition' that came out while the GDR was getting its thousand page version. The translation contained is by Edmund Theodor Kauer (who at some point was editor in chief of an Austrian communist daily newspaper), though again I am not sure if Kauer himself abridged the text in translating or whether the abridged version was made on the basis
of his translation. (The un
abridged international classics Goldmann published in cheap pocket book format at the time are generally new translations, but their selections from Rabelais, for example, are based on an 1832 translation by Gottlob Regis. It's probable enough that the Kauer translation is relatively old because he was translating Stendhal as early as 1930; however, he lived until 1973, and I haven't found any mention of a pre-1950s edition that uses his translation.) At any rate a Kauer translation is still in print (via Aufbau, see above) and still only six hundred pages long (... and still readers complain that it is full of 'Geschwafel', i.e. gobbledygook, rigmarole, blabber!), i.e. probably the same as its Goldmann incarnation; it came out when the 2000 adaptation was broadcast on TV, i.e. at least today its reduced length is attributed to an attempt to make it 'digestible' rather than 'appropriate'.
The one-volume complete (presumably) translation by Hugo Meier (between 1300 and 1800 pages, depending on print and binding) first came out in 1968 in Switzerland.
HOWEVER (III), a five-volume edition of the Wiegler/Günther translation was published by Diogenes (also seated in Switzerland) in the 1980s. A total of 1804 pages (including an afterword and a translated Baudelaire essay, but ... apparently not the glossary?) ... with the subtitle 'the first complete German translation', which, if it's still missing "Argot", is simply not true.
Argot in the text
, incidentally, is usually
translated by Wiegler/Günther with appropriate terms from Rotwelsch, sans footnotes. The biscuit, meanwhile, inexplicably morphs into a biscotte, c'est à dire: a zwieback.
A propos of subtitles: the three-volume version I have comes with the adorably long-winded 'Nach diesem Roman entstand der Musical-Welterfolg "Les Misérables".', i.e. 'It was on the basis of this novel that the internationally successful musical "Les Misérables" was created.'
See, anywhere in the world they would have just put a sticker on it saying 'THE BOOK BEHIND THE HIT MUSICAL!'. Not in Germany. In Germany they deposit a full sentence in the middle of the cover. And not in small print, either. (Well
, the 2001 edition comes with so large a sticker about the mini series that you practically see 'DEPARDIEU' before you see 'Hugo'.)Correspondingly, if you buy Vidocq's 1829 mémoires in French, you get something called "Mémoires de Vidocq, chef de la police de Sûreté, jusqu'en 1827", or, at best, that plus "aujourd'hui propriétaire et fabricant de papiers à Saint-Mandé". If you buy them in German, you get "Aus dem Leben eines ehemaligen Galeerensklaven, welcher, nachdem er Komödiant, Soldat, Seeoffizier, Räuber, Spieler, Schleichhändler und Kettensträfling war, endlich Chef der Pariser Geheimen Polizei unter Napoleon sowohl als auch unter den Bourbonen bis zum Jahre 1827 wurde". (It makes reading the book quite redundant.) And that's not even mentioning the paper business.
*Which sadly rules out an explanation I had come up with for another mistake I found - the Masons in "Enjolras et ses lieutenants"! Wiegler/Günther make/s them the wall-building sort of masons ('Masons' can be understood without 'Free-', given the 'lodge' context, but 'Maurer' is 'Maurer' is 'Maurer') and, what is actually strangest in that it could almost pass for a misinterpretation due to a typo if the 'typo' did not only occur in the German itself, they speak of the 'Lage' at the rue de Grenelle-Saint-Honoré rather than the 'Loge', i.e. the 'situation' rather than the 'lodge'. My only explanation for this had
been that one of the gentlemen translated the passage by hand and the other couldn't read it. But maybe it is deliberate? Get more workers in? Feuilly and Poland are completely intact, by the way, apart from the 'nest-ce pas' line.
I'd be very interested in learning more about the novel's changing fates in imperial and Soviet Russia - as far as I know its official publication was prohibited on (probably) personal order from Aleksandr II, but Hugo had prominent fans ranging from Tolstoy and Dostoevsky (whose fluency in French did not prevent him from making bizarre grammar mistakes when letting his characters quote Voltaire) and practically all the 1860s/70s writers and intelligentsia (except the longlongterm expat Turgenev, who thought Les Mis was 'everywhere a lie from start to finish, all false, every feeling expressed from the first to the last [...] In our literature you won't find that! Our imagination is weak and we are often boring, but we do not remove ourselves so far from vital truths as do the French.') who praised him in their revues on a weekly basis, so (while, much as in Germany, everyone with half a claim to sophistication spoke French anyway) translations must soon have been circling underhand. (His other works up to that point were legally translated, but it was understood that any pro-Polish or anti-clerical sentiments had to be ignored or glossed over.)
I don't think so. In the Julie Rose translation there's a footnote that says Hugo made it up. Plus, they're both set to different tunes in the 34 and 72 films. I'm guessing if there had been a definite tune they both would have been the same.
Made what up? The specific lyrics are Hugo's, but the framework is from a sixteenth century song that's already (supposedly) 'old' when making its appearance in "Le misanthrope" (Alceste sings it near the end of I,2).
At any rate, I found what claims to be 'the tune' to the original
. At the first line I thought it was roughly the same that's used in the 1934 film, but ... well, either it isn't, or I'm tone/tune-deaf, or the 1934 Combeferre is (there's got to be some
thing he isn't good at!).