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On translating "Madame Bovary"

 Language Learning Forum : Books, Literature & Reading Post Reply
espejismo
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 Message 1 of 7
09 February 2011 at 11:40am | IP Logged 
This article reviews the latest translation of Flaubert's masterpiece, comparing it with previous attempts to "English" it. It might be of interest to anyone who ever wondered what a good translation should be like, and what are the limitations that result in something that always falls short of the original.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n22/julian-barnes/writers-writer-an d-writers-writers-writer

[Linking doesn't work for new members...]

Edited by espejismo on 09 February 2011 at 11:43am

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Solfrid Cristin
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 Message 3 of 7
14 February 2011 at 2:14pm | IP Logged 
This just goes to prove that one man's meat is another man's poison. I am happy for you that you love the book, personally I have tried to read it several times and have never reached beyond page 50.


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ChristopherB
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 Message 4 of 7
05 March 2011 at 10:32am | IP Logged 
Solfrid Cristin wrote:
This just goes to prove that one man's meat is another man's poison. I am happy for you that you love the book, personally I have tried to read it several times and have never reached beyond page 50.



Have you tried the audiobook? I remember someone mentioning they had the same problem with Proust, but listened to in French as an audio book, it's like music!
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tornus
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 Message 5 of 7
05 March 2011 at 2:54pm | IP Logged 
Solfrid Cristin wrote:
This just goes to prove that one man's meat is another man's poison. I am happy for you that you love the book, personally I have tried to read it several times and have never reached beyond page 50.



funny, i did the same, i never managed to read this book in the original language eventhough french is my native language

Edited by tornus on 05 March 2011 at 2:56pm

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Squalido
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 Message 6 of 7
27 April 2011 at 6:05am | IP Logged 
I read that the importance of Flaubert was his compulsive use of imperfect past. That made his style incredibly descriptive. In Madame Bovary he still didn't completely develop this style, so I wonder how difficult must be to translate to English his later works like "Sentimental Education". I know that the imperfect past does not exist in English, but perhaps it is possibly to accomplish in a translation an equivalent of the continuous description and even of the rhythm.
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Mork the Fiddle
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 Message 7 of 7
24 May 2015 at 3:15am | IP Logged 
ChristopherB wrote:
Solfrid Cristin wrote:
This just goes to prove that one man's meat is another man's poison. I am happy for you that you love the book, personally I have tried to read it several times and have never reached beyond page 50.



Have you tried the audiobook? I remember someone mentioning they had the same problem with Proust, but listened to in French as an audio book, it's like music!


Hearing the same thing about listening to Proust, I tried it, and it's true. A narrator with a good voice turns the written novel into quite a pleasant experience (though I don't know about the "music" part).

And because I myself have never got past page 10 of Madame Bovary, I will give listening to it a try.


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