Jules Verne Forum



Re: way to go rick! [Fighting the good fight on translations]

From: Brian Taves <btav~at~loc.gov>
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2006 19:57:00 -0400 (EDT)
To: Jules Verne Forum <jvf~at~Gilead.org.il>

Terry has spoken very eloquently below. I'd only dissent in one way--I
don't think there's anything uniquely American to this process. I know
our members from many countries have mentioned shabby translations are to
be found in their own language. Hence this formulation of story over text
may be much more of an international phenomenon.

I also think that, as far as the US is concerned, we still remain heavily
influenced by English publishers and their prejudices. Whether sanitizing
Verne for the Boys Own Paper audience, through I.O. Evans inflicting his
latter day Victorianism, translations adjusted for the British marketplace
have often been handed down to Americans, for whom the issues that
concerned Englishman may have had no relevance--tho Americans, in turn,
may have brought fresh sensitivities of their own.

Brian Taves
email: <btav~at~loc.gov>

Disclaimer--All opinions expressed are my own.

On Fri, 31 Mar 2006, Terry Harpold wrote:

> On Mar 23, 2006, at 9:42 PM, thomas mccormick wrote:
> > Well!! The era of good translations of Verne has begun, but it
> > seems there is a lamentable time lag in the process of getting
> > those translations properly marketed and distributed!! It aint just
> > a problem with 20,000 Leagues, either. Looking for Mysterious
> > Island at the local Barnes & Noble, I find the same awful old
> > translations with the inane name changes (Smith to Harding, Harbert
> > to Herbert, etc.), and you still have to special-roder the Stump OR
> > the Kravitz version, which are the only two English translations
> > worth more than the paper they're written on. I guess there is a
> > certain amount of, comme on dit, sheer inertia in the book
> > distribution business!
> If I see another student come to my courses lugging one of the
> ghastly Hardwigg "translations" -- one must use the term in such
> cases cautiously -- of _Journey to the Centre of the Earth_, I shall
> scream.
> My syllabus explicitly requires the Butcher OUP edition, and then I
> am careful to point out passages in the original in which typically
> Vernian untranslatable French word-play is important.
> The basic problem here is that many students -- even very smart ones,
> and even when you stress the necessity of good translations and tell
> them *which* texts to buy -- don't get that a misrepresentation of an
> author's text can be worse than, well, no representation at all.
> We are not -- I speak here, with regret, as an American -- a nation
> generally sensible to the vicissitudes of languages other than
> English. This is, I think, a symptom of the sorry state of
> transnational awareness in our elementary and high school education
> system. (In the last decade or two, things have gotten worse, as anti-
> intellectual and xenophobic "national pride" have wrought havoc on US
> international politics.)
> So long as that is true, publishers will continue to pass on the
> awful translations as fair versions of texts because consumers don't
> care that much: popular mythology of the "story" as more important
> than the "text", with no awareness that the latter drives the former,
> every time.
> TH
> ----------------------------------------------
> Terry Harpold
> Assistant Professor
> Department of English
> University of Florida
> <tharpold~at~acm.org>
> <tharpold~at~english.ufl.edu>
> <http://www.english.ufl.edu/~tharpold>
> "Reading in no way obliges you to understand."

Brian Taves
Motion Picture/Broadcasting/Recorded Sound Division
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, S.E. Washington, D.C. 20540-4692
Telephone: 202-707-9930; 202-707-2371 (fax)
Email: btav~at~loc.gov

Disclaimer--All opinions expressed are my own.
Received on Tue 04 Apr 2006 - 02:57:07 IDT

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