Jules Verne Forum



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

From: thomas mccormick <tom_amity~at~hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2006 02:26:16 +0000
To: jvf~at~Gilead.org.il

Terry Harpold is right. And further, those who say "who cares if it's a good
translation, the teacher can explain what the right rendition is" know
little - it is as if a singer were to sing off-key and say "What does it
matter, you know what notes I'm trying to hit." And sometimes I think the
disgraceful hostility to immigrants that crops up every so often (now, for
example) in America is partly due to the fact that they don't necessarily
speak English - and North Americans can't be bothered with any other


>From: Brian Taves <btav~at~loc.gov>
>Reply-To: Jules Verne Forum <jvf~at~Gilead.org.il>
>To: Jules Verne Forum <jvf~at~Gilead.org.il>
>Subject: Re: way to go rick! [Fighting the good fight on translations]
>Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2006 19:57:00 -0400 (EDT)
>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.

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Received on Tue 04 Apr 2006 - 05:48:17 IDT

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