Monday, July 5, 2010

Hopeless

Something amusing from Lydia Davis’s translation note at the beginning of each volume of the new edition of Proust published a few years ago:

We agreed, often after lively debate, on certain practices that needed to be consistent from one volume to the next, such as…leaving the quotations that occur within the text—from Racine, most notably—in the original French, with translations in the notes.

Some changes may be noted in this American edition, besides the adoption of American spelling conventions. One is that the UK decision concerning quotations within the text has been reversed, and all the French has been translated into English, with the original quotation in the notes.

Shorter Lydia Davis: Even the Americans who read Proust are too insular and incapable to handle brief quotations in French. Yes, even if the footnotes translate them.

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