Tuesday, November 8, 2022

A new Swann in Love

From Pushkin Press, Swann in Love, translated by Lucy Raitz and billed by the publisher as “the perfect introduction to one of the world’s great novelists.” The Washington Post has a review (caution: it’s all spoilers).

I dunno: I’d think of “Combray,” the first section of Swann’s Way, as the perfect introduction to Proust. After all, it’s the beginning to the novel, and it gives the reader the madeleine, which to my mind is all one needs to want to keep going.

Here is the first paragraph of “Un amour de Swann,” as translated by Raitz and by Lydia Davis:

[Lucy Raitz, 2022.]

[Lydia Davis, 2004.]

And the original:

[Marcel Proust, 1913.]

What do you notice?

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[I’ve omitted note numbers for Planté, Rubinstein, and Potain from both translations.]

comments: 3

Stefan said...

I like “as tiresome as rain” a lot, but LD’s sentence is much better.

Tororo said...

Both translations seem fine to this French reader. A thing both translators struggled a bit with transposing, is how colloquial, almost vulgar, Mme Verdurin sounds (on purpose) when voicing her strongest opinions.
And perhaps "congregants" is a more judicious choice than "faithful".

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for your takes, Stefan and Tororo. I think Davis keeps more of the snark by keeping all the Verdurin pet phrases in quotation marks. “Soirées” is a better choice than “evening parties,” I’d say, partly because “soirée” sounds a bit pretentious in English. I think Raitz runs into difficulty with “by which, among other tenets”: I find the syntax tough to follow there.

“Congregation of the faithful” is familiar phrasing in English, so maybe both translators are playing on that in different ways.