Which translation?

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Which translation?

Post  DSamuels90 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:50 am

Hello, all! Mini intro: I used to be on Phantomfans.net, but it's been so long I can't remember who I was there. I'm happy to have found these forums, and look forward to all sorts of interesting discussions about "The Phantom of the Opera" in its various forms.

So...

Which available English translation is the closest to Leroux's intended style? I have the de Mattos translation, and am currently reading the Bair translation. I've heard good things about the Lofficier translation, and I know nothing about the new Ribière translation. In a perfect world, I would suddenly wake up fluent in French, and just read Leroux's original text. However...

Also, does anyone know which translation is the "Centennial Edition" being published by Signet Classics? Even if it's not the ideal translation, I really like the cover image I saw a few weeks ago, and will probably buy it just for that.

Thanks!

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Re: Which translation?

Post  IamErik771 on Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:22 pm

Thus far, I've only read DeMattos and Bair in full, plus bits of Wolf and Ribière. Based on what I've seen thus far, though, Ribière's is by far the best in terms of both readability and accuracy. A couple of our members got to attend a talk by her, and she seems to really understand the subtleties of what Leroux wanted to get across. It certainly helps that she's not only fluent in both French and English, but also a fan of many of the major adaptations. The Bair translation was pretty good too, I thought -- it's certainly far less abridged than DeMattos. (Though I've heard that there is an abridged version of Bair as well. I probably won't pick it up; I'm not really a fan of abridging classics, especially when they're already kinda short to begin with.)

The Signet Centennial Edition is definitely the DeMattos translation. I've got a copy myself, and I agree the cover is gorgeous. The translation and John L. Flynn's error-ridden introduction, though... not so much. But hey, it certainly is the edition of DeMattos to own.

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Re: Which translation?

Post  operafantomet on Sun Jul 18, 2010 4:24 pm

I own three different translations, one of them are the Ribière one, while I don't remember who did the other two. Therefore I'll come back to you with a better answer.

I was one of the people talking to Ribière, and her thoughts on Leroux and the novel was interesting. The point I liked the most was that she meant Leroux used Palais Garnier as a key character just as much as a setting, and that much of this was lost in every abridged version, where "random" opera house stuff often is cut. But by doing that, she said, they actually remove one of the key characters. When I read her translation with that in mind, I very much understood what she meant. I also think that's the aspect ALW's stage version got right. Hal Prince and Maria Bjørnson was very clear on the design being Palais Garnier, not some random opera house, and the sets plays an important role.

You can read more about our chat with her here:
http://desertedphans.forumotion.net/gaston-leroux-s-phantom-f3/the-new-penguin-translation-by-mireille-ribiere-t118.htm

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Re: Which translation?

Post  DSamuels90 on Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:59 am

Thanks for the replies. I've skimmed that thread; I'm planning to go back & actually READ it soon. I've added the Ribière translation to my Amazon wish list, so I can snag it when I've got some cash to burn.

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Re: Which translation?

Post  FdelOpera on Fri Nov 01, 2013 6:04 am

**PLEASE NOTE**: I cannot at this time recommend that people read Lowell Bair's translation. I will explain below.


I have recently purchased a 1926 French Photoplay edition of Le Fantôme de l'Opéra -- it is an edition of Leroux's novel, released just after the 1925 Lon Chaney movie, and contains stills from the film.

It also contains some subtle yet significant differences from the standard edition of Leroux's text (which is taken from the 1910 first edition).


For instance, in the Photoplay edition of Apollo's Lyre (which I've looked at first since the standard text is fresh in my mind), Christine says:

Pourquoi?... PARCE QUE JE L'AVAIS VU!!!

In the standard text, she says:

PARCE QUE JE L’AVAIS VU!!!

In the photoplay edition, "Pourquoi?..." is added to the text.


Later in the Photoplay edition, Christine says:

Il avoue son imposture. Il m'aime! Il met à mes pieds un immense et tragique amour!... Il m'a volée par amour!... mais il me respecte, mais il rampe, mais il gémit, mais il pleure!...

But in the standard edition, she says:

Il avoue son imposture. Il m’aime! Il met à mes pieds un immense et tragique amour !... Il m’a volée par amour!... Il m’a enfermée avec lui, dans la terre, par amour... mais il me respecte, mais il rampe, mais il gémit, mais il pleure!...

In the Photoplay edition, the line, "Il m’a enfermée avec lui, dans la terre, par amour..." is removed.


When I read this, something nagged at my brain, and I looked at Lowell Bair's translation.

In the first instance, he writes:

"Why? Because I'd seen him!"

This corresponds with the text from the Photoplay edition, not with the standard text, because "Why?" is added to the sentence.


In the second instance, he writes:

"He admitted his deceit. He said he loved me! He laid an immense, tragic love at my feet. He had abducted me out of love, but he respected me, he cringed before me, he moaned, he wept!"

This also corresponds with the Photoplay edition, since Bair does not include the line (bolded in French above), "He imprisoned me with him underground for love…"

It appears that Lowell Bair may have used a non-standard version of Leroux's text on which to base his translation.

I have not yet checked the rest of Bair's translation against the Photoplay and standard French editions of Leroux's text, but at least in this chapter, he is using the Photoplay text.

I do not know who edited the Photoplay edition, whether it was Leroux or someone else. However, since I do not know if the edits were made by Leroux himself, I cannot at this time recommend Lowell Bair's translation.

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Re: Which translation?

Post  FdelOpera on Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:49 pm

I just found a link to a scan/OCR of the 1926 Photoplay edition. I believe that this is the text that Lowell Bair used for his translation, based on the differences that I noticed in "Apollo's Lyre" between this edition and the standard edition. I do not know what other changes there are, but I assume that they exist.

http://www.gutenberg.ca/ebooks/lerouxg-fantomedelopera/lerouxg-fantomedelopera-00-h-dir/lerouxg-fantomedelopera-00-h.html


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Re: Which translation?

Post  FdelOpera on Sat Nov 02, 2013 2:37 am

I must reiterate even more strongly what I wrote earlier about Lowell Bair’s translation of Phantom of the Opera. Do not read his version if you want an accurate version of Phantom. I have discovered that his edition is even more abridged than I thought it was.

I shared my Lowell Bair discovery with another Leroux-loving friend of mine, and she and I have been looking through the text of the abridged French Photoplay edition that I described in my previous post. However, the version of Leroux’s text that Bair used for his translation appears to have been even more abridged than the Photoplay edition! Further, it appears to correspond to a version that was abridged from the Photoplay edition!

When my friend was in Paris a number of years ago, she stopped in a little bookshop and asked for anything by Leroux or Phantom-related. The bookseller had a little 1961 abridged edition of Le Fantôme de l’Opéra.

When I told my friend about the text changes from the abridged Photoplay edition, she decided, what the hell, to check her abridged version … and lo and behold, they were there. But then she started comparing the Photoplay edition to her edition more closely, and found that there were even *more* omissions in her edition. So then we checked her abridged French edition against Bair’s translation … and the omissions in her edition line up with Bair’s!

For instance, in the Photoplay edition (as in the unabridged version), Erik says:

Tu crois peut-être que j’ai encore un masque, hein? et que ça … ça! ma tête, c’est un masque? Eh bien, mais! se prit-il à hurler. Arrache-le comme l’autre!

But in her (doubly) abridged version, Erik says:

Tu crois peut-être que j’ai encore un masque? Eh bien, mais! se prit-il à hurler. Arrache-le comme l’autre!

And here’s the kicker!! Here’s what’s in Bair:

'Do you think I'm still wearing a mask? Well, then,' he bellowed, 'pull it off, the way you did the other one!' (this corresponds to the abridged text)

Even de Mattos (the translation that omits nearly 80 pages) writes:

'Perhaps you think that I have another mask, eh, and that this…this…my head is a mask? Well,’ he roared, `tear it off as you did the other!’ (this corresponds to the unabridged text)

Bair was using an abridgement OF an abridgement!

I have no idea why Lowell Bair used this doubly-abridged version of Leroux’s text to write his translation. But, like de Mattos, his edition is not to be trusted.

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