Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

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Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  IamErik771 on Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:08 pm

Hi, all!

I got a possibly crazy idea after seeing a post on a Les Misérables forum where someone showed quick and easy ways to identify the five most widely available English translations of Victor Hugo's novel using just the first sentence. (You can find that post here if you're curious... It doesn't include the newest translation by Christine Donougher since that debuted after that post, but hey.)

So after reading that, I began to wonder if the same could be done for the different English translations of Leroux's POTO. I have the de Mattos, Bair, and Ribière translations, and each renders the first sentence quite differently. Could anyone post the first sentences from the Wolf, Lofficier, and Coward translations (I *think* that's all there are) to compare to these?

de Mattos: "The Opera Ghost really existed."
Bair: "The ghost in the Paris Opera existed."
Ribière: "The Phantom of the Opera did exist."

Thanks, everyone! Very Happy


Last edited by IamErik771 on Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:08 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Wish to be notified when a reply is posted.)

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  LadyCDaae on Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:15 pm

Wolf: "The Phantom of the Opera existed."

That's about as basic as it gets.

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  Jennie on Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:33 pm

It's fascinating to see how differently an apparently simple phrase is translated/interpreted by different people!

You could look at the phrasing in the foreword too... (comparison courtesy of falluke-elskeren from  phantomoftheopera.com, - it's a compilation of Carrie Hernandez's notes and her own)

Avant-propos : Où l’auteur de ce singulier ouvrage raconte au lecteur comment il fut conduit à acquérir la certitude que le fantôme de l’Opéra a réellement existé

"TdM: Prologue : In which the author of this singular work informs the reader how he acquired the certainty that the opera ghost really existed

Bair: Foreword : In which the author of this singular work tells the reader how he was led to become certain that the opera ghost really existed

Wolf: Preface : in which the author of this singular work tells the reader how it was that he became persuaded that the phantom of the opera really existed

Lofficier: Foreword : In which the author of this peculiar work tells the reader how he acquired the certainty that the phantom of the opera really existed

Høyer: Indledning : i hvilken forfatteren til dette mærkelige værk fortæller læseren, hvorledes han fik vished for, at spøgelset i pariser-operaen virkelig eksisterede

Hornborg: Inledning : I vilken författaren av detta unika verk talar om för läsaren hur han blev säker på att operaspöket faktiskt existerade

Brems: Prolog : Hvor forfatteren til dette enestående værk fortæller læseren, hvordan han nåede til vished om, at fantomet i operaen virkelig eksisterede

"

I believe Scorp has read Coward's translation, unless I'm hallucinating about having seen that somewhere...

ETA: Peeked inside the preview thingie of Coward's translation on Amazon...

"There was truly a Phantom of the Opera."

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  Scorp on Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:24 pm

Jennie wrote:
I believe Scorp has read Coward's translation, unless I'm hallucinating about having seen that somewhere...

ETA: Peeked inside the preview thingie of Coward's translation on Amazon...

"There was truly a Phantom of the Opera."

I haven't read Coward's translation besides a few passages. I've read his introduction and annotations (which I don't rate). The translation itself seems more faithful generally to the original text than Ribière's, but although I own both (and the other translations), I haven't read any of them sufficiently to talk a great deal about their differences beyond what's well known...I just read the original text most of the time. Although I can say for sure that I think Wolf's translation is terrible. Wolf just isn't a translator and was out of his depth in attempting one seemingly unaided.

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  Raphael on Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:46 am

I still can't get over the fact that Wolf assumed Leroux's reference to Othello was Verdi's opera. I am not remotely knowledgeable about classical music and even I managed to figure out Verdi's Othello was preceded by Rossini's.

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  Jennie on Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:58 pm

I'm with Scorp, not reading Phantom in English... I've had a few peeks but get annoyed and bored and revert to the French. But I now actually own a version in English!! Found it last week in a "boot sale" in the cellar (!!!) of a small village shop, where my father was born! The village, not the shop, I hasten to add. It's got Chaney Erik on the cover, published by Warner.... it must be TdM.

But in defence of translations, bad or otherwise: it isn't easy to do Leroux justice, there are so many pitfalls to deal with. As I discovered when I rolled up my sleeves to put my money where my mouth was and actually have a go at translating myself. There is however, no defence for sloppiness.

Scorp, when you say that you "don't rate" the annotations in Coward's book, what do you mean? You don't "count them" or you don't want to say anything about them, or what? Am puzzled  Question  would appreciate clarification...

Back on-topic, the list of first sentences in the different versions:

de Mattos: "The Opera Ghost really existed."
Bair: "The ghost in the Paris Opera existed."
Ribière: "The Phantom of the Opera did exist."
Wolf: "The Phantom of the Opera existed."
Coward: "There was truly a Phantom of the Opera."

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  IamErik771 on Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:02 am

Thanks, everyone! It's neat to look at how much the translated versions vary even for that short, simple sentence. Still missing the version by Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, though (and I'm told that's more of an adaptation of the novel than a straight translation). Does anyone here happen to have it?

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  Jennie on Wed Jul 23, 2014 7:54 am

Yes, it is interesting how each translator turns out a different phrasing for that simple short sentence!

Now, when we've got Lofficier's translation, what shall we do next? Make our own suggestions for how we think it should be translated???  Laughing 


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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  Scorp on Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:36 am

Jennie wrote:

Scorp, when you say that you "don't rate" the annotations in Coward's book, what do you mean? You don't "count them" or you don't want to say anything about them, or what? Am puzzled  Question  would appreciate clarification...


As in I don't think they're great. There are quite a lot of errors. For example, he says that the first Laffitte edition was published in February 1910, that its cover was by Castaigne and that it included Castaigne's illustrations. None of these are true.

I own the Lofficiers' translation but I can't add to the above list for the moment, I'm afraid, since I don't have it to hand here in my apartment.

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  FdelOpera on Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:02 pm

IamErik771 wrote:Thanks, everyone! It's neat to look at how much the translated versions vary even for that short, simple sentence. Still missing the version by Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, though (and I'm told that's more of an adaptation of the novel than a straight translation). Does anyone here happen to have it?

I wouldn't bother with the Lofficier edition unless you can get a copy of it for free. You're right about it being an adaptation and not a translation. It's sad that the Lofficiers, being a bilingual French/American translation team, had the potential to create a definitive translation, and yet decided to "improve" on Leroux instead (like their whole wank about making Christine 17 at the time of the events). They also rendered Le Mystère de la chambre jaune in English, but I haven't gotten their version yet, so I'm not sure whether they did the same hack job there that they did with Phantom.

As for the other English translators, I'd recommend Coward's edition for the translation (it's by no means perfect, but it is actually unabridged, unlike Bair and Ribière, and it's reasonably accurate), and Ribière's edition for the annotations. As Scorp pointed out, Coward's annotations are often rubbish, though he is the only translator to mention the Gaulois serialization and "The Magic Envelope."

Ribière's annotations are better than Coward's, though they mostly consist of information you can find online if you search thoroughly enough, and she did unfortunately use the research that Operafantomet had given her on the Little Lotte poem without giving her any credit for it. Definitely don't read Ribière's edition for her translation -- despite the fact that she is a native French speaker, she has multiple mistranslations in her text. Plus, she condenses and paraphrases Leroux's language so much that she sometimes rivals de Mattos. Here's an example of this from Apollo's Lyre:

Leroux: Un soir enflammé de printemps les entourait. Des nuages, qui venaient de recevoir du couchant leur robe légère d’or et de pourpre, passaient lentement en la laissant traîner au-dessus des jeunes gens; et Christine dit à Raoul: «Bientôt, nous irons plus loin et plus vite que les nuages, au bout du monde, et puis vous m’abandonnerez, Raoul. Mais si, le moment venu pour vous de m’enlever, je ne consentais plus à vous suivre, eh bien, Raoul, vous m’emporteriez!»

My Translation: An evening ablaze with springtime surrounded them. Clouds, which had just received their delicate gown of gold and purple from the setting sun, passed slowly by, letting it trail above the two young people; and Christine said to Raoul: “Soon, we shall go farther and faster than the clouds, to the end of the world, and then you shall leave me, Raoul. But if, when the time comes for you to take me away, I no longer consent to follow you, well then, Raoul, you must carry me off!”

Ribière: It was a beautiful sunset ablaze with the colours of spring. Clouds, lightly clad in gold and purple by the setting sun, drifted slowly by. ‘Soon we shall flee far from here, further and faster than the clouds. And then you can leave me,’ Christine said to Raoul. ‘But, should I refuse to go with you when the time comes, take me away by force if need be.’

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  Jennie on Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:29 am

Scorp wrote:
Jennie wrote:

Scorp, when you say that you "don't rate" the annotations in Coward's book, what do you mean? You don't "count them" or you don't want to say anything about them, or what? Am puzzled  Question  would appreciate clarification...


As in I don't think they're great. There are quite a lot of errors. For example, he says that the first Laffitte edition was published in February 1910, that its cover was by Castaigne and that it included Castaigne's illustrations. None of these are true.

I own the Lofficiers' translation but I can't add to the above list for the moment, I'm afraid, since I don't have it to hand here in my apartment.

OK, thanks for explaining, I see what you mean.... I can imagine that they don't live up to the high standards set by the Academic world..... but basic facts should be correct.... It's easy to miss things, I've discovered some bloopers going through my own annotations, even though I thought I'd checked things three times over.  But the examples you give above are rather glaring...

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  MarySkater on Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:26 pm

Just a warning, if anyone wants to get Ribiere for the annotations: make sure you get the right edition.  I have a paperback Ribiere published by Penguin books which is not annotated.  (Cover mostly red, with a chandelier at the top and the silhouette of a man in a top hat at the bottom.)

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

Post  Jennie on Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:19 pm

FdelO, the blurb on Amazon about Lofficier's translation seems to be somewhat misleading....

"This classic 1911 novel of suspense and terror has been entirely retranslated and is now UNABRIDGED AND UNCUT!"

Amazon's capitalization and punctuation....

Falluke-elskeren and Carrie Hernandez see it more as an adaptation than a translation, and based on what I've read about it, I'd tend to agree.

There's nothing wrong with adaptations, re-workings etc etc, but they should be correctly described as such.

Carrie and falluke mention how the Lofficiers changed the grasshopper to a frog. This was to try to use at least SOMETHING of Leroux's play on words. A grasshopper jumps, the French verb "sauter" also means to explode or blow up. Impossible to translate straight across into English.. by using a frog instead, the Lofficiers could get SOME wordplay/punning into the context...

"The frog! Be careful of the frog! A frog does not only turn: it also croaks! It croaks! As we might all croak when all is said and done!" This is the kind of "poetic licence" I can accept, but it isn't always possible.

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Re: Handy Chart for Identifying Translations of Leroux.

Post  Blind Phan on Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:07 pm

Wow! You guys have done awesome work on this! Thanks!

FdelOpera, I love your translation of that passage! Beautiful!

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Re: Handy chart for identifying translations of Leroux

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