Reading Proust's In Search of Lost Time in 2014 discussion

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message 1: by Joni (new)

Joni Cornell | 27 comments Hello
Wondering about your reasons for sticking to the older translation, rather than the more recent by Penguin.
Cheers
Joni


message 2: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Hi Joni, I can't say why the Moncrieff/Kilmartin/Enright (MKE) version was chosen as such as I'm not the moderator, but I agree with the choice. I guess some reasons may be that some people may already have copies, they're probably easier to obtain from libraries or second-hand bookshops etc.

Personally I don't particularly like the idea of each volume being translated by a different person so I decided to avoid the Penguin versions myself - though I have read that the Penguin Vol.1 is particularly good.

In the end I hope it shouldn't make too much difference which translation everyone reads, though it might be interesting comparing them.

Do you plan to read all the Penguin versions? Have you read any Proust before?


message 3: by Joni (new)

Joni Cornell | 27 comments Hi Jonathan
I've started on the Moncrieff et al. version several times and didn't get beyond the first twenty pages (so not even up to the famous passage about the madeleine dipped in tea). My partner had picked up Vol 5 of the Penguin edition from a friend of his, which I had kept on my bedside table for almost ten months, before I started reading it several weeks ago.

I agree with you about the different translators, as I found the tone of The Prisoner much different to The Fugitive, (but that may have been the case in the original). I've started on The Way by Swann's and again that's also different, and much more 'readable'. I'll probably continue with the Penguin translations. Maybe the different translators don't matter as there are so many inconsistencies in the original text or the way a character behaves (and life is like that – inconsistent and contrary). I would have liked Lydia Davis to have done the whole 9,000 pages but perhaps that would have meant the Penguin edition would have taken ages to complete. I had done a little research about what was the best translation to read, and someone I came across suggested starting on Lydia Davis and then reading the rest in Moncrieff translation.

I also think that the book Paintings in Proust would be a wonderful companion, and that book uses the Moncrieff. I’ve found an extract of the book on line which helps my reading with The Way by Swann’s.

I came to Proust by way of Alain de Botton, though it's such a flimsy book. I'm coming to a little understanding (after almost 900 pages of reading)...Proust is a sensibility, not only to take your time but to consider your choices (the titles come from walks in Marcel’s childhood at Combray - to go the way by Swann's or the way by Guermantes’ which is longer)...so to even engage in a discussion about translations before the exercise of reading begins, is Proustian. ;-) At the moment I’m going the way by Lydia Davis…


message 4: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
I've also come across the suggestion of reading the Penguin vol.1 then switching to MKE. At least the translation 'problem' doesn't seem too bad with Proust. I recently finished Zola's Rougon-Macquart series and the translation issue was a real minefield.

I've also been reading 'around' Proust lately; I recently read the Alain de Botton book, Embracing the Ordinary: Lessons From the Champions of Everyday Life and I've had a look at the 'Paintings in Proust' book in my library which looks really useful...and beautiful. I've also got Marcel Proust's Search for Lost Time: A Reader's Guide to The Remembrance of Things Past which I'm hoping to start before the new year.

I haven't read Proust before but I get the feeling that it's not to be rushed. I'm looking forward to getting stuck in.


message 5: by Joni (new)

Joni Cornell | 27 comments Wow lots of prep - like the marathon man and let's face it Proust is like taking on a marathon in reading.


message 6: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
I'm preparing a cork-lined reading room as well. :-)


message 7: by Alia (new)

Alia (maripoezia) I plan on reading the older translation because I want to get the Modern Library set. It just seemed most convenient. I started reading the newer translation several years ago but I got about 200 pages in. I quite enjoyed what I read, but I think at the time I was a bit overwhelmed by the length. I created the group for all of those who want to savor literature and read Proust together. I think it will be a blast! I'll be posting more over the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm swamped and haven't had time to update. Feel free to read any edition you want. I'll be posting a general guide within the next week.


message 8: by Joni (new)

Joni Cornell | 27 comments @ Jonathan, I feel that is wrong (here I am imagining a place where you’re going to seal yourself off, which may not be your intention at all – cork lined? What happens to consciousness in a cork-lined room? Sorry but for me I can only imagine it as brown, boring and dry. Proust looked out the windows often). And with reading Proust you need lots of windows from which to look out and up from the words/or at least a dog with which to distract you, not to mention people passing by and gossiping. Lots of breathing for your eyes between sentences, paragraphs and in between sections though sometimes Proust doesn’t give you enough of that (particularly so in The Prisoner, reading I felt a prisoner of the text just waiting for the next full stop). I find the best books send you into your own reveries or madly looking about for that recipe for the meal that you've just savoured through the words. Though I haven't been successful with cooking madeleines (they were rather dry and definitely in need of soaking in a cup of tea but I do intend to try again)...as for the perfume of asparagus in a chamber pot, well I know about that! Though I would not call it perfume and at the back of my mind I’m thinking of that lovely asparagus that I saw at the supermarket last week and what I could do with asparagus as they are in season(but I don’t want to spoil it for you and others, though the madeleine and asparagus bits are well known). I’m going to aim to incorporate reading Proust into the very fabric of my mundane daily existence, as well as the making of some art works – because Proust is a phenomenologist and he encourages the same activity in his readers.
So when you sit there with the paintings book beside you Jonathan at least you can take a break from the words and focus on the image. Don't forget to take that into the cork-lined room ;-)...


@Alia, thanks for the clarification. Don’t know about blast but he definitely makes you stop and think, dream, or reassess your own memories…Looking forward to the posts…


message 9: by Guy (last edited Nov 27, 2013 07:48AM) (new)

Guy Like Alia, I began Proust at one point, so I'm hoping the group will help keep me on focus.

I have the 3-volume Vintage--Moncrieff/Kilmartin edition bought a long time ago.

Thanks Alia, for your time and effort. I saw a Proust 2013 reading group about a month or so ago, and by then the ship had sailed....

I also bought a kindle version because it's so easy to find a particular word if you're looking for it--beats wading through 1000s of pages.


message 10: by Sunny (new)

Sunny (travellingsunny) This group read will be my first experience with Proust. I'm curious, but can't bring myself to invest in the more expensive "better" translations. So, a couple of months ago, I purchased the Lulu.com ebook for $3.99. I purchased it through Barnes and Noble, and it is still for sale at that price, if anyone is interested. Also, there is a 'preview' option on the site, so I'd be very interested to hear how it compares to the pricier versions.

The link to the version I'll be reading is HERE.


message 11: by Alia (new)

Alia (maripoezia) It's so cool seeing the discussions starting a month before we begin. I'm excited! I just posted the reading schedule, and I started an Introductions folder if anyone wants to introduce themselves.


message 12: by Sunny (new)

Sunny (travellingsunny) Wow! Thanks for all of that hard work, Alia!


message 13: by Marcelita (last edited Dec 09, 2013 09:31AM) (new)

Marcelita Swann | 246 comments Guy wrote: "Like Alia, I began Proust at one point, so I'm hoping the group will help keep me on focus.

I have the 3-volume Vintage--Moncrieff/Kilmartin edition bought a long time ago..."


I have both the 3-volume Vintage and the Modern Library w/ Kindle, but I want to read William C. Carter's newly edited and annotated "Swann's Way."

It is the only annotated volume in English.
Yale University Press is going to annotate all the volumes, so "Within a Budding Grove" should be out next year.


http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?is...
http://www.amazon.com/Swanns-Way-Sear...


message 14: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Given that we're about to read a translated work by a French author, members may find this article interesting - it's about the state of current French publishing.


message 15: by Marcelita (new)

Marcelita Swann | 246 comments The first review of the English translation in 'The Nation' in 1921.

"Even our first review of his work, in the December 7, 1921, issue, recognized the permanent impact the Recherche would have upon world literature." KvH http://thenation.s3.amazonaws.com/pdf...

From:
"This Week in ‘Nation’ History: 100 Years of Writing About Marcel Proust’s ‘Almost Wizard Power’" by Katrina vanden Heuvel
http://www.thenation.com/blog/177500/...


message 16: by midnightfaerie (new)

midnightfaerie | 18 comments After looking at various translations, I've opted for the definitive French Pleiade edition translated by Moncrieff and Kilmartin. Can I just say that I am so excited?

@Jonathan - you must have at least 1 window in your cork-lined room. I entirely agree with Joni.


message 17: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
midnightfaerie wrote: "@Jonathan - you must have at least 1 window in your cork-lined room. I entirely agree with Joni. "

No! No windows. I'm getting ready to lock myself in. :-)

I nearly started reading Proust today but stopped myself - I've decided that I'm going to start on 1st January...


message 18: by Alia (new)

Alia (maripoezia) I'm going to start tonight I think.


message 19: by Joni (new)

Joni Cornell | 27 comments Proust was a Dalai Lama ;-)
http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/... (contains some spoilers...but come on one doesn't read Proust for the plot)
@ Jonathon, the fact that you're part of a reading group, reading Proust, means that you're not totally alone, sealed in your cork lined room. Neither was Proust - think of all those characters, all those situations, not to mention those works of art inhabiting his head and soul, and thus his room - so lots of windows in fact, open ...
I think Proust would have loved the world wide web...


message 20: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Proust's cork-lined room always seems like a dream to me. When I read books, either at home, or commuting, I have to cope with people talking, phones ringing, people talking to me, electric drills, car alarms going off, the tv, radio, music blaring, the door bell ringing etc. etc. The thought of actually reading a book in solitude is an unrealistic dream...the cork-lined room looks very appealing.

When are you starting Joni?


message 21: by Joni (new)

Joni Cornell | 27 comments Hi Jonathon, I've already read the first & fifth volumes of In Search Of in the last couple of months and I had meant to start re-reading the first again after the New Year. I've just completed "Emma" and to my astonishment realized at the very last that one of the characters Mrs Weston has a baby and I'm trying to work out how it came about (her pregnancy was never mentioned between characters who are always gossiping or have an opinion about each other – how could I have missed it? Did early 19th cent women just pop them out without anyone, including the husband, noticing the pregnancy? At first it crossed my mind that the baby was adopted) “Emma” has prevented me from getting stuck into Paintings in Proust and now I have this dilemma of trying to come to terms with an enigmatic pregnancy – and search out whether other readers have been as equally surprised. So distractions…
I can’t abide noise when I read. I try and read when I get into bed when the house is fairly quiet (there may be the football playing on the TV downstairs but not loud enough to prevent my hearing an owl’s hooting or a possum’s scratching, the favourite part of the day for me) but lately I get into bed and before I have read a few pages my eyes are closing and so I give into sleep. There's a lot to be said for insomnia! I have signed myself up to the group “Brain Pain” as well – I don’t know how I’m going to fit it all in, unless I have a serious bout of insomnia. I may have to drop out of “Brain Pain” though I had looked forward to reading more from Virginia Woolf and Susan Sontag. Funnily enough I have joined these two groups on Goodreads because I want to be accompanied in my reading. I couldn’t have coped with a cork lined room and too much solitude.


message 22: by Margherita (new)

Margherita | 3 comments I always wonder what we miss with translations. Anyone trying to read it in French?


message 23: by Audrey (new)

Audrey G. Perreault (audrey_gperreault) | 3 comments Margherita wrote: "I always wonder what we miss with translations. Anyone trying to read it in French?"

I am reading it in french... never tried in English though. I'm not sure I can tell you what you are missing, but if you have questions about the original version, feel free to ask!


message 24: by Margherita (new)

Margherita | 3 comments Audre, years ago I read it in Italian (my native language), which I think it's closer to French than English. I think this time I'll try French, if I can find an e-book edition. I used to read French, but I am very rusty. Let's see how it goes...


message 25: by Audrey (new)

Audrey G. Perreault (audrey_gperreault) | 3 comments Margherita wrote: "Audre, years ago I read it in Italian (my native language), which I think it's closer to French than English. I think this time I'll try French, if I can find an e-book edition. I used to read Fren..."

I have the Pléaide edition which is very good, but not very convenient as I'm travelling a lot lately. I bought a Kindle edition at 2.04$ and I haven't seen big differences with the Pléiade. Good luck and tell me if you need help!


message 26: by Margherita (new)

Margherita | 3 comments I bought an e-book (e-artwork) from iBooks. It looks quite good and it has a French (to french) dictionary, which is very useful. It will probably be a slower reading, but I am really enjoying it! I'll ask you if I have any question. Thanks.


message 27: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Is anyone reading the Penguin translations?

I decided to go for the Enright revisions of Moncrieff & Kilmartin (the MKE versions available in Vintage UK) but about a quarter of the way into Vol2 I'm curious and got the Penguin version from the library today. I was partly curious because Vol1 of the Penguin was generally praised and Vol2 was dismissed - can it really be so bad?

I'm not so sure...in fact it looks quite good. Compare the MKE opening sentence:
My mother, when it was a question of our having M. de Norpois to dinner for the first time, having expressed her regret that Professor Cottard was away from home and that she herself had quite ceased to see anything of Swann, since either of these might have helped to entertain the ex-ambassador, my father replied that so eminent a guest, so distinguished a man of science as Cottard could never be out of place at a dinner-table, but that Swann, with his ostentation, his habit of crying aloud from the house-tops the name of everyone he knew, however slightly, was a vulgar show-off whom the Marquis de Norpois would be sure to dismiss as - to use his own epithet - a "pestilent" fellow.
And the opening sentence in the Penguin edition by James Grieve:
When it was first suggested we invite M. de Norpois to dinner, my mother commented that it was a pity Professor Cottard was absent from Paris and that she herself had quite lost touch with Swann, either of whom the former ambassador would have been pleased to meet; to which my father replied that although a guest as eminent as Cottard, a scientific man of some renown, would always be an asset at one's dinner-table, the Marquis de Norpois would be bound to see Swann, with his showing-off and his name-dropping, as nothing but a vulgar swank, 'a rank outsider' as he would put it.
Now, to me, the Penguin one reads easier and clearer than the MKE version. It condenses the bit about 'shouting names from the house-tops' to 'name-dropping' - but then which one is closer to the original? But I preferred the 'pestilent fellow' in the MKE to the 'rank outsider' in the Penguin.

I may read and compare further sections but my first impressions is that the Penguin version is slightly better than MKE....hmmmm.


message 28: by Andree (new)

Andree Laganiere | 52 comments Jonathan wrote: "Is anyone reading the Penguin translations?

I decided to go for the Enright revisions of Moncrieff & Kilmartin (the MKE versions available in Vintage UK) but about a quarter of the way into Vol2 ..."


The Penguin version is certainly clearer and easier to read, however I wonder how faithful it is to Proust's somewhat convoluted (and not so easy to read, even in French) syntax. But then, I doubt that any agreement will ever be reached as to what is the mission of the translator: to remain as faithful as possible to the original or to create a readable text in the language of translation? The discussion has been out for quite some time now.


message 29: by Andree (new)

Andree Laganiere | 52 comments Margherita wrote: "I always wonder what we miss with translations. Anyone trying to read it in French?"

I only read it in French, since it's my mother tongue, but I also read parts of the Moncrieff's translation. Of course, something is always lost in translation, but if there is one thing which I liked in the translation is that it is somehow more readable than the original. Since the exercise of translating first implies an understanding of the text, the end result is often a clarification of the original. It might make a dent in Proust's syntax, but it's not necessarily a bad thing unless your goal in reading La recherche is to study its grammatical structure.


message 30: by Andree (new)

Andree Laganiere | 52 comments I had a proustian moment, at yoga of all places. As we were in a twisted seating position, I found myself concentrating on a small window, pierced at floor level in the yoga studio. It overlooked a white wall and window across the street, upon which the sun painted a brighter triangular panel, as the shutter was left in semi-shadow. I immediately felt an "obscure sense of pleasure" and thought of the steeples of Martinville and Vieuxvicq. Like Proust's steeples, the white wall and shutter implied "that something more lay behind (...) that luminosity, something which they seemed at once to contain and to conceal." Did it awaken a memory that I was incapable to unearth? Possibly. But I had no such redemptive moment as Proust's, did not write a "little fragment (...) to appease my conscience and to satisfy my enthusiasm", I simply moved out of the position and never got to feel like "a hen (that) had just laid an egg" or "began to sing at the top of my voice", but the pleasure, if fugitive, was real.


message 31: by Jonathan (last edited Mar 15, 2014 11:50AM) (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Andree wrote: "But then, I doubt that any agreement will ever be reached as to what is the mission of the translator: to remain as faithful as possible to the original or to create a readable text in the language of translation? The discussion has been out for quite some time now. "

Yes translation is quite an art in itself and I don't think translators get praised enough. For the record, both the MKE version and the Penguin version are perfectly readable, it just looks like the Penguin version is more approachable.

I read Vol1 MKE and had no trouble with it; the convoluted sentences I accepted as Proust's style but I'm starting to wonder if Moncrieff accentuated it. I was intrigued in at least looking at the Penguin translation because I'd heard some bad comments about Grieve's translation. I'm not totally sure where I heard them, but I think this was mostly from people who read the Penguin Vol1 and didn't like the shift in style...perhaps!

When I read Vol1 I essentially read it twice - re-reading that week's material before moving on. I haven't done that with Vol2 because I've found it more straightforward; but whilst reading this week's quota I've found it handy being able to refer to the Penguin translation whenever I come across one of Proust's 'tricky sentences' - I may use this dual approach in future as I'm finding it quite useful. It's a bit like getting a second opinion when I start to doubt if I've interpreted the sentence correctly.


message 32: by Jonathan (last edited Mar 22, 2014 06:18AM) (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Andree wrote: "I had a proustian moment, at yoga of all places. As we were in a twisted seating position, I found myself concentrating on a small window, pierced at floor level in the yoga studio. It overlooked ..."

You should've written a 3,000 page novel about it. :-)

It is smells that have a strange effect on me - they remind me of things in the past and I can't always 'place' them. Sometimes I 'remember' a smell and can't place it to anything or anywhere. I think music would have a similar effect if we didn't have the ability to record music.


message 33: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Ok, so I decided to read the Penguin translations instead of the MKE translation as the Penguin ones looked more readable. Before I switched I did notice that dialogue was indicated with a hyphen (-) rather than the double quotes ("). Now this is a bit strange but I've seen this in a few translations, especially Penguin ones. So, I'm not sure, has there been some international agreement to do away with speech marks and to switch over to hyphens?

So what difference does it make? Am I being some old stick-in-the-mud? Possibly, but this is, in my opinion, where the Penguin translation fails terribly. Compare the MKE translation for some dialogue at Bloch's party in Vol. 2 (Vintage p.407-8, approx. p.482 in ML):
"Is he a really amazing cove, this Bergotte? Is he in the category of the great johnnies, chaps like Villiers and Catulle?"

"I've met him several times at dress rehearsals", said M. Nissim Bernard. "He's an uncouth creature, a sort of Schlemihl."

There was nothing very serious in this allusion to Chamisso's story, but the epithet "Schlemihl" formed part of that dialect, half-German, half-Jewish, which delighted M. Bloch in the family circle, but struck him as vulgar and out of place in front of strangers. And so he cast a reproving glance at his uncle.

"He has talent," said Bloch.

"Ah!" said his sister gravely, as though to imply that in that case there was some excuse for me.

"All writers have talent," said M. Bloch scornfully.

"In fact it appears," went on his son, raising his fork and screwing up his eyes with an air of diabolical irony, "that he is going to put up for the Academy."

"Go on. He hasn't enough to show them," replied his father, who seemed not to have for the Academy the same contempt as his sons and daughters. "He hasn't the necessary calibre."
Now this reads ok, we know who is saying what etc. And it's clearer on the page as it has the proper indents. Now compare this with the Penguin version (p.354):
'Is this Bergotte customer really an outstanding sort of a cove? I mean, is he one of your Villiers or your Catulles, really big customers like that? - I've met him, at a few first nights, said M. Nissim Bernard. He's awkward, a sort of Peter Schlemihl.' M. Bloch had nothing against this reference to the Count von Chamisso; but the mention of a word like 'Schlemihl' , though it belonged to the sort of semi-German, semi-Jewish dialect which delighted him within the family circle, he thought was vulgar and out of keeping when spoken in front of strangers. He shot a dark look at his uncle. 'He does have some talent, Bloch said. - Oh, I see, the sister replied, in a very sober voice, as though meaning that in that case I was to be excused. - All writers have some talent, M. Bloch senior said scornfully. - It's even being said,' said the son, brandishing his fork and screwing his eyes into a diabolically ironic expression, 'that he's going to present himself for election to the Académie française! - Oh, for goodness sake! The man's a light-weight!' replied M. Bloch senior, who seemed not to hold the Académie in such low esteem as his sons and daughters.
Is it just me, or is this a bloody mess? I just can't understand why they would deliberately avoid speech marks and then mix up hyphens and single quotes and then put it in a huge block of text. When I was reading it I had to refer to the Vintage version to work out who was saying what. And it's such a shame because if it were sorted out it would actually read better than the MKE version.


message 34: by Andree (new)

Andree Laganiere | 52 comments Jonathan wrote: "Ok, so I decided to read the Penguin translations instead of the MKE translation as the Penguin ones looked more readable. Before I switched I did notice that dialogue was indicated with a hyphen (..."

As a book editor, I'll certainly agree with you that the Penguin version has a very odd way to punctuate dialogue.


message 35: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Andree wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "Ok, so I decided to read the Penguin translations instead of the MKE translation as the Penguin ones looked more readable. Before I switched I did notice that dialogue was indicate..."

It is odd, isn't it? Especially when they have a pair of single quotes that includes speech from one person, then a bit of text, then a bit of speech from someone else (indicated with a hyphen).

I think it's particularly annoying because I started to read the Penguin translation of 'Madame Bovary' today and it's in the same format - though not quite as bad.


message 36: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Baker | 29 comments I think they're just sticking closer to what Proust does in French. Quotes run together all the time, and you have to scrutinize symbols like this -- to figure out who's talking. Sometimes I realize at the end of a paragraph that I had the characters backwards.

Some modern writers take this further, removing most of the punctuation. Cormac McCarthy does this, and for me it brings attention to the word choice. It's like the barest of frames that enhances a photo.

But in Proust, it doesn't have that same quality, at least for me. I'd take a clear lay-out any day. I can't figure out why Proust didn't choose one. Perhaps it cost more money to typeset all of that text over 3,000 pages (which would become 4,000 if they laid it out clearly).


message 37: by Andree (new)

Andree Laganiere | 52 comments Stephen wrote: "I think they're just sticking closer to what Proust does in French. Quotes run together all the time, and you have to scrutinize symbols like this -- to figure out who's talking. Sometimes I realiz..."

As I am checking in La Pléiade's version of La recherche, I notice that the dialogues' punctuation corresponds to the MKE version rather than the Penguin's, meaning: quotation marks, hyphens and a change of line for each speaker. No space between quotes though.
That might not be the case for all French versions though and, as Stephen says, saving paper and money might very well be the issue.


message 38: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Baker | 29 comments In my Flammarion, it's all jammed together in massive paragraphs. That's why I prefer reading it on the Kindle or apps. You can blow up the writing and not be daunted by that blocks of gray.


message 39: by Andree (new)

Andree Laganiere | 52 comments Stephen wrote: "In my Flammarion, it's all jammed together in massive paragraphs. That's why I prefer reading it on the Kindle or apps. You can blow up the writing and not be daunted by that blocks of gray."

Isn't that strange...I have two other Gallimard editions and the dialogues are the same as in La Pléiade which, I believe, must be the most faithful to Proust's original text.
I guess Flammarion must be hurting...
I cannot imagine reading dialogues all bunched up like that. Proust is already difficult enough to read as it is.


message 40: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
I've downloaded a free French edition for Kindle (bibebook edition) to compare. So for the first block of text from the original examples I gave, we have:
«Est-ce un coco vraiment étonnant, ce Bergotte? Est-il de la catégorie des grands bonshommes, des cocos comme Villiers ou Catulle? - Je l'ai rencontré à plusiers générales, dit M. Nissim Bernard. Il est gauche, c'est une espèce de Schlemihl.»
So, as far as I can tell (with my virtually non-existent French) the Penguin version matches the layout pretty closely, where the single quote just replaces the « symbols. But is this 'normal' French punctuation or is it 'experimental'? If it's normal then I would expect a translator to use normal English punctuation as a replacement, but if it is 'experimental' then I guess it's a bit more tricky - does the translator just repeat the original punctuation or try to find an equivalent 'unusual' style?

BTW I quite like experimental styles and punctuation, e.g. Céline, Hubert Selby, James Kelman are authors that spring to mind. When done well it can add greatly to the reading of a novel. I just don't like it when the sole purpose is to cause confusion when clarity is what is preferred.


message 41: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Ok, as we're now on Vol.4 I thought I'd add a little more on translations as I always seem to get bogged down with this issue.

Quick recap: I started off with the Vintage MKE (Enright's revision of Kilmartin's revision of the Montcrieff translation) translation for Vol.1 but decided to switch to the Penguin translation for Vol.2 & Vol.3.

I quickly realised though that one drawback (for me) with the Penguin translation was the issue with dialogue - see earlier posts. Now, as far as I can tell, it seems to follow Proust's original style but in the end I prefer the fact that the MKE verion sorts out all the confusion. I've been getting round this by loaning a copy of the MKE version from the library and using it to help out with any confusion that arises. This has actually been quite useful as it's a bit like getting a second opinion on the text.

The thing is that with the Penguin 'Sodom and Gomorrah' I've been really unimpressed with the translation style, which often seems fussy and unnecessarily convoluted when compared to MKE. There's also quite a lot of dialogue in the party scenes and I find myself referring more and more to the MKE version to help me sort out who's saying what or if it's dialogue or narration. But there also seem to be quite a lot of typos (kindle version) as well that make some of the sentences almost gibberish. It's almost as if Penguin couldn't be bothered as no-one was going to get that far any way!

Take this sentence from the first page of the volume where the narrator has just mentioned that he moved from his vantage point upstairs to the staircase in order to look out on the courtyard. In the MKE version the sentence reads:
I rather missed my Alpine eyrie
whereas the Penguin version has:
I a little regretted ending my sojourn on high.
Now does that just sound crap to others as well as to me? There were other examples but I got bored with highlighting them as I just wanted to read the bloody thing.

The other Penguins read really well but with this one I'm thinking of switching back to the MKE as my main text. One advantage of the Penguin version is that they have quite a lot of notes which are actually helpful.


message 42: by Marcelita (last edited Jul 10, 2014 06:31AM) (new)

Marcelita Swann | 246 comments Jonathan wrote: "Ok, as we're now on Vol.4 I thought I'd add a little more on translations as I always seem to get bogged down with this issue.

Quick recap: I started off with the Vintage MKE (Enright's revision o..."


My personal favorite, and the one the The Proust Society of America-New York uses, is the MK.
Bill Carter and The Proust Society of America-Boston uses the MKE.

This is why Yale University Press has contracted William (Bill) C. Carter to revise the Moncreiff original and annotate the first English edition.
http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/bo...

Notes/annotations are critical for a better understanding of the novel's layers.

Definitely switch back.
"I rather missed my Alpine eyrie" has more of a Proustian voice to me.

Alas, those of us cursed to read MP only in translation miss so much of the musical quality in the French. (Not even counting the annotations in the French editions.)


message 43: by Renato (new)

Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
That's why in some years I'll read it all again in French! :)


message 44: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Yes, whenever I read French authors I think to myself 'why don't I just learn to read French?' - I mean I'll always be useless at speaking French, but reading French may be manageable...well, maybe next year...


message 45: by Renato (new)

Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "Proust's cork-lined room always seems like a dream to me. When I read books, either at home, or commuting, I have to cope with people talking, phones ringing, people talking to me, electric drills,..."

I know this is such an old post but I've never read this full thread before. I found a solution that works for myself: I downloaded an app with lots of sounds (ocean, rain forests, train ride, birds, crickets, thunderstorm etc), so whenever i'm in a noisy place, I just put on my headphones and am able to concentrate on my reading. :)


message 46: by Dave (new)

Dave Holmes (adh3) | 779 comments I'm fortunate to be retired so I read in the modern equivalent of a cork lined room. I'm looking forward to reading the Carter biography though so I can learn more weird-living tips from Proust to freak out my wife and children. I remember one of the French Symbolist poets, who wished to be eccentric, used to walk a lobster on a pale blue ribbon in one of Paris' parks. I will name my lobster Marcel!


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