The ‘Mouthfeel’ of Translation

"I'm sorry, that number is ex-directory. What might this tell us about the incompleteness of history, and the impossibility of objective truth?"

This post is probably just as well suited to a tweet, so I invite you to parse any excessive verbiage as shameless breakage of the 140 character limit, and a sort of poor justification for blogging. Excellent.

I’d probably read Julian Barnes’s transcription of the phonebook, so his essay in the most recent LRB was a pleasure. Ostensibly a review of Lydia Davis’s new translation of Madame Bovary (he doesn’t like it), it’s also a lovely expression of the problems of translation. Coming from a noted Francophile, Barnes’s objection to Davis is perhaps surprising – it sticks too closely to the original French, rendering Flaubert’s supple prose stiff and clumsy in English. Go read. The review, that is, but if you haven’t alsoread the novel already – where have you been?


3 thoughts on “The ‘Mouthfeel’ of Translation

  1. I have Lydia Davis’ new transation on order (its published by Penguin on 25 November). Perhaps I’ll consider cancelling, but I’d like to read MB again anyway. Interesting article

  2. Pingback: Translated From The Italian « @Number 71

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