>I took Huysmans’s best-known book, “Against the Grain,” with me to my daughter’s gymnastics practice and sat on the benches, drinking coffee from a plastic cup and reading while she somersaulted about on the mats below along with perhaps a score of other 10-year-old girls, in a harsh and glaring light as one hit song after another blared out of the public address system.
> The novel closes with him looking forward in time, to the conversion ceremony of his own submission to Islam, a travesty of Huysmans’s conversion to Catholicism, not because François becomes a Muslim rather than a Catholic, but because his submission is pragmatic, without flame, superficial, whereas Huysmans’s was impassioned, anguished, a matter of life and death.
>rather it is strikingly ordinary, sauntering in a way, slightly disharmonious and irregular in rhythm, untidy even, as if the author lacks full mastery of the language or is unused to writing. >talking rhythm about a translation That day a hack reviewed a hack.
"Can Lorin Stein Translate Michel Houellebecq Into a Great Writer?"
>Take, for example, the last lines of the book:
>>Un peu comme cela s’était produit, quelques années auparavant, pour mon père, une nouvelle chance s’offrirait à moi …
>Stein translates it as:
>>Rather like my father a few years before, I’d be given another chance …
>The direct translation of Houellebecq’s phrase above is “much like it happened, a few years before, for my father, a new chance would be given to me.” The halting rhythm seems unnecessary and Stein rightly smoothens it out. Stein also breaks up Houellebecq’s run-on constructions. Where Houellebecq uses one sentence, Stein will make it two. Where Houellebecq uses two sentences, Stein turns it into four.
>Stein’s cleaning up of the text makes it easier to read, but it also changes the flow established by Houellebecq. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Houellebecq might be pleased to see these changes, viewing them as valuable improvements. Or perhaps not. Perhaps he would have preferred his errors to remain. Translation quickly shows itself to be a multibranched decision tree, and these kinds of issues sprout from all sides.
>>7316327 >>7316337 >>7316633 this is interesting actually, i've read houellebecq only in english and consider myself a fan, but i'd definitely be able to believe that the tone of his novels is a result of the translation
>>7316337 >The halting rhythm seems unnecessary and Stein rightly smoothens it out. >rightly Regardless of whether or not it comes out better, it's not their right to take liberty with it. This is why I hate translations - you never know, without extensive research, if the translator is taking more liberty than they should with the work. If Houellebecq's prose is ugly, let it be fucking ugly.
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