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The novel, which deals with censorship in pre-Quiet Revolution Quebec, was itself subject to indirect censorship: Quebec publisher Pierre Tisseyre initially turned it down to avoid confronting the moral authorities. While a new title might have sparked fresh interest in the work, it would also have also caused confusion for future readers. Modifying the title of a previously translated work is always highly sensitive, and even more so with a classic.
I did consider changing the title but decided it was not worth it. The translation was very well done. But when I reread the translation alongside the French, I felt that certain areas called for revision. As Le libraire was turning fifty, the time seemed right to revisit the translation.
Capharnaum is the Greek name of Capernaum, a fishing village on the Bewsette of Galilee where Jesus exercised his ministry. It struck me that Jodoin had been given a rather British voice. This may have been justified at a time nessette the British presence in Canada was still strong. Understandable, then, but problematic.
Jodoin is not British; he is French Canadian. Rereading the original French, I found that in fact the tone was very oral. Le libraire feels more like a dialogue than a true stream of consciousness, as if Jodoin were ironically recounting his petty adventures lubraire another person. The distinction between these two discursive modes was subtle but, in my view, critical. To convey this difference I paid particular attention to the oral nature of the libraier, which includes countless passages of dialogue.
I brought in more up-to-date, North-American words and expressions where appropriate. Jodoin may exhibit a certain childish playfulness but he is a mature, cynical, middle-aged man. Jodoin may be negative but he never fully gives up bessetge himself or life, and remains highly sensitive to the power of language. He is a man of few words, carefully weighed, especially when dealing with the priest.
By unwittingly subverting what constitutes a censored book, and normal behaviour, Jodoin plays on relativism and the idea that words are always subject to context. Words do not always communicate precisely what they are intended to libfaire, and so they are subject to interpretation. The linguistic sparring match between Jodoin and the priest evokes the question of translation as an interpretative gesture that must take into libaire a number of variables such as double entendres to determine the exact meaning, or meanings, of any given utterance.
But working with his text proved an interesting, fruitful experience. His translation served as a model against which to compare various ways of translating ideas and expressions, and a yardstick against bessrtte to gauge the consistency of changes I made to the text.
Always an issue in translation, consistency is of paramount importance when revising a classic, because earlier translations affect how the new text is experienced.
With Le libraire I constantly sought to understand where Shortliffe was coming from, in terms of the original, while attending to how his translation, and now mine, would affect both considered interpretations and superficial readings of the novel. Knowing that a novel is a translation does not detract from the work, to my mind; rather, it reminds readers that language constitutes and bessetye shapes our thoughts. Several people have asked me whether I would make the same choices if I had it to do over again.
I believe I would. Too many new translations seem undertaken in response to spurious critiques or without due recognition of previous versions. To revive classics or works that merit greater or renewed attention we must value the efforts of past translators while catering to contemporary readers. Should all translations be revised translations? There are poor translations out there that are simply beyond repair.
Indeed, looking back, I see that further refinements could be made to the text. From Not For Bessetye Eye. The more I write, the livraire time I fill in. And can librairee Sunday ever be long! Especially as I wake up on that day just as early, if not earlier, since the taverns close right libraore midnight on Saturdays. Once my breakfast is dispatched, Bromo-Seltzer, Safe-All salts, tomato juice, and two bananas eaten in my room I have nothing more to do.
And so, I work on this journal.
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To think that it took four Sundays of nauseating boredom before this even occurred to me! No point dwelling on it. So far, this journal has been effective.
Besides, she never stays long because I never invite her to sit down.
She stands leaning against the doorframe, one hip — the right one — more rounded than the other because of her posture, and her big bosom ballooning under her corsage.
Of course, I remain standing too. Our conversations invariably follow the same pattern. First, standard questions about my potential needs to which I always reply that nothing is missing.
Then comes the remarks about the weather.
She wanted to know if I had at least noticed the belfries, the highest in the county, it seems. I replied that during my walks I had sometimes caught a glimpse of these two tall, pointed steeples between buildings. She informed me that some people were of the opinion that the inside of the church was too dark. They were different from the Gothic; that was all. At this, she changed the subject.
Letting the subject of church then drop, her interrogation took on more breadth, embracing the whole town. Did I find Saint Joachim tiny compared to the big city — from which, no doubt, I came?
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Then, she wanted to know my views on whether the Joachimites had a peculiar way of speaking. A Frenchman might have been a bit thrown off, perhaps, but I had no difficulty understanding for my part.
I added that I was a quite poor judge in this matter, given that I always paid the least possible attention to what people were saying to me. I started this way and might as well continue. As for her, I think that she unloaded her whole life story on me with the exception of her relations with her husband. As she seemed to be soliciting my approval, I uttered a few words in praise of her respect for the truth. Her husband is a little too fond of the bottle. Ursule lives in Farnham and is married to an army officer.
Deep down, Mme Bouthiller suspects her son-in-law of impotency. Mme Bouthiller wanted to know my opinion on this point and so I expressed the view that artillery shells were notorious for considering nothing sacred.
This thought plunged my landlady into an abyss of meditation and she remained silent for a few minutes. Then, abruptly, she touched on the subject of her boss, a cadaverous old man of at least seventy who still seems interested in a bit of skirt.
He pinches the buttocks of his female employees whenever he gets a chance. Once again, Mme Bouthiller demanded my opinion. So, I gave it to her: It was more a question of temperament. Mme Bouthiller objected that in that case, M. Lesieur such is the name of her photographer should go after women his own age. While recognizing the logic of the argument, I advanced the hypothesis that business reasons perhaps prevented M.
Lesieur from hiring septuagenarians to work in his studio and that consequently he had to confine his pinching activities to the female employees at hand. Mme Bouthiller agreed with this, while adding that, besides, M. Lesieur was a fine boss in other respects who had given her no reason to complain. Then she left me. Suffice it to say, that she told me a number of other details, more or less of equal interest. CommentTranslation Retranslating a Quebec Classic.
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