While I’m working…

Right now I am working on a translation for my supervisor, who is going to France to present a paper on her research on Victorian illustration. It’s the second time she asks me to do it, and it’s pretty good work, considering I don’t get to use French much anymore in an academic setting. What I do is mostly academic writing, but sometimes I have to translate long passages from literary texts. Translation is much more difficult than what I thought at first, but it’s definitely doable. What I want to do today is to put under evaluation such a translation of a literary passage by my bilingual readers. Literary translation was my first reason to engage in an English degree, and I would like to do it as a side if I could.

So first the passage in English:

Elizabeth sat sulking in her room all the afternoon, the door shut: the hum of a busy city came in at her open window;  . . . and she thought how kind and how handsome Dampier looked . . . . It was a commonplace little tableau de genre enough: that of a girl sitting at a window, with clasped hands, dreaming dreams . . . . with the light falling on her hair, and on the fold of her dress, and on the blazing petals of the flowers on the balcony outside, and then overhead a quivering green summer sky. But it is a little picture that nature is never tired of reproducing; and besides nature, every year, in the Royal Academy, I see half-a-dozen such representations.

Now in French:

Elizabeth s’assit dans sa chambre, boudant tout l’après-midi, la porte fermée: le son d’une ville animée entra par sa fenêtre ; … et elle pensa à quel point Dampier paraissait gentil et beau … C’était un banal petit tableau de genre : celui d’une fille assise à une fenêtre avec les mains jointes, rêvant des rêves… avec la lumière tombant sur ses cheveux, et sur les plis de sa robe, et sur les pétales embrasés des fleurs sur le balcon dehors, et là au-dessus un tremblant ciel d’été vert. Mais c’est une petite image que la nature ne se lasse jamais de reproduire ; et de toute façon, chaque année, à l’Académie Royale, je vois une demi-douzaine de ces représentations.

I’m sure it needs fine-tuning, but I’m sure it’s pretty decent for someone with no translation training.


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