A New Translation of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time?

Posted By Peter Vilbig on Jan 31, 2011 in Literature | 0 comments


The following message was posted on the Proust.net message board, 1/23, and I thought I’d share it with you:

Fellow Proustonauts! Hello out there! I finally got started on that translation thing!!! (I know, I know, Lydia Davis, blah, blah—but really! Quick, I’m thinking of a word, what isfor a new translation of Proust's In Search of Lost Time it? B-O-R-I-N-G? How did you guess?) Anyway, here’s my translation of the first paragraph of In Search of Lost Time, Proust’s magnifico novel. Wish me luck! Here goes! And by the way, thanks Rosetta Stone! Luv, Odette1478

Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure.

For a long time I usually sometimes went to bed at a bonny hour. [Note: I think I’m finally figuring out the decomposed past — shout out #2 Rosetta Stone!]

Parfois, à peine ma bougie éteinte, mes yeux se fermaient si vite que je n’avais pas le temps de me dire: «Je m’endors.»

Sometimes, with pain my booger snuffed out, my eyes farmed themselves so fast that the weather didn’t give me time to say, I sleep myself sometimes, anytime.

Et, une demi-heure après, la pensée qu’il était temps de chercher le sommeil m’éveillait; je voulais poser le volume que je croyais avoir encore dans les mains et souffler ma lumière; …

And a demitasse of an hour later, the thought that it was time to “chercher la femme” with the sommelier made me spread like a fan; I wanted to pose my large volume that I believed myself to have into my own hands and sniff my light;

… je n’avais pas cessé en dormant de faire des réflexions sur ce que je venais de lire, mais ces réflexions avaient pris un tour un peu particulier; …

… I had not stopped sleeping at the fair with reflections about playing the lyre, but these “reflections” were a tower with a particular price; …

… il me semblait que j’étais moi-même ce dont parlait l’ouvrage: une église, un quatuor, la rivalité de François Ier et de Charles Quint.

… it gave me the semblance that I was more myself this don’t of which I speak the work: a church, a quarter, the rivalness of French 101 and Charles of the Squint.

Cette croyance survivait pendant quelques secondes à mon réveil; elle ne choquait pas ma raison mais pesait comme des écailles sur mes yeux et les empêchait de se rendre compte que le bougeoir n’était plus allumé.

These beliefs’ survival hung several seconds at my revelry; she did not choke my reason but hung heavy scales upon my eyes and like peaches to them rendering counts that the “booger” was not the student lit up that way anyway. [Note: This student is quite a problem!]

Puis elle commençait à me devenir inintelligible, comme après la métempsycose les pensées d’une existence antérieure; le sujet du livre se détachait de moi, j’étais libre de m’y appliquer ou non; …

Then she became unintelligent, like a complete psychotic who puts “existence” before “thoughts”—which might be true philosophically, but practically? I don’t think so. The subject of the book (fool, not the predicate) detached me, I was liberally applying that stuff on myself or not; …

… aussitôt je recouvrais la vue et j’étais bien étonné de trouver autour de moi une obscurité, douce et reposante pour mes yeux, mais peut-être plus encore pour mon esprit, à qui elle apparaissait comme une chose sans cause, incompréhensible, comme une chose vraiment obscure.

… early down under I recovered the view and I was well surprised of finding an author about me, obscure though he was, and sweet and posing again several times, every so often before my eyes, may it be more for my wit, to whom she appeared like a thing without cause, not understanding, like a thing wearing the raiment of its obscure.

Je me demandais quelle heure il pouvait être; j’entendais le sifflement des trains qui, plus ou moins éloigné, comme le chant d’un oiseau dans une forêt, relevant les distances, me décrivait l’étendue de la campagne déserte où le voyageur se hâte vers la station prochaine; et le petit chemin qu’il suit va être gravé dans son souvenir par l’excitation qu’il doit à des lieux nouveaux, à des actes inaccoutumés, à la causerie récente et aux adieux sous la lampe étrangère qui le suivent encore dans le silence de la nuit, à la douceur prochaine du retour.

I demanded to myself often and every time what hour it could be now; I understood the sniffling of trains that, more or less elongated, like the chant of a bird in a small fort, relieved the distances, and described for me the extensive company of the desert where the voyageur hates himself as the station approaches, and the little shirt that he follows goes to the grave in the form of a souvenir from the shop (I think, that) but mostly by excitation that he owes in lieu of nouveaux vague’s unaccustomed acts, to the recent chit chat and goodbyes under strange lamps that sweat still in the silence of the night in the sweet approaching detour. [Note: We’ve all felt this way from time to time, and me especially when they were doing the work on Route 40, which meant you had to take Belvedere, must have been for a year.]

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