2017年5月2日 星期二

Richard Howard and George Plimpton on Translating Proust


On translating Marcel Proust.
Richard Howard first appeared in The Paris Review in our thirteenth…
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Richard Howard first appeared in The Paris Review in our thirteenth issue—from the summer of 1956. Since then, several of his poems and translations have found their way to these pages, and in 2004, J. D. McClatchy interviewed him for our Art of Poetry series. In our Summer 1989 issue, George Plimpton spoke with Howard about translating Proust.
GP
The first line of Remembrance of Things Past is one of the most famous in literature. How does your version differ from the others?
RH
Three versions of Proust’s first sentence—“Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure.”—have been published. The Scott Moncrieff-Kilmartin: “For a long time I used to go to bed early.” James Grieve (an Australian professor): “Time was, when I always went to bed early.” And mine: “Time and again, I have gone to bed early.”
GP
And what is the thinking behind your version?
RH
To begin with, “time and again” seems one of those cell-like phrases which sums up a meaning of the whole book, as long-temps does in French. I admire Professor Grieve’s “time was”, but it doesn’t have the notion of recurrence that I wanted. It seemed to me that what was needed was not only an opening phrase which would reveal the book’s meaning, but one that would begin with the word “time”, which would be the last word in the book as well, as it is in French. 
GP
Were there other considerations?
RH
Roger Shattuck has an essay about this, and Alfred Corn has explored it in his essays too: in the whole book, the only use of the passé composé occurs, to all intents and purposes, in the first sentence. Oh sometimes characters use this tense in speech, but the narrative is virtually never in the passé composé (je me suis couché). So that one hears a deliberate little jolt there; I wanted to echo that...


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