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That Mad Ache: A Novel/Translator, Trader: An Essay Paperback – 12 May 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (12 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465010989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465010981
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"a compulsive read for us Francophiles of a romantic disposition. Paris itself has never seemed so gloriously enticing - you'll be booking on to Eurostar for a bargain break before you've reached the last page."
-- The Daily Mail, Friday 10 July 2009

About the Author

As a teen-ager, Françoise Sagan (1935-2004) rocketed to world renown with her prize-winning and best-selling novel Bonjour Tristesse. She went on to write many other successful novels, including A Certain Smile and Aimez-vous Brahms, as well as numerous plays and memoirs.

Douglas Hofstadter is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach. Among his more recent works are Le Ton beau de Marot, a verse translation of Alexander Pushkin’s novel-in-verse Eugene Onegin, and I Am a Strange Loop. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
 


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4.3 out of 5 stars
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By KaleHawkwood TOP 100 REVIEWER on 16 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
La Chamade was the title Francoise Sagan (1935-2004) chose for this 1965 novel - written a decade or so after her astonishing, infamous teenage debut Bonjour Tristesse - and maverick translator Douglas Hofstadter has chosen a bold, anagramatic, wholly apt title for his translation of this slightly dreamlike novel.
It`s rare enough to read a novel which immediately captivates one, and which by the end makes you realise you`ve just read something that instantly becomes very special to you. La Chamade/That Mad Ache is one such rarity, and it is a novel I shall return to in the future, its bittersweet story and its central heroine Lucile now an integral part of my life, or at least my literary life.
I loved this book. Amazon`s synopsis above gives a good rundown of plot, so I won`t repeat it here. Any `plot` as such is as nothing to Sagan`s deftly penetrating insights into both men and women, and perhaps more particularly, couples in love. She is also one of the best writers about sex I have ever read. She is not all that explicit, but her descriptions of the lovemaking of Lucile and her lover Antoine are wholly credible and unselfconsciously erotic without any trace of prurience or any effort to merely titillate. Indeed, there is a chapter fairly early on in this short novel which, in little more than a page, is possibly the truest description of a sexual encounter between two lovers who are mad about each other that I`ve ever come across in fiction. In a few lines, she expresses the sheer physical and emotional exhilaration of wildly abandoned sex.
The mostly upper-class setting reminded me at times of both Zola`s Nana and Colette`s Gigi, though of course this is set in the early sixties, just before mini-skirts, hippies and the whole transformative 'summer of love'.
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Format: Kindle Edition
There was something about this translation that nagged at me as I was reading, that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Ironically, the subsequent essay by the translator helped me locate the source of my disquiet. Hofstadter takes too many liberties in his translation. He points out all the mistakes a translator can make, highlights passages where he could be accused of the same, then explains why he gets away with it. The thing is, I don't think he gets away with it.

Douglas Hofstadter has written some of my favourite books, books that I have returned to time and time again. This is not one of them.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of those timeless, French, romantic novels that explore with great delicacy and style the eternal love triangle, in this case centring on Lucile, a thirty year old Parisian, and the two men she is attached to: Charles, fifty, a calm and compassionate businessman who loves her unconditionally, and Antoine, her own age, with whom she has a passionate, all-consuming affair. The action takes place over a year or so during which Lucile, bored by the secure luxury of her life with Charles, leaves him to live with Antoine, who works as a literary editor. Their summer of passion (the 'mad ache' of the title) is beautifully evoked: Sagan knew how to create the atmosphere of sexual attraction without needing much physical description of sex; she 'does love' consummately. But while Charles is well-off, Antoine isn't; that, and his insistence that Lucile should take more responsibility for her upkeep and future, puts her idle, indulgent life to the test. A crisis in her relationship with Antoine ends that summer of love with a dilemma, and in the process Lucile discovers an over-riding need to be free of the ties that bind: motherhood, marriage and work. For her, independence comes with a lack of responsibilities.

Curiously, though the flyleaf tells us that the novel is set in the 1960s, it feels as if it is set in an earlier period, like a novel that Colette might have written.

A very considerable bonus to this edition is a hundred page personal essay by the translator Douglas Hofstadter, who, being an American, translates it into American-English.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliant novel -pacey, well written and a great story.
Looking forward to reading it again.
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