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The Judgement of the Daddy: Hang this one between high and low water, please
on 3 August 2010
It's clear that Christian Jacq is some kind of French freemason. OK, that's his bag. But this one stinks.
His basic knowledge of the milieu in which he sets his tale is completely deficient. He makes Castlereigh Prime Minister, rather than Liverpool, a typical French mistake as they perennially confuse Castlereigh's leading role in the Congress of Vienna carving their erstwhile empire up, with that of the English PM. He creates riots which never happened, the English poor having learned from Peterloo not to chance their arm. His portrayal of the 19th Century London docklands where people can drift in and out of the docks at will could never have happened because the real docks were surrounded by 6-meter high walls to stop exactly that. All told, all that's left of the story once you remove that lot is Lionel Bart's Oliver.
Aided by a translator, Sue Dyson, who mechanically translates French with no commitment to telling a tale (for example, she translates "faux et usage de faux", modern French legal jargon meaning the creation and emission of false documents which in English Law is wrapped up in the single term forgery, as "forgery and the use of forgery", we're only just spared the GCSE-level howler "false and use of false") and who fails to correct the French whodunnit style typified by a Maigret-style use of staccatto accusations thrown around with the wildest of abandon in an attempt to provoke an emotional crisis (his dénouement), this is total nonsense. Said translator should have been given carte blanche to rebalance the tale for an English market, and having failed to do so, should be banned from the profession for life.
I'm tempted to write a reply where all French eat frogs legs every moment of the day and night while seducing the women who "ooh là là" een ze moost terreeble franslais you can eemageene...