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Great play but dodgy translation
on 5 December 2011
It's a great play, as other people have said, but does anyone else agree that the translation looks dodgy? For a start, sometimes it loses specificity for no reason that was clear to me. 'Le rideau s'est leve' becomes 'the play started'. 'Ce soir' becomes 'in a few hours' time.' An iron spade becomes a tin one for no reason I could fathom. Shooting 'dans le tas'- into the crowd - is 'the first comer.' 'Dans un trou', with its ironic foreshadowing, becomes 'locked up in the dark' There's often an unnecessary wordiness, compared with Anouilh's precise, terse prose. 'Ou alors je refuse' becomes the mealy and cliched, 'or else I decline the offer, lock, stock and barrel.' And some translations simply look wrong. Nourrice/ nounou gets translated as the lower-class 'Nan' (meaning 'Grandmother') rather than 'Nanny' (Antigone is a princess, of course). The guards speak a bizarre fake-demotic of 'chap' and 'blotto.' And on p59 a whole speech by Creon about Eurydice is missed out, so that we never learn what he thinks of his wife.
The greatest shame is the disappearance of the repetitions of key words that Anouilh uses for his subtle and ironic effects. The three 'voilas' from the Chorus, at the start, middle and end of the play disappear. The guard - called 'une brute' by stage directions becomes 'a rough diamond.' This is not just an unwarranted softening of nastiness. It also loses the way the authorial judgements echo Creon's, who also uses the word 'brute' of the guard (translated 'louts') and of the whole populace (mildly translated 'clods'). Anouilh's hints of brother-sister incest through the word 'voyou' are also swept under the carpet. Used of Polynices it becomes 'good-for-nothing'; of Antigone's suspected lover 'young layabout'; of her young admirers 'the boys'; and of the two brothers 'gangsters'. As for the repeated word 'tranquille', used ironically of order under Nazism, it gets fudged so the whole point'll be completely missed.
There's plenty more in this vein. But the alternative, older Galantiere translation isn't that great either. Can anyone recommend a decent one?