Monday 29 January 2024

To English

 The general trend of translation over the last century and more has been away from smoothness and towards authenticity, away from a reorganising interpretativeness which aims for the flow of English prose, towards a close-reading fidelity – enjoy those tannins! – which seeks to echo the original language. We no longer use the verb ‘to English’ – it sounds proprietorial, even imperialist – but when Flaubert was first being translated it was still in use: thus the first London and New York edition of Salammb├┤ – published in 1886, the same year as Marx Aveling’s Madame Bovary – is described on its title page as having been ‘Englished’ by (wait for it) ‘M. French Sheldon’.
Julian Barnes, ‘Translating Madame Bovary’, in Through the Window (London: Vintage, 2012), pp. 146-74 (p. 153).