The Literary Saloon points me to: 50 Outstanding Translations of the Last 50 Years.
I certainly won’t quibble with the inclusion of Barbara Wright’s courageous rendition of Exercises in Style, but I will say that if ever a book is crying out for a new translation, this is it. Wright’s language may have been correct when she made her translation in 1958, but much of it just seems completely off-base now. I’d like to see a new translation, one that uses period language that has stayed a little more relevant than the words Wright chose.
Another thing about Wright’s translation: it’s all in British English! That’s, of course, fine if you’re English, but I think American readers deserve a translation of this work that relies so heavily on slang written in an idiom that they find more natural.
And lastly, Wright (perhaps inevitably) took numerous liberties with her translation–if anything, Exercises is, page for page, as good a collection of the untranslatable as you’re likely to find. Well, I’d like to see someone else’s creative intellect take a shot at solving some of the problems that Wright tackled.
For more on Queneau, see here:
- My discussion of Queneau’s sexual romp set during a fictitious Irish rebellion We Always Treat Women Too Well
- My discussion of Queneau’s first novel (and proclaimed his best by many), Witch Grass
- Queneau fanatic Derik Badman on Queneau’s novel Pierrot Mon Ami
- A comic built to resemble Exercises in Style