Previous: Papriktion Dept.

Found In Translation Dept.

Between working on The Underground Sun's 2nd draft, working (for actual money), and waiting for a whole Imelda Marcos's closet full of shoes to drop — which really can't happen fast enough, let me tell you — I have been making that much more of an attempt to read. Not newspapers, not blogs; books. The books I stuck on my shelf and told myself I would read someday, and which sat there and let their spines get sunned.

Purchase on AmazonI finally got sick of stalling, and so I pulled out the first and fattest book of the bunch, figuring I could jump-start a reading habit by taking big bites and keeping the momentum going. It worked, I think: in the past couple of days I've made it some 450 pages into the 1200+ of the new Robin Buss translation of The Count of Monte Cristo. The experience of reading, and getting lost in, a book like that is a reminder of how reading creates spaces in the imagination that other things simply do not.

I've read the book at least twice before: once as a kid, when my parents had a "Classics of World Literature" library; and once more as an adult when the Gutenberg Project uploaded a public domain English translation. They were different texts, and from what I understood later on they had both been cut down from the original version. (I even ended up reading a severely abridged edition of the original in high-school French.) I've always had an aversion to reading anything in an abridged form; if I was going to add this book to my collection, it was going to be as complete a version as I could find.

The Buss version is not just complete; it's readable in a way that reminds me how many of our current classics I originally read in older, stodgier translations. Crime and Punishment was like that: the translation I read in college came off the page with all the grace of oatmeal falling out of a baby's mouth. Then I bumped into a newer one (Pevar/Volokhonsky), and read it in something like two single sittings — one of them being on a plane ride back from the other coast. It was no longer a struggle to see why greatness had been ascribed to it. The same thing happened with Monte Cristo; its newfound readability made it that much easier to get lost in.

I wonder now how many books in my life have been like this. I know Natsume Soseki's Botchan had been retranslated (after two previous attempts). Re-reading it in that new incarnation made it all the easier for me to recommend it to people without cautioning them about the translation itself. But I think now about all the stuff I read before which just seemed terribly stodgy — Rabelais, Moliere — the impact of which was lost on me at the time, and which I originally ascribed to me being young and impatient. Maybe it wasn't just me.

Purchase on AmazonNo discussion of Monte Cristo would be complete — at least from my end — without mentioning Gankutsuou, the anime adaptation which retells the story in the far future and from the point of view of one of the secondary characters. I loved it and hope FUNimation sees fit to release a Blu-ray edition; if any show in their current catalog would benefit from an HD presentation, it is this one.

Tags: translation  writing 

comments powered by Disqus

Previous: Papriktion Dept.

About This Page

This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the category Uncategorized / General, published on 2010/08/16 21:18.

See all entries for August 2010.

See all entries in 2010.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Books

Out Now

Coming Soon

Previously Released

More about my books

Search This Site