But the majority of the Penguin translators have made the task harder for themselves by choosing to tackle it with one hand tied behind their backs.
For all Prendergast's talk of smashing "Proust-worship", many of them perpetuate it in one crucial respect; by treating the Proustian sentence as a sacred cow. Proust's sentences are, of course, exotic and magnificent beasts which translators massacre at their peril. A positively Proustian amount of critical comment exists about the contribution which the idiosyncrasies of the novel's syntax make to the larger progress of its philosophical investigations into time as a dimension of human being.
Nevertheless, the fact must be faced that aiming to replicate every twist and turn of Proust's sentences puts an unbearable strain on a translator, and may lead to an unreadably strained translation. Prendergast suggests that, since Proust's "extraordinary syntactic structures" are themselves "often strange even to French ears", "there may well be a respectable argument to the effect that oddly unEnglish shapes are sometimes the best way of preserving their estranging force".
In Search of Lost Time
But, respectable or not, that argument smells strongly of academe. Beyond a certain point, the effect of "oddly unEnglish shapes" on general readers of a translation tends to be estranging and forceful, in the sense of making it sound strange and so forcing them to stop reading it. Those of the Penguin volumes which are most doctrinaire in their refusal to lay a hand on Proust's sentences, not presuming so much as to disturb the sequences of their clauses - Lydia Davis's The Way by Swann's , and John Sturrock's Sodom and Gomorrah - go well beyond that point. Others teeter on it at times.
Carol Clark's The Prisoner seems to me to stay almost entirely clear of it, achieving a quite remarkable degree of fluency by means of no more than deft minor adjustments to the original syntax, altering the function of a clause here, dividing a sentence into two there. More fluent still is James Grieve's In The Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, though his constant and bold grammatical interventions will not be to the taste of purists.
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In the end, one is prompted to ask who this translation is for. It's a question addressed neither by Prendergast in his general introduction nor by the individual translators in the brief prefatory essays they have provided to each volume excellent though some of them are, notably those to The Guermantes Way and The Prisoner , as thumbnail critical sketches of the novels. Perhaps one adept in French but not quite up to the task of scaling Proust unaided, who might keep the Penguin open alongside his French text to help him over craggy sections of the original.
Enright also changed to title to In Search of Lost Time. The Modern Library US has plot synopsis and cultural references at the end of each volume. Scot Moncrieff and Terrence Kilmartin, revised by D.
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- In Search of Lost Time;
Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D. Paperback Edition in 6 volumes, Introduction by Harold Bloom: Christopher Prendergast , with seven different translators: The volumes also provide an extensive set of brief, non-scholarly endnotes, that help identify cultural references perhaps unfamiliar to contemporary English readers.
Christopher Prendergast, with seven different translators: Hardcover Edition in 6 volumes, Christopher Prendergast, with four different translators: Esteemed Proust scholar William C. Softcover Edition scheduled to be 7 volumes.
In Search of Lost Time | eBay
Enright; introduction by Richard Howard: Scott Moncrieff; read by Neville Jason: Translated by James Grieve: Scott Moncrieff and Alexander Vassiliev: The Way by Swann's: The Way by Swann's Vo InThe Guermantes Way Proust's narrator recalls his initiation into the dazzling world of Parisian high society. As the great story unfolds from its magical opening scenes to its devastating end, it is the Penguin Proust that makes Proust accessible to a new generation. International delivery varies by country, please see The In Search of Lost Time: International delivery varies by coun This page was last updated: Number of bids and bid amounts may be slightly out of date.
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