Saturday, March 17, 2007

Lost in Translation...

As modern readers, we sometimes get lost in translation. We come from a completely different society and may not be aware of some allusions and grammatics which were commonly known in the past. In Ford Madox Ford's Some Do Not.. readers are often confused by grammatical and contextual problems. For example why some letters are captalized and others are not. It is important to recognize these problems which are often lost in translation. Ford Madox Ford was writing in a completely different society and time and it is imporant, when studying his novel, to find these small changes and determine what they would mean during Ford Madox Ford's life. Here are some commonly asked questions and answers related to translation:
Questions asked by Translators, with responses

Question 1: Mr Tietjens had suggested that, and after an interval had asked:

["You will permit her to divorce you?"]

I find the "that" very strange. If it’s the demonstrative pronoun, it should refer to the previous utterance, but it doesn’t seem to do so. If it’s the subordinating conjunction, it should introduce a following subordinate clause, but it doesn’t seem to be doing so either. How do you interpret the sentence?

Answer: if it’s correct, it could mean that the way Mr T asked his question had already implied that C would be a blackguard if he did divorce S. But the US first has ‘digested’ instead of ‘suggested’!

Question 2:

Old General ffolliott:

Why a small first letter? Could it imply that he is foolish?

Answer: No. My 'Dictionary of English Surnames' (Don't ask: but I knew it would come in useful one day) says its medieval use of 'ff' for 'F'. We have a Patrick ffrench at King's, so it's all true.

Question 3:

Is he synonymous with General Lord Edward Campion?

Answer: No

Question 4:

Why is the boy referred to as Tommie when his name is Michael/Mark?

Answer: This is generally thought to be a mistake that crept in during the years of composition. Though it's still common for the upper-class Brits to get called names in the family that aren't their given names, so it might be that.

Question 5:

As between the heroes ... choosing.

I don’t understand the meaning of the "As". Could you explain it?

Answer: It’s just an idiom that doesn’t really add much – perhaps something like ‘As far as . . . was concerned’

Question 6:

"a lady who should contribute to..."

Is the ‘should’ a ‘should’= ‘ought to’ or does it correspond to a modern ‘would’?

Answer: I'd go for the 'would' here. I think it's playing on the 'will' in the lines before.

Question 7:

And M., who would have sentimentalised the plump girl to the tune of Highland Mary, ...

Does this mean that he idealised the girl


Question 8:

"it’s a back door way out of it. She’s cheated me."

Why is me stressed?

Answer: Pride, I think: ME of all people, who am supposed to be shrewd

Question 9: Is it the fact that the wedding is to take place in Paris that is said to be a back door way out of it? Out of what? I found that ‘a back door way’ is ‘unworthily secret, clandestine’. Could it also mean ‘paltry/cowardly/dishonest?

Answer:I think he means S's trick to use T's honour to get him to marry her even though the child may not be his.

Question 10:

"She gives me the benefit of the agreeable doubt."

I know the idiom "give somebody the benefit of the doubt", but find it difficult to know how to render the broken idiom. What I have in mind is something like ‘she chooses to let me believe it’s mine’. How do you read it?

Answer:Complex irony here: the doubt is maddening to T, but the only thing for him to hold onto is the hope the child is his, which is the only ‘agreeable’ possibility. I think the point is that Sylvia is using the idea to torment T, but won’t go as far as saying the child isn’t his (and anyway she may not be sure). So she’s put him into a very disagreeable doubt!

Qusetion 11:

"Leave the furniture out!"

Does ‘the furniture’ refer to the picture (misunderstood by MacMaster?)or something else? If so, what?

Answer: This is a very cryptic moment, I think. You might be right about the ‘picture’, but it doesn’t quite cohere. I think it’s supposed to convey the lightning movement of T’s mind. He might be saying that the PRB furniture is fine, but their morality not. I think Ford had an affection for William Morris’ ‘Firm’, and certainly had some Pre-Raph. Relics of his own.

Question 12:

"some Mrs W. Three Stars"

Does this refer to some well-known rich personage?/Does it have a military connotation?/Does it refer to some mediocre person?/ or...???

Answer: The stars are asterisks concealing the person’s identity, as in ‘Mrs W***’ – it’s a slightly comical, or at least ironic way of putting it.

Question 13:

"in placket-holes"

Does it mean ‘under skirts’ or the older "in vaginas"?

Answer: The latter by way of the former

Question 14:

"She walks..."

Is this a travesty of some (Byron?) poem I should know, or ...? Help!

Answer: It’s a poem by Alice Meynell, ‘The Shepherdess’ – not at all well-known now, though I think F knew her personally

Question 15:

"The gods..."

When I first read these lines, I thought M. quoted them to underline the difference between CT and himself, saying that some get to Heaven via the main entrance, some maybe not at all or through a side door or by the backstairs. I also thought they were by D.G. Rossetti or came from some well-known work, but I see from A Dual Life, part II, that they come from Ford’s poem Mister Bosphorus and that you take it that they are there to, at an early stage, establish CT as a heroic figure (after he has successfully got his kit bag, and himself, on to the train). Could you comment some more on this?

Answer:I think in Macmaster’s use of the lines, the portals are social – the entrance to high society. The porter recognizes T as a gentleman, so he’s allowed to do this kind of thing. Ford keeps playing with the idea in the poem, and it gets considerably eroticised too.

-Heather Blondé

Max Saunders, "Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End: Annotating, Editing, and Translating."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just found another expression which might be difficult to translate: 'drawing rooms [...]that sheltered the long haired of the arts'. Does it refer to a visual representation of the arts or does it just mean that bohemians and artists wear their hair long?