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Dimitri Verhulst - Madame Verona Comes Down the Hil
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Green Jay



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1605


Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:14 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Chibiabos83 wrote:
Interesting, Green Jay, and I see the books share a translator - David Colmer.


That is interesting. I've passed my copy of the book on to a charity shop already so did not have the details to hand. As I think I wrote at the time, the prize was in the year the English version came out, whereas it was published in Dutch several years before, so I assume the prize was for the translated version.


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Marita



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 511


Location: Flanders, Belgium

PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Green Jay wrote:
Just to add, when I was reading The Twin by Dutch writer Gerbrand Bakker a few weeks back, I wrote:

'The novel is in translation, and although I originally said I loved the writing style (described on the jacket as "Spartan prose") a review on Amazon from someone who read it in its original Dutch first, said that the translation was clumsy and translated literally certain colloquial phrases –
The phrase that the Amazon reviewer quoted was a colloquial one that meant 'taking the piss' but in the English version came out as something like 'perching up on the roof' , which didn't make too much sense in context but then the characters of the narrator and his father did say and do some odd things, which I just accepted. This has made me wonder about my response to the whole book now; how odd were these people, or how skewed was the translation? And it won the Impac Prize!


I found the review on Amazon, GreenJay, and the English translation “He can go and perch on the roof”. It is a Dutch expression that isn’t generally used in Flemish. For someone who wants to translate Dutch that’s an added difficulty. There is the Dutch of Flanders and the Dutch of the Netherlands. The latter especially has some weird and wonderful expressions. When I watch Dutch television I sometimes wonder if they make them up as they go.

I think that translating must be a very difficult job. Not only must you thoroughly know the language you are translating into, but you also have to have a very advanced knowledge of the language you’re translating from otherwise the translator could easily “stand for ape” (=literal translations of another Dutch expression meaning ‘to look silly’).

Chibiabos83 wrote:

From the first couple of pages I was afraid I wouldn't like the translation. I thought it started clunkily, though I don't have the book to hand to give examples. But I think that may simply have been down to a difference in style between the introduction and the rest of the book. It settled down after that, and became a pleasure to read. One thing I did note down that I didn't like, on the opening page, was Colmer's 'everyone who has ever and will ever die'. I suppose it may be technically correct, but this mixing of tenses always feels wrong to me (as does, for instance, 'one of the best, if not the best, book in the world' etc. with its missing plural). A matter of taste, perhaps.

I wish I could compare that to the Dutch opening lines but I took the book back to the library yesterday.

Marita


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Evie
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just received an email from Amazon about a new book in English by Dimitri Verhulst, caled The Misfortunates - will definitely investigate, on the strength of Madame Verona.


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Marita



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 511


Location: Flanders, Belgium

PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Misfortunates’ is the translation of ‘De Helaasheid der Dingen’, the first book by Verhulst I read. Reading this got me interested in his writing and put him with my favourite authors.



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