An important and unqualifiedly positive difference between this translation and the only other one available in English, which came out in , is that the new translation has restored pages of the original page French original that the older English version omits, often willy-nilly and always without annotations or signposts. For the first time, Anglophone readers do not have to wonder whether the particular section of the book they're reading is filled with hidden holes. We must not undervalue the importance of this restoration. And it is a relief to find that some of most grievous errors in the old translation have been eliminated. But the new translation is on the whole a disappointment, and not just from the point of view of those interested in the book as a work of philosophy, though the sting for us will be especially acute. Some of the problems that plague the old translation reappear in the new, and there are fresh ones as well. Most exasperatingly, the translators of the new version often sacrifice readability and clarity in favor of a highly unidiomatic word-by-word literalism that hampers the flow of Beauvoir's prose and often obfuscates its meaning. There are crucial places in Beauvoir's argument in which the new translation is decidedly superior to the old. On the whole, however, the new version often taxes the reader's patience and obscures Beauvoir's views. In addition to making decisions about the best way to render individual words, phrases, and sentences, translators of highly stylized writings such as these are obliged to adopt a general strategy for achieving two desiderata that are fundamental to good translation and yet often in tension with one another: staying as faithful as possible to the author's way of doing things -- including her or his fondness for various language-specific tropes, such as metaphor, synecdoche, and alliteration -- while making sure that doing things this way makes sense in the target language.
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Clocking in at 2. Borde and Malovany-Chevallier stopped off in Chicago last week to talk about the new old book. Speaking to a full house at the University of Chicago, they put special emphasis on their efforts to restore the philosophical integrity of Beauvoir's text. Their method involved breaking it into ten-page sections and translating alternate chunks, then swapping and revising each other's work. Whenever they found themselves disagreeing on a wording, they would consult an informal panel of Beauvoir experts they had formed for the purpose. In her introduction to the new edition , Judith Thurman calls the resulting text "a magisterial exercise in fidelity.
Birth control would be legally denied them until Next door, in Switzerland, women would not be enfranchised until The Vatican placed it on the Index of Forbidden Books. Albert Camus complained that Beauvoir made Frenchmen look ridiculous. Parshley, who was then commissioned to do the translation.
Hallelu Wait, hold on just a tic. It seems my celebration might be premature, according to an essay in the London Review of Books. The new translation is certainly "new" -- there's no denying that!