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Thread: Moliere in Translation?

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Moliere in Translation?

    So I throw myself at the mercy of your knowledge and ask whomever may know - is it worth it to read Moliere in English or do the works get so lost in translation that readers of the translations do not get very much out of it?

    Any insight would be great, thanks,
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    There are two very good translators for Moliere that I have read: Donald M. Frame (who also made the magnificent translation of Montaigne's Essays). His translations are found in the Franklin Library hard cover edition of Moliere. The second is Richard Wilbur, who both an excellent poet and translator.
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    Registered User John Goodman's Avatar
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    It's much like reading Shakespeare in another language. Sure, the gist of everything will remain, but all the clever play on words and tricks with the language are lost in translation making it much less impressive.

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Goodman View Post
    It's much like reading Shakespeare in another language. Sure, the gist of everything will remain, but all the clever play on words and tricks with the language are lost in translation making it much less impressive.
    That was my main concern.....but I shall check out the above mentioned translations.....thanks to both of you!
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    I don't know if you speak French or not, but if you speak some French, by all means try to read it in the original. Despite being seventeenth-century French, it's quite accessible for speakers of the modern language.

    If not, then I guess you will have to stick to translations - but of course reading a translation is better than not reading Molière at all. A good translation should retain a sense of the wicked fun with which he lampoons the hypocrites and social climbers of his time

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    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    I have only read Moliere in French, but my impression was that most of his writing could have been easily translated to give the flavor.

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    Molière translation.

    Indeed Richard Wilbur is that rarest of geniuses that can not only translate the spirit and the form of Molière's verse dialogues, but can make them at once classical, visceral and contemporary. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for translations of Shakespeare into Romance languages, the evolving English of his time lending itself to the Latinate spirit only in appearance and very superficially at that.

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