- I read recently in Le Monde des Livres, the literary supplement to Le Monde, an article on re-translating books, and more specifically Poe and Fenilore Cooper. A part struck me: they talked of the recent wave of re-translations for American noir novels, the Raymond Chandlers & Co., that had to be “dépigallisé” (from Paris are Pigalle), ie cleaned up of the obsolete slang, to “go back to the modernity of their language and the complexity of their characters”. This is the same monstruously heavy slang that one will find in movies with Lino Ventura or Jean Gabin, which, added to the old-timey pronunciation, can make classic films appear multi-layeredly (sorry) remote.
- A few years ago my cousin was reading some Hemingway (in French). My mother, who used to be a French teacher, and hence pretty well read, commented on the fact that she was reading such an old-fashioned novel. While in the English speaking world old Ernest has remained esteemed as a modern classic, his style still pointed to as an example, in France it feels like he’s one of these old guys we don’t really think about. (Sub-thought: a student of mine – I teach English – was recently reading The Old Man and the Sea in bilingual format, with opposite pages in English and French. Hemingway’s pared-down sentences were turned into rich, convoluted ones.)
- I had the opportunity recently to see Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959) in the cinema. When Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) meets Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) in the restaurant car of the train he’s fleeing on, he tells her within a minute of sitting down at her table that it’ s hard not to tell a beautiful woman “that I wanted to make love to her” (or something along those lines). The French sub-titles read “that I want to court her”. Pure gent, like.
Yes, he is.