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That Mad Ache: A Novel/Translator, Trader: An Essay [Paperback]

Francoise Sagan , Douglas R. Hofstadter

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Book Description

May 12 2009
That Mad Ache, set in high-society Paris in the mid-1960's, recounts the emotional battle unleashed in the heart of Lucile, a sensitive but rootless young woman who finds herself caught between her carefree, tranquil love for 50-year-old Charles, a gentle, reflective, and well-off businessman, and her sudden wild passion for 30-year-old Antoine, a hot-blooded, impulsive, and struggling editor. As Lucile explores these two versions of love, she vacillates in confusion, but in the end she must choose, and her heart's instinct is surprising and poignant. Originally published under the title La Chamade, this new translation by Douglas Hofstadter returns a forgotten classic to English.

In Translator, Trader, Douglas Hofstadter reflects on his personal act of devotion in rewriting Françoise Sagan's novel La Chamade in English, and on the paradoxes that constantly plague any literary translator on all scales, ranging from the humblest of commas to entire chapters. Flatly rejecting the common wisdom that translators are inevitably traitors, Hofstadter proposes instead that translators are traders, and that translation, like musical performance, deserves high respect as a creative act. In his view, literary translation is the art of making subtle trades in which one sometimes loses and sometimes gains, often both losing and gaining at the same time. This view implies that there is no reason a translation cannot be as good as the original work, and that the result inevitably bears the stamp of the translator, much as a musical performance inevitably bears the stamp of its artists. Both a companion to the beloved Sagan novel and a singular meditation on translation, Translator, Trader is a witty and intimate exploration of words, ideas, communication, creation, and faithfulness.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (May 12 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465010989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465010981
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #410,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

As a teen-ager, Françoise Sagan (1935-2004) rocketed to world renown with her prize-winning and best-selling novel Bonjour Tristesse. She went on to write many other successful novels, including A Certain Smile and Aimez-vous Brahms, as well as numerous plays and memoirs. Douglas Hofstadter is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach. Among his more recent works are Le Ton beau de Marot, a verse translation of Alexander Pushkin's novel-in-verse Eugene Onegin, and I Am a Strange Loop. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prose poetry Aug. 6 2009
By Rosalie Maggio - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To luxuriate in lovely language, to visit another time, another place, another mindset, check out this new translation of "La Chamade." Lucile is a one-of-a-kind character, but Sagan's writing, and Hofstadter's translation, make her accessible even to those of us who couldn't imagine, on our own, living the type of life she leads. Like the end of a good mystery, her final choice is at once surprising and predictable. A good read. (Almost as interesting is the appended 100-page essay on the art of translation.)
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars unworthy translation April 18 2010
By Kathleen Cornell - Published on
The beautiful french novel La Chamade, universally acknowledged as one of Sagan's best, suffers tremendously in this funky, inadequate translation. Even the English title delightedly concocted by the translator (see his rationale in the book's accompanying essay) is ill-conceived. Mr. Hofstadter has Pulitzer credentials and a professed love of the original. But in my opinion, he fails to capture the essential subtlety in the characters, the sophisticated sensibilities of the narrative, and the mesmerizing original prose. I agree with many of his opinions regarding the various roles of a translator, but I wish he had had the courage to recognize that in this case they do not justify the publication of his very personal exercise, and left it to remain unpublished. The R. Westhoff version (E.P.Dutton, 1966) is far superior, and I hope readers choose to search for this as their bridge to the wonderful mind of Ms. Sagan.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invigorating, thoughtful, truthful... Sept. 12 2009
By E. Wolszczan - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Understanding intimate entanglements of different sorts is the key, in life and in this thoughtful piece of writing. It is a ride on Sagan's wave of emotions, romantic and rational.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hofstadter is such an awesome thinker/writer April 15 2010
By Jason Rennie - Published on
This is really two books in one. "That Mad Ache" was originally written in French by Sagan and is translated here by Hofstadter. "Translator, Trader" is an essay Hofstadter wrote about translation while translating the Sagan work. The essay is a masterpiece. Some would have you believe that translation is a craft---dictionary lookup plus application of grammar rules to rewrite one set of words into another. Hofstadter delves into the reason why this belief is wrong. There are a number of paradoxes in translation and trying to stay too true to the original text leaves you with a "translation" which no master of the destination language would ever write. Hofstadter properly views translation as moving from text to ideas and then back to text. So, in many cases, he "adds" and/or "removes" text which might cause another translator's jaw to drop. But, when reading "That Mad Ache", I find the text to be something an excellent (American) English writer might writer rather than an obvious "translation." I haven't fully read "That Mad Ache" yet, but my wife loved it. It's essentially a classic story of a lady deciding between a wealthy, elderly gentleman and a young, dynamic stud. The main character is greedy in her relationship decisions, but the view from her soul that Sagan/Hofstadter provides does not feel this way as you read it---she is human and sincere and she struggles with decisions as we all do.
0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you! March 17 2010
By Suzanne - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Received on & no problems whatsoever! Would purchase again from them.

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