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70% Project

Introduction:

For the 70% Project, I chose to analyse the translation of two of Edgar Allan Poe's tales by the French poet Charles Baudelaire: The Black Cat and The Fall of House Usher. The translations of Poe's work by Baudelaire have a particular importance in the field of translation studies in France, and particularly in literary translation. In this discipline, it is often seen that with every generation, a new translation of a given text appears. For example, between the years 1745 and 2009, more than fifteen translations of Shakespeare's Hamlet have been published into French. However, Baudelaire's translations of Poe have enjoyed an uncommon longevity, as they have been completed (in the sense that other pieces of Poe's work have been translated since), but not replaced and are still authoritative.

Out of the forty-seven texts written by Poe and translated by Baudelaire, I chose those two tales for reasons that might be deemed arbitrary. First of all, I chose them because they were texts 1

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originally written in prose, for I don't think that my knowledge of the English language would have allowed me to feel the nuances in the original poems accurately enough to be able to analyse thoroughly their translation. I chose to analyse the translation of The Black Cat because it is the very first piece of Poes work that Baudelaire read, and which made such a huge impression on him. I then chose to analyse The Fall of House Usher because it presents some challenges in terms of translation. Whereas in The Black Cat, sentences are rather short and concise, in The Fall of House Usher Poe incorporated a certain sense of doom though long descriptive passages and he often used archaic formulations as a mean of emphasis.

I will now try to explain why Baudelaire chose to translate Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar Poe was born in Boston in 1809 and died in Baltimore in 1849. Charles Baudelaire was twenty-eight years old at the time of Poes death and even though he had already discovered and started to work on Poes tales by then, the two authors never met, nor communicated in any way. The place occupied by the macabre, the supernatural and mystery in general in Poes work is of paramount importance in Baudelaire's choice to translate it. Baudelaire is one of the most prominent figures of French poetry in the 19th century, and his writings have influenced the whole of French literature after him. One of the distinctive traits of his work is the continued search for a new type of beauty, outside of the existing canons. In this search, he introduces through an extensive use of oxymora new aesthetic concepts such as oddity, vice, or even evil, which are at the centre of his compositions. Baudelaire first became acquainted with Poe's work in 1847 and soon became obsessed with it (Asselineau ,1869). This strong admiration is easy enough to explain: in Poes work, Baudelaire found

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the bizarre beauty he aspired to in his own creation. As he wrote in a letter to art critic Thophile Thor The first time I ever opened a book by him I discovered, with rapture and awe, not only subjects which I had dreamt, but whole phrases which I had conceived, written by him twenty years before1. (Starkie 1957:218). His enthusiasm was not only motivated by this spiritual proximity but also by the fact that Baudelaire had great personal sympathy for Poe, because, as shown in the two essays attached to each volume of the translations, he identified strongly with the American author, who, in Baudelaire's opinion, was under-appreciated by his fellow countrymen. Baudelaire published his translations of Poes work first in journals and newspapers before they were compiled as Histoires extraordinaires (Extraordinary stories) (1852), Nouvelles histoires extraordinaires (New extraordinary stories) (1857), Aventures d'Arthur Gordon Pym, Eureka, and Histoires grotesques et srieuses (Grotesque and serious stories) (1865). Even though other translators had already translated some of it before him, Baudelaires versions shaped Poes reputation in France through the great success they achieved among French readers. Baudelaires motivation for publishing these translations was not, however, solely to make Poe known to the French public, although considering his reported enthusiasm, this reason would have been sufficient enough. By disseminating a work that he felt was so close to his own, Baudelaire was, in a way, preparing the French public for his own creations, in particular Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil), published in 1857 and for which he would be prosecuted for insult to public decency. And since the quality of his translations was widely recognised, he was also building up his own reputation. The final motivation behind this endeavour was that Baudelaire, like any good writer, was a great spender and had enormous difficulties to live from his art alone. To this regard, the publishing rights to his translations represented a steady and non-negligible income. 1 La premire fois que jai ouvert un livre de lui, jai vu, avec pouvante et ravissement, non seulement des sujets rvs par moi, mais des PHRASES penses par moi, et crites par lui vingt ans auparavant. 3

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Before even starting to analyse detailed examples of Baudelaire's work as a translator, we need to provide its context and replace it in the French tradition in the field of translation.

As explained by Myriam Salama-Carr in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (2009), translation in France in the 19th century takes a complete change of direction from what it was during the two previous century. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the largely dominant aim of translation was to make the translated piece fit the contemporary aesthetic and moral criteria, leading to the creation of free (to say the least) translations, known at this time as belles infidles (beautiful unfaithful). These translations were so far away from the original texts that they are now considered works of rewriting rather than actual translations. In the 19th century, with the Romantic movement, morality was no longer concerned, literalism became the new standard and the strategy was to find solutions in the target language that were closest to the source text. Baudelaire, who started to translate Poe in 1848 was completely in line with this approach. His translations of Poe's tales always remain as close as possible to the text as he often chooses the most literal way to render the original message. At the time, in the opinion of translators, the fluency of the French language in the target text had become secondary to the message of the original text. Charles Baudelaire, however, as one of the greatest French writers of the 19th century, managed to convey so precisely the sense of the source text, not because he had a perfect knowledge of English, which according to Asselineau's biography, he did not, but for other reasons. First of all, if you look at the criteria based upon which a translator is considered talented or not, many theorists, including Eugene Nida, consider that although a satisfactory knowledge of the

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source language is obviously needed, an absolute command of the target language is regarded as at least equally important. Baudelaire may have had an approximate knowledge of English, but the same cannot be said of his knowledge of French. According to Justin O'Brien, as cited in Nida's Toward a Science of Translating 1964, One should never translate anything one does not admire, a natural affinity should exist between translator and translated and the secret for the quality of Baudelaire's translations lies precisely in this aspect, he deeply admired Poe's work and also felt very close to him spiritually and artistically, which allowed him to have an almost intimate understanding of his work.

In view of these precisions we can now begin to analyse Baudelaire's translations through the lenses that are the theoretical concepts studied in class.

For the analysis of Baudelaire's translations, I chose to use mostly Vinay and Darbelnet's classification (in Hatim & Munday, 2004 p.148-151) as it offers more flexibility while being highly appropriate when it comes to rather short units of translated text. It is also particularly well suited for my subject matter, since the theory was originally based on French and English. Vinay and Darbelnet offer seven types of strategy in their classification, divided between direct and oblique translation: borrowing, claque and literal translation on one side and transposition, modulation, equivalence and adaptation on the other. We will see the importance and the use made of each category in Baudelaire's translations.

Regarding the translations as a whole, Venuti's theory about the opposition between foreignizing and domesticating translations proves also relevant and interesting in the analysis of Baudelaire's rendition of Poe's tales, and I would like to apply it as another prism, on top of Vinay and

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Darbelnet's categories. We've seen that in the 19th century, the general tendency was to produce foreignizing translations in order to retain some of the strangeness of the original text. It is important to bear in mind that if today, a lot of foreign, and especially English words have passed into French and are commonly used, this was not the case in Baudelaire's days, when communication between languages was less developed. Although we cannot find, in the two tales that I have chosen, any cultural marker allowing the reader to identify the text as being from American origin specifically, we will see that there are occurrences in the translations, where Baudelaire chose to resort to borrowing in order to give to the reader an indication of the Anglo-Saxon origin of the story. For example, in each tale, Baudelaire chose to keep the English forms of address: "Gentlemen," I said at last (The Black Cat p.8 l.27) Gentlemen, dis-je la fin (Le Chat Noir p.9 l.12) or: lady Madeline (The fall of house Usher p.7 l.4) lady Madeline (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.7 l.20) At the end of La Chute de la Maison Usher, Baudelaire even kept the English title of the book that the narrator is reading to Roderick Usher: the Mad Trist by Sir Launcelot Canning. As it turns out, neither the book in question nor his author ever existed, Poe invented them, but since it would have been almost impossible for Baudelaire to verify that information, he could not take the risk of translating the title of a book in a certain way, when it could have already been translated in another by someone else. And these three examples represent the whole extent of Baudelaire's borrowing in the two translations, but they are sufficient to notify the French reader that the stories are taking place in a foreign country.

I will now look at Baudelaire's use of calques. In the two translations, I only found one lexical calque and a structural one. [] the ancient popular notion, which regarded all black cats as witches in disguise. (The Black Cat 6

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p.3 l.4) [] lancienne croyance populaire qui regardait tous les chats noirs comme des sorcires dguises. (Le Chat Noir p.3 l.5) In French, regarder is rarely used to translate the idea of to regard and estimer is often preferable. This could be an indication of Baudelaire's alleged lack of knowledge of the English language. [] and at so vast a distance from the black oaken floor as to be altogether inaccessible from within... (The fall of house Usher p.5 l.5) [] et une telle distance du noir plancher de chne, quil tait absolument impossible dy atteindre... (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.5 l.12) This structural calque gives us a very unnatural sentence in French, but this could have been done on purpose by Baudelaire to provide a poetic feel. In this case we cannot be certain that Baudelaire's sentence is a mistranslation.

I will now study the place of literal translations in Baudelaire's work. His translations as a whole are quite close to the original text, and to analyse each sentence translated literally would be almost equivalent to analysing the whole text. I therefore selected one example, which was rather intriguing to me. [] an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison (The fall of house Usher p.5 l.21) [] un il large, liquide et lumineux au del de toute comparaison (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.5 l.32) In this sentence, the word order is exactly the same in French and in English. In the English sentence, however, the fact that the adjectives follow their noun is quite unnatural, whereas in French it is their normal place. Baudelaire's translation therefore offers an improvement in terms of style. But it could be argued that, by staying too close to the text and therefore improving it, he betrayed, to a certain extent, Poe's intentions, and that if he wanted to translate exactly Poe's phrase, he should have used an awkward word order in French, too. Peter Newmark in his Texbook of Translation (1988) makes a difference between several types of translations, including faithful and semantic. A faithful

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translation would be a translation that keeps the degree of grammatical and lexical abnormality, while a semantic translation would have a more aesthetic approach. Between those two types, Newmark states that only the semantic translation is acceptable, and this is precisely what Baudelaire did, more than a hundred years before Newmark formulated the theory.

More often than not, however, for the sake of style and fluency, Baudelaire had to greatly rearrange Poe's sentences through modulations, and this resulted in the fact that his translations read much more naturally in French than the original texts do in English, because Baudelaire left out a lot of the inversions and archaisms used by Poe in the original. Therefore in this regard, Baudelaire naturalizes the text, in the sense meant by Schleiermacher: he brings the writer towards the reader (1813).

Here are some examples of the stylistic modulations that Baudelaire used: With my aversion to this cat, however, its partiality for myself seemed to increase. (The Black Cat p.6 l.10) Nanmoins, laffection du chat pour moi paraissait saccrotre en raison de mon aversion contre lui. (Le Chat Noir p.6 l.21) In this sentence, Baudelaire changed the word order to make it more natural to a French reader. In French, adverbs (here nanmoins, for however) are more easily placed at the beginning or end of the of sentences, so that they do not interrupt their flow. He also introduced a causal relationship with the expression en raison de (because of), when Poe simply expressed simultaneity, with the effect of stressing the powerlessness of the narrator.

Alas! neither by day nor by night knew I the blessing of rest any more! (The Black Cat p.6 l.32) Hlas ! je ne connaissais plus la batitude du repos, ni le jour ni la nuit (Le Chat Noir p.7 l.12) In this case, Baudelaire avoids the archaism of the English sentence by using the natural French word order rather than reproducing Poe's inversion. However, the emphasis is still present in the French sentence because of the register of the word batitude (bliss). 8

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During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, ... (The fall of house Usher p.1 l.4) Pendant toute une journe dautomne, journe fuligineuse, sombre et muette, (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.1 l.4) Here again, Baudelaire avoids the archaism of the English constructions but personifies the day by using the adjective muette (dumb) to translate soundless. In the following example, Baudelaire rearranges the sentence, not only to gain stylistically, but simply to make it more understandable, as Poe's word order, in addition to being extremely difficult to keep in French, lacks coherence, even in English: [] no shadow of which felt I ever yet in the contemplation of the certainly glowing yet too concrete reveries of Fuseli. (The fall of house Usher p.8 l.6) [] dont je nai jamais senti lombre dans la contemplation des rveries de Fuseli lui- mme, clatantes sans doute, mais encore trop concrtes. (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.8 l.24) He does the same, to a lesser extent in the following sentence: [] the exact counterpart of what my fancy had already conjured up for the dragons unnatural shriek as described by the romancer. (The fall of house Usher p.15 l.8) [] lexacte contrepartie du cri surnaturel du dragon dcrit par le romancier, et tel que mon imagination se ltait dj figur. (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.15 l.21) When it comes to switches between passive and active voice, in a vast majority of cases, Baudelaire uses modulation to go from a passive construction to an active one to make the translated phrase seem as natural as possible to a French reader. There can be no doubt that the consciousness of the rapid increase of my superstition [] served mainly to accelerate the increase itself. (The fall of house Usher p.4 l.3) Je ne dois pas douter que la conscience de ma superstition croissante [] nait principalement contribu acclrer cet accroissement (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.4 l.8) In this sentence, Baudelaire uses two modulations. First of all, for the sake of fluency he turns the narrator into the grammatical subject of the sentence, whereas Poe used an impersonal turn of phrase. He then, by not translating rapid in the first part of the sentence and by translating increase by an adjective in French, puts the emphasis on the superstition itself, which is more 9

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logical in the sense that the superstition increases because the narrator is aware of its existence, not because he is aware of its rapid increase.

[] a barely perceptible fissure, which [] became lost in the sullen waters. (The fall of house Usher p.4 l.25) [] une fissure peine visible, qui [] allait se perdre dans les eaux funestes. (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.4 l.31) The silken hair, too, had been suffered to grow all unheeded (The fall of house Usher p.5 l.29) Puis il avait laiss crotre indfiniment ses cheveux sans sen apercevoir (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.6 l.7) [] the glimpse I had obtained of her person... (The fall of house Usher p.7 l.17) [] le coup dil que javais jet sur elle... (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.7 l.34) There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. (The fall of house Usher p.16 l.17) Il y avait du sang sur ses vtements blancs, et toute sa personne amaigrie portait les traces videntes de quelque horrible lutte. (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.16 l.33) The four examples above all show modulation from a passive construction to an active one, whether it is done semantically (first and third sentences) or grammatically (second and fourth sentences). In examples 1 and 3, it is due to the fact that the verbs idiomatically used in such cases in French are more active than the English verbs used by Poe: aller se perdre (to go loose itself) and jeter un coup d'oeil (to throw a glimpse). In example 2 and 4 however, Baudelaire grammatically altered the structures because, as a general rule, passive structures are considered to be heavy in French.

While reading the two texts and their translated version I found only one case where Baudelaire switched from active to passive voice. [] and for this, above all, I loathed, and dreaded, and would have rid myself of the monster had I dared. (The Black Cat p.6 l.27) [] et ctait l surtout ce qui me faisait prendre le monstre en horreur et en dgot, et maurait pouss men dlivrer, si je lavais os. (Le Chat Noir p.7 l.5) In this case, Baudelaire uses a passive structure which has the effect of emphasising the 10

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narrator's powerlessness in the face of this hatred that he feels growing inside him.

In some instances, Baudelaire uses slight translation shifts in order to be closer to French idiomatic expressions or collocations. popular notion (The Black Cat p.3 l.4) croyance populaire (Le Chat Noir p.3 l.5) In this case, notion, if translated literally would remain notion in French, croyance populaire however, is a much more idiomatic expression in French, with the same meaning. The three following examples also serve the readability of the text by using fixed French collocations: [] I must abandon life and reason together (The fall of house Usher p.6 l.23) [] la vie et la raison mabandonneront la fois (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.7 l.4) mental existence (The fall of house Usher p.11 l.6) existence spirituelle (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.11 l.16) oppressive atmosphere (The fall of house Usher p.11 l.31) atmosphre suffocante (La Chute de la Maison Usher p.12 l.1) The next example, however, is slightly different because the modulation is optional, but, as we will see, justified: came in my way (The Black Cat p.3 l.18) se jetaient dans mon chemin (Le Chat Noir p.3 l.20) Here, Baudelaire's translation is slightly stronger than the original, because he uses the verb se jeter (to throw itself). But it is justified by the fact that in this context, this verb, to a French reader, immediately evokes the common idiom se jeter dans la gueule du loup (to jump into the lion's den) and comes as a warning of the danger that the pets are facing.

The least optional of the modulations that I encountered in Baudelaire's translations is probably the following: The guilt of my dark deed... (The Black Cat p.8 l.15) La criminalit de ma tnbreuse action... (Le Chat Noir p.8 l.33) 11

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Although this might seem to be a mistranslation because the French translation for guilt is usually culpabilit, it cannot be used here because it can only be applied to a human being. The use of the word criminalit (criminal nature) is therefore especially judicious.

To conclude the discussion of modulations, and this is one of the aspects that makes Baudelaire's translation so subtle, he is first of all a poet, and as such, he is particularly sensible to the musicality in Poe's texts, especially in The Black Cat. Whenever one of his translations seemed a bit odd to me, I realised that when he drifted away from the original meaning, it was often to preserve the sounds of the word used by Poe. Regarding these examples, only the original text is referenced, as the context does not actually matters for the translation. For each, the reference is followed by one of the possible literal translations in italic, followed in turn by Baudelaire's translation, which is then followed by its meaning in brackets. fond (The Black Cat p.1 l.13), attach, fou (mad, crazy) gin-nurtured (The Black Cat p.3 l.25) caus par le gin, satur de gin (gin-saturated) the soul remained untouched (The Black Cat p.3 l.30) l'me demeura intacte, l'me n'en subit pas les atteintes (the soul was not affected by it) arousing me from sleep (The Black Cat p.5 l.6) me tirer du sommeil, m'arracher du sommeil (tearing me from sleep) The following example does not enter the same category as the shift was not done for musical reasons, but for a semantic and artistic one: sternly beautiful (The fall of house Usher p.13 l.21) svrement belle, affreusement belle (horridly beautiful) This translation is Baudelaire's artistic sensitivity concentrated in one expression. His whole poetic work is based on the use of the oxymoron as a creative principle, and here he managed to capture the meaning of Poe's expression but also to make it fit his creative ideal.

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In conclusion, whether we consider Baudelaire's translations as a whole, or through particular examples , when we apply to it the concepts, theories and ideas of Newmark, Nida, Venuti, Vinay and Darbelnet, we can see that they are of great quality. Baudelaire always translated the meaning of Poe's work and whenever possible improved the readability, often adding poetic value in the process. The translation strategy that is most present in his work is modulation, and every time he used it, it was by necessity and he prevented from taking any liberty with the source text. There were some cases of transposition in the translations, but in my opinion, they were more the result of an absolute grammatical or lexical necessity inherent to the French than a deliberate choice made by Baudelaire or an expression of his personal style. I therefore chose not to include them in this study.

Word count: 4112

Bibliography

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Asselineau, C. (1869) Charles Baudelaire, Sa Vie et son uvre. Paris: Gallimard Brown University Library, Baudelaire and the Arts [online] Available from: http://library.brown.edu/cds/baudelaire/translations1.html [Accessed 1 May 2012] Pamela Faber, (1989), Charles Baudelaire and his translation Edgar Allan Poe [online] Meta: Translators' Journal, Volume 34, numro 2, p. 253-259 Available from: http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/1989/v34/n2/002735ar.html?vue=resume [Accessed 1 May 2012] Garrait-Bourrier, A., (2002). Poe Translated by Baudelaire: The Reconstruction of an Identity [online] CLCWeb Volume 4 Issue 3. Available from: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb/ [Accessed 1 May 2012] Hennequet, C. (2005), Baudelaire traducteur de Poe [online] Available from: http://baudelaire-traducteur-de-poe.blogspot.co.uk/, [Accessed 1 May 2012] Newmark, P. (1988). A Textbook of Translation. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice-Hall. Nida, E. (1964) Towards a Science of Translating, Leiden: E. J. Brill. Salama-Carr , M. in Baker, M. and Saldanha, G. (2009). The Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. London: Routledge. Starkie, E. (1957). Baudelaire. London: Routledge. Vinay, J. and Darbelnet, J. in Hatim, B. and Munday, J., (2004). Translation: An Advanced Resource Book. London: Routledge.

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