Comptes rendus de lecture

Chapdelaine, Annick et Gillian Lane-Mercier (dir.) Faulkner. Une expérience de retraduction. Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 2001, 183 p.[Record]

  • Rosmarin Heidenreich

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  • Rosmarin Heidenreich
    Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface
    University of Manitoba

This volume consists of three essays and a substantial introduction describing the theories and procedures underlying the McGill University-based GRETI (Groupe de recherche en traductologie) in (re)translating William Faulkner’s The Hamlet. It also includes a chapter presenting the end-product of the project, the (re)translation of Faulkner’s narrative itself. Corinne Durin’s introduction lays out the point of departure of GRETI’s ambitious undertaking. First of all, invoking translation theorists Henri Meschonnic and Antoine Berman, the group sought to apply the latter’s notion of decentering (as opposed to annexion, which creates the illusion that the text has been written in the target language) in translating Faulkner’s text. The (re)translation process was thus to be driven at once by theory and praxis, a dialogical process in the Bakhtinian sense. On the praxis side, one of the main aims of the project was to counter the predominance of the tragic elements in French Faulkner translations prevailing even in René Hilleret’s translation of The Hamlet, considered to be a work in which Faulkner’s humour plays an essential part. What is more, the group meant to tackle the obliteration of the regional connotations, particularly slang expressions characteristic of the southern United States, the kind of obliteration that resulted in Hilleret’s “standardized” French version. In her introduction, Durin also briefly touches on a significant reorientation with regard to the group’s paratextual apparatus, which initially had included a microtextual component relating to lexical and formal translative decisions which would have resulted in an English-French glossary of specialized terms as well as a data base of Faulkner’s stylistic devices and their possible translations. This microtextual approach was abandoned in favour of a macrotextual model relating to issues such as decentering, appropriation, and the use of Québécois vernacular to render Faulkner’s southern U.S. narrative and dialogue. The shift in focus coincided with a change in the translation approach itself, moving from what the group calls survernacularisation to a dévernacularisation that would make the text more accessible to all francophone readers while at the same time addressing concerns about reactions of the Quebec readership. The opening chapter of this volume, also by Durin, describes “la politique de traduction du GRETI” as a consideration of all the translation options available to translate what the group considered to be crucial features of Faulkner’s work. Essentially, this politique was a matter of reinstating elements that had been lost or obliterated in Hilleret’s translation, notably the humour and the speech mannerisms of the southern U.S. But it also went so far as to challenge French conventions for marking dialogue, and the original place names were retained and put in italics. Some of GRETI’s policies, such as the decision to retain appellations (such as “Mr”) and place names (which it put in italics), hardly break new ground in literary translation (would any translator title Flaubert’s novel Mrs. Bovary, or, in Anne Hébert’s Kamouraska, refer to Madame Rolland as “Mrs.”, and situate her on “Parlour Street”?). However, the group’s decision to use Québécois vernacular to translate the sociolect characteristic of the southern U.S. as it occurs in Faulkner represents a breakthrough, both in terms of translation theory, particularly in view of GRETI’s self-mandated projet progressiste, and in terms of the translated work itself. This decision, which resulted in an exponential expansion of discourse markers of both class and region, is bound to influence future translations of works in which these elements come into play. One need only think of existing English tranlations of plays by Quebec writer Michel Tremblay, in which regional discourse markers are for the most part lost. …