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Old 1st Nov 2007, 12:15   #21
Ang
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Default Re: Book 37 : Thérèse Raquin by Zola

This is the one I've got.
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 15:39   #22
Beth
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Default Re: Book 37 : Thérèse Raquin by Zola

I just had a premonition that Laurent is going to do something terrible to Thérèse. Just dawned on me. Of course he is.
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 19:26   #23
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Post Re: Book 37 : Thérèse Raquin by Zola

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beth
That is really interesting, Ang. I'm reading the second ed, and the sentence She had never seen a real man before brought such a vivid picture of Thérèse into my head that I "got" her right at that moment. What I'm relishing about this, apart from the lust story that's written so well he didn't need specifics, are the depictions of the intimacy that exists between all the characters, especially between Laurent and Camille. They were ostensibly friends, which makes the outcome even more shocking.


Good one! A bit of both perhaps? That preface had me expecting something entirely cool in tone and color. What I'm "seeing" and gathering is warm with detail and emotion.
I love these angles on the prose introduced by translations ... Beth, I wish I could get parts of Ang's last post - and Ono's - AND yours into one response, but I can't get the multi-quotes in. Sorry - I'll try to improvise.

From Ono's text (and I'm being very cautious about the French), I think the English would be simply "She had never seen a man" (is that your reading, Ono?), where we might expect "Elle n'avait vu un tel homme": "she had never seen such a man."


The Viztelly - "she had never seen such a man" would work well with the description of Laurent which follows (snippets): "Laurent, who was tall and robust, with a florid complexion, astonished her. It was with a feeling akin to admiration that she ....etc." Laurent is crude, he's strong, "the real son of a peasant" - and I think Ang is right, that isn't quite the same thing as "a real man" ...although it falls evocatively right into Zola's exploration (if it really is one) of what constitutes "a real man" under certain specific conditions - "absolutely swayed by their nerves and blood."

Zola also makes unusual links ... "obstinate, tranquil manner" - or Therese, "lost in contemplation of his [L's] giant hands" - the same giant hands which will murder Camille.


More to come.
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 23:39   #24
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Default Re: Book 37 : Thérèse Raquin by Zola

Would we put up with this, in this day and age? Probably not, but what fun to read it now, as "history".
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 23:42   #25
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Default Re: Book 37 : Thérèse Raquin by Zola

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beth View Post
I just had a premonition that Laurent is going to do something terrible to Thérèse. Just dawned on me. Of course he is.
I'll hold off answering this until you've finished...
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Old 1st Nov 2007, 23:44   #26
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Default Re: Book 37 : Thérèse Raquin by Zola

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Originally Posted by Ang View Post
This is the one I've got.
...and it's identical to mine. Wonder why yours doesn't have Zola's preface. Strange, isn't it?I'm curious what you mean by putting up with this. Do you mean Zola's purported "study" of Thérèse and Laurent as animals? Or his assessment of Thérèse at meeting Laurent?

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Old 1st Nov 2007, 23:45   #27
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Default Re: Book 37 : Thérèse Raquin by Zola

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I'll hold off answering this until you've finished...
Thanks, I'll finish it tonight come hell or high water!
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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 0:00   #28
Ang
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Default Re: Book 37 : Thérèse Raquin by Zola

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Originally Posted by Beth View Post
...and it's identical to mine. Wonder why yours doesn't have Zola's preface. Strange, isn't it?I'm curious what you mean by putting up with this. Do you mean Zola's purported "study" of Thérèse and Laurent as animals? Or his assessment of Thérèse at meeting Laurent?
My edition has Zola's 2nd Edition preface, but the online edition doesn't.

As for "Putting up with" - I'd better leave that 'til you're finished too, I think.
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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 0:05   #29
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Post Re: Book 37 : Thérèse Raquin by Zola

About Ang's more central question - are we to believe that Zola intended his view of human "psychology" to be taken seriously ... or is this a display of very dark irony?

Although he says he's studying those who have become "monsters" - "Therese and Laurent are human brutes, nothing more ..." - and although he goes on to talk about this degradation resulting "from the excessive strain on their nerves", Zola's imagery of decay - moral and otherwise -begins very early.

Zola seems (to me) to be sardonic from the beginning of Therese. His images are openly pathological and the behaviour of his characters is repellent from the start. He never lets the reader think that Camille, for instance, can be other than weak, taking advantage of a sickliness which is mostly of Mme Raquin's making. He quickly reveals Laurent as calculating and brutal, conspicuously the anti-artist; and the enigmatic Therese, who begins as a child by sharing Camille's bed and taking his medicines and who finishes the novel in the same place but taking a slightly different pharmaceutical.

At the centre is the mother, Mme Raquin ... and her needs pave the way for most of the contrived connections which follow. To her cost.

Back to the imagery - as I mentioned, pathological: the pictures of illness seem to be everywhere; the house by the Arcade of the Pont Neuf is damp and filthy, the storefronts "lugubrious cavities animated by fantastic forms", close to "a ... black wall, looking as if covered with leprosy ..." It could suit Zola's "psychological" purpose ... but it's more claustrophobic than "naturalistic".

And Z.'s chapters always end with one more unpleasant habit or calculation.
(I began to watch for chapter endings.)
Ch. 1 ends with a brief note on Camille: "The husband who was always trembling with fever went to bed." And on Therese, the wife, who "went to bed in a disdainful indifference."
By Ch. 4, Therese is having hallucinations, and Ch. 6 centres on a portrait which makes me wonder why critics have linked Zola and "naturalism." Laurent begins a portait of Camille, and has already begun his adulterous calculations, contemplating Therese. The portrait is described as "vile", full of greys and greens - unhealthy colours for a human face ... and finally (Zola isn't subtle here), we discover on the canvas "the greenish visage of a person who had met his death by drowning."

At this point especially, the novel can't help but make an English-speaking reader think of Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) - later than Zola, but shot through with a similar disgust for the pettyness of evil. It too has a Preface which reads like a manifesto. (Wilde wrote it.)
Sample:
"There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all."

But so far, I wish I could have found a bit more to like in Zola's novel. It seems strained, Gothic, and as if pushing much too hard to make his point - if he is serious (Ang's question) from a clinical point of view.

Otherwise in an old cupboard at the back of my mind, I keep thinking it's been done before .. and more powerfully, in another work. The ambition and self-deception, the crime, the hallucinations, the hauntings, the tension between the two lovers caught up in the consequences of their deeds, ... and the immense insight into the psychology of criminal behaviour. Macbeth!


But I'm still waiting for more from the rest of the Zola gang; I do think too that the questions around language (translations), and around Zola's "intention" are central - and fascinating.
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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 8:42   #30
ono no komachi
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Default Re: Book 37 : Thérèse Raquin by Zola

Quote:
Originally Posted by ono no komachi View Post
Project Gutenberg has the following French text:

Quote:
Thérèse, qui n'avait pas encore prononcé une parole, regardait le nouveau venu. Elle n'avait jamais vu un homme.
To me this seems closer to the first of the translations quoted by Ang, but maybe others will have a different view.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aemy View Post
From Ono's text (and I'm being very cautious about the French), I think the English would be simply "She had never seen a man" (is that your reading, Ono?), where we might expect "Elle n'avait vu un tel homme": "she had never seen such a man."
If I were doing a careful word-for-word translation I would come up with this:

Quote:
Thérèse, who had not yet spoken a word, was looking at the newcomer. She had never seen a man.
If I were translating in exam conditions (dredging my mind back a long long way!) I would probably come up with the following, taking into account the context and the kind of thing I would think would be expected when translating a literary text.

Quote:
Thérèse, who had not yet uttered a word, gazed at the newcomer. She had never before seen a man like him.
My second translation does trouble me - as aemy says, this is how you would translate had the text had 'un tel homme'. But to my mind the English 'She had never seen a man' sounds too bald and factual (and therefore untrue). I'm almost tempted to translate the second sentence as 'It was as though she had never seen a man before.' But that just seems like adding far too much to the original.

Trying not to take this thread too OT, if anyone is interested in such typical difficulties of translation, I can heartily recommend Umberto Eco's Mouse or Rat? which is an erudite but amazingly readable study of such things, with loads of good examples.
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