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Note on Translation

Note on Translation

(p.29) Note on Translation
Nicholas D. Paige
University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents some remarks about the translation of Zayde. Zayde's language has two distinct registers. When characters are at ease with one another, or in the throes of passion, and Lafayette deploys the acutely modern psychological acumen for which she is known, the reader may forget that the romance is over three hundred years old. But sooner or later the reader is bound to be reminded of the work's age: the formal diction used at court, the occasional descriptions of military heroics, and the syntactical and lexical particularities. No rendering can make certain of its aspects—the repeated recourse to slippery concepts such as merit and fortune, or to roles such as the royal favorite and the confidant—seem natural to the modern reader. But the reader should also remember that romances were, intentionally and for their original audiences, tinged with a charming archaism: the whole point, after all, of the Arcadian loves of shepherds or the bravery of Roman lovers was that readers knew they no longer lived in such a world.

Keywords:   Zayde, translation, romance novels, archaism

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