Page:The Craftsmanship of Writing.djvu/274

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THE TECHNIQUE OF TRANSLATING

able to produce a fairly adequate rendering of Une Passion Dans le Désert or of La Fête à Coqueville without ever having heard the phrases, Comédie Humaine or Les Rougon-Macquart. Yet it is safe to say that there would be something missing, something of that intangible personality which lies behind the words and which would persistently elude any translator who was not thoroughly imbued with the writings of Balzac or of Zola in their entirety. I remember a striking instance of this in the case of a translation published some years ago of Stendhal's Chartreuse de Parme. Now anyone who is familiar with Stendhal knows that his style was short, abrupt, rather bold, formed as he himself ironically insisted on a daily reading of the Civil Code. But this the translator in question did not happen to know; it was safe to assume that aside from the Chartreuse de Parme he had never read

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