Books Just to prove that translating anything into another language can go very badly (in reference to my rant below), The Atlantic reviews an English version of Stendahl's 'Le Rouge et le Noir'
"urton Raffel has produced a generally accurate but, I think, coarse and inappropriate translation of Le Rouge et le Noir. To this English reader, his frequent use of specifically American idioms is startling. It is peculiar, in a work so much about nineteenth-century European snobbery and social constraint, to come across the term "high school"; to hear casual dialogue like "Sure, he looked at you" and "Oh, fine"; to find nouns like "hick" and "bumpkin" and "high society." There is no particular reason to think that idioms current elsewhere in the English-speaking world would be more appropriate, but Raffel's choices are so clearly rooted in a more democratic viewpoint that one of the subtle effects of the novel is lost. To have socially unequal characters say, "Sure, he looked at you," is to introduce an alien note of breezy democracy to Stendhal's agonizingly stratified world."
Strangely I don't have any problem with the similar issue of reading subtitles on French movies -- I wouldn't expect the a formal English style on something like Taxi or La Haine -- they need to using the word of the street to get the point across. It's all to do with context. You can download all of the author's words in French from Project Gutenburg here.

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