Writing about the aggressive nature of man’s penetration of woman, [earlier translator] Parshley felicitously translates a Beauvoir phrase as “her inwardness is violated.” In contrast, [new translators] Borde and Malovany- Chevallier’s rendering states that woman “is like a raped interiority.” And where Parshley has Beauvoir saying of woman, “It is she who defines herself by dealing with nature on her own account in her emotional life,” the new translators substitute, “It is she who defines herself by reclaiming nature for herself in her affectivity.” In yet another example, man’s approach to woman’s “dangerous magic” is seen this way in Parshley: “He sets her up as the essential, it is he who poses her as such and thus he really acts as the essential in this voluntary alienation.” But in Borde and Malovany-Chevallier, “it is he who posits her, and he who realizes himself thereby as the essential in this alienation he grants.” Throughout, there are truly inexcusable passages in which the translators even lack a proper sense of English syntax: “Moments women consider revelations are those where they discover they are in harmony with a reality based on peace with one’s self.”You may wonder who will read writing like that, but the book will be assigned in courses... that you'd probably be wise not to take. So the good news is: repellent writing is a good thing. Like evil-tasting poison.
May 31, 2010
Virginia Postrel, noting the "needlessly ugly and opaque the prose" of academics, quotes Francine du Plessix Gray's review of the new translation of Simone de Beauvoir's "Second Sex":