Biggles’s friend André: A study of Malraux in English translation

Peter Fawcett

Stuart Gilbert’s 1935 translation of André Malraux’s La Voie royale deploys an entire arsenal oft ranslation techniques to rewrite and rework the text at the levels of le xis and syntax in ways which emphasise one dimension of the novel, and so give the impression that Gilbert was re-siting the work in a sub-system of English literature different from the location it occupied in the French literary system. The techniques he used and their effect on reception are analysed, as are his likely reasons for adopting such a specific translation posture, and, in particular, whether his approach is the result ofa particular personality type, whether it can be seen as an example of a polysystem-governed adaptation, or whether it is a regime-bound translation.

Table of contents

In “Macerated Malraux” (Fawcett 1997), I outlined some of the basic tenets of polysystem theory as a basis for arguing that Stuart Gilbert’s 1935 translation of André Malraux’s La Voie royale [The Royal Way] showed systematic shifts that might also be seen as systemic, genericising the book more firmly as an adventure novel than the original, possibly, although this can be no more than speculation, with a view to facilitating the entry of a foreign work into a system that may have considered translated literature in general inferior. The main points of this earlier article are summarised below and the argument taken further by a comparison of some of Gilbert’s translation moves with verbal and narrative routines used in two English adventure novels from the early twentieth century.

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Appendix: Translations done by Stuart Gilbert

(This list is compiled from the holdings ofthe Library ofC ongress and does not claim to be complete.)

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1941Man’s Hope (L’Éspoir). Translated with Alastair Macdonald. New York: The Modern Library.Google Scholar
1978Voices of Silence (Les Voix du silence). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
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1939The Thibaults (Les Thibault). Pts 1–6. New York: The Viking Press.Google Scholar
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1942Affairs of Destiny. Contains translations of L’Homme de Londres (Newhaven, Dieppe) and Le Haut mal (The Woman of the Gray House). London: G. Routledge & Sons Ltd. American edition: 1944 New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.Google Scholar
1942Maigret and Monsieur Labb. Contains translations of Le Port des brumes (Death of a Harbor-Master) and Le Relais d’Alsace (The Man From Everywhere) . New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.Google Scholar
1943Escape in Vain. Contains translations of Le Locataire (The Lodger) and Les Suicidés (One Way Out) . London: G.Routledge & Sons Ltd. Google Scholar
1943Havoc By Accident. Contains translations of Le Blanc à lunettes (Talatala) and Les Demoiselles de Concarneau (The Breton Sisters) . London: G. Routledge & Sons. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.Google Scholar
1943Tropic Moon (Le Coup de lune). New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. Google Scholar
1944On the Danger Line. Contains translations of Faubourg (Home Town) and Le Suspect (The Green Thermos ). New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. Google Scholar
1945The Shadow Falls (Le Testament Donadieu). London: Routledge. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.Google Scholar
1946Lost Moorings. Contains translations of Touriste de bananes (Banana Tourist) and Chemin sans issue (Blind Path ). London: G. Routledge & Sons Ltd. Google Scholar
1946The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By (L’Homme qui regardait passer les trains). New York: Reynal and Hitchcock.Google Scholar