Most helpful critical review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating artist, bad translation
on April 23, 2014
I just "discovered" Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun and bought this translation by Lionel Strachey of her memoirs. Fortunately, I also bought another translation on amazon, "The Memoirs of Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrum, Camden Press, translation by Sian Evans after I read an online review saying how much better this was than this Dodo Press edition. It is! Not only is the Camden Press version the full memoirs (not abridged), but the meaning isn't distorted as it is in this translation. For example, on p. 4, it reads "I had spent one happy year at home when my father fell ill. After two months of suffering all hope of his recovery was abandoned." At first I wondered why she was so happy returning home upon the illness of her father. Also, the translator doesn't include what caused the father's illness, even though his loss was a major event in the artist's life. In the Camden Press version, the description makes more sense, "I had just spent a very happy year in the family home, when my father fell ill. He had accidentally swallowed a fish bone which had become lodged in his stomach. In order to remove it he had to undergo several operations.... ...the wounds festered and after two months of suffering, my fathers condition left little hope of recovery." That's just one of many examples where this book is just slightly off the mark enough to cause confusion. I stopped reading this book when I saw how critical information had been dropped, so if you can't find the Camden Press version, be sure to look for another translation that's not "abridged." Finally, I was looking forward to the images in this Dodo Press "illustrated edition". Unfortunately, none of the images are in color and all are printed on the dull paper used for the text, so they're not very sharp. Finally, there's no information in the captions other than the person depicted so it's not clear which were painted by Vigee-Lebrun, and what year.