Customer Review

64 of 73 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Wretched "Translation", September 22, 2006
This review is from: The Red and the Black (Modern Library Classics) (Paperback)
The Modern Library "translation" by Burton Raffel of THE RED AND THE BLACK is actually a vulgar, anachronistic retelling of Stendhal's novel. I recall abandoning it in disgust when the main character refers to his life as a total "blast". MTV was obviously very popular in 1830 France.

Instead, the brilliant Moncrieff translation, as revised by Stendhal scholar Ann Jefferson, is highly recommended (Everyman paperback, ISBN 0460876430).

June, 2011 update: Just read the translation Roger Gard did for Penguin just before his untimely death. It is accurate, fluent, free of Briticisms and has excellent and extensive notes. Highly recommended!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 14, 2011 5:37:39 PM PDT
John Clayton says:
Your comments are exaggerated and inaccurate. According to you, Julien refers to his life as "a total blast." He does not. A convict Julien meets in prison offers to tell him his life story. The convict says simply, "It's a blast."

You claim you abandoned the novel in disgust when you read the word "blast." I highly doubt you did anything of the kind. The use of the word "blast" occurs within pages of the end of the novel, when no one would give up on it.

You imply that the novel is full of such terms: "MTV was obviously very popular in 1838 France." Unfortunately for your veracity, the word "blast" is the one and only slang term in the entire novel; I challenge you to find another. In fact, the word choices are consistently accurate and clear, hardly vulgar or tending to slang.

Finally, the novel concludes in the year 1830, when it was written. Who knows where you came up with 1838.

Raffel's translation is clear, accurate, and lively. It is the most readable of the available translations.
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