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That Mad Ache: A Novel Paperback – May 12, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

As a teen-ager, Françoise Sagan (1935-2004) rocketed to world renown with her prize-winning and best-selling novel Bonjour Tristesse. She went on to write many other successful novels, including A Certain Smile and Aimez-vous Brahms, as well as numerous plays and memoirs.

Douglas Hofstadter is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach. Among his more recent works are Le Ton beau de Marot, a verse translation of Alexander Pushkin’s novel-in-verse Eugene Onegin, and I Am a Strange Loop. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465010989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465010981
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,055,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Rosalie Maggio on August 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To luxuriate in lovely language, to visit another time, another place, another mindset, check out this new translation of "La Chamade." Lucile is a one-of-a-kind character, but Sagan's writing, and Hofstadter's translation, make her accessible even to those of us who couldn't imagine, on our own, living the type of life she leads. Like the end of a good mystery, her final choice is at once surprising and predictable. A good read. (Almost as interesting is the appended 100-page essay on the art of translation.)
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Format: Paperback
The beautiful french novel La Chamade, universally acknowledged as one of Sagan's best, suffers tremendously in this funky, inadequate translation. Even the English title delightedly concocted by the translator (see his rationale in the book's accompanying essay) is ill-conceived. Mr. Hofstadter has Pulitzer credentials and a professed love of the original. But in my opinion, he fails to capture the essential subtlety in the characters, the sophisticated sensibilities of the narrative, and the mesmerizing original prose. I agree with many of his opinions regarding the various roles of a translator, but I wish he had had the courage to recognize that in this case they do not justify the publication of his very personal exercise, and left it to remain unpublished. The R. Westhoff version (E.P.Dutton, 1966) is far superior, and I hope readers choose to search for this as their bridge to the wonderful mind of Ms. Sagan.
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Format: Paperback
This is really two books in one. "That Mad Ache" was originally written in French by Sagan and is translated here by Hofstadter. "Translator, Trader" is an essay Hofstadter wrote about translation while translating the Sagan work. The essay is a masterpiece. Some would have you believe that translation is a craft---dictionary lookup plus application of grammar rules to rewrite one set of words into another. Hofstadter delves into the reason why this belief is wrong. There are a number of paradoxes in translation and trying to stay too true to the original text leaves you with a "translation" which no master of the destination language would ever write. Hofstadter properly views translation as moving from text to ideas and then back to text. So, in many cases, he "adds" and/or "removes" text which might cause another translator's jaw to drop. But, when reading "That Mad Ache", I find the text to be something an excellent (American) English writer might writer rather than an obvious "translation." I haven't fully read "That Mad Ache" yet, but my wife loved it. It's essentially a classic story of a lady deciding between a wealthy, elderly gentleman and a young, dynamic stud. The main character is greedy in her relationship decisions, but the view from her soul that Sagan/Hofstadter provides does not feel this way as you read it---she is human and sincere and she struggles with decisions as we all do.
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