Parallel Textcaises, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Originally written to entertain, move or chill, the eight short stories in this collection accompanied by parallel English translations now also help students gain deeper insights into French literature and life. Arranged in approximate order of difficulty, the range of stories is wide, from the stylized wit of Raymond Queneau to the beautifully written ambiguities of Philippe Sollers, from Pierre Gascar's exploration of childhood as a background to a tale of infidelity to Henri Thomas's gentle, ironic look at war.

All make wonderful reads in either language.




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I used to think I could understand the nuances and style of an English translation better than the original French. If these translations are anything to go by, that is not the case at all. Some are better than others, but overall the translations lack an absurd amount of specificity. Even if they don't leave out specific descriptions, they still use less specific words than were in the original, even when there's a good equivalent. I don't really understand why. Maybe it would sound clunky in English, but a foreign sounding translation would still be more interesting. But I guess that's why I read in languages I don't understand.<br/>There's also the sound of the language, which is even harder to capture if you're translating literally. You don't even need to know the cadence of the language, or even the words used to notice repetition.<br/>Other than an interesting look at translation, these books are essentially useless as learning tools. The translations are almost never word-for-word, and, as I said, they are consistently less specific. « Guêpe » is translated as "zip", when the author clearly means the bullets sounded like wasps, not that they went zip. This does not help you learn words, and if you can't understand the gist of a phrase, you should be reading something less advanced.<br/>An index, and notes on the harder words and grammatical structures is considerably more helpful.<br/>