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Marcel Bülles
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Good luck with getting it up online again!
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2013 on Magnatune unavailable at Magnatune blog
Dear Sedulia, thank you again for accepting my comment. I should maybe clarify my last comment on a few points. First of all I'd like to say that I am very happy to see you taking an interest in these wonderful pieces of literature you mentioned above - which as you may imagine have been of great importance and interest to me, too. Tolkien has this particular quality of making readers interesting in reading more and other books - I came to most of this via his writings. And secondly, reading that you have indeed received an answer by the Professor really makes me jealous :) I was born in 1972 so I found it quite difficult to make myself understandable at the time and writing was out of the question so no hope for me there. My rather stilted way of writing English including a rather large number of subordinate clauses might give me away as a native German speaker. I have lived in Scotland and the US and I generally visit England once a year but yes, indeed, my English is not that of a native speaker. I am not trying to insinuate that any native English speaker would have any trouble at all in understanding your translation, not at all. However, the quality of Raphaëlle Rerolle's French is such that especially with a longer piece (and in such a prominent place such as 'Le Monde') you would have to be very knowledgeable to understand the 'fine print' she puts inbetween the lines - and transferring this in an appreciative manner into English is a truly challenging task. This is one of the main reasons why Christopher gave an interview in French, not English; otherwise he could have simply gone for the TLS. Now, as much as I would love to offer suggestions of how any translation of this article might have been improved (and this is most certainly the envy of a translator speaking here who was not allowed to offer this translation to the public) I cannot do this - 'Le Monde' has said no and all other relevant parties have said no, either. The only reason why this translation is still online is because nobody has bothered to make you take it down. As a freelance translator I am very well aware of any copyright issues involved in this and will most definitely not put my foot in something the copyright holders would not approve of. It is quite disappointing for me at this point to kind of 'leave the discussion' but you are right in asking for a comparison - that would necessarily offer more options for talk about. Unfortunately, that is something I can't do. Let me just say that I am in no way an admirer of Christopher Tolkien who has just barged in your blog to tell everyone out there what a great guy he is - and that your translation is completely wrong; that is not the case. However, when I read the original French text I can do nothing but sympathise with his position and with your translation I feel inclinced to put him down as a guy only out for the money. To me, your very precise and eloquent wordings in this translation very much arrive at that aim - but then again, I may still misinterpret it as I am not a native speaker.
Dear Sedulia, thank you very much for accepting my comment into your blog. No, I wouldn't want this article to remain in its "pristine French"; I belong to a group of translators who had translated this article directly after its publication but as there are at least three copyright holders involved we had officially asked for permission which was, of course, not granted, for the reasons I outlined above - that by a translation misunderstandings would arise. And that has happened. Although your translation is in many places not wrong it unfortunately portrays Christopher Tolkien and the other persons quoted in this article as rather "snobbish" - the number of negative responses to your translation is proof enough of this. This is not true, though, to the original French text where the Tolkien Estate and its work over the last few decades is being shown in a very favourable light; understandably, as you would imagine Christopher after at least two decades of public silence (his last major public appearance has been the 1992 conference in Oxford) not to accept the publication of an interview which would not be able to show the intricacies and obstacles of the Tolkien literary heritage due to the Jacksonian merchandising deluge. Particularly the last paragraph with the longer quote by Christopher Tolkien himself is off the mark and prone to make people believe that he is, excuse my French, a snobbish English old fart who is miffed at not making billions out of his father's heritage - which considering the history of his work in the last 40 years is indeed laughable. This is not about money but the protection of the integrity of a most influential literary heritage being distorted beyond the point of no recognition. That should have been made clear in your translation and that has not happened. It would have been better to add an explanatory note to the translation inviting the readers to actually have a look at the facts involved - the readership of "Le Monde" is obviously expected to read between the lines and that is something which really is difficult to explain in a simple one-to-one translation.
Most people don't realise that the film and merchandise rights don't really go anywhere but to people who make loads of money with them - for what purpose? Quite a substantial amount of money the Tolkien Estate has to forcibly get from those merchandise right holders goes into the Tolkien Trust, a foundation working in the UK that hands it out to charitable causes. The interview was given in French for obvious reasons - in translation it would be used and abused in the English-speaking media against the Tolkien Estate's justified attempt at protecting the literary heritage. Unfortunately, this translation has proven them right, again. The direct quotes have not been translated wrongly but as with any translation with a sligth slant in meaning and therefore are open to misinterpretation. In the original text Christopher Tolkien comes off very well in explaining the shortcomings of the Jacksonian fallout; this does not seem to be the case with this translation. There is no doubt that there has been renewed interest in Tolkien due to the film trilogies and for that I am grateful as a fan but it is laughable to consider the most successful author of the 20th century (with more than a 100 million copies of both Hobbit and LotR sold by 1997 ;)) in need of advertisement - that is a logical fallacy the marketing departments of the film companies involved have made cinema-goers believe. When Jackson has come and gone people will still read the books.
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Nov 24, 2012