Risky Regencies

The German MY LADY GAMESTER

If anyone doubts that I am truly obsessive, let me lay those doubts to rest.

I obtained a German-translation copy of MY LADY GAMESTER (published by Cora under the title “Höchster Einsatz: Liebe”, which means approximately “The Greatest Gamble: Love”) and I’ve been delightedly comparing the German translation with the English original.

Total fun!

I had heard rumors, by the way, that Cora translations often were much shorter than the originals, and changed rather a lot. I only know this one translation, of course, but it seems pretty darn close to my original. Small bits are cut out — it’s been tightened, basically, and moves a bit more quickly — but the biggest change I can see is that the hero, who (in my version) is always referred to as Stoke (his title) in passages from his point of view, is in the German narration always called Richard.

And now, to prove my true obsessiveness: here’s a passage in German (the translation is by Vera Möbius, and if I ever meet her I’ll buy her a box of chocolates), followed by a comparison of the original, and my back-translation of the translation…

The passage in German:

Als ein gellender Schrei ertönte, griff Richard unwillkürlich an seine Hüfte, aber dort hing natürlich kein Degen. Und er brauchte auch gar keine Waffe.

“Louly!”, rief ein in Blau gekleideter Jüngling und stürmte die Stufen herab. Nun erkannte Richard den Bruder Atalantas. “Wie geht’s meiner Louly-Lou?” Der Bursche schwang das Mädchen hoch in die Luft und wirbelte es herum. “Oh, verdammt, wie schwer du bist! Du musst mindestens so viel wiegen wie ein Kriegsschiff, mit hundert Kanonen bestückt und Proviant für zehn Jahre beladen!” Stöhnend gab er vor, unter Loulys Gewicht zu taumeln. “Jetzt weiss ich, du musst der Elefant sein, der heute Abend hier auftreten soll.”

Ächzend und stöhnend sank er auf die Knie. Dann liess er Louly mit einem übertriebenen Seufzer der Erleichterung los, stand schwankend auf und wandte sich zu Atalanta.

“Wie stolz müssen Sie auf Ihren kleinen Elefanten sein, Ms. James…”, spottete er.

“Ja, in der Tat”, bestätigte sie, bückte sich und wischte den Staub von seiner Hose. “Es ist mein grosser Elefant, der mir solche Schwierigkeiten bereitet.”

“Wenn ich bloss ein grosser Elefant wäre!” Tom grinste Richard an. “Da kenne ich nämlich ein paar Leute, denen würde ich liebend gern auf die Zehen steigen.”

And now: on the left is my original…on the right is my best translation of the German:

From the portico above them came a shout. Stoke put his hand to his side reflexively, but of course no sword hung there.

“Louly!” called the blue-coated lad who bounded down the wide flight of steps toward them. Stoke recognized Atalanta’s brother Tom as he leapt down the last few steps and embraced Louly in a great bear-hug. “How’s my Louly-Lou? How is my plum duff?” The lad lifted Louly off her feet and whirled her around. “Oh crikey, you’re heavy! You must be big as a hundred-gun man o’ war with all its provisions on board.” Tom pretended to stagger under Louly’s weight. “I know! You must be the elephant I’ve come to see.”

[Then a couple short paragraphs showing Louly’s response, and Stoke watching Atalanta watching her siblings.]

After making a great show of being brought to his knees, Tom released Louly with an exaggerated sigh of relief. He bounced back to his feet, and turned to look at Atalanta. “You must be so proud of your little elephant, Miss James.”

Atalanta leaned over to brush the dirt off of the knees of Tom’s trousers. “Yes indeed. It’s my big elephant who causes all the trouble.”

When a ringing shout sounded, Richard reached involuntarily to his hip, but of course no sword hung there. And he needed no weapon.

“Louly!” shouted a youth dressed in blue who was storming down the steps. Now Richard recognized Atalanta’s brother. “How goes it, my Louly-Lou?” The fellow swung the girl high in the air and whirled her around. “Oh, damn, you’re so heavy! You must weigh at least as much as a hundred-cannon warship loaded with ten years’ provisions!” Groaning, he pretended to reel under Louly’s weight. “Now I know, you must be the elephant that’s going to appear here tonight.”

[The German version does not have any corresponding paragraphs.]

Moaning and groaning, he sank to his knees. Then he let go Louly with an excessive sigh of relief, bounced up and turned to Atalanta.

“How proud you must be of your little elephant, Miss James,” he teased.

“Yes, indeed,” she confirmed, bending down and wiping the dust off his trousers. “It is my big elephant which causes such difficulties for me.”

So…though I miss the plum duff, and the more boyish “crikey” instead of “damn,” I love that the warship isn’t just loaded with provisions, but with ten years’ worth!

Such fun!!!

Cara
Cara King, who has never eaten a plum duff

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Megan Frampton
14 years ago

You know, I never would have thought of comparing the versions. Very cool, Cara! Congratulations on your German edition, too.

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Very cool, Cara!

I never dared to try this with the Dutch version of LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE though based on the size of the book it doesn’t appear to be shortened much. I did give away a few copies to some Dutch and Belgian NaNoWriMo folks – maybe I’ll get up the nerve to ask them about it.

Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

LOL! I have a few of those Cora books, but haven’t thought of translating them (except for titles)–might be fun. 🙂

Lois
14 years ago

It’s strange seeing the change. . . I’m surprised how truly different it is from the original. 🙂

Lois

Linda Banche
14 years ago

The picture on the cover of the German edition looks familiar. Have a seen it elsewhere? Maybe I have.

The Word Wenches blog post here

http://wordwenches.typepad.com/word_wenches/2008/11/international-cover-makeovers-or-what-were-they-thinking-in-paris.html

also talked about international covers. Apparently, a lot of recycling goes on.

Louisa Cornell
14 years ago

How cool is that, Cara! The translation is pretty good too! I need to see about getting a copy in German as that is one of the languages I speak fairly fluently. (Or at least I did when I lived in Germany. I may be a bit rusty now!)

Reading your novel in German after having read it in the original English would be fun!

You’re international!!

Cara King
14 years ago

You know, I never would have thought of comparing the versions.

I think I did it because

(a) I’m obsessive about such things — one of my future projects is to compare British and US versions of some of my favorite books and note the differences; 🙂

(b) I’m ridiculously interested in how my writing is altered, and still stress over some of those commas that I did or did not let the copyeditor remove or add;

(c) I just spent hours every day in the half-dark waiting to go onstage, with nothing clever to do except compare the English version with the German version and try to guess what words like “Stadtpalais” probably meant… (Townhouse — sounds much fancier in German!);

(d) oh, and two of my fellow actors can read German, so if I ever really wanted to know what something meant, they’d tell me!

Cara

Cara King
14 years ago

I’m surprised how truly different it is from the original.

Interesting, Lois! Because I was struck by how similar they were.

I’m sure a lot of the changes are due to the language differences — some things just sound better one way, or are more wordy when translated literally, or something… I was tickled that they kept so much of the dialogue the same! All my silly elephant jokes… 😉

Cara

Cara King
14 years ago

The picture on the cover of the German edition looks familiar. Have a seen it elsewhere? Maybe I have.

Probably… Though they did a good matching job — my characters indeed go to the theatre, and have those hair colors…

And thanks for the link, Linda!

Cara

Cara King
14 years ago

I need to see about getting a copy in German as that is one of the languages I speak fairly fluently.

Louisa darling, I have an extra copy, and will gladly send it to you!

Cara

Louisa Cornell
14 years ago

Oooh, Cara! You are a doll! I will gladly pay you for the copy and the postage! I try to read German papers online a couple of days a week to keep my language skills up, but an entire novel (especially one I really love) would be a treat!

Greta
Greta
14 years ago

Cara,

What fun to see your mind-child in German! Very cool.

French is the only language I could work my way through a novel in. I’m studying Irish now, but not setting the bar too high.

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

I love seeing the foreign versions of our books!
But I don’t have the language skills to read them.

Todd
14 years ago

I studied German in a desultory fashion, but not really well enough to read a novel in it. The only foreign language I’ve ever managed that in is French. But I did help with a word or two here and there. 🙂

I was stimulated to learn German when I shared an office with two Germans. But it was a bit disheartening that they disagreed about how their language was pronounced. 🙂 (The were from different parts of Germany, of course…)

Todd-who-still-remembers-how-to-ask-for-Black-Forest-cake

Greta
Greta
14 years ago

Todd,

I like your story about the Germans! I had an Argentinian friend who told me that every bar in Argentina had a big unabridged dictionary. “For settling bets,” he explained. “We argue constantly over words.”

Louisa Cornell
14 years ago

Too funny, Todd! I learned German from my Russian professor (we called him the Professor of Enemy Languages) at USM. He was a Cajun from Baton Rouge who also spoke fluent Cajun French. He learned German in Berlin and thus taught me a very proper Hoch Deutsch accent. I lived, worked and sang in Bavaria for the most part where they speak anything BUT Hoch Deutsch. The first time I spoke with my professor on the phone (he always insisted we speak German or Russian) he said “You sound like a peasant!”

Keira Soleore
14 years ago

Cara, perhaps you’re meant to eat that plum while sitting on your duff. (whoda thunk?!)

I adore that warship reference. Certainly gives a more macho-ness to the scene that the oh-so-proper English Regency men (well certainly less so than the heeled powdered and patched Heyer men).

Todd
14 years ago

Well, my German former office-mates remain friends with each other and me, so I guess their linguistic differences were not an insuperable barrier. 🙂

Todd-who-sees-no-point-in-crying-over-spilt-milch

Mia
Mia
14 years ago

I love that you would sit down and translate back into English your translated novel. It is just wonderfully obsessive and brilliant — like you!

Cara King
14 years ago

Gosh, thanks, Mia! (Your bribe is in the mail.) 😉

Cara

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