Monday, 5 September 2011


"Earth, mingled with stones, fell onto the coffin; and the world would never mention him again".

- Sentimental Education


jason r said...

hello, which translation is this?

if it's the same part, mine reads ~

'the pebbly earth fell into place; and the world had done with Monsieur Dambreuse'

which is far less satisfying.

Alex Niven said...

It's Adrianne Tooke's revised ("and to all intents and purposes new" - blurb) translation of the Bouvard Edition.

Yes - the version you quote is much less powerful. I was just struck by the fact that this standalone paragraph literally stops dead the jolting, cinema-reel montage of the preceding 400-odd pages.

It reminded me of an Imagist poem. The whole argument about materialism condensed into a few well-chosen syllables.

jason said...

Thanks for that, will look out for it.

I kind of see what you mean about the juncture, though I know little of Imagist poetry.

I've been re~reading bits of it as it seems an interesting historical precedent for an elitist reaction to social unrest.

I particularly like this part;

'Most of the men there had served at least four governments; and they would have sold Fraqnce or the whole human race to safeguard their fortune ... or even out of mere servility and instinctive worship of strength. They all declared political crimes were unpardonable. It would be far better to forgive those crimes which were caused by want. And they did not fail to cite the classic example of the family man who steals the classic piece of bread from the classic baker.'

Alex Niven said...

Yes! That was the other point at which I looked up from the book and thought, well done that man.

It is great stuff. I struggled with the first 200 or so pages, but once the political contexts started impinging on the narrative it sprang to life. A really good companion piece to Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.