Reflections on Translating French Art PR
Here’s another: it piles descriptive sentence fragments together into which the writer might think is a crescendoing flood but is actually just a list.
Here’s a third: the tone and style have a certain self-satisfied cleverness of the “clin d’oeil erudit” school.
It’s enough to make a writing instructor scrabble at the floor, vomiting blood. Dilemma below the fold.
Writing about visual art tends to be bad, but the rococco standards of French prose pose a particular problem for an English-language translator, whose audience expects more substantive, plain-prose commentary.
As I see it, a translator of French art-journalistic glitter and powder has two options.
The first option appeals to the honest Puritan: extract the sense from the foldelol and make it conform to Anglo standards of coherence.
The second is the default option: render the original silliness and hope that nobody will blame it on you.
If I like the writer, I'll tend to go for the first. If the writer seems pretentious and overblown, I'll tend towards the second. Is this wrong? Have I got it backwards?