loving and (although I'm loathe to admit it) hating Ramuz

A short break from work today to reveal my conflicted heart to you…

Why I love C.F. Ramuz (as a reader):

He has brought Switzerland into closer focus for me, with his intricate details of traditional village life, his sly view of social failure, and his careful dissection of personal vice and caprice

His language is a pure pleasure to read, filled with extraordinary descriptions and unconventional metaphor

He is as thorough as Balzac in his attempt to catalogue daily life. It is clear to me that he literally lived to observe the world around him and then worked extremely hard to distill what he observed into a kind of perfect, polished artifact

He is as devoted to the natural world as he is to the human world, rendering both with an unusual acuity

Why I hate C.F. Ramuz (as a translator):

Too many semicolons

He loves to switch tenses, using a particular narrative authority (like an invisible storyteller) that moves fluidly from looking back upon an event (a more formal past-tense stance) to bringing the reader inside the event, despite it being in the past (a more informal present-tense stance)

His absolute preference for the French pronoun “on” is distracting at best, most of the time it is a nightmare…the last paragraph I worked on used “on” to mean “everyone in general” at first, then later “a group of young persons” but from their own collective perspective and then later he uses it in reference to one woman’s thoughts which is the most unconventional use of “on” I’ve ever seen and he gets away with it only because he’s melding the telling of her story with an omniscient invisible storyteller who is “sharing” the voice with her

And now back to work!

5 Comments

  1. Gosh it must be hard when you have to get as deep into a work as possible to translate it. Every little tic of the author must become apparent – the ‘on’ thing would drive me mad! And the tenses, too!

  2. My French sucks so I’ll have to read your translation first; a work which, all headaches aside, sounds really juicy.

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