Monday, January 13, 2020

Préparation à l'agrégation : suggested translation Montherlant

Wednesday we will look at the concours blanc. The following Wednesday, the passager from Lafon.
Extract from Les Jeunes filles
[According to wikipedia : Le cycle des Jeunes Filles ne possède pas à proprement parler d'intrigue. Le roman met en scène Costals, écrivain à succès, et raconte ses relations, amoureuses ou non, avec différentes admiratrices qui se confient à lui par une abondante correspondance à laquelle il ne répond pas toujours. Montherlant brosse ainsi plusieurs portraits féminins acérés, tout en étant sans complaisance avec son héros.
Deux personnages féminins émergent particulièrement. Andrée Hacquebaut tout d'abord, une jeune fille disgracieuse de province, admiratrice des romans de Costals. Indépendante et intellectuelle, elle entretient d'abord une correspondance avec l'écrivain avant de le rencontrer réellement par la suite. Solange Dandillot est la seconde femme à laquelle se lie Costals. Il s'agit d'une jeune femme moderne, plus simple et moins profonde qu'Andrée. Elle est à la fois charmante et terne aux yeux de son amant. Alors qu'il n'est pas amoureux d'elle, Costals est poursuivi par ce qu'il appelle le "démon du bien" et songe un moment à l'épouser.]

      I cannot bear young girls. I pity women stuck in bad marriages. Illicit love disgusts me.  What then should I do? …And, I shall turn thirty in April. Thirty – that fateful age! It makes my head spin. I am terrified[2] of making a mess of everything. Oh Costals, what am I to do with my life ?
      One thing alone allows me to go on: knowing that you exist. You are the only person who can give me a woman’s equilibrium. How soothing it is just to close my eyes for a moment and tell myself that you exist. Ah, creatures such as yourself[3] should be thanked for being, just for being ! Is fire less glorious for needing to be ignited? I love you like a torch whose flame lights me up. And now, this is what has happened : you have made all men bland, all destinies mediocre, and this shall be true till I die.[4] I can no longer think of conventional happiness, I mean, of any marriage,  – without thinking of my entire being fleeing that insipid fate, because never will I have the courage to devote my life to a man I barely loved.[5] Imagine a mortal woman who had[6] loved Jupiter[7]: she would never again be able to love any man, and yet would always be longing desperately to love one.
      How I wish I could have done something for you, for your great work ! But I can do nothing, nothing at all !  Were I able to write, I would write articles about you, or a book. I would that you were poor, sick and misunderstood, wandering, in search of your mission as a man, in the same way as I am in search of my mission as a woman. Your weakness would be my strength. But it cannot be so. You need no one, you are as if settled in your solitude, and that confidence that others hate in you, I lament. I have no hope of being able to feel that bond, that special bond, between you and me, this unique link : the assurance that you can depend on me entirely.
Henri de Montherlant, Les jeunes filles.

[1] Note formal and literary register.
[2] « scared to death » is too familiar.
[3] More literary than « creatures like you ».
[4] Or « for the whole of my life ».
[5] Careful : « Would » is impossible.
[6] Careful : « would » is impossible.
[7] Not « Jove » which appears only in the fixed expression « By Jove ! »

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