Friday, November 12, 2021

Thème agrégation Suggested translation, passage from Masse

   Note that this translation will only remain on the blog for a couple of weeks.

If you are a visitor to this blog and you want to see the original passage we were translating from, you will find it here  http://www.jcmullen.fr/0921themebooklet.pdf 

        The church clock[1] showed[2] that it was[3] three o'clock. Beneath[4] a star-studded[5] sky,[6] a sleeping village clung to a rock overlooking the Mediterranean. The moon[7] gave the limestone coastline a pallid[8] hue and made a stream of silvery scales dance over the vast navy blue expanse. The silence was heavy. Barking[9] could suddenly be heard. It spread around and echoed in the alleys that led to a park which lay on an outcrop[10], like a balcony over the sea. The autumn breeze began to blow in gusts. The cypresses bent their heads. The pines and pistachio trees bowed down in the vast shadow of an ancient building. It was the shadow[11] of a mighty, solid tower, whose marble whiteness made the moon look paler.[12] The squalls ceased. A noise pierced the silence. It sounded like the dying gasp[13] of a wounded animal, crawling on the ground. Or rather, like the sound of someone dragging a weight on the gravel, exhaling loudly at intervals. Under the oak trees, hidden from the faint gleam, two figures were walking in procession. One[14] man, rather stout and tall, was pulling a bulky bag with one hand. From time to time, he exhaled loudly, a sign of the arduousness of his task. He was closely followed by a lean, slender man, with a very stiff walk, wearing a hat. He carried a rope wrapped around his shoulder.

        "Stop here. This tree will do," said the slightly hoarse voice, with the faint accent of a Parisian street urchin.

        "Good! I was getting tired of this."

        The fat man had said this in an American accent, chewed like gum. He spat out an excess of saliva in the form of a whitish froth. He dropped the bag which rolled across the ground to a moon-bleached rock, which it banged into. With the effect of  the shock, the cord that fastened it snapped and revealed, under the pale light, the body of a young man.




[1] Or « the bell-tower clock ».

[2] « Read » is possible. « Indicated » is too formal.

[3] Adding a verb is not compulsory here.

[4] « beneath » is more literary than « under » and skies studded with stars are always  a little poetic.

[5] « A sky studded with stars » is fine, but why not show you can make these compound adjectives ?

[7] I would not put a capital letter for « moon », but my New Oxford  Dictionary says you may if you wish.

[8] Someone found « pasty » which is good.

[9] Not « *Some barking… ». The problem here is not  a certain quantity of barking, but barking in general.

[10] If you want to know what an outcrop looks like, search for the word on Google Images.

[11] Remember that repeating a word does not need to be avoided in English, as it does in French.

[12] If  you think it is simply an optical effect ( a very white thing makes a white thing look suddenly less white), translate as I have. If you think it is a poetic expression, you may try « made the moon pale with envy ».

[13] Also « death rattle ».

[14] Not « A man ».

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