Saturday, November 13, 2021

Thème agrégation, suggested translation. Passage from Amette.

    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 

Un été chez Voltaire, J P Amette


That day, everything had started off badly. Voltaire had learned of the reversal[i] suffered by the royal armies at[ii] Villinghausen. His bank balance in Geneva was moving ever farther into the red.[iii] The British[iv] had re-taken, one after the other, the Leeward Islands. Add to that[v] the fact that his favourite dog, Brigand, had been gnawing[vi] at the finest[vii] chair[viii] in[ix] his study[x]. On this, he confided to his friend, the Count of Argental : “Let us love theatre, since it is the only glory we might have left.”[xi]

At midday on this day, the second of August, he spoke with[xii] the Count of Fleckstein, and then wrote a letter to the Duke of Choiseul.[xiii] He urged him to intervene to ensure a “swift and glorious” peace, an expression which was a code between them. Finally, since he had to work on a commentary on Rodogune in an old-style Pilcrow edition, he noticed that his eye sight was failing[xiv]. In the late afternoon, he counted[xv] on Zanetta to make the tragedy he had written sound more beautiful[xvi] by reading the lines well, but, to cap it all,[xvii] Miss Obozzi, stunned to see the Count of Fleckenstein frequenting Gabriella so assiduously , was no longer properly valiant or joyful enough to recite the lines well.

Voltaire expressed his indignation[xviii] at the fact that Gabriella and other guests had not come in time for the fourth rehearsal, and then sat back[xix] in an armchair to listen to Palmire’s soliloquy[xx] from Act three scene two. [xxi] The speech begins:

I cannot keep myself from dark foreboding

This love whose idea had brought joy to my soul

This day so much longed for, is made up of terror

But when she turned towards the stalls[xxii] and said[xxiii] in sullen tone

I invoke Mohammed, and yet my heart

Is secretly horrified to hear his name.

From the British National Corpus : EMBELLISH


 That was all he said, and he was not asked to embellish.







 Teenagers can embellish their denims with plaited braids and cords from Madeira's Shoeshines.







  These serve also as the time to embellish your quickly-made basic garments. # EMBROIDERY OR KNITTING # It is surprising the number







  Quattro Pro has an Annotator which lets you embellish your graphs (-----) # LOTUS 1-2-3 # 1-2-3 for Windows is a direct descendant of






. You start off with the truth, embellish it slightly, then gradually add to it,







Other fans may feel the need to embellish the stories about what hooligans do, but the embellishments stop short of pure fantasy


From the British national corpus : TIRADE

I sent back a tirade of bitter invective…

…treating him to a scalding tirade of abuse…

I'd hardly got the receiver to my ear before he launched into a blistering tirade. " How the hell did it happen?

…he increased his tirade of abuse against O'Neill, …



[i] Or setback. « Misfortune » is too little and « defeat », I feel, is too much.

[ii] Not « in ». good time to revise the difference.

[iii] Several people were confused about collocations possible with « highly ». A search of BNC gave many examples such as highly unworthy/ highly dangerous/ highly qualified/ highly irresponsible/highly rated/ highly desirable/highly recommended/ highly educated/ highly experienced.

[iv] Not « the English » despite the historical context. The Kingdom of Great Britain was formed in 1707, when Voltaire was only 13. This novel is set much later, in the 1760s.

[v] If you put « moreover » or « furthermore » you are changing register.

[vi] The BE + ING aspect here is important. See Le Prétérit en Anglais d’Anne Trevise

[vii] « Beautiful » is too much, and « nice » is too little.

[viii] No need to say « armchair » which is unnecessarily precise, and may not be accurate.

[ix] Note preposition after superlative.

[x] « Cabinet » in this sense is too archaic.

[xi] There are other options « the one glory which remains to us, if that », for example. I liked « though even that is debatable ».

[xii] He did not have an interview, a word which is generally reserved for media appearances or recruitment procedures.

[xiii] I am practically certain that this is the gentleman we are speaking of : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89tienne_Fran%C3%A7ois,_duc_de_Choiseul


[xiv] Several other verbs are possible : diminishing, weakening, growing weaker, etc.

[xv] Note the BE + ING

[xvi] « Embellish » is at least partly a faux ami.

[xvii] « To crown it all » is good, or even « to top it all », which is no doubt a little too familiar..

[xviii] « Displeasure » is good. « Outrage » is too strong.

[xix] « Settled » is fine.

[xx] « Monologue » is fine, but soliloquy is the technical term. Good tome to revise vocabulary of plays : an aside/ an audition/ a rehearsal/ a dress rehearsal/ a backdrop/ scenery/ a box set/ a cue/ a prompter/ an extra/ an understudy

[xxi] http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/francais-definition/tirade   http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/anglais-definition/tirade For the English word « tirade » Collins gives synonyms : abuse, denunciation, diatribe, fulmination, harangue, invective, lecture, outburst, philippic 

[xxii] A good moment to revise the vocabulary for parts of a theatre. Stage right/ stage left/ the wings/ the aprom/ the stalls/ the circle/ the balcony/ the gods. I marked « audience » wrong here, but I am having second thoughts.

[xxiii] Remember not to translate word for word the structure « pour + inf » here.

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