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01/09/2012

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Lucie Moses

I like the double entendre of the English title "Swann's Way". I believe Proust would approve of this translation. The French "Du Côté de Chez Swann" does have slightly different connotations.

1) It refers clearly to the path the narrator and his family took for their daily path in Combray.

2) Literally, it means "On Swann's Side" and i see it as a reference to the whole milieu he evolves in... himself but also his friends, his wife, his daughter and his social class. It's like Swann is not quite at the center of the action but rather at its periphery, if you see what I mean.

3) We trust that we will later be introduced to a new cast of characters and a more aristocratic side of things, as promised by the title of the 3rd book "Le Côté de Guermantes".

Speaking of things that might be lost in translation. I like to point out that in the 3rd and final chapter of the first book, I find it striking that the children say "vous" (and not "tu") to each other. This makes it all the more intimate and poignant when little Gilberte decides to call the narrator by his first name.

Tom

Very interesting. Thank you Lucie! Where is it that Gilberte calls the Narrator by his first name?

Lucie

That's about 25 pages before the end of the first book.

"Et il y eut un jour aussi où elle me dit : « Vous savez, vous pouvez m’appeler Gilberte, en tous cas moi, je vous appellerai par votre nom de baptême. C’est trop gênant. » Pourtant elle continua encore un moment à se contenter de me dire « vous », et comme je le lui faisais remarquer, elle sourit, et composant, construisant une phrase comme celles qui dans les grammaires étrangères n’ont d’autre but que de nous faire employer un mot nouveau, elle le termina par mon petit nom."

The poor reader, though, is denied the pleasure of finding out what the narrator's first name is. That remains a mystery.

Nathalie Dubois-Stringfellow

May be a better translation would be "Down Swann's way".. a little more subtle and light than "Swann's way".

Rachel Saunders

I just saw this post and since I think I may be the only American in the group reading the books in French, I wanted to piggyback on what Lucie says above about "du cote de chez swann" vs "le cote de guermantes". I think that we might be able to think of this subtle differentiation as "on the side of swann" vs "the side of guermantes". I have not yet read the third volume, but my guess is that its title indicates a more constricted sense of place, whereas the first volume's approach to place is a bit more meandering, more open-ended and subjective... just a thought!

Dirk Stchko

Thank you all for these differences - it adds to the flavor nicely...

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