Who’s this guy and what is he doing on
Dan Simmons’s web site?
My name is Jean-Daniel Brèque, I’m a professional
translator by trade, and I’ve translated into French
several of Dan’s books (CARRION COMFORT, PHASES OF GRAVITY,
THE CROOK FACTORY…). Since I check out his website every
day – or nearly so –, sometimes answering queries
on the forum, he’s asked me to write a column for the
new, revamped version.
Our exchange took place on December, 11th, 2003, Saint Daniel’s
day on the calendar over here, which I find fitting.
|Some information about my humble self, for those of you who
care: I’m pushing fifty, I’ve been a professional
translator for seventeen years now, and I’ve also worked
as a publisher’s reader for Editions Albin Michel, as
assistant editor for the late Alain Dorémieux when he
edited the Territoires de l’Inquiétude series of
horror anthologies for Editions Denoël (he published two
stories by Dan, “The River Styx Runs Upstream” and
“Shave and a Haircut, Two Bites”), as an assistant
editor to the French SF quarterly Galaxies (which published
Dan’s “The Death of the Centaur” as well as
his talk “Science Fiction: A Window on the Future”),
and as a line editor for French SF publisher Imaginaires Sans
Frontières. Since last year, I’ve cut on my workload
in order to get a breather. A few years ago, I was a World Fantasy
Award judge, and for the past three years I’ve been a
judge for France’s Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire.
Yeah, but what are you doing here?
A lot of you are living in Europe, and Dan has asked
me to give you Simmons-related news about publications, appearances,
book tours, and so on. He gave me free rein to write what
I want, and I can already tell you that, in the coming weeks,
I’ll post here something in which a lot of you have
expressed interest: the story notes he wrote especially for
the collection LE STYX COULE À L’ENVERS, and
which are only available in French. I’ve kept the English
text of these notes and will post it here.
Afterward, I think I’ll tell you about all my travails
translating ILIUM. This wonderful novel taps into many veins,
literary and otherwise, and I’ve had to master the data-gathering
process like never before. Dan did his homework before he
wrote it, and I’ve had to follow suit in order to produce
a French text that was worthy of the original.
I had to spend three or four hours googling in order
to locate a website that would explain bronze-melding in French
to translate one mere page of the novel.
When I realized the early passages about Ada and Daeman were
a postmodern riff on Vladimir Nabokov’s ADA, I had to
read the French translation of the book with pencil in hand,
so as to give my translation a Nabokovian slant.
ILIUM, of course, alludes to Homer’s ILIAD; there are
several translations of this work in French, and I had to
get the most canonical as a reference. Plus, I had to consider
the variant spellings of the heroes’ and gods’
names, and get a consistent “scorecard”.
So, the bulk of this column – at least in the foreseeable
future – will be a behind-the-scenes look at the translator’s
See you soon,
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