06 June 2013

After Dark

A former commuting friend mentioned After Dark by Wilkie Collins, saying he'd enjoyed reading it: and I have been doing likewise, pleased to find it available from Project Gutenberg (here) and enjoying it greatly - except for one thing ...

Why, I wonder, has someone taken the trouble to translate it into American? All the "-our" words have become "-or", and other American spellings have been adopted. (I have an American edition of an Iain Rankin novel on my shelf, and reading that was an even weirder experience - why on earth go to the trouble and expense of making all those changes?)

Now, about 90 per cent of the way through (Kindle's alternative to providing page numbers: it's page 225 if you read it online), I find "met with". Why? Did Collins write it that way, I wonder? See, it even makes me doubt what I know about writing English. OK, perhaps there are circumstances in which it would be correct, but not in this context:
Old recollections of the first day when he met with Nanina ...
There's no translator credited on the title page, and for "language" Gutenberg states "English". Were his moral rights engaged (had he ever had such things, in fact) would Collins be able to sue on the basis that this is a derogatory treatment? Of course, translations are not "treatment" for the purposes of section 80, which raises the question whether the defendant would argue that this was indeed a translation. But if treatment it be, what could be more derogatory than giving the impression that a celebrated English author could neither spell nor observe the rules of English grammar?

The book, incidentally, is a delight. Some lovely turns of phrase, and some wonderful stories, though somewhat dated (from 1856, so hardly surprising).


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