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Please Acknowledge

Lot of Simmons books in the French stores these months: Folio, the paperback imprint of Editions Gallimard, have just released: LES FOSSES D’IVERSON, a small booklet in their “Folio 2€” series, which reprints “Iverson’s Pits;” LES LARMES D’ICARE (PHASES OF GRAVITY), which they published as mainstream rather than in their SF line; and L’EPEE DE DARWIN (DARWIN’S BLADE), a “Folio Policier” release.

Out for some time now, a hefty two-volume edition of the complete HYPERION CANTOS, with a few bonuses in volume 2, to wit: Dan’s two stories “La Mort du centaure” (“The Death of the Centaur”) and “Les Orphelins de l’hélice” (“Orphans of the Helix”), his synopsis of the whole cycle (from the FAR HORIZONS anthology edited by Robert Silverberg) and a bibliography. (Editions Robert Laffont, “Ailleurs et Demain: La Bibliothèque”.)

Spring will see the release of REVANCHE (HARD FREEZE), the second Joe Kurtz thriller, from Editions du Rocher.

And, last but not least –

In an effort to ride the TROY bandwagon – the Brad Pitt movie, also starring Eric Bana, Peter O’Toole and a cast of thousands, will be released here in April – Editions Robert Laffont have decided to publish the French edition of ILIUM this Spring instead of next Fall. To be more specific, the book is slated for a May, 6 release.

What follows is a rough translation of the Acknowledgments page I wrote for it, to whet your appetite for this masterpiece.

Translator’s Acknowledgments

First, the translator wants to thank Dan Simmons, whose books are as informative as they are entertaining. This one had me liberate a bookcase row in order to store newly acquired reference works, along with the Caterpillar instruction manual left over from the translation of CARRION COMFORT, the complete short stories of Ernest Hemingway left over from THE CROOK FACTORY, and so on, ad infinitum et ad nauseam.

There are several French translations of the ILIAD. My main reference was the one written by Paul Mazon, currently available in paperback from Folio. Much more valuable was my old, battered copy of the same translation published by Le Livre de Poche in 1965 – I first read it in the ninth grade – with René Langumier’s lifesaving index of people and places. I followed Mazon regarding spelling, except of course when it came to Odysseus, as per Dan Simmons’ wishes. Another translation that proved helpful was the one by Leconte de Lisle – whose Greek and Trojan names also remind one of a cat coughing hairballs – available on the Web at the following URL:

Any translator worth his or her salt acquires as time goes by a collection of Shakespeare’s works in French. Mine is still under construction, and I thank my friend Jean-Claude Dunyach for the use of his Pléiade edition of the Bard, abundantly quoted in these pages; his copy of THE ILLUSTRATED STRATFORD SHAKESPEARE (Chancellor Press) was also most helpful. For the SONNETS, I used Jean Malaplate’s translation, available in paperback from Le Livre de Poche; for THE TEMPEST, I used Pierre Leyris’ translation, published by GF-Flammarion.

Other literary works that came in handy were UN AMOUR DE SWANN, by Marcel Proust (Folio), and ADA OU L’ARDEUR, by Vladimir Nabokov, translated by Gilles Chahine with Jean-Bernard Blandenier under the author’s supervision (Folio); as for Tennyson’s ULYSSES and Browning’s CALIBAN UPON SETEBOS, I couldn’t find any French translation and I had to tackle the work myself, for which I ask the reader’s indulgence.

Horace’s quote in Chapter 23 was translated into French by scholic Henri Tournier, as quoted on the wonderfully erudite “Les Jardins de Lucullus” website:

For insights into Greek mythology, I mainly used Pierre Grimal’s DICTIONNAIRE DE LA MYTHOLOGIE GRECQUE ET ROMAINE (Presses Universitaires de France), which I borrowed at the local library/media center, aptly named – I’m not making this up – Odyssud. An eleventh-hour visual reference was provided by Eric Shanower’s stunning graphic novel L’AGE DE BRONZE, vol. 1, UN MILLIER DE NAVIRES, published in French by Editions Akileos, whose translation is credited to Achille(s) – original US edition from Image Comics. (See Eric Shanower’s web site http://www.age-of-bronze.com for more information about this epic in the making.)

And now, science. I spent quite some time on the Web in my quest for information about scientific terms, and I must also thank my editor Gérard Klein for his eagle’s eye, which spared the readers several blunders. Any that may subsist are my responsibility.

Two books helped me make sense of areography – that is to say: Martian geography. A LA CONQUETE DE MARS, by Olivier de Goursac (Larousse), a stunning roadmap for the exploration of the Red Planet, and SUR MARS, by Pierre Lagrange & Hélène Huguet (EDP Sciences), which is nothing less than a guidebook of the same Red Planet. Thanks to these works, I could follow the odyssey of Mahnmut and Orphu in the land of LGM. As for the National Geographic book mentioned by Dan Simmons, I was able to consult its French edition in the nick of time, once again thanks to the Odyssud library.

The weirdest part yet: when you translate a science fiction novel, how do you manage to put into French the description of bronze molding as it was done in prehistoric times? (See Chapter 8.) My heartfelt thanks to the city of La Borne, France, for doing precisely the same thing as Hannah and friends, and for telling about it on the Web:


That’s all for now. By the way, speaking of Jean-Claude Dunyach – you may remember his name being mentioned by Dan in the introduction to “The Ninth of Av”, in WORLDS ENOUGH & TIME. Well, this month sees the publication of his first American book, THE NIGHT ORCHID, a collection published by Black Coat Press, with an introduction by DAVID BRIN. More about it in my next column.


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