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xxi Translator’s Note This new translation of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is intended to be a close, faithful, and straightforward rendering of Tocqueville into contemporary American English. A second key goal is to present a smooth, readable version of Tocqueville’s classic work. Part of my challenge has therefore been to maintain the right balance between closeness and felicity, between faithfulness and readability. The translation scrupulously follows Tocqueville’s somewhat idiosyncratic paragraphing and attempts to reflect the varied sentence structure of the original. I have tried, where possible, to follow Tocqueville’s sentence structure and word order. But in many cases this effort would be inappropriate and untenable. It would not work for constructing sentences in English and would obscure Tocqueville’s meaning. So sometimes I have shifted Tocqueville’s word order and rearranged, even totally recast, his sentences. At times, for example, Tocqueville’s extraordinarily long sentences, built from accumulated phrases, had to be broken to fit English usage. Nonetheless, the translation tries to reflect Tocqueville’s stylistic mix of long, complex sentences with short, emphatic ones. Occasionally Tocqueville’s sentence fragments are retained; more often, I have turned them into complete (though still very brief) sentences by inserting a verb. As part of the effort to achieve a contemporary American English text, I have avoided translating the French on as one; almost invariably, I have used you (sometimes we or another pronoun, depending on context), or have changed the sentence from active to passive. And with the goal of closeness in mind, I have also used cognates where they fit and are appropriate . Another basic principle for this translation has been consistency, espe- xxii translator’s note cially for key terms. But a rigid or narrow consistency can be a false and dangerous goal, even a trap. Words often have many meanings and therefore need to be translated differently depending on context. There are several good examples. Objet can mean object (the object of desire), subject (the subject under consideration), matter (the matter under discussion), or objective (the objective of a plan). Biens can mean property or goods, or the opposite of evil(s): good, good things, or even, on a few occasions, advantages . And désert can mean wilderness, uninhabited area, or desert. The reader will find other examples of such clusters of possible meanings in the translation. But for the key terms used by Tocqueville, the principle has been to be as consistent as possible. (See Key Terms.) Finally, the translation follows these more specific principles: (1) words referring specifically to France, to French institutions and history, such as commune, conseil d’état, parlement, are usually left in French; (2) quotations presented by Tocqueville from Pascal, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Guizot, and many other French writers have been newly translated; (3) on a few occasions, specific translator’s notes have been inserted; (4) the French De at the beginning of chapter or section titles has beenretainedandtranslated invariably as Of (eg. Of the Point of Departure . . .). The great exception, of course, is the name of the book itself, Democracy in America, a title simply too familiar in English to be altered; and (5) in cases where Tocqueville quotes directly and closely from an English-language source, the original English text has been provided; but in cases where Tocqueville has quoted an English-language source from a French translation, or has only paraphrased or followed an English text very loosely, Tocqueville has been translated. The Nolla edition, on which this translation is based,presentsanenormous amount and variety of materials from the drafts and manuscript variants of Tocqueville’s work, as well as excerpts from closelyrelatedmaterialssuch as travel notes and correspondence, and several chapters or partial chapters never included in the published text. Within this collection of drafts, variants, and other materials thereexists an important, but not always clear, hierarchy of manuscript materials. translator’s note xxiii These layers largely reflect chronology, the development over time of Tocqueville’s thinking from early notes and sketches, through successive draft versions, to final text (still often overlaid with last-minute thoughts, queries, and clarifications). But they also reflect the tangled paths of his musings, including intellectual trials, asides, and dead ends. And from these diverse materials comes a major challenge for the translator : to reflect the stylistic and chronological shifts from early to late, from informal to formal, from rough to polished versions of Tocqueville’sbook. In some of the drafts, especially, the translation must try to reproduce Tocqueville’s...


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