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text Dissident Goes Without Saying Michel Vinaver Translated from the French by Paul Antal A NOTE ON THE TRANSLATION In 1979 I was asked to give a university course called Recent French Literature in Translation. I decided that the course should have as one element the study of translation itself, that in addition to a reading list of contemporary works, the students could do some work each class period on a translation. The choice of a text was something of a problem since I could count on the students having no more than two years of college French. For some time I had been reading the plays of Michel Vinaver which I thought deserved to be better known in this country. I could find no translations , and for a time contemplated making my own. The course presented an opportunity to introduce the author and have a rather large body of students work on one of his texts. The problem was that Vinaver's plays 100 were rather long, sometimes very topical and did not seem to lend themselves to my purpose. So I wrote the author, described my intentions and asked if he might have something "simple and elementary" for us. He responded by sending me Dissident, and for the next three months, about 100 students spent 30 minutes of each class period reading their translations aloud, debating interpretations, arguing about the merits and demerits of the lack of punctuation, and generally finding themselves moved by the unfolding story of Helen and Philip. I served as editor, referee and typist of the final draft, which I promised to send to the author. That is how a group of young midwestern Americans came to grapple with all the difficulties of translating the lines-and as much of the between the lines as we could agree on-of something "simple and elementary." ONE HELEN: They're in my coat pocket PHILIP: No not on the dresser either HELEN: You're a real help PHILIP: Because you left it double-parked? HELEN: Well maybe I left them in the car PHILIP: Some day it's going to get stolen HELEN: Didn't you go? PHILIP: Sure HELEN: I gave up I don't know how many times I went around the block it's getting harder and harder PHILIP: I'm going to go down and park it for you HELEN: Just a year and you can get your permit PHILIP: Uhuh HELEN: That a new sweater? PHILIP: Uhuh HELEN: Hmm where's the money come from? 101 PHILIP: Oh you know we trade things HELEN: Yes but somebody bought it PHILIP: Things get passed around HELEN: But somebody owns it PHILIP: You and your sense of private property HELEN: Things belong to somebody (Philip goes out. Helen makes a packaged soup. Philip returns.) I wonder if you tell me the truth PHILIP: I must have been out of it not unusual I didn't even hear it HELEN: I set the alarm for eight PHILIP: And you made me coffee HELEN: The thing is you don't even care it's beyond me PHILIP: How many times have I gone and signed up and for what? HELEN: You like it? New kind of cream of bean I said why not give it a try you like it? Yes? All it takes is one time Philip just one lucky break your father answered a want ad and he's still there eighteen years later he's moved right up there with that company PHILIP: Good night Mom HELEN: Where you going? (Lights out.) TWO HELEN: It really hurts me to see you lying around with our records that way you know not having a goal in life PHILIP: I want to fight for the widow and the orphan come on let me I want to touch your hair HELEN: Seriously Philip you can get along without a lot of things but if you just have some goal PHILIP: I have a goal but it's beyond reach HELEN: I'd like PHILIP: That way I'm sure I'll always have it HELEN: And get nowhere? PHILIP: I'd like just two things...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 100-114
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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