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Le Ton Beau De Marot: The Spark And Sparkle Of Creative Translation (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 15. Mai 1997

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In the fall of 1537, a child was confined to bed for some time. The French poet Clément Marot wrote her a get-well poem, 28 lines long, each line a scant three syllables. In the mid-1980s, the outrageously gifted Douglas R. Hofstadter--il miglior fabbro of Godel, Escher, Bach--first attempted to translate this "sweet, old, small elegant French poem into English." He was later to challenge friends, relations, and colleagues to do the same. The results were exceptional, and are now contained in Le Ton Beau De Marot, a sunny exploration of scholarly and linguistic play and love's infinity. Less sunny, however, is the tragedy that hangs over Hofstadter's book, the sudden death of his wife, Carol, from a brain tumor. (Her translation is among the book's finest.)

Marot's poem, in Hofstadter's initial translation (he is to compose many more), begins: "My sweet, / I bid you / A good day; / The stay / Is prison. / Health / Recover, / Then open / Your door ... "--a slim frame on which to hang 600 or so pages of text. But the book is far more than a compendium of translators' triumphs (with the occasional misstep). Most of the renderings are original and lively, some lovely, though Hofstadter often feels compelled to improve them. He lightly laments that Bill Cavnar's rendering, "though superb along so many dimensions at once, still seems to lack a bit of that intangible verbal sparkle that I associate with the deepest Maroticity."

Hofstadter's talents lie in linking his intoxication, erudition, and vision with humor, autobiography, and free association. His book takes on "rigidists," asks questions like, "Is plagiarism potentially creative?" and strives to define linguistic soul. Along the way, it accords the same level of respect to the seemingly trivial: sex jokes, Texas jokes, The Seven Year Itch, and the puzzle of how someone you love can hate a food that you adore. Throughout there is pun, ingenuity, and above all, love for language--which can compress distance and, through constraint, lead to freedom.


Douglas Hofstadterauthor of the Pulitzer Prizewinner Gdel, Escher, Bach and a select group of translators, as well as three computer programs, translate a short poem by sixteenth-century French poet Clment Marot from its native tongue into English. In analyzing these translations, each distinct and delightful in its own right, translation becomes the perfect metaphor for exploring the nature of human intelligence. }Lost in an artthe art of translation. Thus, in an elegant anagram (translation = lost in an art), Pulitzer Prize-winning author and pioneering cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter hints at what led him to pen a deep personal homage to the witty sixteenth-century French poet Clment Marot. Le ton beau de Marot literally means The sweet tone of Marot, but to a French ear it suggests Le tombeau de Marotthat is, The tomb of Marot. That double entendre foreshadows the linguistic exuberance of this book, which was sparked a decade ago when Hofstadter, under the spell of an exquisite French miniature by Marot, got hooked on the challenge of recreating both its sweet message and its tight rhymes in Englishjumping through two tough hoops at once.

In the next few years, he not only did many of his own translations of Marots poem, but also enlisted friends, students, colleagues, family, noted poets, and translatorseven three state-of-the-art translation programs!to try their hand at this subtle challenge.The rich harvest is represented here by 88 wildly diverse variations on Marots little theme. Yet this barely scratches the surface of Le Ton beau de Marot , for small groups of these poems alternate with chapters that run all over the map of language and thought.Not merely a set of translations of one poem, Le Ton beau de Marot is an autobiographical essay, a love letter to the French language, a series of musings on life, loss, and death, a sweet bouquet of stirring poetrybut most of all, it celebrates the limitless creativity fired by a passion for the music of words.Dozens of literary themes and creations are woven into the picture, including Pushkins Eugene Onegin , Dantes Inferno, Salingers Catcher in the Rye , Villons Ballades, Nabokovs essays, Georges Perecs La Disparition, Vikram Seths Golden Gate, Horaces odes, and more.

Rife with stunning form-content interplay, crammed with creative linguistic experiments yet always crystal-clear, this book is meant not only for lovers of literature, but also for people who wish to be brought into contact with current ideas about how creativity works, and who wish to see how todays computational models of language and thought stack up next to the human mind. Le Ton beau de Marot is a sparkling, personal, and poetic exploration aimed at both the literary and the scientific world, and is sure to provoke great excitement and heated controversy among poets and translators, critics and writers, and those involved in the study of creativity and its elusive wellsprings. }

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Precisely one-half a millenium ago - and I mean what I say when I say it's precise - on the twenty-third day of the next-to-last month of the year fourteen hundred fourscore-and-sixteen (a tip of my hat to the Gauls' counting scheme), in the humble French town of Cahors en Quercy, some sixty-odd miles to the north of Toulouse, was born a bright boy christened Clement Marot, the son of an auto-taught poet named Jean and a lady whose life's but a question mark: our focus thus shifts from his folks to their lad. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Mark Bowes am 27. Januar 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
Autobiographical in scope and introspective in method, the usual pack of Hofstadterisms (Bognard problems; "slippability"; typefaces; creativity arising from constraint; the term "you guys") re-assembled in a low-density format. What should be relatively quick discussions are endlessly expanded into paragraph-after-paragraph dissertations that left me thinking "OK, I get it already." I found myself skimming paragraphs, and then pages, looking for the action.
At times I felt like I was reading "The Making of Godel, Escher, Bach" as the author describes for us how he saved the various translation efforts of his magnum opus from the clutches of incompetent translators. His impatience with those of lesser genius contrasts with the nice-guy persona he's trying hard to project.
The book is mostly about translation, using a simple poem, which was translated in several different ways by the author and his friends and colleagues to illustrate many important and interesting points. After awhile, though, I started to get tired of reading about what is wrong with everyone else's translations, and how no one gets it in quite the same way that Dr. Hofstadter does. In addition, the author's own poems are among the least interesting of the collection, and he repeatedly "corrects" translations of other contributors (even his mom!), producing results that are usually awful.
If you've read his previous work, you're not going to find a lot new here, and you might be disappointed at how flat this seems.
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3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von "houndzoflove" am 17. Mai 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
Some people say it's not as good as GEB - but it really is. It's just different. Both of these two books - Hofstadter's best, along with Metamagical Themas - are controlled by some single vision, some idea that somehow managed to spark seven hundred or so pages of ideas.
GEB was more complex. The ideas were harder. Le Ton Beau de Marot is, at its core, a book about translation. The book was inspired by the author's attempts to translate a short (28 trisyllabic lines) poem by an obscure French Renaissance poet named Clement Marot. (You'll probably have the poem memorized by the end of the book, at least if you know French - and if you don't, it's conveniently included on a detachable bookmark on the inside back cover.) Hofstadter, after tackling this challenge himself, sent out a letter (reprinted in the book) to many friends challenging them to translate it as well, including a list of some formal constraints on the poem that he wanted to point out and two fairly literal glosses of the poem for the non-francophones in his circle. The book's structure (like all of DRH's other books) is one of alternation - small groups of translations of the poem, which originally were meant to constitute the whole book but now make up a sort of sideshow and can be skipped without detracting from the understanding of the book, alternate with chapters on various issues of translation. The poems don't play the role that you might expect, a role roughly analogous to that of the dialogues in GEB. In GEB, the dialogues were meant to introduce some point that would be developed in the chapter. Here, they're not.
Most of the book consists of discussions of some of the dilemmas of literary translation, with examples drawn from various literary works.
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3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Robert Carlberg am 28. Juni 1999
Format: Taschenbuch
...I found this book infuriatingly in need of an editor!!! I bought a remaindered copy for $4 at Half-Price Books, but after reading it I realized I didn't get much of a bargain.
Doug starts out by praising himself for being in total control of this book -- typesetting, page design, content, direction... Well, he shouldn't be so smug. The typography is a jumbled mess, the chapter introductions are amateurish, the page breaks are artificial and distracting, the content wanders off the subject into numerous, endless (and pointless) digressions, and most of the 30,000 versions of the poem he translates are laughably bad.
There's a worthwhile message in here somewhere, buried under six tons of authorial effluvia -- something about the art of translation being a balance between form and content. But of the 632 pages here, only about 120 serve this purpose. Hofstadter has apparently become such a powerhouse author that he is allowed to wield total control, but it's a two edged sword and he proves himself no Galahad.
Doug man, you need an editor.
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I have seldom been more astonished in my life than in reading the obviously heartfelt but shockingly shortsighted criticisms levied by fellow readers. To myself it appears (pardon the pun) self evident that this is one of the greatest books currently in print. At this time yesterday I was only halfway through the book, and I had to (HAD TO, mark) stay up all night to finish it, ignoring my roommates, not returning phone calls, and seriously threatening my work this morning. Since this is not the sort of book one usually thinks of as an "up-all-nighter" I must explain what it was that compelled me to lose so much sleep. Simple. It's that good.
Le Ton Beau works on every imaginable level.
1) It works as a very moving piece of autobiography, not only focused on the author's tragic loss of his wife (though, I confess, I cried when he wrote after praising her own transcendent translation of the central poem, "But then I'm biased. I loved her so and still, still I do." (Apologies to the author for quoting from memory and therefore surely inaccurately))but also reflecting movingly on his love affair with Chopin, the French language, puzzles and word games, the human mind and, frankly, LIFE in all it's intricate mysteries. This is a man who, in spite of it all, has a passionate love for the world at large and the book would suffice in that alone if nothing else but,
2) It works as a work of art, it is a masterpiece of self referential, carefully constructed perfection.
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