We're very excited about the new translation of Flaubert's Madame Bovary by Lydia Davis, whom, you may recall, also translated Proust's Swann's Way. Davis is blogging over at the (newly redesigned) Paris Review website, beginning with “Why a New Madame Bovary?” Here's an excerpt:
But in the case of a book that appeared more than 150 years ago, like Madame Bovary, and that is an important landmark in the history of the novel, there is room for plenty of different English versions. For example, 1) the first editions of the original text may have been faulty, and over the years one or more corrected editions have been published, so that the earliest English translations no longer match the most accurate original; 2) the earliest translators (as was the case with the Muirs rendering Kafka) may have felt they needed to inflict subtle or not so subtle alterations on the style and even the content of the original so as to make it more acceptable to the Anglophone audience; with the passing of time, we come to deem this something of a betrayal and ask for a more faithful version. 3) Earlier versions may simply not be as good in other respects as they could be—let another translator have a try.
Read the rest at The Paris Review.