A translated critical edition of Maïssa Bey's Entendez-vous dans les montagnes… (2002)
Lamm, Erin Melissa
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This dissertation comprises a critical edition of the Algerian author Maïssa Bey’s 2002 autofictional work in French, Entendez-vous dans les montagnes…, including: a translator’s introduction, a critical introduction, the translation, and an afterword. The translator’s introduction presents my translation methodology, which adapts Jacqueline Guillemin-Flescher’s theories in Syntaxe comparée du français et de l’anglais: problèmes de traduction (1981). I rework her communicative approach to convey the complexities of Franco-Algerian “coprésences,” or the coexistence of two cultures. I pose the question: Do readers need the same cultural capital to appreciate Entendez-vous dans les montagnes… as they do to read a standard French to English translation? This specificity explains my changes to Guillemin-Flescher’s theories. The critical introduction presents Entendez-vous dans les montagnes..., which stages an exiled Algerian woman’s physical journey through Provence to Marseilles. The three protagonists also metaphorically travel to understand their singular memories and the multiple truths behind the Franco-Algerian colonial legacy (1830-1962). I pinpoint the dualities in: the Algerian woman, a French Army veteran turned doctor, Jean, and Marie, the young granddaughter of a pied-noir. An analysis of their dualities, between conformity and rebellion, enhances the book’s political statements. I accent how a knowledge of Bey’s “traces” or multiple connotations of euphemisms, such as “soigner,” which means “to take care of the sick” or “to execute,” underscore these dualisms. Finally, I highlight Marie’s comparatively small role. The afterword presents how the translation process impacts Entendez-vous dans les montagnes…. I contemplate how to maintain the distinctiveness of Bey’s book, in which the figurative and literal senses of every French word communicate political and personal content. This style conveys politics in a simple, highly relatable fashion, partially due to the deep personal commitment underneath. Translation frames a text. It is a complex, rewarding challenge to provide this frame when the original exposes the volatile cultural politics behind the Franco-Algerian colonial legacy.