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The Persian Letters in seven English translations © Philip Stewart - page 12 / 16





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chevaux, carrosses, habits, armes, etc.”16 Davidson’s “setting up” is a bit too vague and Loy’s “choosing the equipment” is too heavy; Mauldon assumes, a little too restrictively, that équipage refers only to horses. Healy’s version is good and Betts’s perhaps the most satisfactory all around.

The expression pour cent mille francs de marchandises doesn’t look difficult but raises an interesting question nonetheless. First of all, while O, H and M retain the cognate “merchandise”, others switch to “goods” (F, D, B); L uses “equipment”, but why, one might well ask, repeat that word unnecessarily from the context just mentioned above? It might also be noted that while O and F translate francs as “livres” – a term which, as they realized, was well known in English – the next four prefer the cognate. Now while francs and livres coëxisted in France at the time (and with the same meaning), Betts has an interesting variant in that he translates “ten thousand pounds’ worth of goods”, not only switching to the British term “pound” but deftly adjusting for the real difference between a British pound and a French livre: in effect, Betts purports to “translate” the value by deflating the figure.

A complex syntactic and lexical sequence occurs in the sentence: […] tout cela se fit promptement, parce que mon homme ne marchanda rien, et ne compta jamais : aussi ne déplaça-t-il pas, yielding these differences in translation:

(O) all this was soon over, for he did not stand haggling, nor counted out a farthing of money, so that he lost no time, nor was ever out of his way. (F) all this was done presently, for my gentleman haggled about nothing, paid no money, nor was he ever out of his way. (D) all this was done with promptitude, because my gentleman haggled about nothing, kept no account, and paid no money. (L) All this process went quickly because my friend never haggled and never counted, and thus did not pay out or transfer any funds. (H) This was all done with such dispatch because he never haggled, kept no account, and paid no money (B) Everything went rapidly because my man never haggled or checked the bill; and he didn’t pay out anything either. (M) it was all done very quickly, because my man did not bargain over anything, did not keep track of his expenditures, and never moved from one spot.

They almost all agree that “haggle” works excellently for marchander, but “bargain” is indeed pretty close. Both compter and déplacer, however, produce quite varied readings. It will be noted that Flloyd somewhat reins in Ozell’s verbosity, but I think they are both wrong about the exact meaning of compter, which the others have more or less right. It is true that compter may be a synonym for payer (Trévoux), but in that case compter and déplacer are redundant; so we may as well assume they mean something different, as do the last five translators. In fact, this intransitive use of déplacer is not without difficulties, as it is not explicitly recognized in the period dictionaries, and Betts goes to the trouble of informing the reader that his “translation of

16“provision of everything required for travelling, or maintaining a station, either by way of servants, coaches, clothing, weapons, etc.”

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