I was once told that the English translation of The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (friendly Marxists provide the full text here) was horrible, and handed a photocopied package of errata to use while reading. At the time, I thought it was odd that, were the translation really so bad, such an important book would not be translated again — according to the stereotype the whole US left is a bunch of French-speaking feminists, so how hard could this really be?
Well, copyright law, rather than lazy feminazis, turned out to be the culprit, as Sarah Glazer explained in her excellent 2004 NY Times Essay, Lost in Translation, which was ably covered by Alas, A Blog! at the time (here and here).
Then in March, Glazer came back with some good news:
…in January 2006, Jonathan Cape, which holds the British rights, commissioned a new translation by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier, two American-born translators living in Paris, for publication as early as next year. Knopf, which is under the same Random House corporate roof as Cape, will bring out the translation in the United States.
Sweet! I’m sure the “early next year” bit is overly optimistic, but it’s still good to see that the process has begun. Surely, in age where the ‘world is flat,’ it’s inconceivable that a major book would be available only in French.