Many citational discrepancies between Gilles Deleuze’s book on Proust and its English translation are minor, though some are a bit strange. And so my strange little project continues.

Here are a few noteworthy findings (though “noteworthy” might be a bit strong).

1). Correction. Page 74 of the original text mistakenly refers readers to pp. 883–885 from vol. 2 (of 3) of A la recherche: “SG2, II, 883–885” (second part of Sodom et gomorrah). Howard’s English translation corrects this mistake, referring readers on page 59 to “II, 983–85.” How do we know the latter is correct whereas the original is in error? Because Deleuze cites pages that refer to “an anecdote of ‘a Norwegian philosopher'” (59). Pp. 883–85 concern “la belle jeune fills à la cigarette” (SG2, II, 883) as well as news that Mme Verdurin had invited “le marquis et la marquise de Cambremer” to dinner (SG2, II, 884). If we’re looking for the anecdote of the philosopher, we need to wait another hundred pages or so. (Note: The anecdote appears in the Moncrieff–Kilmartin–Enright edition in vol. 4 (of 6), Sodom and Gomorrah, pp. 447–50. Or so. For the corresponding pages about “the handsome girl with the cigarette” and Mme Verdurin’s bold invitation, see pp. 381–84.)


2). Missing Book Information. One of the major problems I have with the English translation, despite the correction above, is that it removes book information from Deleuze’s citations. For instance, on page 133 of the original text, Deleuze includes two references in a single footnote. Both references can be found in Vol. 1 of the 3-volume edition of A la recherche Deleuze uses. However, the two references come from two different books: the first from the second part of Du côté de chez Swann (CS2) and the second from the first part of A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs (JF1). In the English translation, however, the citation merely reads, “I, 236, 533.” If the book information had been retained, at least the English reader would know that the citation refers to passages found in different books. (Note: these two passages appear, respectively, in the Moncrieff–Kilmartin–Enright edition on pages 335 [vol. 1: Swann’s Way] and 145 [vol. 2: Within a Budding Grove.])


3). Error. On page 110 of Proust and Signs, readers are referred in a single citation to three passages in A la recherche: “I, 352; II, 249; III, 895–96.” However, when we look at the corresponding citation in the original French edition (page 133), we see something alarming: “CS2, I, 352; P2, III, 249; TR2, III, 895–896.” Do you see the problem? The English translation mistakenly refers us to vol. 2 (of 3) of A la recherche. If we had the correct edition of Proust, we would still end up in the wrong place (in Le côté de Guermantes instead of La prisonnière!). With the book information removed, English language readers of Proust and Signs have no way to find the correct passage without recourse to the original French edition of Proust et les signes.


4). Cutting Citations and Cross References. Oddly, the English translation removes references Deleuze makes to other studies of Proust. Endnote 4 to Chapter 9 (page 184 in Proust and Signs) completely removes the following sentence, found in the corresponding footnote in the French edition on pg. 149: “cf. Roland BARTHES, Proust et les noms (to Honor Roman Jakobson, Mouton édit.) et Gérard GENETTE, Proust et le langage indirect (Figures II, Editions du Seuil).” Likewise, the very next endnote (page 184 in Proust and Signs), which addresses relevant passages from work by George Poulet and Maurice Blanchot removes bibliographic information and citations. Deleuze cites specific pages from Poulet’s L’espace proustien and refers readers to Blanchot’s L’entrien infini. However, these titles and all page numbers and publisher information has been removed from the English edition of Proust and Signs.

Why might this matter? If we simply go on the English edition, we might miss how Deleuze purposefully situates his book in relation to other studies completed by his contemporaries. While we don’t find the kind of “they say, I say” structure we might come to expect in academic literary scholarship, Deleuze acknowledges that he is not writing about Proust in a vacuum. We might not get this sense if we’re just sticking to the English edition.


There are other examples of these discrepancies, but at least these instances give a sense of what we learn from studying the French and English edition of Proust et les signes (as well as A la recherche and the Search!) side by side.

Reading on . . .

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