New Norwegian Translation of Brideshead

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has published a review of a new Norwegian translation of Brideshead Revisited (“Gjensyn sed Brideshead“). The translation is by Johanne Fronth-Nygren and is based on Waugh’s 1959 revision of the text. The book is published by Gyldendal. The only Norwegian version up to now was based on the original 1945 edition, and Waugh’s explanation for why he changed the original was not available. 

The review is entitled “Evelyn Waugh: the Writer who Excused his own Work” (“Forfatteren som unnskyldlte sitt eget verk“) and relies heavily on Waugh’s introduction to the 1959 revision. The reviewer (Anne Merthe K. Prinos) sees this publication as part of the renewed interest in country house novels, citing other recent examples by Allan Hollinghurst, Ian McEwen and Sarah Waters as well as the Downton Abbey TV series. She explains how the country house affects the “literary productivity” of the story–the larger the house and the more the inhabitants, the greater the possibilities for plot twists. The country house also plays a symbolic function by representing the upper class hegemony in England.  

The translation is described as elegant. The translator explains that conveying the love story between Charles and Julia was relatively easy but that it was harder to interpret the ending where they must part due to religion. As a Roman Catholic, Waugh considered this a happy ending, but this is too subtle for the non-believing reader. The translator concludes that the book can only be understood when one rereads (or revisits) it (“ved giensynet“).

The translation of the Aftenpost article was by Google and any suggestions from readers to improve the summary or the specific Norwegian quotes in the posting are welcome in the form of comments as provided below. 

UPDATE (23 March 2017): See comment below from the translator of the book Johanne Fronth-Nygren. The posting has been slightly revised. Many thanks for these comments.

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One Response to New Norwegian Translation of Brideshead

  1. Jeffrey Manley says:

    A comment from the translator is copied below:

    From: Johanne Fronth-Nygren
    Date: Mar 22, 2017 08:57
    Subject: Comment to posting about new Norwegian edition of Brideshead 19th March
    To: (click to email)
    Cc:

    Hello!

    What fun that the vigilant Society got wind of this new edition!

    Now this is also a good example of the limitations of google translate and the need for human translators to avoid misunderstandings:

    The reviewer refers the point I make in the afterword of the ‘sacred’ aspect of the book often being overlooked in the general reception, and how the love story between Charles and Julia is eagerly read, whilst the fact that they part out of religious conviction has been and still often is seen as a “bad ending” to an otherwise enjoyable tale. This is due, I think, to Waugh’s (maybe too) subtle guidance of the reader through Charles’ spiritual development. In the afterword Brideshead’s treatment of conversion is contrasted with that of the roughly contemporaneous Gymnadenia and Den brennende busk by Norway’s catholic Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset, and also seen in connection with Søren Kierkegaard’s theory of life stages. With the aid of these references a non-believing reader can gain a better understanding of Waugh’s project when rereading – or “revisiting” (not “reunion”) –Brideshead.

    P.S. The Norwegian title of the review is “Forfatteren som unnskyldte sitt eget verk”.

    With best wishes,

    Johanne Fronth-Nygren

    Jacob Aalls gate 1a
    0368 Oslo
    Norway

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