An important and unqualifiedly positive difference between this translation and the only other one available in English, which came out in , is that the new translation has restored pages of the original page French original that the older English version omits, often willy-nilly and always without annotations or signposts. For the first time, Anglophone readers do not have to wonder whether the particular section of the book they're reading is filled with hidden holes. We must not undervalue the importance of this restoration. And it is a relief to find that some of most grievous errors in the old translation have been eliminated. But the new translation is on the whole a disappointment, and not just from the point of view of those interested in the book as a work of philosophy, though the sting for us will be especially acute. Some of the problems that plague the old translation reappear in the new, and there are fresh ones as well. Most exasperatingly, the translators of the new version often sacrifice readability and clarity in favor of a highly unidiomatic word-by-word literalism that hampers the flow of Beauvoir's prose and often obfuscates its meaning.
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Hallelu Wait, hold on just a tic. It seems my celebration might be premature, according to an essay in the London Review of Books. The new translation is certainly "new" -- there's no denying that! In fact, Toril Moi, a professor of literature and Romance studies at Duke University, argues it's actually much worse. Parshley were brought to light in an essay, "The Silencing of Simone de Beauvoir," written by a philosophy professor.
Beauvoir researched and wrote the book in about 14 months between and Some chapters first appeared in Les Temps modernes. Beauvoir asks "What is woman? She describes women's subordination to the species in terms of reproduction, compares the physiology of men and women, concluding that values cannot be based on physiology and that the facts of biology must be viewed in light of the ontological, economic, social, and physiological context. Beauvoir argues that while Engels, in his The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State , maintained that "the great historical defeat of the female sex" is the result of the invention of bronze and the emergence of private property , his claims are unsupported. According to Beauvoir, two factors explain the evolution of women's condition: participation in production and freedom from reproductive slavery. She compares women's situation in ancient Greece with Rome. In Greece, with exceptions like Sparta where there were no restraints on women's freedom, women were treated almost like slaves.
Clocking in at 2. Borde and Malovany-Chevallier stopped off in Chicago last week to talk about the new old book. Speaking to a full house at the University of Chicago, they put special emphasis on their efforts to restore the philosophical integrity of Beauvoir's text. Their method involved breaking it into ten-page sections and translating alternate chunks, then swapping and revising each other's work. Whenever they found themselves disagreeing on a wording, they would consult an informal panel of Beauvoir experts they had formed for the purpose. In her introduction to the new edition , Judith Thurman calls the resulting text "a magisterial exercise in fidelity. The flaws of the previous translation, first published by Knopf in , are well-known. The translator, a retired zoologist named H. The female warriors and statesmen Beauvoir describes as having been excised from history were also excised from Parshley's translation of her book.