That Mad Ache – Françoise Sagan

Françoise Sagan is the only French writer I’ve read in a long time. I have always stayed away from French literature unconsciously. Whenever I take a French novel from my shelves, I put it back, and look at other novels. The other day I was browsing in a bookshop and saw That Mad Ache (La Chamade). I was going to put it back on the shelf, but I saw there was an entire part dedicated to the translator. I got the book immediately to avoid going mad out of my curiosity. There was a 100-page article about the translation, which I thought was fascinating. Although I have bought the book of a French author consciously, it was because of its translator. Interesting.


That Mad Ache - Françoise Sagan

Françoise Sagan had gained international fame with her book Bonjour Tristesse, which she wrote when she was 18 years old. Impressive, right? La Chamade is another story. That Mad Ache in the 1960s in Paris, reveals the life of the bourgeois and it is fun to read. Also, there is a “classic” tale of a woman who tries to choose between love and money. I sympathised with Charles (the one with the money) and the woman, Lucille. On the other hand, I didn’t like the other character, Antoine (the one with love). I found myself screaming Lucille to choose Charles and get on with her life. This book frustrated me, a lot. It is a compelling read if you like this kind of books.

Françoise Sagan or Douglas Hofstadter?

The translator, Douglas Hofstadter, said that he was impressed by the book and decided to translate it. I thought this was interesting, cause you know, he is a man, and this is a book about love. After the novel is over, I jumped to the translator’s part hoping that it would be interesting. As I begin to turn the pages, I realised that I liked it more than the novel itself. I’ll check his nonfiction books as well!

That Mad Ache - Françoise Sagan

Want to read a romance novel, but you don’t like it to be cheesy? This is a good choice. A beautiful city and the splendor of wealth in the background makes this book a nice summer read.


About the book: that Mad Ache

That Mad Ache, set in high-society Paris in the mid-1960’s, recounts the emotional battle unleashed in the heart of Lucile, a sensitive but rootless young woman who finds herself caught between her carefree, tranquil love for 50-year-old Charles, a gentle, reflective, and well-off businessman, and her sudden wild passion for 30-year-old Antoine, a hot-blooded, impulsive, and struggling editor. As Lucile explores these two versions of love, she vacillates in confusion, but in the end she must choose, and her heart’s instinct is surprising and poignant. Originally published under the title La Chamade, this new translation by Douglas Hofstadter returns a forgotten classic to English.

In Translator, Trader, Douglas Hofstadter reflects on his personal act of devotion in rewriting Françoise Sagan’s novel La Chamade in English, and on the paradoxes that constantly plague any literary translator on all scales, ranging from the humblest of commas to entire chapters. Flatly rejecting the common wisdom that translators are inevitably traitors, Hofstadter proposes instead that translators are traders, and that translation, like musical performance, deserves high respect as a creative act.

In his view, literary translation is the art of making subtle trades in which one sometimes loses and sometimes gains, often both losing and gaining at the same time. This view implies that there is no reason a translation cannot be as good as the original work, and that the result inevitably bears the stamp of the translator, much as a musical performance inevitably bears the stamp of its artists. Both a companion to the beloved Sagan novel and a singular meditation on translation, Translator, Trader is a witty and intimate exploration of words, ideas, communication, creation, and faithfulness.

About the author: Françoise Sagan

Françoise Sagan – real name Françoise Quoirez – was a French playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. Hailed as “a charming little monster” by François Mauriac on the front page of Le Figaro, Sagan was known for works with strong romantic themes involving wealthy and disillusioned bourgeois characters.

That Mad Ache - Françoise Sagan

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

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