Chapter 3 – Three Translations
The three English translations to be used in this unit are as follows:
- Multatuli. Max Havelaar or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company. Translated from the original manuscript by Baron Alphonse Nahuÿs. Edinburgh: Edmonston & Douglas, 1868.
I will refer to this translation as Nahuijs 1868.
- Multatuli. Max Havelaar or The Coffee Sales of the Netherlands Trading Company(1860). Translated from the Dutch by W. Siebenhaar. With an Introduction by D.H. Lawrence. New York & London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927.
I will refer to this translation as Siebenhaar 1927.
- Multatuli. Max Havelaar or The Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company. With an Introduction by D.H. Lawrence. Edited and Introduced by Roy Edwards. Leyden: Sijthoff; London: Heinemann;New York: London House and Maxwell, 1967.
I will refer to this translation as Edwards 1967.
A couple of preliminary remarks:
- NAHUIJS 1868 claims to be a translation based on the original manuscript. The statement is doubtful, but the matter will not concern us here. We will read the translator’s preface later.
- SIEBENHAAR 1927 comes with an introduction by the English novelist D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930). There is no preface by the translator.
- EDWARDS 1967 reprints Lawrence’s introduction to the Siebenhaar translation. It has a ‘Translator’s Preface’ signed by Edwards. This translation was later reprinted as a Penguin Classic.
As mentioned earlier, we will read three versions of the same original passage. To an extent, the kind of issues we will deal with in the present exercise depends on the nature of the passage selected. This is an important methodological point.
The main issues to be addressed concern
- forms of address as expressions of social relations as perceived by the speaker (since the passage is in the first person singular);
- characterisation, especially the self-presentation of the main character, Drystubble.
We will look at the translations in chronological order. It is recommended therefore that you work through the following chapters in sequence. You should also tackle the questions attached to each chapter in the order in which they are presented.
I have slightly abbreviated each of the passages, but my omissions (which I have not marked) do not affect the exercise. Note also that I have numbered the sentences in each passage for easy reference; the numbers appear in bold between pointed brackets:<1> , <2> etc.