"Violence and Derision" vs. "The Jokers"?

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"Violence and Derision" vs. "The Jokers"?

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1JimmyChanga
Juil 19, 2010, 10:39am

Does anybody know why the title of the Albert Cossery book "Violence and Derision" (which I guess is a more literal translation) was changed to "The Joker"? Also, the cover image has changed. I like the old cover image and title more. I wonder if it's a legal, commercial, or artistic decision...

Old cover vs. new cover

2urania1
Juil 19, 2010, 2:40pm

Jimmy,

I know nothing about the questions you raise. But I agree. I like the old cover better. May be the new cover and title are meant to suggest to the casual viewer that this is a "humorous" book? A softer take so to speak.

3nyrbclassics
Juil 21, 2010, 4:52pm

Interesting that you both like the earlier cover better! When the cover and title were picked, the entire translation hadn't been delivered yet. Once the editor read through it, he realized that neither was particularly accurate or reflective of the book. Apparently derision has a different connotation in French than it does in English. Having finished the book not too long ago, I agree that the earlier title and cover were completely wrong. The book really is a satire. Both earlier elements suggest a story that is harsher and, frankly, more frightening, than the book itself. And the new cover is extremely appropriate, as the story concerns a group of radicals who decide to take down the establishment through a conspiracy of overpraise. The Jokers is now one of my favorite books in the series, or at least a favorite in the last few years.

4JimmyChanga
Juil 21, 2010, 6:49pm

Very cool. Thanks for the detailed answer! I'm looking forward to reading it.

5nyrbclassics
Juil 22, 2010, 11:38am

I don't know if this was the doing of the conversation here, but Caustic Cover Critic just did a round up of some changed covers in the series, including The Jokers

http://bit.ly/dge0aD

6urania1
Juil 23, 2010, 5:40pm

NYRB,

Thanks for the explanation.

7RickHarsch
Mar 1, 2011, 3:23am

my book The Driftless Zone was translated into French as Le bal des inertes, which was initially disturbing, but a French literary 'expert' told me it was actually an excellent translation.
On the other hand I have been disturbed for some 20 years by the way Blaise Cendrars' Bourlingeur was translated. Not only was the title bad (Planus), the translator changed the title of the central section from Genoa to Naples.
I think generally such linguistically challenged folk as myself have been extremely lucky with translations, beginning with Rabassa, but when they get it wrong it feels like sacriledge.