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Why doesn't "Les Miserables" have an English title? Options
TheParser
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 8:05:18 AM
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If you are a serious fan of that famous novel, you will want to read an article entitled "Thunderstruck" by Tim Parks in the May 4, 2017, issue of the London Review of Books.

Mr. Parks reviews a new book that seeks to explain the personal and political motivations that guided Mr. Hugo as he wrote that 500,000 word novel.

Here is one of the points in that article.

*****

1. The novel was originally entitled Les Miseres ("the miseries" or "woes").

2. It became Les Miserables, a word that can be either positive or negative.

a. It can refer to a wretched person who is worthy of pity.
b. It can refer to a wretched person who is beneath contempt.

3. The reviewer then claims the following:

"Les Miserables keeps its French title in English because the word has an attractive, exotic ring to the English ear. It is a question of marketing. Les Miserables sounds more romantic than The Wretched, a title that was initially placed alongside it in explanation. If anything, the use of the French title obscures the moral discrimination Hugo is asking us to make, since for the English the ideas of misery and miserable are to the fore, not the accusation: Miserable! 'Scum!' "


*****


Sorry for no diacritical marks. Your humble servant is computer illiterate. I also do not read novels, but the story behind this novel's title fascinated me, so I wanted to share it with you.
towan52
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 12:39:01 PM

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Sometimes jokingly called "THE GLUMS"

"Today I was a hero. I rescued some beer that was trapped in a bottle"
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 12:47:00 PM

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Ah no . . . "The Glums" was something different.



The common name for Les Miserables (Lez Misrabels - unless you're posh and say Lay Mizayrahrb) was "Guy steals a loaf of bread and . . . "



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
NKM
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 1:08:07 PM

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Actually, it does (unofficially) have an English title. It's called "Les Miz" — at least by my young friends.

Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 1:15:05 PM

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Ah yes - that's short for 'Lez Mizrables'.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
towan52
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 3:27:39 PM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
Ah no . . . "The Glums" was something different.



I remember, Sunday lunchtimes just before (or after) The Navy Lark or the Clitheroe kid. Jimmy Edwards, June Whitfield and "Ron" Dancing

"Today I was a hero. I rescued some beer that was trapped in a bottle"
TheParser
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 3:36:41 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for the informative (and amusing) comments.
Parpar1836
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 5:01:51 PM
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A literal translation of François Truffaut's "L'Enfant Sauvage" is "The Wild Child," which sounds and reads pretty badly . . . introducing a clunky effect that the original French thankfully lacks.
thar
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 5:09:17 PM

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The French is always apt to seem cooler/ classier /more exotic than the Anglicised version -
The Miserables
Pathetic Symphony
Menagerie of three
New cooking
Eat it all
Arse end of the bag
I dunno what.
Whistle

Edited to remove implication it is better, rather than it being a perception.
TheParser
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 5:09:56 PM
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Thank you, Parpar and Thar, for stressing the beauty of the original French.
almo 1
Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2017 9:30:39 PM
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Misery(original) by Stephen King






















































TheParser
Posted: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 6:52:10 AM
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Thank you, Almo, for your interesting contribution.


thar
Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2017 2:13:01 AM

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To return to the original point - presumably in the original it is a multifaceted word.

The original Latin root is in distress, pain - unfortunate

Quote:
miseror (present infinitive miserārī, perfect active miserātus sum); first conjugation, deponent

I lament, bewail or deplore
I have pity or mercy, feel sorry for

miser m (feminine misera, neuter miserum);

poor, wretched, pitiful
29 bc. Vergil. Aeneid, Book I
non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco : being not unacquainted with woe, I learn to help the unfortunate

miserable, unhappy
worthless, null
tragic, unfortunate
sick
tormenting


In English it has moved more towards unhappy for people, and bleak or wretched for living conditions or weather.
I'm feeling miserable - I need cheering up.
It's miserable weather
His exam results are miserable. He needs to improve
Repent, ye miserable sinners!
People are living in miserable conditions in the camps.

[French is not my thing, so I am judging this mainly from graffiti and quotes and Wiktionary! - and from la misère]
But it French it moved towards distress, poverty, destitution. But also a judgement of that underclass - wretch, scoundrel
But mostly poverty and its results:





(Let's dance - let's sweat


It isn't the cold that kills.....






TheParser
Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2017 7:25:56 AM
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thar wrote:
presumably in the original it is a multifaceted word.













Thank you for taking the time and effort to explain that fact in detail.
almo 1
Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2017 8:22:26 AM
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I could not find "La misère" on IMDB.




find "La misère"





thar
Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2017 8:43:24 AM

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It's a bit before IMDB's time!

superbes gravures - superb engravings
on sale today 2 centimes (edition 5 centimes - I don't quite understand that Think )
All future episodes only 5 centimes.


It was written by Louise Michel who was a French Anarchist and active in the Paris Commune of 1871.

But, amazingly, in checking this out, I found a link to Victor Hugo...

There were in contact
Quote:
Louise Michel à Victor Hugo, lettres de prison et du bagne (1871–1879) "Nous reviendrons foule sans ombre", lettres de prison et du bagne (1871–1879),



Quote:
During the Paris Commune of 1871, Louise Michel was active as an ambulance woman treating those injured on the barricades. During the Siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War, she untiringly preached resistance against the Prussians. On the establishment of the Commune, she joined the National Guard. She offered to shoot Adolphe Thiers, President of the French Republic, and suggested the destruction of Paris as a form of vengeance against the victorious Prussians.

She was with the Communards, who made their last stand in the cemetery of Montmartre, and was closely allied with Théophile Ferré, who was executed in November 1871. Michel dedicated a moving farewell poem to Ferré, l’œillet rouge (The Red Carnation). Upon learning of this loss, Victor Hugo dedicated his poem Viro Major to Michel. This ardent attachment was perhaps one of the sources of the exaltation which marked Michel's career, and gave many handles to her enemies.


Quote:
Michel's literary legacy consists of a few theoretical essays and some poems, legends and tales, including some for children. Perhaps the best known of these works is her thousand-page novel "La misère" (Poverty), which denounced the social crisis of the suburbs long before it was recognized as a problem.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_Michel

A thousand pages comes to an awful lot of 5 centime editions! Whistle

According to the wiki page
She published La Misère in 1882 (but that is part two, or edited? Published earlier? Think )
whereas Hugo wrote Les Miserables in 1862.

Interesting.
Both making the same point, I guess.
One just makes a better musical than the other!
Lotje1000
Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2017 8:49:40 AM

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thar wrote:

on sale today 2 centimes (edition 5 centimes - I don't quite understand that Think )


It says la 2e (= deuxième = second), not 2c
thar
Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2017 8:54:35 AM

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Ah, thanks, Lotje - that makes sense. I can see the bar now. As it was the first, I wasn't looking to the second already.

French evidently not my thing.
1880s publishing even less so! Whistle
You know who I am
Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2017 9:03:28 PM

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*I haven't read the previous answers, for there are many ones!!*

However, since my main language is Portuguese (a Romance language), I can explain that to you.

Miserable is an adjective; in most romance languages such as: Spanish and Portuguese, the adjectives are inflected by person, number and gender, i.e: The adjective changes according to: Who conjugates, The gender and Number, for example:

English: The "beautiful" boys - The "beautiful" girls - The "beautiful" girl
Portuguese: Os garotos "bonitos" - As garotas "bonitas" - A garota "bonita"

As you can see, the "s" was added in the end of the adjectives, and the final word was also changed as well as the article "A". Portuguese is a very inflected language, and Adjectives are also inflected.

Anyway, why isn't there an English proper title for that movie?

Romance languages also feature the function of creating Nouns from Adjectives, which English doesn't feature:

The beautiful girls could be turned into: As bonitas, which would mean in English: The beautiful ones; if we changed the last word and the article: Os bonitos - in English, it would be: The beautiful ones (but referring to girls, which is impossible in English).

So, that's the reason why that title couldn't be translated into English, for English doesn't feature the function of creating Nouns from Adjectives.

I am the way, and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me. - John 14:6
Morgaen
Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2017 9:21:14 PM

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Very enjoyable thread.

The term livraison points to a serial publication of some sort. The book was probably issued in parts or numbers at the time. I guess this allowed subscribers to spread the cost of purchase (and publishers the cost of production).

I didn't know much at all about La Misère. But now that you've sparked my interest in the story, Thar, I looked it up a wee bit. I noticed that it was actually co-authored with Marguerite Tinayre. Tinayre used a male pseudonym, "Jean Guetre".
thar
Posted: Friday, May 12, 2017 2:26:04 AM

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You know who I am wrote:


So, that's the reason why that title couldn't be translated into English, for English doesn't feature the function of creating Nouns from Adjectives.



But you do make nouns from adjectives. - the young,the unemployed, the French!
They are non inflected as plural, although they take plural verbs. And they are not inflected as male or female but then neither are the original adjectives.

Soap operas in particular seem to like them.
You could say they are the modern version of the livraison

Except, although I wouldn't want to prejudge, never having seen them, I suspect that these may not be Anarchist polemic raging at poverty and social injustice! Whistle






You could have called it 'The Wretched', 'The Poor', 'The Downtrodden'. But that really doesn't sound like much fun. You want people to pay to come and watch it!
thar
Posted: Friday, May 12, 2017 2:45:43 AM

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Morgaen wrote:
Very enjoyable thread.

The term livraison points to a serial publication of some sort. The book was probably issued in parts or numbers at the time. I guess this allowed subscribers to spread the cost of purchase (and publishers the cost of production).

I didn't know much at all about La Misère. But now that you've sparked my interest in the story, Thar, I looked it up a wee bit. I noticed that it was actually co-authored with Marguerite Tinayre. Tinayre used a male pseudonym, "Jean Guetre".



Thanks Morgaen - I didn't see that in my research.

I just also made the connection with the way some 'subversive' literature in England was being published at the time - novels highlighting poverty and social problems serialised in magazines. Like Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell, writing about the plight of the poor in London or the conditions of millworkers in Manchester.



And of course that comes full circle to the musical Oliver!




TheParser
Posted: Friday, May 12, 2017 8:03:06 AM
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Thank you so much, You Know Who I Am and Morgaen, for your informative contributions.
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