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Since Dictionnaire des idées recues is a microcosm of Flaubert's world, its translation was anything but simple. The task was not only to jump from cliché to cliché while carrying the color and context of the original text, but to contemporize it so that the historical narrative fits into a more modern context. The first dilemma was to decide whether the definitions should be translated identically throughout, or whether a factually different equivalent should be chosen. Such was the case of fungi/fungus as the translation of the French shakos/chacal. Another rather constant difficulty was whether to say "you" or "one" for the French pronoun "on", the indefinite subject par excellence. Finally, I have given myself the freedom to use quotation marks in order to stress a word within the pre-constructed thought.
May this new interpretation serve as an introduction to Flaubert's work and entice new readers to want to learn more. And may those who already know the author believe that I have done all that I could.
Posted October 4, 2011