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Problems of Translation

In response to:

Couldn't Put It Down from the March 5, 1964 issue

To the Editors:

As Mr. Robert M. Adams, in his recent review of Simenon’s Three Beds in Manhattan, seems acutely distressed by my translation of the title from Trois Chambres à Manhattan, let me hasten to exonerate “some dope at Doubleday” of the implied charges of ignorance, malfeasance, and/or infidelity to the author.

Would Mr. Adams prefer the literal translation, “Three Bedrooms”? I find it clumsy, lacking the grace of the French. “Three Rooms” would be incorrect, as Mr. Adams surely knows, for the generic French term for “room” is pièce. Other rooms are salles with qualifiers (salle de bain, salle à manger) or have specific names such as lingerie for linen room. And since Simenon’s use of chambre is symbolic—it is in the progression from bed to bed that we follow the maturing relationship between the lovers—I submit that Three Beds in Manhattan closely conveys the sense intended by the author.

Having made it bed, I am content to rest there, convinced that I shall not be disturbed by cries of “betrayal” from Georges Simenon.

Lawrence G. Blochman

New York City

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