Translations from French to English
I offer well-prepared, accurate and stylish translations from French into English for both short- and long-term projects for the European market and longer-term projects for non-European markets.
French, alongside Catalan, was the major language of my MA training in literary translation and formed an important component of my BA in English and Related Literature (York). For the MA in Exeter, I was privileged to study with Professor Martin Sorrell, renowned translator of Rimbaud, Verlaine, Lorca and several contemporary French women poets. Numerous complementary texts included in my anthology Grains of Gold (2015) were translated from French, while my work from Occitan often involves careful comparison with French versions or translations of the same text. My translations from French also cover wine, aviation history, literary reviews and EU newsletters and I have translated website content for the Centre interrégional de développement de l’occitan (CIRDOC). I am currently working with Belgian author Jean-Pierre Orban on a translation of his novel Vera (Gallimard), winner of the 2015 Prix du livre européen.
For a non-exhaustive list of other subjects covered, please see my homepage.
Extract of Translation of Jean-Pierre Orban’s Vera (2014)
Charybdis and Scylla. From misremembering the mythology courses at St Peter’s School – or was it Copenhagen Street – I believed for a long time that these names referred to innocent rocky islets at the entrance to the Straits of Messina in Sicily. Two columns forming Italy’s southern gate, in this Mare Nostrum glorified by il Duce. And I thought that if pillars like these existed in London they would be Clerkenwell, the Little Italy where we lay rotting, and Soho, the capital’s other Italian neighbourhood, at once sulphurous and more dazzling.
Ada would say of Soho’s inhabitants that they were della gente che fa il passo più lungo della gamba. In Italian, for once, pinching her lips to really mimic their pretensions. People who bite off more than they can chew; literally, who ‘take bigger steps than their legs’, which, for someone who sluggishly ferried her convex body around on thick stumpy pins, was the surest way of heading for the abyss.
People who fart higher than their arse. There you’d find the little big shots of the Italian community, the bosses of numerous corporate bodies supported, if not financed, by the Fascio before the war. Their names were emblazoned over their wine, vermouth and alcohol stores as if they were the manufacturers. Their restaurants and hotels boasted of being up there with the best in the capital. Their ‘fine’ local shops would soon be rechristened delicatessens to distinguish them from the grocery stores of Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell Street or Exmouth Market, our streets of Little Italy. They had achieved what I’d not managed to with our shop. And even if I recognised the artifice of the show engineered by the embassy, the names of the professional associations run by the Soho bosses seemed to me like the strips of a fan in their hands: parrucchieri, barbieri, cuochi, gelatai, camerieri, tabaccai, meccanici, granaiuoli, hairdressers, barbers, chefs, ice-cream vendors, waiters and valets, tobacconists, mechanics, seed merchants... puppets in a play they controlled from above... Harlequin, Pantalone, Colombine, Pulcinella and Scaramouche.
Translation © James Thomas 2016 – All Rights Reserved.