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Old 21st January 2005, 15:24
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English translation of "The First and the Last"

Book "The First and the Last", English edition, translated by Mervyn Savill (he confessed!), first published 1955 by Methuen, London. 1986 reprint by Champlin Museum Press, Lesa, Arizona.

I had a look many years ago and I made a few notices. I'm not especially interested in the ENGLISH edition, the original being German. I probably did not even check chapter 8 (1940 French Campaign) systematically.

Page 43, line 1 : the sit-down war. Everybody in the world calls it "the phoney war" (in English). Clearly the translator had never heard of WW II. It is very often so.

Page 45, line 8 : "He rather clumsily avoided action". Wrong. Correct is : "He... took evasive action". (The action had begun, he was in the middle of it. To avoid action was out of the question.).

P. 47, lines 2-3 : TERRIBLE! "I had... shot away part of his tail". German Text : Der Heckschütze war ausgefallen. English : The tail gunner had been put out of action. [(He was either badly wounded or dead)]. Here you can see that so-called "translators" who look perfect never hesitate to write nonsense. This one certainly translated much too fast and didn't bother to CHECK his own translation, which is vital but doesn't give you more money.

Middle of this page : "Again we drew A.A. fire". Correct translation : "The sole result was wild 20 mm-AA fire". This, too, enrages me for the "translator" made the text and the translation simpler, taking away the spirit and the guts. It sounds much duller than the original. What's more, he simply dumped a whole sentence and Galland's comment : "Scheibenkleister!" - which jokingly means "Scheisse!", shit and is used only in order NOT to write or say that bad word. I don't know how you do this in English, perhaps "Sh.... shoeshine!" or some. The missing passage reads :

"We flew a bit to the North along the railroad in order to ask at a second station. Sh...oeshine! A.A. again."

The "translator" deleted also the mention that Rödel dived towards the first station IN ORDER TO READ ITS NAME (in order to know where the hell they were). This makes the whole, humorous passage impossible to understand correctly.

No wonder the English edition is about 20 % shorter, some passages are missing everywhere. So you see there are some differences : a « translation » is not always a translation (in most cases it’s not).

End of this paragr. : "I pulled at my brakes like mad." "Pulled"???

Same page, 2nd par., 3rd line : "revolvers" instead of pistols. Of course they carried PISTOLS, which you have to cock first before they can fire - in a narrow cockpit this is safer.

The passage about col. Ibel being shot down at Dunkerque was shortened too and, as usual, the whole humour was dumped (the "translator" probably didn't understand). This begins with the Spits being "sure of their target". "Zielbewusst" does not mean that, it means : determined, with (great) determination, without being distracted by anything. Here is the original version, which disappeared completely in the "translation" except Ibel coming back "on foot" :

"Because of this unusual way of moving he had got a "Blasenleiden" - at his feet".

The word "Blasenleiden" is very ambiguous and this is intentional. At the time the young pilots including Galland considered Ibel incredibly old, some sort of dinausor from WW I. So it's not surprising that Galland jokingly suggests a "bladder ailment" for the German "Blase" means "bladder" and also "blisters" at the feet (when you walked too much and too hard like poor Ibel). So Ibel had a "Blase ailment", in fact at his feet. A "translator" who deletes all difficult passages is NOT a translator but a phoney. This is common practice.

The masterpiece is on page 52, next to last line : "Kesselring pinned the Knight's Cross on my tunic...". He didn't even know nor notice that they put it around their neck! Incredible! Did ever anybody protest?

I fear the whole English version of this famous book is of the same quality.

(Posting repeated under "Reviews")
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