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Re: Looking for an Oscar Wilde expert

Posted by Bob on February 20, 2005

In Reply to: Re: Looking for an Oscar Wilde expert posted by David FG on February 20, 2005

: : I'm editing a translation for "The picture of Dorian Gray"/Oscar Wilde, and there are some words/phrases that Wilde uses and may have a different meaning than the usual one. I would like to make sure that they were translated correctly. If any of you are familiar with his writing, I'd truely appreciate your help

: : The first one is the word "trivial", such as in the sentence "Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithless who know love's tragedies. Does it mean simple?

: : Wilde describes the main characters' way of talking as "languid". Does this mean tired?

: : I have some more questions, but will send them separately. Many thanks!

: I am by no means an expert, but I am familiar with the works of my countryman Oscar Wilde, so I will try my best.

: 'Trivial' I think means 'uncomplicated', 'superficial' rather than 'simple' here.

: 'Languid' does mean tired, but not, I think in its usual sense. It is closer to the modern usage 'laid back' - as in relaxed, cool, full of ennui. The whole aesthetic movement of the late 19th Century laid great store by being 'languid', just as modern youth does in being 'cool'.

: Hope this is of some help, and I am sure others will be better informed than I.

: DFG

In large part I agree, but to preserve Wilde's irony, I'd translate "trivial" as "unimportant." "Superficial" comes closer than "uncomplicated," which sounds positive and'or virtuous.