The ground rent over Berlin


Traduire c’est trahir? Franzen and the urban gentry

Translations are cultural artifacts, worth noting, worth commenting.

Looking for an ex-ergo quotation for my book I’ve come across Franzen’s novel “Freedom” which is somehow a cultural manifesto for both the rise and failure of gentrifiers (and gentrified readers).

If one looks at the original version, here is one of the depictions of the “urban gentry”:

“Katz helped himself to more of the pasta, which had olives and some sort of salad green in it. Yes, arugula: he was back safely in the bosom of the gentry.” (p.741)

Now let’s turn to the Italian translation:

“Katz prese ancora un po’ di pasta, che era condita con olive e un qualche tipo di foglia verde. Sí, rucola: era tornato al sicuro fra le braccia della borghesia.” (p.217)

Is the “gentry”, elsewhere in the original “urban gentry”, simply a “borghesia” (bourgeoisie)? What do we lose in this translation? Are Italians, considering the translator Silvia Pareschi as a quintessential Italian, unprepared for a distinction between gentryfiers and bourgeois, between urban gentryfiers, suburban and/or countryside gentryfiers and other specimen of the bourgeoisie? And why so?