When referring to my literary life, I always say I began with Françoise Sagan. Before reading Sagan, I had already been familiar with short stories of Sartre or works of Boris Vian (of course in high school we were made to read Souseki or Tanizaki), but reading Sagan is my first time to draw a literary interest spontaneously. After that, my concern were spread into other French novels like Colette, Camus.
What I learned from Sagan’s novels is a sort of an elaborate technique using words, which owes much to the translation by Tosuko Asabuki, a Japanese translator of Sagan’s works. Her translation is faithful to the original text. For example, she translates “Je n’avais jamais eu à retrouver Paris” into “I didn’t have a sense of finding Paris again.” “[R]etrouver” is to be like “find a new taste of Paris”, but she’s really careful for an original nuance of the text. Besides, her words are a kind of “translatese” with which I wasn’t familiar. So I felt it was more an epoch-making diction.
“When he found my smile he got up”, or “above the garden, the sky, cut off, maltreated ever more, in Paris is brooded.” — why she uses “maltreated”? How is it concerned with what Dominique feels? Such awkward translation sometimes gives to readers an opportunity to stop to consider. Perhaps it might be meaningless to read what is beautifully translated.
I showed some examples of translation here, at any rate Asabuki might choose such prose style because of Sagan’s distinctive style. Take this beginning passage of Bonjour Tristesse, “Strange Melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sorrow” (translated by Diane Johnson), Sagan owed her passage to a distinctive rhythm and rhetoric of the word. I strongly recommend to read Asabuki’s Sagan in this chance.