NOTE: Even though the 1979 edition was meant only to be a “corrected” version of Kai Prior’s 1975 edition, it nevertheless underwent enough linguistic revising at the hands of two other translators that it should more properly be viewed as an almost entirely new edition.
Kai Prior withdrew his own translation shortly after it went to press, feeling upon a “second look” that he had not done as good a job as he had wished. He began a revision, but it never went to print. He had relinquished his exclusive English publishing right to the International Foundation for Toward the Light in Denmark, which, not wanting any further delay, engaged two other translators, Hanne Gliese and Chris Shead, to go through his withdrawn version and make any corrections/alterations they deemed necessary. This was done with Kai’s reluctant permission. Upon publication of their revised edition in 1979, Kai responded that they had “ruined” his work. In the meantime. He had continued with his own revising, which was completed but never published. His nephew, Harry Prior, can supply the text for this revision to any who desire to see it.
The following notes and comparisons are presented for the benefit of any who might desire to know exactly why Harry Prior made the changes that now appear in his unauthorized version. Bear in mind that he did not attempt a new translation (because he is not skilled in the Danish language) but made his goal strictly that of presenting the English version as clearly and grammatically correct as possible. He does not claim that his changes are all the best possible and thus anyone else is welcome to improve on his changes if they so wish. BUT HE WISHES TO EMPHASIZE THAT HE HAS NOT ADDED TO OR DELETED ANY OF THE CONTENT, OR IN ANY OTHER WAY ATTEMPTED TO ALTER THE ORIGINAL MEANING OF THE MESSAGE.
THE QUESTION OF STYLE
First about style. In their “Translator’s Preface”, Hanne Gliese and Chris Shead say: “Ardor chose to give his Account a solemn, poetic and slightly archaic form, in which the graphically descriptive formulation is sustained by the metre and alliteration. In our efforts toemulate this style in the English language, we have avoided the use of modern words and constructions and given special attention to the euphony of the text.”
“Euphony” means “agreeableness of sound; pleasing effect to the ear, especially a pleasant sounding or harmonious combination or succession of words.”
To my ear, Hanne and Chris “over-did” their attempts at euphony in some places, resulting in an awkward rather than pleasing word structure. I do not find such awkardness in Inger’s and Poul’s and Kai’s translations.
What does “slightly archaic” mean? It would mean an older form of the Danish language. Lacking sufficient knowledge of Danish, I know not how “older” Danish would sound. Obviously it was used in Ardor’s Account in Danish and the problem, then, for all the translators was to transfer same into an “older” form of English.
But what would an older or “slightly archaic” form be in English? The translators obviously turned to the King James Bible for help here.
Does Ardor mean to sound “Biblical” so that by association with the style of King James his words will somehow appear more authoritative to those familiar with this old-fashioned version of the Bible? But wait! King James is an English Bible. As far as I know, there is no “King James” Bible in Danish. Nor is there in German, or Russian, or Spanish, etc. Unless the King James was translated from old English into those languages. Which I doubt. The King James was translated into English from Latin (in turn translated from Greek). I therefore assume that the Danish, etc. Bibles were all also translated directly from the Latin.
Problem: On putting Ardor’s Account into English, do we use that old King James English or something a little more modern? I think Kai attempted to solve this by using perhaps a touch of “King James” for “flavor” but otherwise modernizing the language while yet attempting to retain some degree of “solemnity.” Whether Inger and Poul even tried to look to the King James for help, I do not know. I rather think not.
Hanne and Chris, however, appear to have gone somewhat deeper with King James, to an extent — it seems me — that is too much. Their “ands” and “buts” and “trulys” and “untos”, to mention some, appear with annoying frequency so that anyone familiar wih the King James Bible will tend to see Ardor’s Account as a crude attempt to imitate King James style in hope that people will accept it more readily because of its “biblical” tone. If Ardor did have a style of his own in Danish, it disappears in the English if you lean too much toward King James “English”. For this reason, I believe, Kai softened the King James style enough so that the modern English ear could more easily understand Ardor’s words. We should also be aware that the King James Bible is no longer as widely used as it once was, because of difficulty in reading it. It is being superseded by Bibles in more modern English. Indeed, even the King James Bible itself was several times “updated” in years past. If we were to see the original King James translation it might be more difficult to read than later editions.
Consequently, I have chosen to emulate Kai’s practice and go with fewer archaic terms, especially deleting all those “buts” which may have made grammatical sense in old English but not so in today’s English.
All those “unto’s” are also unnecessary. Jesus spoke unto him. . . I realize this is meant to make the language more “solemn” and “dignified”, but it “sits” not well on the modern English ear. “Jesus spoke to him” is just as dignified.
Of course, remember, I am at the disadvantage of not being able to read Danish, so I may have worsened Ardor’s style. Others thoroughly familiar with both English and Danish must judge. Overall, I do like the Hanne and Chris version a bit more, but why do they have to use so many more words than the other translators?
As usual, in all my editing, I seek to make the material as easy to read as possible, with as little tampering of style as possible. To that end I sought to emulate the aim of Hanne and Chris of retaining a “solemn, poetic and slightly archaic form” in Ardor’s Account. I hope I have succeeded somewhat.
You will notice that I have changed all “bowed downs” to simply “bowed”. Example: “And he bowed down before Jesus, saying: “Brother. . .” This is another of those needless redundancies. One can ONLY bow DOWN. One cannot bow UP or SIDEWAYS. Why add an extra word? Try: “And he bowed to Jesus, saying: “Brother. . .” Of course if we were to say that he bowed DEEPLY to Jesus, an extra word would be proper.
The same with “all eternity”. All is unneeded. “Eternity” already means forever. Admittedly, there are times when a redundancy can “enhance” style. For example: “And he abode with John, and they spoke of a great many things.” Strictly speaking, “great” is not needed. But in this case it adds a needed emphasis, and really need not be eliminated.
I have removed other redundancies in the text without noting so in my editing notes. If they are not missed, that proves theirredundancy.
Now let us move on to other comments and questions, which include a few from Kai himself after he first saw Hanne’s and Chris’s translation. He had not time to go through all their work before his passing.
To read Harry Prior's side by side editing comments, click on the chapter names:
COPY EDITING NOTES
for Harry Prior’s version (not a new translation) of Ardor’s Account, assembled from the three English translations by Inger Agerskov and Poul Ørsten (published 1950), by Kai Prior (1975), and Hanne Gliese and Chris Shead (1979)
|To read Harry Prior's side by side editing notes, return to the page top, and click on the chosen chapter name!|