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  1. #1

    unrest of consciences

    Hello again

    I've got another question about Joseph Conrads somewhat over-complicated style of writing. Take a look at this excerpt:

    Before he got out of it again, the second reign of Napoleon, the Hundred Days of feverish agitation and supreme effort, passed away like a terrifying
    dream. The tragic year 1815, begun in the trouble and unrest of
    consciences, was ending in vengeful proscriptions.


    Now, I've got problems with "the trouble and unrest of consciences". What exactly does the author want to say here? In what way can a conscience be troubled or in a state of unrest with regard to the context. Is it an idiomatic expression, or a straghtforward one (to those who can grasp it)?


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    #2

    Re: unrest of consciences

    Before he got out of it again, the second reign of Napoleon, the Hundred Days of feverish agitation and supreme effort, passed away like a terrifying dream. The tragic year 1815, begun in the trouble and unrest of consciences, was ending in vengeful proscriptions.

    Now, I've got problems with "the trouble and unrest of consciences". What exactly does the author want to say here? In what way can a conscience be troubled or in a state of unrest with regard to the context. Is it an idiomatic expression, or a straghtforward one (to those who can grasp it)?


    Difficult to say precisely. Conrad's use of English can be very obscure. I think he is implying that the early months of 1815 - when Napoleon faced increasing opposition - was a time when the consciousness of people in Europe was that something had to be done about him. He is using the word in the sense of "awareness of right and wrong", and indicating that these people are in some confusion as to what to do.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: unrest of consciences

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglika View Post
    Before he got out of it again, the second reign of Napoleon, the Hundred Days of feverish agitation and supreme effort, passed away like a terrifying dream. The tragic year 1815, begun in the trouble and unrest of consciences, was ending in vengeful proscriptions.

    Now, I've got problems with "the trouble and unrest of consciences". What exactly does the author want to say here? In what way can a conscience be troubled or in a state of unrest with regard to the context. Is it an idiomatic expression, or a straghtforward one (to those who can grasp it)?


    Difficult to say precisely. Conrad's use of English can be very obscure. I think he is implying that the early months of 1815 - when Napoleon faced increasing opposition - was a time when the consciousness of people in Europe was that something had to be done about him. He is using the word in the sense of "awareness of right and wrong", and indicating that these people are in some confusion as to what to do.
    - Conrad certainly doesn't make life easy for his readers.

    The 'vengeful proscriptions' may have something to do with the historical context or with the context of the story. I don't know enough to guess. A proscription is a ban (almost diametrical opposite of a prescription) so presumably there was a period when people were uneasy, followed by a more aggressive phase - during which, perhaps, people might pursue old vengeances (like a family feud or a dispute between neighbours) by 'fingering' their enemies on the basis of some new law ('she's a witch'/'he's been reading a banned book' - something like that).

    b

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    #4

    Re: unrest of consciences

    Maybe this is it:
    Again, in 1815, following the return of King Louis XVIII of France to power, people suspected of having ties with the governments of the French Revolution or of Napoleon suffered arrest and execution. Marshall Brune was killed in Avignon, and General J.P. Ramel was assassinated in Toulouse. These actions struck fear in the population, dissuading Jacobin and Bonapartist electors (48,000 on 72,000 total permitted by the census suffrage) to vote for the ultras. Of 402 members, the first Chamber of the Restoration was composed of 350 ultra-royalists; the king himself thus named it the Chambre introuvable ("the Unobtainable Chamber"). The Chamber voted repressive laws, sentencing to death Marshall Ney and Colonel Labédoyère, while 250 people were given prison sentences and some others exiled (Joseph Fouché, Lazare Carnot, Cambacérès).
    Read more here: White Terror - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    b

  4. #5

    Re: unrest of consciences

    Thank you for your hard work.

    Well, I had a bad feeling about this excerpt. Sometimes it is possible to translate twenty thousand words without any problems at all, but then you come across a single sentence that forces you to spend a week learning everything about something. Sometimes this is a curse, sometimes it is wonderful.

    First of all, the proscription bit is quite straightforward. Apart from the usual assassinations etc. during the period, after The Hundred Days, the returning king set up a special proscribing commission in order to point out and make example of, amongst others, high ranking officers loyal to Bonaparte.

    When it comes to the trouble and unrest of consciences part, i appreciate your input and think I can make something of it. And usually, when something is this unclear, who can say that my translation is not "accurate" .


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    #6

    Re: unrest of consciences

    Does it help to look at translations in other languages to see how they interpret this sort of text?

  5. #7

    Re: unrest of consciences

    Hello again Anglika

    I don't exactly know what you mean by looking at other languages to see how they interpret the phrase. Where would I find them, online I mean?

    With regards to your earlier comment:

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglika View Post
    I think he is implying that the early months of 1815 - when Napoleon faced increasing opposition - was a time when the consciousness of people in Europe was that something had to be done about him. He is using the word in the sense of "awareness of right and wrong", and indicating that these people are in some confusion as to what to do.
    there's a problem with it, that is, if I interpret it correctly. During the early months of 1815 Bonaparte was actually on Elba, i.e. Europe had already done something about him. If the trouble and unrest in question had to do with him being away, I could understand since many wanted him back. Well, it doesn't really matter. People were, according to Conrad, unrestful, and maybe it isn't necessary to find out why. Perhaps the best way to translate the phrase is to do it straightforward, as it stands, without trying to give it a meaning it might not have.


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    #8

    Re: unrest of consciences

    Sorry - I was just mulling over that looking at the way in which other languages cope with phrases can be an interesting way of deciding what is the underlying meaning of obscure examples.

    Your solution seems fine to me - sometimes translation can become too involved.

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