Roland Barthes, Mythologies: The Complete Edition

Badmington reviews a new, illustrated edition of Barthes' famous essay collection
Roland Barthes, Mythologies: The Complete Edition, in a New Translation
In the new edition of the TLS (17 & 24 August 2012), Neil Badmington reviews Roland Barthes' Mythologies: The Complete Edition, in a New Translation, translated from the French by Richard Howard and Annette Lavers. Here is an extract:
When I reviewed Barthes's Mourning Diary in the TLS (July 15, 2011), I identified inaccuracies in Howard's translation. There are more here. The first sentence of "Astrology" gives "three billion" for "trois cent milliards" (three hundred billion), for example, while the opening paragraph of "Toys" lacks any reference to Barthes's claim that "l'adulte français voit l'Enfant comme un autre lui-même" ("the French adult sees the Child as another self"). Meanwhile, "Ainsi sont réunis les chiffres de la légende et ceux de la modernité" ("Thus are united the ciphers of legend and those of modernity") somehow becomes "Every winning clue to both Legend and Modernity" in the piece on Abbé Pierre. New errors even bruise the reproduction of Lavers's "Myth Today", which Howard unfortunately calls "minutely exact" in his translator's note: a line from The German Ideology now refers to "historical vital progress" instead of "historical vital process"; there is a jarring reference to "a mystical schema", not "a mythical schema"; and paragraph breaks are altered.

Howard is to be praised, however, for his editorial footnotes, as these provide historical context with which modern readers might be unfamiliar. For example, "Wine and Milk", which was first published in 1955, gains a fuller bouquet in the light of the following explanation: "In 1954, President Pierre Mendès-France introduced a health campaign promoting milk to fight against malnutrition and alcoholism". Equally illuminating are the fourteen photographic plates found towards the centre of the book. Here for the first time in an English edition of Mythologies it is possible actually to study, among other things, "the lovely and touching iconography of the Abbé Pierre", ornamental cookery in Elle in 1955, and the "Promethean hero" Louison Bobet ascending Mont Ventoux in the great epic of the Tour de France in the same year. While the inclusion of these images does not match the majesty of the illustrated Mythologies published in folio format by Éditions de Seuil in 2010, it nonetheless allows us to see something of the culture condemned by Barthes in the 1950s.
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