I have some minor quibbles with Mr. Lai's choices as a translator (his translation of the book's title, for instance), but there is no question that he approaches his work with love and diligence. I read his translation of the first JUDEX novel by Bernede a few years ago, and thought it a fine piece of work, full of dark menace, bold adventure, bright fun and rich with eccentric characters. It felt authentic, and this sequel is likely the same. In fact, after reading the first three "parts" of this sequel (each of the twelve "parts" consists of smaller chapters), I think it may be the first French novel I've read in translation that feels ghost-written. The prose is so florid and garishly melodramatic, the bombastic characters addressing each other as though making declarations to the deep green sea, I can't shake the suspicion that the original weekly fascicules of which this book was composed were farmed out to a secretary or whatever hack was cheaply available, while the two heavy-hitters sharing the byline moved on to less gruelling, better-paying work - which, of course, makes perfect sense from a business point of view.
|Two examples of the original fascicule editions.|
Only the first nine chapters of Feuillade's serial now survive, and I've never been in a position to see them, which makes a translation of this book of immense value. The story itself is interesting enough, incorporating a criminal gang called the Secret Raiders who specialize in hypnotism and blackmail, and I can imagine some compelling images might have come from it. However, the actual telling of the story is a bit (to use an old-fashioned word) corny. I don't mean this as a criticism of the translation, because if this is how the original reads, this is what its translation should reflect. I'll continue.
Have now read the next three parts of THE RETURN OF JUDEX and am pleased to report that things pick up considerably.
(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.