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La Fille Mal Translated

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Long before I attempted to read "Remembrance of Things Past" (the first of several failed attempts, as it turned out), I thought the title one of the most perfect in literature. But some years ago, a new translation was published which rendered "A la recherche du temps perdu" literally. as "In Search of Lost Time." To me that sounded like a report by a team of what used to be called efficiency experts.

Sometimes a literal translation just won't do, as is clearly the case with "La Fille Mal Gardee." Every attempt to translate this title into English is extremely awkward -- The Badly-Watched Young Woman, The Ill-Guarded Girl, The Unchaperoned Daughter. I've read that in Russia it's known as "Vain Precautions." That's much more satisfactory, IMO. Although the best solution is to keep the French title, in preparation for the return of Ashton's wonderful Fille to ABT, does anyone have any thoughts on a suitable English title?

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I remember reading that one English title was Naughty Lizette, which the writer pointed out, made it sound like an off-color French farce. I think they should just rename Colas and Lise, and call them Romeo and Juliet and the ballet would sell out every time.

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The secondary title (the one after the "or") of La Fille is "Useless Precautions". This also happens to be the secondary title of Beaumarchais' The Barber of Seville and is the last solo line sung in Rossini's setting of the story as an opera. (Precauzione inutile)

There, I think, is the reason John Lanchbery thought to crib the first scene of "Barber" (Fiorello and chorus, "Piano, pianissimo")as the entrée music for Lise.:)

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I quite like Vain Precautions, but much prefer it left in French - some things you just can't translate.

For those who don't know, Remembrance of Things Past is a quotation from Shakespeare (Sonnet 30):

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

I summon up remembrance of things past

That is untranslatable, too.

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