Since Bearing was commenting on Gilbert's infelicitous translation of the opening of No Exit, I thought I'd put up what I'd done with the first page. My translation was so many computer eons ago that all I have is a hard copy. What a vulnerable feeling it is -- I have the only remaining copy of my translation in the world.
A room in the Second Empire style. A bronze sculpture on the mantel.
GARCIN: (enters and looks about him): Well, here it is.
VALET: Here it is.
GARCIN: It's like this?
VALET: It's like this.
GARCIN: I... I suppose that in the end one must get used to the furniture.
VALET: That depends on the person.
GARCIN: Are all the rooms the same?
VALET: What do you think? We serve Chinese and Hindus. What do you expect them to make of a Second Empire armchair?
GARCIN: What do you expect me to make of it? Do you know who I was? (Snorts) It's not important any more. After all, I always lived with furniture I didn't like and in false situations; I loved that. An awkward situation in an awkward chair, you know?
VALET: Then a Second Empire drawing room won't be so bad.
GARCIN, il entre et regard autour de lui. -- Alors voilà.
LE GARÇON. -- Voilà.
GARCIN. -- C'est comme ça...
LE GARÇON. -- C'est comme ça.
GARCIN. -- Je... Je pense qu'à la longue on doit s'habituer aux meubles.
LE GARÇON. -- Ça dépend des personnes.
GARCIN. -- Est-ce que toutes les chambre sont pareilles?
LE GARÇON. -- Pensez-vous. Il nous vient des Chinois, des Hindous. Qu'est-ce que vous voulez qu'ils fassent d'un fauteuil Second Empire?
GARCIN. -- Et moi, qu'est-ce que vous voulez que j'en fasse? Savez-vous qui j'étais? Bah! ça n'a aucune importance. Après tout, je vivais toujours dans des meubles que je n'aimais pas et des situations fausses; j'adorais ça. Une situation fausse dans une salle à manger Louis-Philippe, ca ne vous dit rien?
LE GARÇON. -- Vous verrez; dans un salon Second Empire, ça n'est pas mal non plus.
And here is Gilbert's translation of the same:
GARCIN [enters, accompanied by the Room-Valet, and glances around him]: Hm! So here we are?
VALET: Yes, Mr. Garcin.
GARCIN: And this is what it looks like?
GARCIN: Second Empire furniture, I observe... Well, well. I dare say one gets used to it in time.
VALET: Some do. Some don't.
GARCIN: Are all the other rooms like this?
VALET: How could they be? We cater for all sorts: Chinamen and Indians, for example. What use would they have for a Second Empire chair?
GARCIN: And what use do you suppose I have for one? Do you knwo who I was? ... Oh, well, it's no great matter. And, to tell the truth, I had quite a habit of living among furniture that I didn't relish, and in false positions. I'd even come to like it. A false position in a Louis-Philippe dining-room -- you know the style? -- well, that had its points, you know. Bogus in bogus, so to speak.
VALET: And you'll find that living in a Second Empire drawing room has its points.
Readers might be interested to know that Louis-Philippe was the king whom the young revolutionaries were protesting at the barricades in Les Miserables, in 1832. The notes in my French version say that Louis-Philippe furniture is the epitome of petty, bourgeois taste. I translated, "Une situation fausse dans une salle à manger Louis-Philippe, ca ne vous dit rien?" as "An awkward situation in an awkward chair, you know?" because neither Louis-Philippe nor Second Empire had any resonance with my college audience, or with me for that matter.