03/09/2005: Why Sonny Bono was a turd...
Thanks to Bono, Proust lovers in the United States can't get access to the final three volumes of the latest, greatest translation of Proust's masterwork, A la recherche du temps perdu (literally, "in search of lost time", though the classic English translation rendered the title as "remembrance of things past"), in the United States (though at least, those willing to do so can purchase the book from publishers in the United Kingdom).
In 1995, Penguin UK announced a new translation of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, with a different translator in charge of each of the seven volumes. This marked the first entirely fresh English-language version of the Search in decades; all previous renderings had been merely revisions of C.K. Scott Moncrieff's translation, which had appeared in the course of the 1920s. So many hands made for relatively quick work. In the United Kingdom, all volumes of the new project were published together in 2002. But readers in the United States have been left stranded midway through the novel, forced to endure two of the most Proustian of experiences: jealousy and loss.
Only the first four volumes of the new translation--from Swann's Way through Sodom and Gomorrah--are available here. For this we have Sonny Bono to blame. Just before he died in 1998, the congressman sponsored a bill to extend the term of copyright by 20 years: According to the Sonny Bono Copyright Act, passed later that year, rights would expire 95, rather than 75, years after an artist's death. Since Proust died in 1922, only those four volumes first published during his lifetime had passed into the American public domain by the time the Bono Act became law. It will therefore be at least 2018 before readers in the United States can find the final three installments of the new translation (The Prisoner and The Fugitive, and Time Regained) in their local bookstores.
Len on 03.09.05 @ 07:13 AM CST