1.12Summing up Carroux and Krege

Wolfgang Krege was absolutely aware of the fact that he would run into problems with hardliner fans of Carroux’ translation. Why does a book have to be changed, if we read it and love it the way we have known it for over thirty years?

The fact, that LOTR was to be set in the new German orthography was not the only justification of his work. As I believe to have shown, Carroux’ text had more than a few problems, some, although by no means most of them, because of the change in the German language from the 1960s to the 1990s.

When browsing through older dictionaries to find hints as to where the translators got their ideas for some of the more unusual translations I was partly successful when I looked at Langenscheidts Enzyklopädisches Wörterbuch from the year 1962, generally rather popular in the 1960s. Amongst others I found here the following translations as used by Carroux. ‘Estrade’ for ‘dais’, ‘Föhre’ for ‘pine’, ‘Gehenk’ for ‘baldric’, ‘Possenreißer’ for ‘jester’ and ‘Schrunde’ for ‘crack’. I am convinced that Carroux made heavy use of this dictionary.

The fact is that Krege did not want to restrict his work to correcting Carroux’ mistakes and rewriting the orthography. He was at loss wherever he himself deemed Carroux’ translation in certain bits to be the only correct and definite one possible. As I have also shown, many of his harsh deviations from a simple translation of Tolkien’s text derive from the fact, that Krege often had to change his words in order not to copy Carroux, or, as he wrote himself, ‘Abschreiben müssen tut weh.’1

Krege certainly provides a deeper knowledge of Tolkien’s writings and a feeling for his finer details. The new translation has not been produced to be read next to Carroux’ translation, as I have done, it has not even been produced to be read next to Tolkien’s text. Seen in itself it is a beautiful book which flows naturally and conveys, on a sublime level, more detailed information on the characters’ relationships to each other than Carroux’ translation.

Krege included a short epilogue of his own in the third German volume of LOTR, ‘Die Wiederkehr des Königs’ to explain these facts to his new readers. Here he presents Carroux’ version as true and close to the text though neutral and somewhat muffled. He claims to have tried to write LOTR as Tolkien himself would write it in 1999, translating straight from Westron to German without having to go through English first.

Myself I prefer the original version, and my advice to a new German reader of the book would be to stick to Krege as his translation proved to be the more vivid and more consistent one.

I am convinced that the best translation would have been one by Krege, if Carroux had never made one. Practically all the negative aspects about Krege’s translation are results of his drive to be different from Carroux, both in short, detailed sentences and in the matter of letting certain characters or groups of characters sound more different from one another than they did in Carroux’ version. Had the pressure of this earlier translation not been on Krege, his translation would have been both more direct and more simple.

1Die Wiederkehr des Königs, p 379

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