Adapted vs Translated

Readers often ask us:

I don't know what "adapted by" means. Are you rewriting or abridging the books?

The answer is no.

The Black Coat Press books are really complete, unabridged translations (and we do say so inside the books) but we feel that the degree of writing skills that our translators bring to each project deserves more than a mere "translated by" credit, especially when there are so many mediocre public domain translations available out there.

For example, this is a cut & paste from the first paragraph of the public domain translation of ROULETABILLE /AND THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM by Gaston Leroux:

French Original:

Ce n'est pas sans une certaine émotion que je commence à raconter ici les aventures extraordinaires de Joseph Rouletabille. Celui-ci, jusqu'à ce jour, s'y était si formellement opposé que j'avais fini par désespérer de publier jamais l'histoire policière la plus curieuse des quinze dernières années. J'imagine même que le public n'aurait jamais connu "toute la vérité" sur la prodigieuse affaire dite de la "Chambre Jaune", générative de tant de mystérieux et cruels et sensationnels drames, et à laquelle mon ami fut si intimement mêlé, si, à propos de la nomination récente de l'illustre Stangerson au grade de grand-croix de la Légion d'Honneur, un journal du soir, dans un article misérable d'ignorance ou d'audacieuse perfidie, n'avait ressuscité une terrible aventure que Joseph Rouletabille eût voulu savoir, me disait-il, oubliée pour toujours.

First (public domain) translation:

It is not without a certain emotion that I begin to recount here the extraordinary adventures of Joseph Rouletabille. Down to the present time he had so firmly opposed my doing it that I had come to despair of ever publishing the most curious of police stories of the past fifteen years. I had even imagined that the public would never know the whole truth of the prodigious case known as that of The Yellow Room, out of which grew so many mysterious, cruel, and sensational dramas, with which my friend was so closely mixed up, if, propos of a recent nomination of the illustrious Stangerson to the grade of grandcross of the Legion of Honour, an evening journal--in an article, miserable for its ignorance, or audacious for its perfidy--had not resuscitated a terrible adventure of which Joseph Rouletabille had told me he wished to be for ever forgotten.

This is from our own adaptation:

It is not without some emotion that I begin here to recount the extraordinary adventures of Joseph Rouletabille. Until very recently, he was so firmly opposed to my telling his story that I had come to despair of ever publishing my accounts of some of the most bizarre criminal affairs of the last 15 years. I had thought that the public would never learn the truth about the prodigious “Mystery of the Yellow Room,” which provoked many strange and sensational press articles, and in which my friend was closely involved.
It was only when the illustrious Professor Stangerson was recently nominated for the Grand-Croix of the Légion d’Honneur, and, as a result, one of the evening newspapers printed a remarkably bold, ignorant and perfidious article about that terrible affair, that Rouletabille gave me his permission, while confiding in me that he truly wished that this case had been forgotten.

I think this example shows why we feel that a great deal of skillful writing is involved in preparing our books, going beyond mere translating.

We also perform minor editing that ough to have been done by the French publishers at the time of the original publication: mostly eliminating duplicated passages (usually leftover from newspaper serializations) and fixing small continuity mistakes.

At the request of libraries, we must edit offensive language (judging by modern standards) so the n*** word and other similarly offensive descriptions will be replaced by more neutral terms such as "native", "guide", "african", "asian", "usurer", etc. but other than replacing one offensive word by another deemed more neutral, nothing is cut out.

In general, things like gross scientific inaccuracies and other outmoded notions are footnoted, not rewritten. We have only "updated" two obscure pulp novels (Doctor Omega and Doc Ardan) where we performed a more subsantial rewrite to improve the original text (although still sticking to the original period narrative, warts and all) and those are labelled "adapted AND RETOLD by", a credit devised by Philip José Farmer and DAW Books for his own translation/adaptation of J.-H. Rosny Aîné's Ironcastle (available in a more faithful translation here).

If you have any specific queries, please feel free to email us.