As I sit down to eat my soon du boo chigae and read “Woman in White,” 4 proper nouns keep popping into my head: “Lydia Davis” and “Madame Bovary.” I already have a copy of Madame Bovary from 1953 with a gorgeous cover but Lydia Davis has just come out with a new translation. It’s the book cover vs.new translation conundrum.
So I’m walking by Barnes and Noble and I am going in to look, LOOK at the new version of Madame Bovary translated by Lydia Davis. It’s a great cover, it even has the serrated edges that give new books a hint of old. Still, it's not the same as my copy. Maybe I could buy this version and take the sleeve off and distress the hard cover, to give it that old vintage-y feel? Wait! I’m not supposed to buy any more books! Just read the ones on my shelf! Technically speaking, Madame Bovary is already on my shelf, so getting a copy of the same book should be fine, because it’s not technically a “new” book that I don’t already have. Oh, it turns out that Lydia Davis is amazing at translating French Literature. (I didn’t know this, forgive me.) Okay, that changes things a little bit. What if the translation I have is dry and stale. My copy doesn’t even specify who translated it, for all I know they didn’t even speak French. If I'm going to read Madame Bovary I want to have the best most up-to-date translation available. I mean it will only enhance the experience right? Okay, I’m going to get it. No, this is ridiculous, I already own a copy, and it’s probably fine. But the veiled woman on the Lydia Davis cover is so enticing. . . Jane, this is crazy. Why pay $27.95 for a book I already have??? Okay, put it back. It’s fine. The copy I have will do. Besides, it’s smaller, easier to tote around. What if Lydia Davis captures the subtle nuances and humor of the original that is probably not in the version I have? Okay, turn around, just get it . . . There. Done. Oh I hope to God someone amazing doesn’t come out with a new translation of “Crime and Punishment” because I have a fine old copy of that one too. Oh great, I forgot to call my mother.