I am reading Le Comte de Monte Cristo, and the following sentence completely stumped me. I had to obtain an English translation to work out what it was saying.
— Oui, dit la marquise, sans que ce souvenir sanglant amenât la moindre altération sur ses traits ; seulement c’était pour des principes diamétralement opposés qu’ils [les pères des deux interlocuteurs] y fussent montés [sur l'échafaud de Guillotin] tous deux,
My translation of this was something like
- "Yes", said the marquise, "without that bloody memory changing the slightest aspect of their features, it was only for diametrically opposed principles that they both climbed the scaffold"
The correct translation apparently is
- "Yes", said the marquise, without that bloody memory changing the slightest aspect of her features; "it was only for diametrically opposed principles that they both climbed the scaffold"
In English, it is entirely clear that the phrase after 'said the marquise' is from the narrator. But in French, where the guillemets are not placed around each piece of the marquise's speech, I could see no immediately obvious clue to that, and the natural interpretation seemed to be that it was the marquises's voice.
With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that 'ses traits' is grammatically wrong if it is referring to the two fathers, and should have been 'leurs traits'. But I find it hard to believe that one has to do grammatical forensic work like that to discover who is speaking, especially since people often speak ungrammatically. Is there an easier, more immediate way, to understand that the following phrase belongs to the narrator and not to the marquise?
, sans que ce souvenir sanglant amenât la moindre altération sur ses traits ;
Thank you very much for any suggestions.
I am really enjoying the book by the way. Dumas is great!